Now that we have explored March 2023 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 10 new models joining Chinese roads, 8 of them Chinese which once again illustrates the trend towards local brands as they now account for more than 50% share of the Passenger Vehicle market. To fully understand the scope of the Chinese market, make sure you consult our Exclusive Guide to all 190 active Chinese Brands.
1. LI L7 (7,702 sales)
After the One in 2021, the L9 last September and the L8 last November, the L7 is the fourth identical-looking SUV to be launched by LI Auto, always with instant blockbuster status at almost 8,000 sales. Only minute design differences separate the L7 from the L8 and L9. It is the brand’s first five-seat SUV, all others being able to transport more passengers. One can question the strategy of launching models that resemble each other so much but it seems to be working fine for Li Auto, with its sales up 65.8% year-on-year so far in 2023. March was also the brand’s second highest ever monthly volume at 20,823.
LI L7 interior
The L7 is 5.05m long, vs. 5.08m for the L8 and its specs are identical to the L8. It is also a 4WD extended range EV (EREV) meaning its 1.5L turbocharged ICE only powers the battery. It has two electric motors for a total output of 320hp. The L7’s range is 1315 km, identical to the L8 while its EV-only range is 210 km vs. 175 km for the L8. One of the most spectacular feature of the L7 is the suspended rear cabin 15.7-inch LCD screen. The dashboard is identical to the L8. The L7 is priced from 319,800 to 379,800 yuan (42,400-50,300€ or US$46,400-55,150), logically lower than the L8 (339,800-399,800 yuan) and L9 (459,800 yuan). It will compete in price with the likes of the Tank 500 (335,000-395,000 yuan), VW Teramont (295,000-405,000 yuan) and Ford Explorer (309,800-379,800 yuan).
Bar for success: 8,000 monthly sales
2. Wuling Bingo (3,311 sales)
After the tremendous success of the Hongguang Mini EV, Wuling tries its luck with this Bingo, a five-door EV hatch. It has a round and retro-inspired design with oval headlights and rear lamps. Its maximum range is 333 km with a 67 hp electric motor. The entry level spec has 40 hp for a 203 km range. As always, Wuling offers great value for money with the Bingo, as the 3.95m hatch is available from 59,800 to 83,800 yuan (7,925-11,100€ or US$8,700-12,200). Top speed is limited to 100 km/h.
Wuling Bingo interior
The entry level spec only features a small instrument panel while its top spec has a tile including two screens for the instrument panel and a 10.25-inch screen for infotainment. Interior space is impressive for a vehicle of this size. The Bingo will compete with the smaller Changan Lumin (49,900-69,900 yuan) and Leapmotor T03 (59,900-99,500 yuan) but its main competitor is the upcoming BYD Seagull, which is anticipated to start at 78,800 yuan. Expectations are high for the Bingo so we’d want it to reach at least 15,000 monthly sales to call it a success.
Bar for success: 15,000 monthly sales
3. IM LS7 (1,978 sales)
IM Motors, for Intelligence in Motion, is a premium EV brand launched in 2020 by Zhiji Auto (智己汽车), a joint venture between SAIC, Alibaba and Zhangjiang Hi-Techi. It focuses on AI and in-depth intelligence for automobiles. The LS7 SUV is its second model following the L7 sedan that was aimed at the Tesla Model S. It is a 5.05m long midsize SUV which received 3,000 orders within one hour of starting pre-booking back in December 2022. The LS7 is available in two different versions: a single motor RWD with a 660 km range and a dual motor 4WD with 615km range an 0-100km/h acceleration in 4.5 seconds.
IM LS7 interior
The LS7 interior is spectacular, with not a single button and all screens, and a half-width steering wheel, a first for mass-produced vehicles in China. You can also choose a full-width steering wheel if this one feels too futuristic for you. The windshield/roof is panoramic and measures 1.61 x 1.62m! There is a triple screen tile and an additional portrait digital screen at the centre of the dashboard. Priced from 309,800 to 459,800 yuan (41,100-60,900€ or US$45,000-66,800), the LS7 will compete with the likes of the Xpeng G9 (309,900-469,900 yuan), the AvatR 11 (319,900-600,000 yuan), Zeekr 001 (300,000-403,000 yuan) and Tesla Model Y (261,900-361,900 yuan). The L7 peaked at 1,019 sales so the LS7 is already well above that as soon as its first month of wholesales. We’ll stretch the bar for success a little.
Bar for success: 3,500 monthly sales.
4. Hongqi H6 (394 sales)
Hongqi is a premium marque by FAW that notably supplies cars for top members of the Communist Party. A rare ICE in this month’s newcomers list, the H6 slots in the Hongqi line-up in between the H5 and H7 sedans. It is a five-door fastback also destined for foreign markets including the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. An interesting fact about the H6 is it will target younger buyers, which goes against the traditional aim of the brand. The H6 is powered by a 2.0L turbo-charged engine delivering 248 hp. It is 4.99m long and has a 2.92m wheelbase. Among the colour options, you can choose a dual-tone with blackened roof. As is always the case with Hongqi models, the interior is classy and features a large vertical touch screen in the centre of the dashboard.
