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China May 2018 Retail sales: BAIC BJEV EC-Series up to #7

24.134 BAIC BJEV EC found a buyer in China in May: the electric invasion has started.

* See the Top 94 All China-made brands and Top 596 models by clicking on the title *

April 2017 – April 2018 monthly All-models data also available, Contact us here

After detailing China May Wholesales, it’s now time to go through China Retail sales, a new exclusive monthly BSCB update. Keep in mind Retail sales are dealership sales to end-customers whereas Wholesales are ex-factory sales to dealerships. These new Retail updates enable a second perspective, perhaps closer to the reality on the ground. Also, the way models are displayed is slightly different, allowing an unprecedented look at previously secretive brands such as Landwind with all models now separated, and new standalone variants such as the Wuling Hongguang S3 SUV and the Haval H6 Coupe.

The new China-exclusive Sportage helps Kia up 11% in May.

Brand-wise, Volkswagen edges up 2% to tower ahead all competition, with Toyota soaring 23% to remain at #2 ahead of Geely up another 24%. Nissan (+17%) also shines at #5, Baojun is a lot weaker than its wholesales figures, edging up just 1%. In contrast, Haval (-28%), Buick (-22%) and Honda (-15%) are in great difficulty, which augurs for difficult wholesales months ahead as dealers won’t be ordering much new metal given they’re not selling what they have in stock. Whereas its wholesales have clearly rallied back, Hyundai retail sales are still in negative at -4%. Just outside the Top 10, Audi (+5%) tops premium marques ahead of Mercedes (+16%) and BMW (+14%). BAIC (+37%), Roewe (+29%) and Chevrolet (+22%) post the largest year-on-year gains in the remainder of the Top 20.

Hongqi sales are up 9-fold on May 2017 thanks to the arrival of the H5.

Further down the ranking, the best performing foreign brands include Jaguar (+56%), Isuzu (+46%), Skoda (+35%), Mitsubishi (+30%), DS (+27%), Volvo (+24%), Cadillac (+21%) and Citroen (+18%). At the other end of the scale, Peugeot (-29%) is stuck in dismal waters at #29, as are Fiat (-91%), Acura (-37%), Suzuki (-33%), Luxgen (-23%), Jeep (-22%) and Infiniti (-19%). Among Chinese carmakers, the most impressive are Hongqi (+799%), Foton (+223%), Qoros (+217%), Maxus (+176%), JMC (+163%), Bisu (+112%), Zhi Dou (+89%), Jinbei (+62%), MG (+50%), Brilliance (+43%), Zotye (+39%), Denza (+37%), BYD (+30%), Hawtai (+28%), Landwind (+27%) and Yema (+20%).

Very first appearance of the Chery Tiggo 8 in any Chinese charts.

But there are also many that struggle, including Zinoro (-69%), FQT Motor (+46%), Weichai (-44%), Huasong (-40%), Soueast (-40%), Great Wall (-37%), Joylong (-37%), Lifan (-37%), Borgward (-35%), Foday (-34%), Chana (-30%), Karry (-30%), Cowin (-28%) and SWM (-26%). New brand arrivals remain dominated by WEY (#36) and Lynk & Co (#42), the rest including Traum (#73), Arcfox (#78), Sinogold (#84), Yudo (#85), Xpeng (#86) and Nio (#87), with Sinogold and Nio having yet to appear in the Wholesales charts.

Retail-wise, the Nissan Sylphy is the best-selling vehicle in China outright in May.

As it was the case in April and also in May Wholesales-wise, three sedans dominate the retail models ranking in China this month: the Nissan Sylphy (+24%) is the best-selling nameplate outright ahead of the Toyota Corolla (+30%) and VW Lavida (+16%). The Haval H6 (-22%) rallies back up 9 spots on April to #4 despite a harsh year-on-year drop and reclaims the title of best-selling SUV in China off the Baojun 510 for the first time since last December. Keep in mind retail figures separate H6 sales from the H6 Coupe (#93). The VW Sagitar (+8%) gains two spots on last month to #5, knocking down the Wuling Hongguang (-28%) to #6 while the Baojun posts its first ever decline at -14% to #8, confirming the softening we have witnessed in wholesales. As a result the YTD order is reshuffled, with the Lavida now in the lead above the Corolla, 510 and Hongguang.

The Zotye T800 has landed.

The main event in the models charts has an electric zing to it: with sales up a staggering 9-fold on May 2017 to over 24.000, the BAIC BJEV EC-Series shoots up to a record-breaking 7th place, scoring its second best monthly volume after the 32.781 it reached last December, but that only enabled it to rank #20 at the time. According to BSCB records, it is the first time a pure electric nameplate ever ranks inside the Chinese Retail Top 10. To gain the extend of this exploit, note the the 2nd ranked electric vehicles comes 99 ranks below at #106: the Zhi Dou D2 at 5.286 sales. More details in our dedicated New Energy update shortly.

Chana X70A

The Baojun 530 tops all recent launches at #41 with just under 11.500 sales, albeit already down 3% on April. In summary, the 530 has managed to tilt the 510 into negative but seems to have plateaued already with end-customers which will impact its wholesales in the coming months. The Geely Vision X3 (#48) follows, ahead of the BYD Song MAX (#57), Lynk & Co 01 (#63), Wuling Hongguang S3 (#65), Baojun 310W (#78), Chana Oshan X70A (#98) and WEY VV5 (#100).

JMC E400

There are no less than 12 new arrivals in the May Retail ranking. As it is the case for Wholesales, the Baojun 360 is the most popular (#101), this time with just under 5.500 units. The Haval H4 (#146), Roewe RX8 (#247), Roewe Ei5 (#263), Hyundai Encino (#333), FAW Jumpal CX65 (#446) and WEY P8 (#452) have all been already described in our “Focus on All-new models” updates that are dedicated to wholesales. Yet five new nameplates have not yet appeared in the wholesales charts and therefore make their first entrance in any Chinese ranking: the Chery Tiggo 8 (#352) – I discovered it at the Beijing Auto Show in April, Zotye T800 (#421), JMC E400 (#491) – essentially an electric Landwind X2, JAC iEVA50 (#527) and Lynk & Co 02 (#596) – check out my test drive of the 02 here.

Previous month: China April 2018 Retail sales: Three sedans on top, Baojun 510 #1 SUV

Full May 2018 Top 94 All China-made brands and Top 596 All-models below.

(more…)

China imports May 2018: Mercedes CLA, Lexus NX up in market down 4%

The Mercedes CLA is the #3 best-selling import in China in May.

* See the Top 50 All imported brands and Top 240 models by clicking on the title *

All-brands and All-models 2017 monthly data available, contact us here for more details.

Complete Chinese imports data is now available for May, BSCB being the first media outside of China to report on these figures regularly. Last month the Chinese government announced it would lower the tariffs imposed on car imports by ten percentage points from 25 to 15%, applicable on July 1. However there is still great uncertainty around imports as a retaliation to Trump’s import tariffs could imply retiring the rate to 25% for U.S. car imports. For now, imports are down 4% in May to a round 84.000 but remain up 7% year-to-date at 453.586.

