The Hongqi HS7 has arrived.
After detailing national trends in our June 2019 wholesales update, it is now time to focus on the all-new locally-produced launches for the month, so you can make sure you are updated on the fastest-evolving automotive market in the world. Note these updates are based on wholesales figures, and sometimes new nameplates appear first in the retail data, that’s the intricacies of the sometimes mysterious/unreliable Chinese market where manufacturers often report sales late. In June we have 4 new launches (vs. 5 in both April and May), and as if on cue to celebrate the return to growth of the SUV segment, this month all new launches are Chinese SUVs. Make sure you also consult our Exclusive Guide to all 187 Chinese Brands.
1. NIO ES6 (#308 – 658 sales)
One year after unveiling the very impressive ES8 SUV in December 2017, Chinese EV startup NIO unveiled its little brother the ES6 in December 2018. The company has managed to generate a hype level in China that is coming close to Tesla in the US, so each new development is followed with trepidation by the local industry (and ourselves). The ES6 now hits the market and instantly sells more than the ES8 at 658 vs. 434 for its first wholesales month.
NIO ES6 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn
Even though it starts slightly (but not that much) cheaper than the ES8, the ES6 remains in the stratosphere when it comes to Chinese SUV EV pricing. It will set you back between 358.000 and 548.000 yuan (46.400-71.100€ or US$52.000-79.600) vs. 448.000-506.000 for the ES8. This is way above even the most extravagant Chinese SUV EVs such as the BYD Tang (239.900-359.900) or Roewe Marvel X (268.800-308.800). In fact, it competes more squarely with premium foreign combustion models such as the Audi Q5L (382.800-498.000), BMW X3 (389.800-565.800), Mercedes GLC (390.800-562.800) and the Volvo XC60EV (527.900-585.900). NIO may be cool, but is it cool enough to steal the established clientele away from these brands? The task is arduous.
Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales
2. COS Kosai 5 (#400 – 149 sales)
Changan Oshan launched the standalone COS brand at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2018 as an attempt to climb the premium ladder. But neither the 1° SUV (#348 in June) nor the Cosmos MPV (#349 in June) have managed to make any waves in market. So COS is taking out the heavy artillery and is now starting to launch badge-engineered Changan’s… Does anyone else smell the rot?
COS Kosai 5 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn
Introducing the Kosai 5 which is none other than a previous generation Changan CS35, a blockbuster of its own but a questionable choice for a semi-premium offering. Moreover, it is priced at 69.900-79.900 yuan (9.050-10.350€ or US$10.150-11.600), which is only a fraction higher than the CS35, still on sale in China between 63.900 and 87.900 yuan. In fact, it competes with a plethora of relatively well-equipped small SUVs including the Kia Stonic (69.800-79.800) and will have a very hard time finding its marks.
Bar for success: 1.500 monthly sales
3. Hongqi HS7 (#428 – 66 sales)
FAW’s Hongqi, China’s only true luxury brand, is on an absolute roll. With the launch of the Mazda6-based H5 sedan in 2018, the brand, for decades only just surviving as the Communist Part’s official car, has seen its volumes lifted to never-seen before heights at 26.665 wholesales. The fairytale continues into 2019 with the arrival of no less than 3 new models, all SUVs: the E-HS3 (February), HS5 (May) and HS7 (June). As a result, Hongqi has broken its all-time monthly volume record during each of the past 4 months, fitting it above 8.000 units in June.
Hongqi HS7 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn
The HS7 is the final realisation of a large luxury SUV concept that Hongqi has paraded for a couple of years without ever crossing into the real world. Even if its name only suggest an evolution vs. the HS5, the HS7 is in a completely different world price-wise: from 349.800 to 459.800 yuan (45.400-59.650€ or US$50.800-66.800) vs. just 183.800-249.800 for the HS5 and 219.800-272.800 for the Haval H9 which could have been considered a competitor before prices were unveiled. This makes the HS7’s task to achieve significant sales disproportionately harder, as it will compete with the likes of the VW Teramont (300.900-505.900) and Toyota Prado (435.800-604.800). Realistically, the HS7 will probably play the role of halo product for the brand instead.
Bar for success: 1.500 monthly sales
4. Haima 8S (#445 – 38 sales)
Roughly 18 months after first appearing in various Chinese Auto Shows, the Haima 8S finally hits the market, albeit extremely timidly for now. Haima is one of the Chinese brands that have completely imploded in recent years, with H1 2019 wholesales crashing down an abysmal -88% to less than 5.000 units. In other words the brand is literally starving for new metal and the good-looking 8S can’t come soon enough. It sports all the design cues recent Chinese SUVs have been using for the past couple of years: split headlights design (inaugurated by Jeep and Citroen, reused by Baojun), a floating roof and generous ground clearance. Inside, the dash design is modern, the touch screen is large enough and there’s enough bling and chrome to attract rural customers, the main target for the brand. So far, so good.
Haima 8S interior. Picture autohome.com.cn
Its pricing at 79.900-125.900 yuan (10.400-16.300€ US$11.600-18.300), although low, is relatively ambitious (read too dear) given the depth of the hole Haima has been burying itself in in the past couple of years. Yes it is only marginally higher than the 69.800-109.800 Haima S5 it (should) replaces but the brand is nowhere to be seen on Chinese roads, and its attractiveness has hit rock bottom. The 8S’s mission is daunting: salvage Haima from a certain death. It looks the part, but will customers be bothered? The 8S indeed enters the most competitive segment in the country: compact SUVs. It houses the likes of the Chery Tiggo 8 (88.800-155.900), the new BYD Song Pro (89.800-119.800) and the king of them all, the Haval H6 (102.000-136.000).
Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales
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One year ago: China June 2018: Focus on the All-new models