Hongqi H6 interior
The H6 is priced competitively at 194,800 to 241,800 yuan (25,800-32,000€ or US$28,300-35,100) compared to 158,900-225,800 yuan for the Hongqi H5. It will compete in size with the likes of the Cadillac CT5 279,700-360,700 yuan) and VW CC (249,900-299,900 yuan). Hongqi has been oe of the success stories of the past few years, reaching a record 42,158 sales in January 2022. This year, although volumes are lower, the brand has climbed to a record 16th place in March, outselling mass market Chinese brands such as Chery and teasing Haval. We have reasonably high expectations for the H6, with a point of reference being the H5 which peaked at 13,137 wholesales in January 2022. 6,000 monthly sales would mean the H6 is a success.
Bar for success: 6,000 monthly sales
5. Roewe RX9 (307 sales)
Introduced at the Chengdu Motor Show in August 2022, the RX9 is Roewe’s new flagship and is aiming at offering a more modern design than the RX8 launched four years ago. As a result it looks like most SUVs that have been popping up recently with thin headlights, a large grille and fog lights situated in the bumper. It also has retractable door handles. This is a three-row SUV that can sit 6 to 7 passengers. As has become the norm for Chinese new launches, the interior of the RX9 is rather spectacular with a three-piece 47-inch touch screen band that runs almost the entire width of the dashboard.
Roewe RX9 interior
The RX9 is priced from 175,800 to 243,800 yuan (23,300-32,300€ or US$25,500-35,400) which is a cut-throat price for a flagship model and to be compared with 168,800 to 228,800 yuan for the RX8. Unfortunately the RX9 enters a segment that has struggled to gain traction for similar-sized Chinese models. The GAC Trumpchi GS8 (186,800-269,800 yuan) used to pull decent volumes but has receded in the past couple of year, while the Exeed VX (179,900-233,900 yuan) is weak. At comparable size, the Ford Edge (229,800-309,800 yuan) has managed a few 5,000+ wholesales months. Let’s not shy away from it, the RX8 was a flop, peaking at 2,821 wholesales early on in its career in June 2018 but only passing the 2,000 monthly unit mark three times. To be a success, we expect the RX9 to roughly double that level regularly.
6. Toyota bZ3 (297 sales)
After the bZ4X, the Toyota bZ3 is the second model under the bZ (“beyond Zero”) EV sub-brand, and Toyota’s first EV sedan (finally!). It was unveiled in October 2022 for the Chinese market. The bZ3 shares its platform with the bZ4X and was developed by the FAW Toyota / BYD joint venture named BYD Toyota EV Technology (BTET). The bZ3 is powered by a Blade lithium iron phosphate battery developed by BYD. There are two battery options available, one giving 517km of range and the other 616km, and the more powerful version eclipses the 0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds. The bZ3 is 4.72m long and has a 2.88m wheelbase. The exterior is somewhat daring for the brand and is consistent with the bZ4X. The interior features a 12.3-inch touch screen. Safety features include pre-collision system, lane departure alert and adaptive cruise control which, to be fair, are now a given even for less expensive models.
Toyota bZ3 interior
The most interesting info on the bZ3 is that it was victim of the price war currently at play in the Chinese market. Originally slated for a 189,800-219,800 yuan price range (25,150-29,100€ or US$27,600-31,900), it was eventually put on sale for 169,800-199,800 yuan (22,500-26,500€ or US$24,700-29,000). The bZ4X suffered the same fate when it had its price slashed 30,000 yuan to bring its base price to 169,800 yuan also. For comparison, the Tesla Model 3 is priced from 229,900 to 329,900 yuan, the GAC Aion S Plus from 149,800 to 191,600 yuan and the BYD Qin Plus from 99,800 to 209.900 yuan. Although the bZ3 received 5,000 orders within its first day of pre-sales, it may struggle to get traction. The bZ4X is only reaching 2,191 units for its 6th month of sales and this is wildly disappointing.
Bar for success: 5,000 monthly sales
7. (Dongfeng) Fengon Landian E5 (250 sales)
Fengon (风光) is a brand by Dongfeng Sokon (DFSK) that used to be called Dongfeng Fengguang or Glory for overseas markets. The Landian E5 is actually the PHEV version of the Fengon 580. It is a seven-seater SUV. Its design is rather conservative both outside and inside but remains classy. It is built on Seres’ DE-i super electric drive intelligent platform and is powered by 1.5L engine and DHT300 electric hybrid system from Fudi Industrial, which is owned by BYD. The Landian E5 goes from 0 to 50 km/h in 2.9 seconds and has a combined WLTC range of 1,150 km. Huawei HiCar 3.0 equips the model, making it one of the first to feature this new smartphone and car software.
