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China January 2016: Focus on the All-new models

Dongfeng Fengshan AX3 China January 2016. Picture courtesy chexun.netDongfeng Fengshan AX3

After exploring January sales figures in detail, the BSCB tradition is to study the all-new China-made nameplates making their first appearance in the sales charts this month. Imports are covered in separate updates. Being the month leading up to the Lunar New Year, January is more prone to big promotions than new launches, and accordingly we only have four new entrants in the ranking this month vs. 9 in December.

1. Dongfeng Fengshan AX3 (#171 with 2.508 sales)

Unveiled at last year’s Shanghai Auto Show, the Fengshan AX3 is built on the DF1 platform, a variant of PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s No.1 platform (PF1). With it Dongfeng is trying something new: slotted below the manufacturer’s other Fengshan SUV (the DX7) but at a leisurely 4.52m long, the DX3 mixes hatchback, station wagon and crossover aspects for a rather pleasant result. With the AX7 crossing the 10.000 monthly sales mark for the first time in January and the brand’s sedans all struggling except the revamped A60 (5.006), the AX3 could fast become one of Dongfeng’s top selling passenger cars at home. Its price range of 69.700 – 81.700 yuan (US$10.700 – 12.500) even generously undercuts the shorter and successful Dongfeng Joyear X5 (79.900 – 105.900 yuan). On the negative side, the AX3 looks like a station wagon version of the H30 Cross (a total flop), which could discourage potential buyers, but Dongfeng could be onto a new SUV niche with the AX3.

Bar for success: #80 or 7.000 sales

FQT Motor EX80 China January 2016. Picture courtesy auto.163.com

2. FQT Motor EX80 (#291 with 378 units)

FQT Motor belongs to Fujian Group, also part-owner of Soueast cars, Fujian-Benz trucks and King Long buses. FQT stands for Fujian QiTeng, a sub-brand launched in 2014 whose lineup is composed of the M70 microvan (described in our LCV updates) and this EX80 minivan launched last September but somehow only making its way into the Chinese sales charts this month. With the EX80, Fujian Motor is unabashedly trying to bank on the (still) booming MPV segment and copies its dimensions and target entirely onto the market’s best-seller, the Wuling Hongguang. Priced between 50.000 and 90.000 yuan (US$7.700-13.800), the EX80 takes the FQT range where the 36.900-45.900 yuan-M70 left it and targets both the Hongguang (44.800-69.800 yuan) and its cousin the Baojun 730 (69.400-81.800 yuan). Too ambitious?

Bar for success: #150 or 2.500 sales

Cadillac CT6 China January 2016. Picture courtesy auto.sohu.com

3. Cadillac CT6 (#296 with 318 deliveries)

Perfectly illustrating that the centre of gravity of the automobile world has moved from the U.S. to China, Cadillac is launching a China-made CT6 even before it becomes available in America. Priced between 439.900 and 818.800 yuan (US$ 66.900 – 124.500), it competes with the upper-end variants of the Audi A6L, BMW 5 Series L and Mercedes E-Class L. However its dimensions (5.18/1.88/1.50m) position it above these aforementioned nameplates and just below the Audi A8L, BMW 7 Series L and Mercedes S-Class L. At 79.779 sales in 2015 (+17%), Cadillac is making progress in the Chinese luxury segment but remains far below the Big 3 Audi (571.000), BMW (434.000) and Mercedes (363.000). Undercutting its main competitors in price is therefore surely a good idea for this prestigious entry that will do probably more for Cadillac’s aspirational values in China than significantly boost the brand’s volumes there.

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 sales

Zotye Z700 China January 2016. Picture courtesy db2car.com

4. Zotye Z700 (#316 with 157 sales)

Topping Zotye’s lineup with a 5.02m-long flagship sedan seemed like a good idea when the Z700 was unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April last year. Since then though, the SUV bulldozer has crushed almost everything on its way. In January, the brand’s two entries in the segment, the T600 (13.626 sales) and X5 (12.266), account for an incredible 83% of Zotye’s total (31.201), with no sedan selling over 1.800 units. A bland design vaguely inspired from a previous generation VW Magotan will do nothing to attract the SUV-obsessed crowds. Only the entry variant Luxury is priced below 100.000 yuan (US$15.300), with the top-end Executive reaching 158.800 yuan ($24.400). Zotye may have been better off never launching this nameplate. That’s awkward…

Bar for success: #200 or 2.000 sales

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