Lexus NX sales are up 31% year-on-year in May.

The brands podium returns to its YTD order this month with Mercedes (+5%) still a notch above all manufacturers at over 14.000 units while BMW (-18%) climbs back above Lexus (+12%) for just 304 units and despite a steep decline mainly due to the transfer of the X3 into local production (see our May Focus on All-new models). Both carmakers are above 11.000 import sales for the month. A nice surprise from Porsche (-1%) stepping up one spot to #4 imported brand, taking advantage of weakening sales by Toyota  (-3%). Land Rover (+16%) is very robust in 6th place, delivering the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 10 thanks to the Velar. Lincoln (-0.2%) marks a pause but remains above Audi (-7%) while Volkswagen (-37%) crumbles down. Below, Mazda (up 266-fold due to the new CX-3 and MX-5), McLaren (+214%), Mitsubishi (+127%), Ferrari (+97%), Bentley (+60%), Aston Martin (+56%), Rolls-Royce (+19%) and Nissan (+19%) make themselves noticed.

The McLaren 720S has landed in China…

Over in the imported models ranking, the Lexus ES (+4%) retains the top spot just as the new generation is about to boost sales even further, with the BMW X5 (-1%) solid in 2nd place like YTD and FY2017. The Mercedes CLA soars 38% to reclaim the third spot it holds YTD off the Lexus NX (+31%) knocked down one rank to #4. The Porsche Macan (-9%) is up four spots on April to #5, with the Nissan Patrol (+24%) and Range Rover (+15%) also very robust inside the Top 10. Further down, the Mitsubishi Pajero (+128%), Lincoln Continental (+114%), Toyota Land Cruiser (+27%), Volvo XC90 (+27%), Mercedes GLC Coupe (+21%) and Mercedes S-Class (+14%) shine.

As has the Kia Stinger.

The Range Rover Velar (#31) tops all recent launches (<12 months) above the BMW 6 Series GT (#57), Ford F-150 (#67), Mercedes AMG GLC (#77) and Mazda CX-3 (#78). Finally, we welcome three new nameplates in the Chinese imports sales charts this month, a rare event in a traditionally tranquil ranking: the McLaren 720S at #152, the Lexus LC at #167 and the Kia Stinger at #207.

Previous month: China imports April 2018: Lexus up 34% to #2 below Mercedes

Previous year: China Full Year 2017: Exclusive imports data by model and brand

Full May 2018 Top 50 All imported brands and Top 240 models below.

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China May 2018: Focus on the All-new models

Baojun 360

As per the BSCB tradition, after covering May China sales in detail, we now focus on the all-new locally produced launches so you can stay up-to-the-minute on the fastest-evolving market in the world. Note these updates remain based on wholesales data. Although this month – and for the first time in 6 years – sedans grow faster than SUVs, judging by the class of May 2018 new entrants this reverse of fortune is likely to only be temporary. Out of the 10 new launches making their first appearances in the wholesales charts this month (the largest field since last September), no less than 8 are SUVs… and some of them have very high sales potential. Keep track of the fast-expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 169 Chinese Brands, updated live.

1. Baojun 360 (#74 – 8.003 sales)

Only three months after the appearance of the Baojun 530 in February, the tremendously successful low-cost marque by SAIC-GM is not wasting time, now spurning out the 360 MPV unveiled in Beijing. Every single combustion Baojun launch in the past four years has been a blockbuster, and the 360 is headed this way too with a first month above 8.000 sales. The 730 MPV launched in August 2014 and peaked at 50.128 units in December 2016, the 560 SUV launched in July 2015 and peaked at 42.077 in March 2016, the 310 hatch and station wagon launched in September 2016 and hit a record 35.048 in December 2017, the 510 SUV launched in February 2017 and became the most successful launch in the history of automobile in China and the world (no less), hitting a monthly record of 58.006 in December 2017, and finally the 530 SUV appeared in February and has been progressing ever since, reaching 17.003 sales this month.

Baojun 360 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

There are no more prestigious antecedents to follow and the pressure is on the 360 to succeed without hurting the larger 730. Powered by the traditional GM 112hp 1.5 engine the Baojun brand has been using for most of its nameplates, the 360 is priced at an impossibly low 56.800-75.800 yuan (7.600-10.100€, US$8.800-11.800) and once again features interior quality, materials and luxuries (electric seats…) that set it miles above the local competition. The only competing vehicle that could potentially come close is the markedly more expensive BYD Song MAX (79.900-129.900). But this is where things get challenging for Baojun, as its main competition is internal. The 360 is priced similarly to the Wuling Hongguang S3 (56.800-81.800) and undercuts the larger Baojun 730 (60.800-108.800) which it is already hurting: the 730 is down an abysmal 69% year-on-year in May. It looks like a frustratingly repeating scenario for Baojun as the 530 is slowly but surely hampering the 510 which itself absolutely annihilated the 560.

Bar for success: 20.000 monthly units

Changhe A6. Picture ez.edushi.com

2. Changhe A6 (#239 – 1.553 sales)

New owner BAIC continues to try and revive the Changhe brand from a low-cost MPV-maker into a generalist marque, however there had been a drought of new models since August 2016 and the launch of the Q35 small SUV. Even though these two nameplates have already appeared in the retail sales charts, Changhe launches a two-pronged attack this year, now apparent in wholesales, starting with the A6. It is unchartered territory for Changhe as the brand has never launched a standalone hatchback before, notwithstanding the cooperations with Suzuki, and it faced with an uphill battle in an extremely competitive field.

Changhe A6 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Priced between 69.800 and 99.800 yuan (9.300-13.300€ or US$10.800-15.500), the A6 competes with fellow BAIC sedan Senova D50 (67.900-113.800), also going against the outright leaders in the Chinese-branded sedan segment: the Geely Emgrand (69.800-100.800), Changan Eado (71.900-105.900) and Geely Emgrand GL (78.800-115.800), even though a more direct competitor would seem to be the similarly-shaped but surprisingly cheaper Chery Arrizo 5 (49.900-97.900). So in a few words, lots of sales potential for the A6 but a very crowded sandpit. Changhe should remain humble in its sales objectives given the lack of experience of the brand in this segment, so a modest 3.000 monthly units is our bar for success.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

Changhe Q7. Picture sohu.com

3. Changhe Q7 (#255 – 1.323 sales)

The second nameplate in a very impressive 2018 Changhe attack, the Q7 totally bluffed me when I discovered it at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November with a prestigious cockpit rarely seen in any Chinese manufacturer, let alone Changhe which comes at the tail end of local marques. While keeping all the luxuries it displayed in Guangzhou, the Q7 market launch reveals an impossibly low price – a Change trait – from 87.900 to 148.900 yuan (11.750-19.900€ or US$13.700-23.100). This sets it in the same bracket as blockbusters such as the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800), Geely Boyue (98.800-159.800) and Baojun 530 (75.800-115.800) except these are all 5-seaters whereas the Q7 is a generous 7-seater.

