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China December 2017: Focus on the All-new models

The Lynk & Co brand has now launched in China.

As is the tradition on BSCB, after covering December sales in detail, we now focus on the all-new locally produced launches so you can stay up-to-date on the fastest-evolving automobile market in the world. The December 2017 class has a clear air of Guangzhou Auto Show with almost all newcomers having made their debut there in mid-November. Make sure you check out our Guangzhou Auto Show coverage for more details on this month’s new launches. Six of December’s seven new entrants are Chinese with the only odd one out being the Jaguar XEL. We have two SUVs, two electric cars, two sedans and one MPV and, undoubtedly a first, no less than three new brands make their debut this month in China – adding to the total count of 136 Chinese Brands covered in our Exclusive Guide.

1. Chery Tiggo 5x (#79 – 10.693 sales)

Originally slated to replace the ageing Chery Tiggo 5, the 5x finally takes its place alongside it, but is priced more aggressively at 79.900-110.900 yuan (US$ 12.500-17.300) vs. 88.800-123.800 for the Tiggo 5. The 5x is also shorter at 4.34m vs. 4.51m for the Tiggo 5. In Guangzhou, the Tiggo 5x impressed me with with its interior quality but most strikingly with the design flair displayed in the cockpit, something Chery had not got us used to. The Tiggo 5x is the first car on Chery’s new T1X platform which will next be used for a seven-seat variant of the same crossover. The Tiggo 5x is priced very competitively and it will need it as it enters one of the most contested segments in the whole of the Chinese market: Chinese-branded compact crossovers. No less than 20+ other contenders are already playing in the same sandpit.

Chery Tiggo 5x interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Among them the Changan CS55 (83.900-132.900 yuan), the 2nd best-selling 2017 launch in China, the Soueast DX3 (67.900-105.900) posting a 100.000+ sales result for its first full year in market, the MG ZS (73.800-115.800) enabling the brand to double its sales year-on-year, the Zotye T300 (56.800-93.800) already above 10.000 monthly units a few months after launch and the GAC Trumpchi GS3 (73.800-116.800). Sales-wise, the Tiggo 5x lands with a bang: directly above 10.000 units which places it by far atop the Tiggo lineup this month (the Tiggo 7 is at 6.021, the Tiggo 3/3x at 7.400 and the Tiggo 5 is obliterated at -92% to just 265 sales). In terms of all-time highs, the Tiggo 7 peaked at 11.039 units in December 2016, the Tiggo 3 at 17.081 in December 2015 and the Tiggo 5 at 12.469 in December 2014, so in a sense the Tiggo 5x has already accomplished its mission but let’s give it a stretch goal at 15.000.

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly units

2. Lynk & Co 01 (#138 – 6.012 sales)

Unveiled a year ago in October 2016, Lynk & Co is a semi-premium marque owned by Geely and positioned in-between Geely and Volvo, also a Geely property. Its models are using the same platform that underpins the new Volvo XC40. In Guangzhou, the Lynk & Co stand was the hippest around with a pleasing sense of confidence peppered with some irreverent streaks. The manufacturer put the first batch of 6.000 pre-sales cars for sale online in November 2017, and they sold out in 2 minutes and 17 seconds, making the 01 the fastest-selling car in the world. These are translated into the car and brand’s first ever month of official sales in China.

Lynk & Co 01 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

It’s a solid start for the brand, which will have to confirm with growing figures over the coming months and a short-term target of 10.000 monthly units, a milestone both WEY models launched this year already reached. Yes, Great Wall Motors semi-premium SUV brand WEY is the natural local competitor for Lynk & Co but the latter also has its sights firmly set on foreign manufacturers. The 01 is priced from 158.800-220.800 yuan (20.300-28.300 € or US$24.400-33.950), to be compared with 150.000-163.000 for the WEY VV5 and 167.800-188.000 for the WEY VV7. But foreign blockbuster SUV pricing shows where Lynk & Co’s true competition is: the Honda CR-V (169.800-259.800), Toyota RAV4 (179.800-269.800), Nissan X-Trail (179.800-268.800) and VW Tiguan (199.800-237.800) are all in the 01’s line of fire.

Bar for success: 12.500 monthly units

3. Changan Raeton CC (#152 – 5.440 sales)

Another Guangzhou unveiling, the Changan Raeton CC confuses us with its naming as it has nothing to do with a Coupe version of the much larger Raeton, rather it is the successor to the best-selling Eado sedan. It stands on a new Changan-developed platform, the P3, which will also underpin an upcoming crossover. It features the new signature grille of the brand which is far from being unattractive. Power comes from a new 155 hp 1.5T engine mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Changan has meticulously updated every inch of the old car that was the Eado to release this very accomplished sedan that had the international press buzzing with flashes and video cameras at the Guangzhou Auto Show. It is deserved, as the car offers all the sophistication you would expect from a model one or two segments above and is priced at a cut-throat 89.900-138.900 yuan (US$ 14.000-21.700),

Changan Raeton CC interior. Picture autohome.com.cn 

This throws the Raeton CC in the same bath as the recently overhauled MG6 (96.800-132.800), Roewe i6 (89.800-143.800) and Geely Emgrand GL (78.800-115.800) as far as locals are concerned. But Changan will also eye the foreign competition and aim at reclaiming buyers that had fallen for western charms. For this, it undercuts such blockbusters as the Toyota Corolla (107.800-175.800), VW Lavida (109.900-159.900), Buick Excelle (109.900-150.900) and Honda Civic (115.900-169.900). The Eado was one of the very rare Chinese sedans to cross the 20.000 monthly units milestone (22.964 in January 2015), including the XT hatchback which is now a separate model, so Changan will be tabling on high volumes for the Raeton CC.

