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China July 2019: Focus on the All-new models

After exploring the Chinese wholesales market for July, it is now time to focus on the all-new locally-produced launches for the month, so you know you are up-to-date 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 July we have 6 new launches (vs. 4 in June and 5 in both April and May), and as if on cue to celebrate the return to growth of the SUV segment, this month 5 new launches are SUVs including 4 Chinese. Make sure you also consult our Exclusive Guide to all 187 Chinese Brands to thoroughly understand the dynamics at play in China.

1. BYD Song Pro (#64 – 7.531 sales)

The Song Pro replaces the Song in BYD’s lineup (and wholesales ranking) and introduces the brand’s new design identity to a lower SUV level, the last crossover remaining to be replaced is now the Yuan. It is immediately introduced in combustion (5.542 sales) and new energy (1.989) variants and trickles down some very impressive features of the Tang such as the rotating touch screen. You can consult our Test Drive of the BYD Tang EV here. BYD’s new models have triggered spectacular sales rises, notably for the Tang, and it shouldn’t be any different for the Song, whose exterior and interior design makes the previous generation look a decade-old.

BYD Song Pro interior. Picture

Its pricing remains contained however: from 89.800 to 119.800 yuan for the combustion version (US$12.750-17.000 or 11.450-15.300€), 169.800-219.800 for the EV variant (US$24.100-31.200 or 21.700-28.100€) and 179.800-219.800 for the PHEV model (US$25.500-31.200 or 22.950-28.100€). This places the combustion version in competition with the likes of the Geely Binyue (78.800-129.800), Changan CS55 (82.900-133.900) and Chery Tiggo 8 (88.800-155.900). Launched in August 2015, its predecessor the Song’s record volume was 18.178 as the nameplate only posted 3 months above 11.500 sales and 7 above 10.000. Reaching 12.000 in a more competitive environment will make the Song Pro a success.

Bar for success: 12.000 monthly sales

2. Cadillac XT6 (#172 – 2.278 sales)

Launching in absolute sync with the US market where it is also produced, the XT6 is the only foreign launch for the month, a 7-seat full-size SUV, the largest SUV to be produced locally by Cadillac. It slots between the XT5 and the imported Escalade. In the US, it is the luxury counterpart of the Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave which currently are imported in very small figures into China. Currently spruced by the new XT4 (+2.1% so far in 2019), Cadillac Chinese sales should benefit greatly from the addition of the XT6 which does not replace any existing nameplate in the carmaker’s lineup (the SRX has disappeared a while ago), and therefore is a pure conquest model.

Cadillac XT6 interior. Picture

The XT6 is priced between 419.700 and 549.700 yuan (US$59.550-78.000 or 53.600-70.200€), which places it almost exactly square with the Toyota Prado (435.800-604.800) and makes it great value for money vs. smaller premium fares such as the Audi Q5L (382.800-498.000), Lincoln Nautilus (388.800-518.800), BMW X3 (389.800-565.800) and Mercedes GLC (390.800-562.800). Launched in April 2016, the smaller XT5 (329.700-469.700) topped 10.000 monthly sales twice to peak at 10.460 in October 2018. A little over half that amount would make the XT6 a success.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly sales

3. Beijing Zhida X3 (#199 – 1.647 sales)

Beijing Auto seems to be slowly but surely letting its Senova, Hyosow and Weiwang sub-brands to fuel its BJEV new energy lineup. Another brand that has been solid in the past year is Beijing, focused on hardcore SUVs and Jeep-looking crossover. And it’s under the Beijing brand that the company has decided to launch this new Zhida X3 which appears to be a replacement for the Senova X35.