Changhe Q7 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

In fact, the Q7’s true competitors are fellow dirt-cheap 7-seaters such as the BAIC Hyosow S7 (78.800-115.800), Bisu T5 (72.900-104.900), Chana CX70 (59.900-109.900) and Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (78.900-123.000). Even then, all of these offerings don’t come close to the refinement that the Q7 cockpit is offering, with only the Dongfeng able to pretend at anything else than a low-cost label. This makes the Q7 the best value for money 7-seat SUV in the Chinese market (therefore the world), no less. But although huge success would be deserved, as it is the case for the A6 Changhe should be prudent with sales targets as the Q7 is so off-brand (in a good way) that it may actually not be credible to its target customers for which the Changhe brand carries no prestige at all. Changhe could (should) be onto some gold here, but the hardest part will be convincing consumers to even consider the brand in the first place.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

4. FAW Besturn Senia R9 (#277 – 993 sales)

The Senia R9 was the main attraction on struggling FAW’s stand at the Beijing Auto Show in April. First Auto Works, as its name indicates the very first automobile manufacturer to have been founded in China, is down 39% in May and 13% so far in 2018 so it needs all the help any new and modern-looking SUV can bring. Oddly, the Senia R9 appears twice in this month’s sales charts: once under the FAW-Jilin subsidiary with 634 sales (logical, as this is where the Senia sub-brand was born) and once under the Besturn sub-brand with 359 sales, which doesn’t make any sense. This naming confusion was already present at the Beijing Auto Show in April.

FAW Besturn Senia R9 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

To add to the mess, Senia even seems to have been elevated to a brand, with its own logo on the grille and steering wheel. The first Senia was a rebadged Daihatsu Xenia (hence the sub-brand name) launched in 2007 and now called S80, and it was followed by the Senia R7 launched in May 2016 and peaking at 10.207 sales in November 2017. Depressingly for FAW, this month only the Besturn X40 manages to sell more than 1.000 units… Powered by a weak 1.2T engine, the R9 is priced from 83.900 to 125.900 yuan (vs. 66.900-106.900 for the R7) and comes in competition with virtually every strong selling Chinese SUV in the market, among them the Haval H6, GAC Trumpchi GS4, Geely Boyue and Changan CS55. There’s definitely room for more, but the fight will be tough. FAW desperately needs the R9 to succeed, even if it means killing 3-4 sedans to let it flourish.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

5. WEY P8 (#330 – 503 sales)

WEY is a new SUV semi-premium brand launched in 2017 by Great Wall to top its Haval lineup. It has snapped blockbuster status straight away, becoming by far the best-selling new brand in China over the past year with a stunning 154.000 units sold in 12 months, including 67.000 so far in 2018. However, after brilliantly crossing the 20.000 monthly unit mark from November 2017 to January 2018, it has since depleted quite significantly, down to just 11.079 in May which is just enough to outsell its main local competitor Lynk & Co (9.234) even though the latter only has one nameplate in market. The VV7 (June 2017) and VV5 (September 2017) have nabbed almost identical volumes, the former peaking at 10.551 in December 2017 and the latter at 10.798 that same month. They are down to around 5.000 sales each this month, so it’s time for fresh metal to revive sales, and this is where the P8 comes in although it might struggle doing so with its high price tag.

WEY P8 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The P8 is Great Wall’s first hybrid SUV and the first vehicle built on the company’s Pi4 plug-in hybrid four-wheel drive platform that powers the front wheels with a conventional 234hp 2.0 petrol engine and the rear wheels via a dedicated 85kW electric motor. Its technology prices it between 292.800 to 312.800 yuan (39.200-41.850€ or US$45.500-48.600) well above the existing VV5 (150.000-163.000) and VV7 (167.800-188.800). It enters a relatively virgin segment, with only the BYD Tang (292.800-299.900) positioned similarly, and perhaps the RX5 New Energy (195.900-296.800). The Tang has a personal best of 5.503 sales in December 2015 while the RX5 NE’s best is 3.339 units this month. Hitting these scores would be a great start for the P8.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly units

6. Skoda Kamiq (#343 – 402 sales)

The Kamiq is exclusive to China and Skoda’s third new SUV launch in China in the past year after the Kodiaq (April 2017) peaking at 7.030 sales in December and the Karoq (January 2018) up to 2.668 units in April. Skoda enjoys a more premium positioning in China compared to Europe and therefore is able to stick relatively expensive price tags on its models. The Kodiaq is available from 189.800 to 268.800 yuan (25.400-36.100€ or US$29.500-41.800) while the Karoq goes for 139.900-185.900 yuan (18.700-24.900€ or US$21.800-28.900) and although no official pricing has been announced yet, the Kamiq should follow the trend with an estimated 120.000-140.000 yuan price range (16.100-18.700€ or US$18.700-21.800).

Skoda Kamiq interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

This pits the Kamiq against similarly sized foreign-branded blockbusters such as the Honda XR-V (127.800-162.800) or Hyundai ix25 (109.800-152.800). This is a difficult spot for foreign carmakers as it makes these models compete with much larger and sophisticated local fares such as the Haval H6, GAC Trumpchi GS4 and Geely Boyue, and even much more refined 7-seaters such as the Changhe Q7 (see above) so the Kamiq has its work cut out. It is powered by an old-fashioned and weak 100hp 1.5 engine mated to a 5-speed manual or six-speed automatic which will make it all the more difficult to compete with more modern and cheaper Chinese fares, especially as the Kamiq is aimed at a younger, more affluent audience in large cities.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

7. Jeep Grand Commander (#356 – 326 sales)

Almost three years after becoming a local producer with the Cherokee launched in November 2015, Jeep steps up to an essential step in becoming truly engrained in China: launching a nameplate exclusive to this market. It is the Grand Commander, the brand’s only 7-seater and the first China-only model in the history of Jeep, reviving the Commander nameplate that was used between 2005 and 2010. The Grand Commander is the production version of the Yuntu Concept presented at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2017. It is powered by a 2.0T 234hp or 256hp engine both coupled with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Strangely for the brand, the two base versions are 2WD only.

