Ora Lightning Cat
Now that we have explored November 2022 Chinese wholesales, it’s time to review the new locally produced models for the month. This way you can stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the largest and most dynamic market in the world. This month we have 7 new models hitting Chinese roads, 6 of them Chinese and 6 of them EVs, once again illustrating long term trends for China. To fully understand the scope of the Chinese market, make sure you consult our Exclusive Guide to all 192 active Chinese Brands.
1. LI L8 (5,293 sales)
Two months after the L9 stormed into the Chinese charts with over 10,000 units, the L8 makes its entrance with another strong volume. The L8 replaces the LI One. The issue is the L8 and L9 look exactly the same. The L8 is logically smaller at 5.08m vs. 5.22m for the L9 but their exterior design only has almost unnoticeable differences such as the location of the license plate at the rear for example. Note a L7 model will also launch soon, and has again the same exterior design. The L8 is also an EREV (extended range EV), meaning its 1.5L ICE only powers the battery. It has two electric motors for a total output of 320hp. The L8’s full range is 1315 km which is better than the L9 at 1100 km. The EV-only range is 175 km. The L8 is available in five- or six-seat combinations whereas the L9 is six-seat only. It eclipses the 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 sec, vs. 6.5 sec for the One and 5.3 sec for the L9.
The interior also looks identical with a very impressive dual 15.7-inch touchscreen. The L8 is offered in two trims, Pro and Max, and the Pro variant doesn’t offer the back seat screen located in the roof also available in the L9. The L8 is priced from 359,800 to 399,800 yuan (48,600-54,000€ or US$51,550-57,300) vs. 349,800 yuan for the outgoing One and 459,800 yuan for the L9. A Chinese competitor for the L8 is the Aito M7 (319,800-379,800 yuan). The arrival of the L8 hasn’t dented sales of the L9, still above 9,000 units, which is a good sign and has enabled the LI brand to break its volume record this month at over 15,000 units. We consider that the L8 has already reached its bar for success and will only need to maintain itself at this level to be considered as one.
Bar for success: 5,000 monthly sales
2. Ora Lightning Cat (3,031 sales)
Ora is an EV-only brand under Great Wall Motors and it has enjoyed solid success in the past couple of years, peaking at 20,926 sales in December 2021. The last few months have been weaker though, and the Lightning Cat is here to help return the brand in the right direction. The Ora brand has progressively focused on female buyers and named all its models “Cat”, with different adjectives. The Lightning Cat is by far Ora’s biggest vehicle to date at 4.87m long. Unfortunately as it was the case for the Ballet Cat (copy of the VW Beetle), the exterior design is also a sort of copycat, reminiscent of a Porsche (nothing less!), with oval front and rear lights. The silhouette is a fastback sedan reminding us of the Porsche Panamera, and it has pop-out door handles a la Tesla.
The interior is a little retro with round instrument panels, a relatively small center screen and a few dials on the middle arch. It comes in two colours: ochre and grey. Interestingly, the gear shift is a wand behind the steering wheel. The Lightning Cat comes with a choice of two engines: a 204 hp single motor front wheel drive and a 408 hp dual motor all wheel drive. Three ranges are available: 555 km and 705 km for the single motor and 600 km for the dual motor. It is priced from 189,800 to 269,800 yuan (25,600-36,400€ or US$27,200-38,700) and will compete with the likes of the BYD Seal (209,800-286,800 yuan) and Han (214,800-329,800 yuan). We’d want the Lightning Cat to reach at least 5,000 monthly units to call it a success, and it’s already not far off.
Bar for success: 5,000 monthly sales
3. Chery Unbounded Pro/QQ Wujie Pro (1,745 sales)
Yet another mini car hoping to replicate the success of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV, the Chery Unbounded Pro, called QQ Wujie Pro in China, has landed in the home charts. It is a 3.40m long, two door four-seater EV that is clearly more premium than the Mini EV, sitting above the QQ Ice cream in the Chery lineup. It comes with a very complete equipment including a 12.9-inch central digital screen, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, leather seats as standard, a panoramic roof and pop out door handles like Tesla.
In terms of safety, the Unbounded notably offers line departure warning and road sign recognition, one of the cheapest vehicles in the world to offer these features as standard. The vehicle comes with a choice of two ranges: 301 and 408 km. It is priced from 89,900 to 112,900 yuan (12,100-15,200€ or US$12,900-16,200) and will competes in price with such models as the Leap Motor T03 (79,500-96,500 yuan) and BYD Dolphin (102,800-130,800 yuan) which are both four-doors. For comparison the Chery QQ Ice Cream is priced from 39,900 to 57,520 yuan and the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV is priced from 32,800 to 99,900 yuan. We’d want the QQ Wujie Pro to reach 4,500 sales to be called a success.
Bar for success: 4,500 monthly sales
4. Rising Auto R7 (1,501 sales)
Previously known as R, Feifan R (飞凡汽车) or Rising Auto is an EV brand by SAIC originally launched in 2020. This new R7 is the brand’s third model after the ER6 and Marvel R and its new flagship. It is a 4.90m long mid-size 5-seater coupe SUV as the current fashion standards dictate. The now mandatory pop out door handles are here again. The R7 is packed with safety features such as a self driving system featuring 33 sensors around the vehicle including an optional LIDAR with 500-meter detection distance located above the front windshield. It also has an Augmented Reality Head Up Display system from Huawei with a 70-in display area.