Bar for success: 14.000 monthly units

4. Jaguar XEL (#302 – 1.328 sales)

The XEL is a long-wheelbase version of the Jaguar XE extended by 10cm to make more legroom for the back seats, as is the custom in China. It is manufactured by the Chery-JLR joint-venture and is the second China-made Jaguar after the XFL launched in September 2016. It offers a choice between two 2.0T engine with either 200 or 250hp. Power comes from two 2.0 turbocharged engines; one with 200 and one with 250 horses. Producing the XE locally enables a drastic price drop: the imported variant, still on sale alongside the XEL, starts at 417.500 yuan (US$ 65.200) whereas the XEL is priced from 288.800 to 428.800 yuan (US$ 44.950-66.900).

Jaguar XEL interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The Jaguar XEL will be competing against the leaders of its segment, all featuring long wheelbases: the Audi A4L (292.800-409.800 yuan), BMW 3 Series L (288.000-486.900) and Mercedes C-Class L (312.800-489.000) as well as the Volvo S60L (266.900-390.900). Priced at 388.000-688.000 yuan, the larger Jaguar XFL just reached its all-time high monthly volume this month at 2.559 units. Jaguar will want to easily top this for the US$15.000-cheaper XEL.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

5. GAC Trumpchi GM8 (#365 – 550 sales)

Logically unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the GM8 is the largest vehicle ever produced by GAC at 5.07m long. The company just announced at the Detroit Auto Show that it would enter the U.S. market in 2019. This is GAC’s first foray into the MPV segment and the carmaker’s intention is to reproduce the astonishing success it has enjoyed with the GS4 and GS8 in the SUV segment. If all other Chinese carmakers have entered the MPV segment from the low-cost door with tremendous success (Wuling Hongguang, Baojun 730, Chana offers), no one has managed to be successful yet at the more premium end.

GAC Trumpchi GM8 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Jinbei did attempt this feat with the Huasong brand but has bitterly failed so far. Luxury MPVs are used by hotel companies to transport VIP guests and luxury interiors are the norm. Buick has dominated the segment with the GL8 and a new generation launched this year has propelled the nameplate to never-seen before volumes (14.332 in November 2017). This is where the GM8 comes, priced from 176.800-259.800 yuan (US$ 27.600-40.600) which, although high for a Chinese nameplate, greatly undercuts both the Buick GL8 (229.900-449.900 yuan) and Honda Odyssey (228.800-354.800) while offering similar levels of sophistication.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

6. Arcfox Lite (#375 – 472 sales)

The Arcfox Lite is perhaps the coolest EV launched by a Chinese company so far. Arcfox is a brand by Beijing Auto BJEV and it had dozens of them inundating the Guangzhou Auto stand in both bright and pastel colours. There are two main attractions in the Lite: first, the interior which is one of the most exciting ever launched for a Chinese brand, featuring not one but three 8 inch screens forming a full digital bar. Second, it has LED displays at the front and rear of the car where both the driver and passenger can ‘advertise’ their own messages, in Chinese or Western alphabets, and even emoticons. So you get to be able to write anything you want, including insults. Now that’s cool.

Arcfox Lite interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The Lite is under 3m long and is powered by a 49hp electric motor mated with a 16.4 KWh battery located below the floor. Range is just 170km which keeps the Lite firmly put in the city. Top speed is 110 km/h and fast charging takes half an hour to 80% battery and the manufacturer is using advanced materials to keep the car light to fit its name at 895 kg. Price before subsidies is 152.800-162.800 yuan (US$ 23.850-25.400) down to 93.800-106.800 (US$ 14.600-16.700). The Lite will compete with the Zotye E200 (181.800-185.800 before subsidies), Zhi Dou D2 (151.800-188.800) and Chery eQ1 (155.900-205.900).

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

7. Dearcc EV10 (#419 – 109 sales)

The last launch of the month is the third brand to make its very first appearance in the Chinese sales charts: Dearcc, an EV brand by Soueast whose Mandarin name Dianka weirdly translates as “electric coffee“… Dearcc was created by Beijing Dearcar Auto Technology, a tech firm based in Beijing devoted to research and development of new energy vehicle/electric vehicle platforms and smart technologies. Unveiled at the 2016 Guangzhou Auto Show, the EV10 had to wait over a year to launch in market. It is rather trendy, especially when compared to the rest of the Soueast line-up, with a dual tone colour scheme.

Dearcc EV10 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

It is powered by a 57hp electric motor giving the 3.69m 5-door hatch a 150km range and 100 km/h top speed strictly limiting it to city driving. 80% battery charge is reached in 48 minutes on a fast charger. The EV10 is priced from 133.800 to 141.800 yuan before subsidies (US$ 20.900-22.100) and will compete with some of the best-selling EVs of the moment such as the BAIC EC-Series (151.800-164.800), Changan Benben EV (154.800-161.800) and the Chery eQ1 (155.900-205.900).

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly units

Previous month: China November 2017: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China December 2017: Focus on the All-new models

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