Jeep Grand Commander interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Priced from 279.800 to 409.800 yuan (37.400-54.800€ or US$43.500-63.700), the Grand Commander competes with the Ford Edge (229.800-429.800), Toyota Highlander (239.800-422.800) and VW Teramont (308.900-518.900). These three models have all reached high sales volumes: the Edge’s personal best is 13.837 in December 2016, the Highlander’s is 12.018 in January 2017 and the Teramont’s is 11.238 in November 2017. As far as Jeep nameplates are concerned, the Cherokee peaked at 10.109 in December 2016, the Compass at 10.302 in December 2017 and the Renegade at 5.137 also in December 2017. Although it has been a smashing success in the past 2 years, the fact is in 2018 Jeep is in great difficulty with sales down a worrying 34% over the first five months and down 48% in May. The Grand Commander couldn’t come soon enough and should at least do better than the Renegade.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

8. Borgward BX6 (#396 – 118 sales)

German marque Borgward was reborn in 2016 thanks to Foton Motor, property of the BAIC Group. Although selling overpriced rebadged BAIC SUVs under an unknown European badge seemed like a stretch at the time, especially after a disastrous unveiling at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2015, there’s no denying the Borgward reboot has been a success. In less than two years, Borgward has sold 86.798 units in China, for now the only market where the brand exists. The brand’s entire marketing revolves around its prestigious German past, with slogans such as “Since 1919″ despite the half-century production interruption and the listing of the brand’s achievements at the peak of its glory in the 1950s: “A direct competitor to Mercedes”, “One of Germany’s Top 4 Carmakers” (along with Volkswagen, Opel and Mercedes) and “Cumulative sales of 1 million units”. Borderline (or plain?) misleading, with the fact that not a single Borgward is manufactured in Germany conveniently bypassed by the brand’s website. Even the Chinese name for Borgward (Baowo 宝沃) has a premium European taste: it is a mix of BMW (Baoma 宝马) and Volvo (Woer’Wo 沃尔沃)…

Borgward logo old and newOld and new Borgward logo

Borgward BX6 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

And it’s worked. Focusing solely on SUVs which have been the main engine of Chinese growth over the past half-decade, Borgward has carved itself a place under the sun, but new metal is now needed to keep the marque afloat. The BX7 launched in July 2016 and hit a peak of 5.556 units in December 2016 but has not been above 3.000 units in over a year, even crumbling down to just 211 sales last February. The smaller BX5 launched in April 2017 and reached a personal best of 3.710 units in December 2017. Unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2016, the BX6 is based on the BX5 and took its sweet time to hit the market but its refreshing blend of SUV, sedan and coupe à la BMW X4 sets it apart from the mainstream pack of cloned Chinese SUVs. Priced between 182.800 and 199.800 yuan (24.500-26.700€ or US$28.400-31.100), it is on the dearer side like all Borgwards and could potentially compete with simialrly shaped locals such as the Venucia T90 (109.800-154.800), Lynk & Co 02 (142.000-198.000) and the upcoming Bisu T7.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly units

9. BMW X3 (#415 – 48 sales)

The new generation X3 is only the second SUV manufactured by BMW in China. As an import it ranked 4th best-seller outright in 2017 with 34.442 sales below its larger brother the X5 ranking #2 with 51.878 deliveries. That should give a pretty good indication of the X3’s huge sales potential as a locally-manufactured nameplate. The X3 made and sold in China is exactly the same as the in the rest of the world (no lengthening of the wheelbase) and it should climb near the top of BMW sales in the country, even potentially becoming the brand’s best-seller in China if its competitors’ sales figures are anything to go by.

BMW X3 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The X3 is powered by a choice of two 2.0T engines at 184 or 252hp and is priced from 399.800 to 585.800 yuan (53.500- 78.400€ or US$62.200-91.100). It goes full-frontal against the Audi Q5 (396.400-519.200) and Mercedes GLC (394.800-579.000). Both German SUVs are their respective brands’ best-selling SUVs in China and third best-selling models outright. The Q5 ranks below the A4L and A6L so far in 2018 but ranked #2 Audi in August, September, December 2017 and January 2018, reaching a record 16.688 sales in January. The GLC ranks below the C- and E-Class but was Mercedes’ best-seller in China in April 2018, hitting a record 13.152 units in January. The X3 should aim at similar levels.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

10. VW T-Roc (#439 – 4 sales)

Volkswagen’s compact crossover, the T-Roc, needs no introduction and as it is starting to make its mark in Europe, the much-awaited China launch is now upon us. The China-made version of the T-Roc is longer than the European one by 77 mm and higher by 9 mm with its wheelbase gaining the most at 84 mm, mainly to benefit back passengers. It is powered by a 1.4T 150hp engine Size: 4318/1819/1582, and as we write these lines pricing information is not yet known for China. Volkswagen has been surprisingly slow to react to the SUV storm that has engulfed the Chinese market for the past five years, only launching the 7-seat Teramont in January 2017. It peaked at 11.238 units in November 2017 while the Tiguan’s highest monthly volume stands at 37.971 in October 2017.

VW T-Roc interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Volkswagen runs two joint-ventures in China and both its current SUVs are manufactured by the Shanghai-Volkswagen joint-venture. As incredible as it sounds, the T-Roc will be the first SUV manufactured by Volkswagen’s second joint-venture in the country, FAW-Volkswagen. This is the most important piece of information to remember about the T-Roc in order to predict its success, and needless to say that, as much as VW’s sedan sales remain extremely strong through both joint-ventures, FAW-Volkswagen dealers have been gagging for at least one SUV to add to their lineup for many years now. Therefore the sales potential of the T-Roc is enormous, and FAW-VW will expect it to weigh the same volume both the Tiguan and the Teramont currently command for Shanghai-VW. That’s a big ask, but they would be in their right to work towards it. Oddly, Shanghai-VW is getting a third SUV in the coming months, the Tharu, which is sure to enrage FAW-VW even further.

Bar for success: 20.000 monthly units

Previous month: China April 2018: Focus on the All-new models

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

China May 2018: SUVs drop share for the first time in 6 years

The VW Lavida is the best-selling vehicle in China for the 2nd month running.

* See the Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 445 models by clicking on the title *

According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), wholesales of new light vehicles in China gain a solid 7.9% year-on-year in May to 1.889.500, lifting the year-to-date volume up 5.1% or almost 500.000 deliveries to a record 9.900.900 units. That’s higher than the CAAM prediction of +3% for the Full Year 2018. May 2018 may be remembered as the turning point where the SUV segment in China has become saturated. Let’s not overreact, but the facts are here: for the first time since 2012 and the start of the SUV tsunami that has engulfed the country, sedans grow faster this month at +12% to 940.100 whereas SUV “only” manage a 6.5% gain to 761.300 which is below the market growth. In other words, SUVs lose market share year-on-year in May for the first time in 6 years. It’s a very unusual month that also sees microvans bottom up (+1.7%) to 49.000 units whereas MPV post a somewhat muted 7.1% decline to 139.100. Of course the May surprises are not enough to dent the longer-term trends just yet, and YTD sedans are now up 4.7% to 4.730.600, SUVs up almost three times that rate at 11.6% to 4.415.700, MPVs down 10.4% to 752.700 and microvans down 30% to 190.800.

The Nissan Sylphy ranks #2 overall for the 2nd time in a row.

Brand-wise, keeping in mind these figures are wholesales excluding imports, market leader Volkswagen posts another very robust month at +8% to just under 248.000 sales, still more than double any other carmaker in the largest market in the world, an outstanding feat. Except even more vigorous growth over the remainder of 2018 as the T-Roc hits dealerships in June. Toyota soars 23%, enjoying the combined benefits of a new generation Camry (+95%) and a very dynamic Levin (+150%) to jump four spots to #2 overall, a ranking it had not reached in almost 3 years (since July 2015). This ends Geely’s streak of seven consecutive months in second place at home, but the carmaker’s most impressive streaks aren’t broken: at +49% year-on-year to 113.834 sales, it’s Geely’s 26th consecutuve month of double-digit gains and 9th month in a row above 100.000 sales. YTD sales are up 37% to above 600.000 units, keeping the #2 spot.