Fengon Landian E5
The interior features a digital instrument panel and a central control touch screen, and 12 speakers combine to give you the best possible sound system. The Landian E5 is priced between 139,900 and 151,900 yuan (18,500-20,100€ or US$20,300-22,100) and enters a busy segment including the BYD Song Pro (140,800-165,800 yuan) and Leapmotor C11 (149,800-239,800 yuan). The Fengon 580 used to be a prominent feature in its segment, reaching 19,771 wholesales in October 2017 but it has fallen below 2,000 units over the past 12 consecutive months and only mustered 244 sales in March of this year. This doesn’t bode well for the Landian E5 and it may struggle to reach its bar for success.
Bar for success: 3,000 monthly sales
8. Rising F7 (48 sales)
Previously known as R, Feifan (飞凡汽车) or Rising Auto is an EV brand by SAIC originally launched in 2020. The new F7 is the brand’s fourth model after the ER6, Marvel R and R7. It is a four-door EV sedan that offers swappable batteries for its top spec variant. As it has become the norm in new Chinese offerings, the F7 features the pop-up door handles that were popularised by Tesla. It has an impressive rear light band featuring an illuminated R logo. The F7 is 5m long and has a 3m-long wheelbase.
Rising F7 interior
There are two power versions for the F7: a single-motor RWD with 294 hp featuring a lithium iron phosphate battery offering 600 km range and a dual-motor 4WD with 544 hp featuring a ternary lithium battery with a 666 km range. Inside, a massive triple digital screen spans the entire width of the cockpit and integrates the air vents. The F7 is priced from 229,900 to 301,900 yuan (30,500-40,000€ or US$33,400-43,800). That puts it right up against the much smaller (4.69m) Tesla Model 3 (229,900-329,900 yuan) and on par with the BYD Han (209,800-331,800 yuan) and Xpeng P7 (209,900-339,900 yuan). In terms of sales prospects, the R7 peaked at 1,531 sales at the start of its career, which is a disappointing result. We want the F7 to do better to be a success.
Bar for success: 3,500 monthly units
9. Peugeot 408X (32 sales)
This is the car we know as the Peugeot 408 in Europe. Because a Peugeot 408 already exists in China (a 308-based sedan), the name has been changed for this market to 408X. The 408X is a coupe crossover that was developed alongside the third generation 308 and with which it shares the same headlights, taillights and iCockpit dashboard design. The cabin features three digital displays as well as a three-dimensional high-definition dashboard. Advanced driving-assist functions are available. The 408X is for now powered with a 1.6T 180 hp engine, with two PHEV engines and a base 1.2L 130 hp engine to come soon. They are all mated with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The 408X is produced at the Dongfeng Peugeot factory in Chengdu.
Peugeot 408X interior
Priced between 145,700 and 179,700 yuan (19,300-23,800€ or US$21,200-26,100), the 408X competes with its sibling the Citroen C5 X (143,700-186,700 yuan) and possibly the sporty sedan MG 7 (119,800-169,800 yuan). For reference, the Peugeot 408 is priced from 105,700 to 159,700 yuan and the 508 from 159,700 to 224,700 yuan. The 408X is an important model for Peugeot in China. The brand has been in freefall for many years now and is down a further -39.8% so far in 2023, ranking at a low #49 in March with just 4,704 sales. We won’t aim too high for the 408X given Peugeot’s struggles.
Bar for success: 2,500 monthly sales
10. Nio EC7 (3 sales)
The EC7 is already the 8th Nio model to hit Chinese roads when counting the EP9 supercar. It was unveiled on Nio Day on 24 December 2022 alongside a refreshed version of the ES8 and third generation battery swap station. Nio enjoys cult status in China similarly to Tesla. The EC7 is the brand’s second coupe SUV after the EC6 and acts as the flagship coupe SUV of the brand. It is 4.97m long and has a wheelbase of 2.96m. According to Nio, the EC7 has a drag coefficient of 0.23, the lowest ever for an SUV. The car features active air suspension, NOMI AI personal assistant, Nappa leather and intelligent fragrance system.
Nio EC7 interior
The EC7 is powered by a swappable lithium-ion battery pack. It comes with three battery options: a 75 kWh battery for 490 km of range, a 100 kWh battery for 635 km and an upcoming 159 kWh battery for 940 km. The EC7 generates 653 hp and swallowed the 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds. It is priced from 488,000 to 578,000 yuan (64,700-76,600€ or US$70,900-83,900) and is aimed at the Tesla Model X (879,900-1,039,900 yuan) and the BMW X6 (786,900-966,900 yuan). In terms of sales potential, the similarly sized ES7 peaked at 4,897 sales last November but has fallen below 1,500 units in recent months. We will aim slightly lower for the EC6.
Bar for success: 3,500 monthly sales