* See the Top 72 China-made brands and Top 415 models by clicking here *
1. VW C-Trek (#142 – 5.602 sales)
The C-Trek is the crossover-looking wagon version of the VW Bora, but its sales are counted separately (contrary to the Cross Lavida) as its nameplate does not include the Bora name. It is powered by the same engines as the Bora: a 100hp 1.6 and a 131hp 1.4 turbo, and priced between 107.800 and 153.800 yuan (US$ 15.500-22.100). This is a very unique segment in China with not many actors, but trust Volkswagen to transform the C-Trek into a hit.
Bar for success: 10.000 sales
2. Zotye SR9 (#188 – 3.286 sales)
The car pictured above isn’t a Porsche Macan. I swear. It’s the new Zotye SR9. The manufacturer is developing a nasty reputation for (successful) copycat after the T600 (VW Touareg), Damai X5 (VW Tiguan) and SR7 (Audi Q3). The next one, the Damai X7, is a clone of the VW Cross Coupe GTE Concept: Zotye isn’t even waiting for already-launched models to copy them now. If the Macan starts at 558.000 yuan (US$80.200), the SR9 is priced between 109.800 and 162.800 yuan ($15.800-23.400), meaning you can buy five SR9 for the price of one Macan… It is powered by a 190ho 2.0 turbo engine like the Landwind X7, a clone of the Range Rover Evoque. Porsche announced plans to sue Zotye, but like Jaguar Land Rover and Landwind, this has little chance to getting anywhere. China is really still the wild wild west when it comes to copyrights. The truth is, like for each copycat Zotye has launched, the SR9 is likely to be a strong commercial success, and its initial month already goes this way.
Bar for success: 7.000 sales
3. Renault Koleos (#204 – 2.878 sales)
After the Kadjar in March, the Koleos is Renault’s second ever nameplate to be produced in China, by the Dongfeng-Renault joint venture. It is based on the Nissan X-Trail platform with whom it shares the wheelbase, engines and gearbox. To establish the nameplate in the crowed Chinese SUV market, Renault has amped up the sophistication in the cockpit compared to X-Trail, all this for the same price: from 179.800 to 269.800 yuan (US$25.800-38.800) for the Kadjar vs. 181.800-267.800 ($26.100-38.500) for the X-Trail. Although the X-Trail is an absolute blockbuster in China with a personal best of 20.504 sales and three times above 20.000, Renault is still a newcomer in this market and must aim lower to start with. The Kadjar’s highest month so far is 4.006 sales in October, but the Koleos benefits from a relative amount of nameplate recognition as this is the second generation on sale in China – the first was imported. Given it is a much larger and improved car sold for less, 7.500 monthly units would really establish the brand.
Bar for success: 7.500 sales
4. Karry K60 (#211 – 2.624 sales)
The Karry K60 is a rebadge of the Cowin V3 launched last July. Its SUV-MPV allure is right on target for current Chinese countryside customers and it should help further the brand’s sales along with the successful K50. Chery is now on a roll with three separate brands (Chery, Karry and Cowin) after years of stagnation. Available in five, six and seven-seat configurations, the K60 is priced from 59.000 to 79.000 yuan (US$8.500-11.400) and should aim at a 7.500 monthly sales average in the long term, with a potential peak around 10.000 like the K50.
5. GAC Trumpchi GS8 (#215 – 2.505 sales)
The GAC Trumpchi GS8 was unveiled at this year’s Beijing Auto Show and is the new flagship of the brand. It shares its platform with the GA8 sedan and the upcoming GM8 MPV. It is priced between 163.800 and 259.800 yuan (US$23.500 – 37.300) and is certainly the most American-looking Chinese SUV ever made. There’s a reason for that: GAC has made no secret that it wants to start selling in the U.S by 2020.
For now, the Trumpchi GS8 enters the Chinese SUV market from the top and will give Haval a run for its money. If marketed smartly, the GS8 could benefit from the incredible success of the GS4, currently ranking #7 overall (all segments included) and regularly selling upwards of 30.000 monthly units. Such high scores are impossible for an expensive Chinese SUV like the GS8, but the GS8 will certainly push the boundaries within which pricey Chinese SUVs previously evolved within. Haval has not been able to make a success out of the H8 nor the H9, but the GS8’s initial score is already higher than every single month of sales of the two Haval, bar two. Promising.
Bar for success: 6.000 sales
The last new entrant in China in November is the Kandi K12 (#313 – 644 sales) but irregular appearances of Geely’s electric brand inside the sales charts make it impossible to forecast their future.