At #3, the Toyota Corolla makes the podium 100% sedan for the first time in 5 years.

Honda (-4%) drops one spot on April to #4 but remains well above the 100.000 unit-mark with Nissan up 13% to a strong showing at 97.309, Baojun slowing down its growth at +16% as the 310 stabilises, the 530 cannibalises the 510 and the 730 freefalls with the arrival of the 360 (more details in our upcoming Focus on all-new models). Hyundai (+71%) continues to erase its paltry scores of 2017 hampered by China-Korea tensions just as Kia (+80%) does further down and Chevrolet (+53%) compensates for the weakness of Buick (-10%) thanks to stunning sales of its low-cost Cavalier sedan (+160%) accounting for 38% of the brand’s sales in China this month. Changan (-9%) is now threatened by Baojun for the title of #2 Chinese brand YTD.

The Emgrand GL (+78%) helps Geely post a 26th consecutive double-digit gain.

Mercedes soars 19% to end the month just 171 sales below archenemy Audi (+2%) but is above the Ingolstadt marque when taking imports into account. BMW (+15%) also outpaces the market but is 8.000 units below. Further down the ranking, Qoros (+541%) continues to run after its survival thanks to much-improved 5 SUV sales (+766%), Changhe (+97%) is back on track thanks to the simultaneous arrival of the A6 hatch and Q7 SUV (covered in our Focus on All-new models), with Citroen (+66% on a nightmarish 2017), MG (+66%), Zotye (+59%), JMC (+54%), Mitsubishi (+50%), Jaguar (+50%), Roewe (+38%), Landwind (+37%), Beijing Auto (+29%), Skoda (+26%), Cadillac (+24%), Maxus (+20%), Chery (+17%) and Hanteng (+16%) all impress with very satisfying gains.

Could Qoros survive after all? Sales are up 541% in May thanks to the 5 SUV.

There are some big names among freefalls this month, starting with Haval (-18%) overly reliant on a stuttering H6 (-13%) that represents almost two-thirds of its May sales just as the H8 (-82%), H1 (-72%), H2 (-67%), M6 (-62% on April), H5 (-58%) and H7 (-32%) all implode. Only positives are the H9 (+30%) and the H4 painfully crossing the 6.000 unit-mark just outside the Top 100. Despite the arrival off the P8 hybrid in the charts in May, WEY cannot compensate for Haval losses: at 11.079 units on three nameplates the semi-premium brand is down 16% on April and down 48% on its high of 21.349 sales last December. In contrast, Geely’s Lynk & Co continues to progress: +2% on last month to a new record 9.234 sales on only one model (01) with the 02 landing in June and the 03 in H2 2018.

MG soars 66% thanks to the new 6 sedan.

Ford (-49%) is foreign mass carmaker hit the hardest this month, suffering its 11th consecutive year-on-year drop. Jeep (-48%) follows closely and now rests all its hopes on the new China-exclusive Grand Commander (see upcoming May 2018 edition of our Focus on All-new models). Fiat (-96%), Acura (-62%), Suzuki (-37%), Infiniti (-27%), Peugeot (-17% despite the new 4008 and 5008) and Renault (-16%) also struggle. Among local brands, Cowin (-86%) continues to tumble down towards extinction, with Jinbei (-78%), Weichai (-61%), Soueast (-57%), FAW (-39%), Brilliance (-37%), SWM (-32%), Dongfeng (-28%), Lifan (-27%) also hit full frontal.

The Outlander (+89%) propels Mitsubishi sales up 50% in China this month.

Perfectly illustrating the shift of momentum out of SUVs back towards sedans this month, the models podium is composed at 100% of sedans for the first time since August 2013 when the Wuling Hongguang was still counted as a commercial vehicle. Helped by the arrival of a new model, the VW Lavida scores a second consecutive month in pole position with sales up 16%, and is followed by the Nissan Sylphy (+21%) and Toyota Corolla (+22%) also extremely dynamic despite being far into their respective life cycles. Confirming its implacable domination in the segment, Volkswagen places 5 sedans in the Top 8 with the Jetta (+18%), Santana (+25%) and Sagitar (+16%) all roaring ahead while the Magotan (-1%) takes a breather.

Lynk & Co continues to progress on the 01 alone, with the 02 slated for June.

Despite intense competition from the new Baojun 360, the Wuling Hongguang (-11%) manages to outsell all SUVs in market, keeping in minds its sales also include the S3 SUV variant. The Haval H6 (-13%) has now seen through the Baojun 510 threat to its supremacy at the country’s most popular SUV, distancing it by 6,500 units in May to snap the #1 SUV spot for the 57th time in the past 59 months. The VW Tiguan (-16%) also outsells the Baojun 510 to rank #2 SUV in China for the first time in 2018 despite a steep year-on-year drop. Responsible for the 510’s relative weakness this month is the progression of the larger 530, up 13% on April to a new record volume at 17.003 sales, ranking 7th best-selling SUV in the country.

The Cavalier (+160%) single-handedly lifts Chevrolet sales up 53%.

The Geely Boyue (+1%) has plateaued, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-46%) now needs a update, with the Chery Tiggo 3 (+96%) Changan CS35 (+94%), Mitsubishi Outlander (+89%), Geely Vision SUV (+28%), Geely Emgrand GS (+27%) and Nissan X-Trail (+18%) also strong in the segment. Geely dominates the Chinese sedan segment head and shoulders, monopolising the podium with the Emgrand (+18%), Emgrand GL (+78%) and Vision (+62%) distancing the Chery Arrizo 5 (+4%) and Baojun 310 (+9%). The BAIC EC-Series is up 3-fold on May 2017 (+224%) to retain the lead of new energy vehicles at #37 ahead of the BYD Qin (+365%) and JMC E200 (+654%). The Roewe RX8 (+169%) and FAW Jumpal CX65 (+320%) fare best among April launches whereas the Nissan Terra (-38%) and most strikingly the Hyundai Encino (-86%!) just can’t match their inaugural scores.

Previous month: China April 2018: Geely, Hyundai, Chevrolet lift market up 11.5%

One year ago: China May 2017: Second consecutive month of decline at -2.6%

Full May 2018 Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 445 models below.