The interior features a giant 43-inch triple screen split into a 15.05-inch middle infotainment screen, 12.3-inch passenger display and a 10.25-inch instrument panel. It is available with a 340 hp single motor rear-wheel drive with 551 km range, a long range rear-wheel drive with 642 km and a dual motor 4WD with 606 km range. The R7 has versions with or without swappable batteries. It is priced between 302,500 and 369,500 yuan (40,800-49,900€ or US$43,300-52,900) and will therefore compete directly with the Tesla Model Y (300,000-397,900 yuan), as well as the Zeekr 001 (299,000-386,000 yuan) and the Xpeng G9 (309,900-469,900 yuan). In terms of sales prospects, The ER6 peaked at 3,264 in October 2021 but has otherwise been at or below 1,500 units. In that sense, the R7 start is already a strong one and regular stints around 2,500 sales would be a good result.
Bar for success: 2,500 monthly sales
5. Neta S (202 sales)
Neta is an EV brand by Hozon Auto that currently sells two small SUVs: The U Pro and V Pro. The S is the brand’s first sedan and also by far the most expensive. It’s a four-door mid-size fastback with, again, pop out door handles. At 4,98m long, it is aimed at the Tesla Model 3 although it is 29 cm longer. It was originally unveiled as the Eureka 03 Concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2021. A spectacular feature for the Yaoshi top trim is its scissor doors. The S is available in either EREV (Extended Range EV) or standard EV. The EREV has a 1.5L engine charging the dual electric motors and has a 1,160km range or 310km on pure EV. There is also a rear-motor real-wheel drive (520 or 715 km range) and a dual motor all-wheel drive (650 km range) eclipsing the 0-100kmh in just 3.9 sec.
The interior features 3 digital screens: a 17.6-inch centre portrait screen, a 13.3-inch driver instrument panel and a 12.3-inch passenger screen. Priced from 199,800 to 338,800 yuan (27,000-45,700€ or US$28,600-48,500), the S competes with the shorter Tesla Model 3 (277,000-344,990 yuan), the Leap Motor C01 (193,800-286,800 yuan), the Xpeng P7 (239,900-285,900 yuan), the Shenlan SL03 (168,900-699,900 yuan), the BYD Han (214,800-329,800 yuan) and the BYD Seal (209,800-286,800 yuan). Sales-wise, the Neta V has a high of 11,935 sales hit last September and the U peaked at 6,295 sales last October, so the brand is on a roll at the moment. This pulls the success barrier a little higher than usual for the sedan, keeping in mind it is a lot more expensive than the aforementioned small SUVs.
Bar for success: 3,500 monthly sales
6. Hycan A06 (10 sales)
Hycan is an EV brand originally created by a joint-venture between GAC and NIO but now fully owned by GAC. The A06 is its third model after the 007 SUV and the Z03 hatchback. At 4,965m long, it is a rather large sedan competing in the same category as the above Neta S. The A06 comes with three powertrain options: a 184hp or 218hp electric motor with front-wheel drive and a 462hp dual motor with all-wheel drive. The range is either 550 km or 630 km, with the top trim range unknown.
It is priced from 179,800 to 269,800 yuan (24,300-36,400€ or US$25,800-38,600), which is very competitive for such a large EV. Its competition includes the Neta S (199,800-338,800 yuan), the Leap Motor C01 (193,800-286,800 yuan), the Shenlan SL03 (168,900-699,900 yuan) and the BYD Seal (209,800-286,800 yuan) as well as the Tesla Model 3 (277,000-344,990 yuan). Looking at sales potential, the Hycan Z03 just peaked at 2,542 units this November while the 007 never took off, culminating at 206 sales in August 2020. However the A06 generated no less that 30,000 orders in 3 days so the model should be able to take the Hycan brand to a new level.
Bar for success: 3,000 monthly sales
7. Buick Century (2 sales)
Also known as the GL8 Century, this is a premium addition to the Buick GL8 best-selling family of MPVs. I resuscitates a nameplate that was used for cars up until 2005. Although new, the Century is already a dying species as the only ICE vehicle among this month’s new launches. Note that two generations of GL8, both facelifted in 2022, will remain in production, as this is an added luxury model to top the range. The Century comes as a four-, six- or seven-seaters and is 5.23m long, roughly the same as the two “old” GL8. It is powered by a 237hp 2.0T engine that also equips the two GL8.
Brushing past a bland dashboard, the main attraction of the four-seat version of the Century is its uber luxurious back seat environment. It has a large 32-inch screen where you can watch pretty much what you want with a 5G internet connection, 18-way adjustable seats with foot rests, and infotainment and seat control in a 8-inch touch screen between the seats. Understandably, the Century is priced well above its other GL8 counterparts, from 529,900 to 689,900 yuan (71,500-93,100€ or US$75,900-98,800). It competes with the Mercedes V-Class (478,800-646,800 yuan) although the latter doesn’t offer the level of luxury the Century does. Among Chinese models, the GAC Trumpchi M8 (179,800-369,800 yuan) comes to mind. Sales prospects are accordingly limited.
Bar for success: 2,500 monthly sales