Beijing Zhida X3 interior. Picture

Beijing wants to build on the brand’s “tough guy” reputation and is counting on a decent exterior design and Haval-inspired interior to convince young buyers in Tier-3 and Tier-4 cities. Cut-throat pricing will help too: from 49.900 to 95.900 yuan (US$7.100-13.600 or 6.400-12.250€), putting the Zhida X3 in competition with the likes of the Zotye T300 (45.900-93.800), Brilliance V3 (50.700-87.700), Baojun 510 (55.800-82.800) and Haval M6 (66.000-86.000). The Senova X35 peaked at 16.348 sales in December 2016, a level that seems inaccessible for the X3, instead looking at the Beijing BJ40’s best (3.586) is a more realistic target.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly sales

4. Maxus D60 (#228 – 1.287 sales)

Maxus is a brand by SAIC that has gone mostly under the radar in China. Sold under the LDV marque in Australia, it has impressed there with its bargain-basement priced but well furnished T60 pickup. Originally dedicated to light commercials with the V80, G10 and G50 minivans/MPVs, Maxus has timidly expanded into the SUV fray with the D90 launched in August 2017: it was a failure with a monthly record at a paltry 1.703 wholesales. In all logic this bad fortune should change with this D60 sporting an impressive exterior design and rather extravagant cockpit streaked with red (see below).

Maxus D60 interior. Picture

The D60 isn’t cheap: from 93.800 to 167.800 yuan (US$13.300-23.800 or 12.000-21.450€) and goes against established blockbusters such as the Haval H6 (102.000-136.000), Chery Tiggo 8 (88.800-155.900) and Changan CS75 (79.800-174.800). A more accurate competitor could actually be the COS 1°  (86.800-147.800). Its launch volume already shows its potential – thankfully – lies way above the D90 but it will need to climb towards the level of the G50 (PB of 2.759) to impose the Maxus brand into the SUV segment.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly sales

5. Hanteng V7 (#321 – 397 sales)

Taking the exact opposite trajectory as Maxus, Hanteng, with links to Zotye, has been focused on SUVs since the brand’s launch in 2013 but is now entering the MPV segment with the V7. Both previous launches were instant strong sellers but peaked early: the X7 launched with 5.006 wholesales in October 2016 but peaked at 6.031 in December of that year while the X5 launched with 3.059 units in November 2017 to peak at 3.802 two months later in January 2018. The V7, which was already present on the Hanteng’s stand at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2018, already shows a much more discrete trajectory with less than 400 wholesales for its introduction month.

Hanteng V7 interior. Picture

It’s true that the MPV segment was still lukewarm 15 months ago when the V7 was unveiled (the Baojun 360 was just hitting the market for example), but it has gone stone cold since, with sales for the segment down a ghastly -23.5% to 756.000 over the first 7 months of 2019. That’s bad news for the V7, which enters a saturated market with little credibility (Zotye has failed to launch a successful MPV). Priced from 79.900-135.900 yuan (US$11.300-19.300 or 10.200-17.400€), the V7 and its bland design will fight with the spectacular BYD Song MAX (79.900-129.900) as well as the new Maxus G50 (86.800-156.800) and COS Cosmos (79.800-160.800). Can the Chinese market absorb one more MPV? We doubt it.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly sales

6. COS Kosai 3 (#358 – 186 sales)

After the 1° SUV in June 2018, the Cosmos MPV in January 2019 and the Kosai 5 just last month – a rebadge of Changan CS35 1st generation, Changan Oshan’s new standalone brand COS is now expanding its lineup to 4 nameplates with this Kosai 3 featuring a surprisingly modern design. Launched at the same time as Jetour with a similar target market (rural China), COS has been a complete failure so far, with the 1° only crossing the 2.000 monthly sales mark twice (just) and the Cosmos never beating its introductory month score of 601 units. The Kosai 5 started with 149 and is up to 475 this month and the Kosai 3 isn’t much more successful with under 200 wholesales to start. So the surprising element is that Changan Oshan still bothers launching new models. Until when?

Priced from 59.900 to 76.900 yuan (US$8.500-10.900 or 7.650-9.800€), the Kosai 3 isn’t the cheapest crossover in China by a large margin, and its pricing seems presumptuous given the brand’s lack of awareness or credibility. It will have the hard task of trying to steal buyers away from the cheaper Geely Vision X3 (45.900-68.900), Beijing Zhida X3 (49.900-95.900), Baojun 510 (55.800-82.800) and Brilliance V3 (50.700-87.700).

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly sales

Previous month: China June 2019: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China July 2018: Focus on the All-new models

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