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BSCB Exclusive: Your Guide to all 169 Chinese Brands


It’s time to showcase our Exclusive Guide to all 169 active Chinese brands again! 5 months after we first published it, 40 brands have already been added. It includes car, electric vehicles, pickup, bus and truck manufacturers and is the result of research spanning three years and multiple investigating trips to China. Nowhere else will you find such a complete and up-to-date compilation of all active Chinese automotive manufacturers. Like it has been the case for this very website, it’s my need for such a list and its absence anywhere online that have triggered this endeavour. A very simple way to take stock of how much the Chinese brands list has grown over the years is this: there are probably just as many active automotive brands in China than there are in the rest of the world…

The largest new vehicle market in the world, China is evolving at lightning speed with a myriad of local brands currently operating. Recently, the allocation of electric car production licenses by the Chinese government has triggered the creation of dozens of new NEV manufacturers and brands. In a way, China is now where the North American and European markets were in the 1920s with over a hundred brands competing for share in booming volumes. There is no doubt the number of Chinese brands will drastically reduce over the next few decades, but for now, with sub-brands becoming brands, brands appearing and disappearing on a weekly basis, it can be a truly confusing maze. No more.

This is a Live Guide, updated as new information comes about. Since the first version of this guide was published on 5th January 2018, 41 brands have been added: Aiways, CHJ, Chufeng, Ciwei, COS, CRRC, Dali, Dialev, Doda, Everus, Folor, Green Wheel, Hanergy, Huashen, Huatong, Jetour, Jiulong, JLM, Lark, Leap Motor, Linyu, LvChi, Neta, ORA, Qingling, Qingxing, Sany, SF Motors, Shifeng, Sinogold, SiTech, SOL, STR, T-King, WAW, YGM, Yinlong, Youngman, Yuancheng, Zedriv and Zoomlion. 1 was discontinued (Hafei) and 1 demoted to sub-brand (Exeed). If you have information that would impact this Guide please make sure to share it in the comments below.

Please contact us here for a more thorough analysis of the Chinese new car market, or if you want to advertise on this page.

Aiways

Founded in 2017, Aiways (in Mandarin 爱驰 Aichi) is an electric car manufacturer based in Shangrao in the Jiangxi Province with a subsidiary in Germany. The company’s factory is rather grandiose, under construction and announced to initially have a 150.000 annual capacity able to be cranked up to 300.000. In the long term, its range will include a few SUVs, crossovers, a sedans and an MPV. For now, the RG (pictured) is the carmaker’s halo vehicle and was unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2018, as well as an SUV concept called U5 ION. Aiways’ claimed specs for the RG are spectacular: 1200 km range, 0-100 in 2.5 seconds and 300 km/h top speed. RG stands for Roland Gumpert, the founder of supercar manufacturer GMG – now Apollo Automobil – and Chief Product Manager of Aiways as well as CEO of the German subsidiary. Confusingly, the RG had no Aiways branding in Beijing and was instead called the Roland Gumpert Nathalie. It is unclear whether the sportscar will remain under the Aiways brand when commercialised. The official website is here.

Ankai

Founded in 1997, Anhui Ankai Automobile (安徽安凯汽车) is headquartered in Hefei in the Anhui province and specialises in the production of buses and coaches. The company has three principal subsidiaries and distributes its products worldwide. The name “Ankai” is the abbreviation of Anhui-Kässbohrer, marking the cooperation between Hefei Feihe Automobile Factory and Kässbohrer from 1993 onwards. The official website is here.

Aolong: see Jiulong

Arcfox

Arcfox is a BAIC brand dedicated to upmarket electric vehicles. Launched at the Beijing Auto Show in April 2016 when it displayed an impressive concept car inspired by the BMW i8, Arcfox unveiled its first production car, the Lite, in November 2017. The Lite is vying for the title of coolest Chinese electric car, with its bubbly design, its dashboard made of three giant touch screens and the fact that both driver and passenger can write and display digital messages on the car’s grille and rear end. At under 3m long, the Lite is light (895 kg) but not cheap: from 93.800 yuan (12.000 € / US$14.300) including government aids. Arcfox launched in market in December 2017 with 472 sales.

The full Chinese Brands Guide is below.

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China April 2018 Retail sales: Three sedans on top, Baojun 510 #1 SUV

The Baojun 510 has now topped the Retail SUV charts for 8 of the past 9 months.

* See the Top 95 All China-made brands and Top 590 models by clicking on the title *

April 2017 – January 2018 monthly All-models data also available, Contact us here

Monthly Retail sales in China are a new, exclusive, update on BSCB we kick started with February data two months ago. Retail sales are dealership sales to end-customers whereas Wholesales are ex-factory sales to dealerships. This new Retail update comes in addition to our Chinese Wholesales monthly coverage we have shared with you every month for the past seven years. It enables a second perspective, perhaps closer to the reality on the ground. Also, the way models are displayed is slightly different, allowing an unprecedented look at previously secretive brands such as Landwind – all models now separated – and new standalone variants such as the Wuling Hongguang S3 SUV and the Haval H6 Coupe.

Volkswagen places seven nameplates in the Top 11.

The different method doesn’t dent Volkswagen’s domination of the Chinese market, with the German manufacturer totalling over 229.000 sales this month (+4%), more than double the amount of any other carmaker. Toyota (+16%) holds onto the 2nd spot ahead of Honda (-10%) up one rank to overtake Geely (+25%) growing by double-digits as per its wholesales results. Nissan (+19%) rounds up the Top 5, distancing Buick (-8%), Baojun (+8%) and Wuling (-4%). If Hyundai wholesales have pepped up frankly, retail sales are still stuck in negative at -5% in April.

The Hongqi H5 makes its first appearance in any Chinese sales ranking.

At #10, Audi (+14%) tops premium brands above Mercedes at #13 (+19%) and BMW at #19 (+14%). Among foreigners, Jaguar (+82%), Skoda (+63%), Volvo (+49%), Mitsubishi (+42%), Cadillac (+26%), Chevrolet (+24%), Isuzu (+19%) and Citroen (+17%) post splendid results but on the other side of the scale, Suzuki (-31%), DS (-29%), Acura (-25%), Ford (-24%), Infiniti (-22%), Jeep (-22%), Luxgen (-19%) and Peugeot (-14%) struggle.

Maxus is up 3-fold on April 2017 thanks partly to the arrival of the D90 SUV.

The list of Chinese brands scoring spectacular gains is long: led by Huasong (+384%), Maxus (+232%), Foton (+208%), Bisu (+106%), Qoros (+81%), Brilliance (+74%), Hongqi (+60%), Roewe (+58%), MG (+51%), BYD (+29%), Venucia (+29%), JMC (+24%) and Zotye (+24%). But the list of Chinese marques sinking by double-digits is longer, a testament of how incredibly competitive the market is. The hardest hit are Great Wall (-77%), Cowin (-60%), Chana (-50%), BAW (-49%), Karry (-46%), Haval (-42%), Soueast (-42%), BAIC (-39%), Borgward (-39%), Haima (-33%), Hawtai (-32%), Lifan (-32%), Foday (-29%), FAW (-25%) and Changhe (-23%). Along with WEY (#37), Lynk & Co (#39) and Traum (#70), five New Energy Chinese brands weren’t here last year: Yudo (#78), Sinogold (#80), Arcfox (#84), Xpeng (#85) and Nio (#86).

The Geely Vision X3 ranks #49 in April.

The models ranking is unusually dominated by three sedans: the Toyota Corolla (+26%) retains the top spot it held last month, and is now followed by the Nissan Sylphy (+23%) up from #4 last month and the VW Lavida (-2%) staying at #3. The Wuling Hongguang (-24%) drops two spots to #2 while its SUV variant, the S3, is counted separately in the retail sales ranking and down 19 ranks on March to #61. The Baojun 510 (+20%) remains the best-selling SUV in the country but also remains the #1 retail model in China thanks to almost 130.000 units in four months. Its main competitor the Haval H6 sinks 36% year-on-year to disappear from the Top 10 at #13, below the Geely Boyue (+7%). Keep in mind retail figures separate the H6 Coupe (#93).

The BYD Song MAX is up to #56

Volkswagen manages a very impressive feat in this month’s retail sales ranking: it places seven nameplates in the Top 11, including all models ranking from #6 to #11: the Santana (+10%), Sagitar (+7%), Tiguan (-10%), Jetta (-11%), Magotan (+14%) and Bora (+22%). Notice also the Roewe i6 up a fantastic 247% year-on-year and 62 spots on March to #24, becoming the second best-selling Chinese sedan below the Geely Emgrand EC7 (#15). The Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+169%), Audi A4L (+61%), Toyota Camry (+47%), Geely Emgrand GL (+44%), Toyota RAV4 (+39%) and Nissan X-Trail (+37%) also shine in the Top 50.

The end of a fairy tale? Haval retail sales drop 42% in April.

Among recent launches (<12 months), the Baojun 530 confirms its outstanding wholesales debut and dominates at #36 with just under 12.000 sales, followed by the Geely Vision X3 at #49 (+3), BYD Song MAX at #56 (+12), Wuling Hongguang S3 at #61 (-19), Baojun 310W at #65 (-17), Lynk & Co 01 at #71 (+12), GAC Trumpchi GS3 at #91 (+6) and Kia KX Cross at #100 (+6). We welcome three new nameplates in the retail ranking this month: if the Nissan Terra (#362) and DS 7 (#524) have already graced our wholesales data and All-new models focus articles, the Hongqi H5, landing at #448 with 85 sales, is new through and through.

Previous month: China March 2018 Retail sales: Toyota Corolla surprise leader

Full March 2018 Top 95 All China-made brands and Top 590 models below.

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China April 2018 – New Energy: Toyota, BYD and Roewe dominate

BYD is returning to its prominent position among New Energy carmakers. Qin 2019 pictured.

* See the Top 50 brands and Top 100 models by clicking on the title *

This is a new Chinese monthly update exclusive to BSCB, part of our ever-expanding China coverage. And this month we have added a brands ranking so our perspective on this booming segment is more precise. New Energy vehicles include electric, hydrogen, PHEV and hybrid models. Keep in mind we are referring to retail sales including imports here as these offer a much more complete picture of New Energy sales than wholesales alone.

Roewe advances 265% to third place in April.

Thanks to its successful hybrid lineup, Toyota dominates this segment for now with sales up 72% to 12.449 in April, followed by BYD (+97%) at 6.885, Roewe (+265%) at 5.770 and JAC (+592%) at 5.316. Relatively surprisingly, BAIC BJEV only comes up 5th with the second smallest year-on-year gain in the Top 10 at +26%. Lexus follows Toyota at a distance at #6, with Baojun making its way to the top at #7 vs. #10 YTD, ahead of Geely (+111%), Honda (+50%) and Zhi Dou (+18%) at #10. This means there are 7 Chinese brands in the New Energy Top 10 in April. Notice also Tesla coming in at #14 and #8 YTD.

Baojun is also fast becoming a force to be reckoned with thanks to the E100.

Model-wise, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid holds onto the pole position thanks to sales up 84% year-on-year, and is followed like last month by the JAC iEV6e (+858%) and the BAIC BJEV EC-Series (+77%). The BYD Qin (+298%) is up one spot to #4, overtaking the Toyota Levin Hybrid (+33%) while the Roewe eRX5 (+149%) is up three spots to #6 and the Roewe ei6 up four to #7. The Baojun E100 gains 10 ranks on March to #8, the BYD Song EV is down three to #9 and the Lexus ES Hybrid also to #10.

Previous month: China March 2018 – New Energy: Corolla Hybrid and JAC iEV6e on top

Full April 2018 Top 50 brands and Top 100 models below.

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China imports April 2018: Lexus up 34% to #2 below Mercedes

The Lexus NX soars 56% year-on-year to #3. Picture sina.com.cn

* See the Top 50 All imported brands and Top 240 models by clicking on the title *

All-brands and All-models 2017 monthly data available, contact us here for more details.

It’s time for complete Chinese imports data, BSCB being the first media outside of China to report on these figures regularly. Just this week China has lowered the tariffs imposed on car imports by ten percentage points from 25 to 15%, applicable on July 1. This will undoubtedly boost imports as carmakers are able to lower their price, such as Tesla which has already applied the lower tariff to its current pricing in China. For now, April imports into China are up 4.9% to 87.604 units, leading to a YTD volume up 10.4% to 369.586.

The Land Cruiser (+66%) pushes Toyota imports up 21% this month.

Mercedes (+9%) remains the most popular import in the country, both this month and YTD but in April Lexus soars 34% to snap the 2nd spot off BMW (-9%). Lexus is the best-selling pure importer in China. So far this year, BMW still has a 4.300 unit-strong advantage over Lexus. Toyota (+21%) remains in 4th place but Porsche (+17%) overtakes Land Rover (+19%) to #5 while more symbolically, Lincoln (+7%) passes Audi (+19%) to #7, a ranking it held over the FY2017. Volkswagen (-27%) is with BMW and Subaru (-18%) the only manufacturer in negative in the Top 12. Further down, Alfa Romeo (+149%), Mitsubishi (+104%), Ssangyong (+103%), Buick (+41%), Aston Martin (+31%), Rolls-Royce (+27%), Bentley (+26%), Infiniti (+22%), Ferrari (+15%) and Nissan (+14%) shine.

The Porsche Cayenne overtakes the Macan to become the brand’s best-seller in China.

Model wise, the Lexus ES (+14%) posts a 10th win in the past 12 months, with the BMW X5 (+14%) in tow like in FY2017 and so far in 2018 but over 1.000 units below. The Lexus NX shoots up 56% to land on the podium vs. #6 YTD, dislodging the Mercedes CLA (+17%) down to #4. The Toyota Land Cruiser soars 66% year-on-year and one spot on March to #6, while the Porsche Cayenne (+20%) becomes the brand’s best-seller in China, overtaking the Macan (-16%). The Mercedes S-Class surges 53% to round up the Top 10. Below, the Porsche Panamera (+854%), Lincoln Continental (+143%) and Mercedes C-Class Estate (+125%) impress. The Range Rover Velar is the best-selling recent import launch (<12 months) at #34, ahead of the BMW 6 Series GT (#74), Ford F-150 (#77), Mercedes AMG GLC (#84) and Mazda CX-3 (#86).

Previous month: China imports March 2018: Lexus ES reclaims control

Previous year: China Full Year 2017: Exclusive imports data by model and brand

Full March 2018 Top 50 All imported brands and Top 240 models ranking below.

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China April 2018: Focus on the All-new models

Hyundai Encino

As per the BSCB tradition, after covering April sales in detail, we now focus on the all-new locally produced launches so you can stay up-to-the-minute on the fastest-evolving – and largest – automobile market in the world: China. Our “Focus on the All-new models” updates remain based on wholesales data. Like last month, the class of April 2017 counts 5 newcomers, but this time it’s 3 SUVs, one MPV and one station wagon. Keep track of the fast-expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 146 Chinese Brands, updated live.

1. Hyundai Encino (#127 – 4.385 sales)

By far the most successful new entrant in April, the Hyundai Encino is in fact a slightly longer Kona at 4.195m instead of 4.165m. China is the second market in the world not to adopt the original name: it is called Kauai in Portugal because Kona sounds like Portuguese for an expletive describing female genitalia…but despite some research I still don’t know why the name was changed for China – if you do please comment. The Encino lands in the red-hot small crossover segment where Hyundai has managed to be a lot faster than Toyota with its C-HR.

Hyundai Encino interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The stars of the segment, the Honda XR-V/Vezel tandem, sold exactly one million units in China since their launch in late 2014, so the commercial potential of the Encino is huge. Despite being longer than the overseas version, it is still shorter than most of its competitors. Its pricing is in line with most of the Westerners in the segment: from 129.900 to 155.900 yuan (US$20.400-24.500 or 17.300-20.800€) vs. 127.800-162.800 for the Honda XR-V, 128.800-189.800 for the Honda Vezel and 139.800-189.800 for the Nissan Qashqai. Only the less sophisticated Nissan Kicks at 99.800-134.800 is priced lower. Within the Hyundai lineup however, the Encino will need to count on its quirky styling to justify a higher pricing vs. the larger ix25 (109.800-152.800) and ix35 (119.900-161.900). We expect at least 10.000 monthly units to call it a success.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly units

2. Nissan Terra (#204 – 2.211 sales)

The Nissan Terra is for now exclusive to China and manufactured by the Zhengzhou Nissan joint-venture. It is the SUV variant of the Nissan Navara pickup, also produced in China. It replaces the Nissan Paladin that will also continue to be sold. The Terra is therefore the latest in an expanding list of pickup-based mid-size SUVs that also includes the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Isuzu MU-X, Chevrolet Trailblazer and Ford Everest. However the Terra is the odd one out as it is priced significantly lower than all its aforementioned siblings: from 169.800 to 245.800 yuan (US$26.700-38.600 or 22.600-32.700€) which is a lot of foreign SUV for the money – the Terra is a 4.88m long 4WD powered by a 184hp 2.5l engine mated with 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic.

Nissan Terra interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The Terra is even cheaper than the much smaller Nissan X-Trail (179.800-268.800 yuan). This cut-throat pricing transpires in the cockpit, very basic with a 5 inch touchscreen – Chinese models costing one-third of the price wouldn’t be seen with anything less than double that – and the fact that it is strictly a 5-seater contrary to most of its competitors. These include the Honda Avancier (220.000-329.800 yuan), Ford Edge (229.800-429.800), Toyota Highlander (239.800-422.800), VW Teramont (308.900-518.900) and Toyota Prado (464.800-636.800). But its true siblings are the pickup-based Isuzu MU-X (178.800-268.800), Ford Everest (265.500-357.700), and the imported Toyota Fortuner (250.000) and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport (368.000-398.000). Its price even enables the Terra to compete with large Chinese 5-seater SUVs such as the Haval H8 (183.800-231.800) and GAC Trumpchi GS7 (149.800-209.800).

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

3. Roewe RX8 (#276 – 998 sales)

The RX8 is Roewe’s new flagship: a 4.93m long 7-seat SUV powered by a 224 hp 2.0 turbo engine and based on the same platform as fellow SAIC output the Maxus D90. The RX8 showcases its 4WD abilities loud and clear with no less than six driving modes, from off-road to snow to sport. Both exterior and interior designs are very pleasant and give the RX8 almost a luxurious feel. However well designed the central console is with a seamless integration of the touch screen (tell that to Mercedes!), material quality is not quite up there yet as I could verify at the Beijing Auto Show last month.

Roewe RX8 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The RX8 has for objective to replicate the tremendous success of the RX5 in a segment one notch above and the one to follow among Chinese carmakers in this exercise is clearly GAC Trumpchi which managed to be the first local manufacturer to truly crack the large SUV equation with the GS8. That very nameplate is in the RX8’s direct line of fire. Priced from 168.800 to 251.800 yuan (US$26.500-39.500 or 22.500-33.500€), the RX8 almost exactly matches the GS8 price range of 163.800-259.800 with other competitors including the Maxus D90 (156.700-266.300), Haval H9 (199.800-272.800) and among foreigners the much smaller Mitsubishi Outlander (159.800-223.800) and Chevrolet Equinox (174.200-250.900).

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

4. BAIC Hyosow H5 (#329 – 473 sales)

Although the Hyosow H5 MPV hasn’t officially launched yet, it already appears in the sales charts with 473 wholesales. It is powered by the same 133hp 1.3 engine that can be found on the Hyowsow S5 SUV and should see its pricing start under 60.000 yuan (US$9.400 or 7.990€) given the smaller H3 MPV (55.800-69.000) and equivalent S5 SUV (59.800-85.800) price ranges.

BAIC Hyosow H5 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The Hyosow lineup has come a long way since the launch of the S3 in August 2014 (peak of 20.868 in December 2015) and the H3 in October 2015 (peak of 12.333 in December 2016) with both exterior and interior designs improving by leaps and bounds. However, somewhat paradoxically sales also seemed to take a hard hit in the past year or so so commercial prospects for the modern-looking H5 are a little uncertain.

Bar for success: 4.000 monthly units

5. FAW Jumpal CX65 (#365 – 216 sales)

Final entrant for the month, the FAW Jumpal was originally unveiled as a half-concept at the Shanghai Auto Show a year ago before officially appearing in Guangzhou last November. It’s the latest iteration of fast-improving FAW and the second “cross-country” station wagon by a Chinese manufacturer after the Dongfeng Fengshen AX3 launched in January 2016. The CX65 combines sharp exterior design with a surprisingly classy dashboard but is powered by a weak 115hp 1.5 engine and indeed aligns its pricing almost exactly on the AX3: from a ridiculously low 70.000 to 90.000 yuan (US$10.995-14.100 or 9.300-11.990€) vs. 69.900-87.900 for the Dongfeng. The CX65 is based on the Jumpal A50 sedan (55.900-72.900).

FAW is trying to replicate the success of the VW C-Trek with the Jumpal CX65.FAW Jumpal CX65 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Inspired by the cross-country Volvo wagons such as the defunct XC70, the V60CC and V90CC, the CX65 positions itself as a half-price VW C-Trek, which peaked at 7.812 sales in October 2017 and goes for 116.900-162.900 yuan. Other models targeted by the CX65 include the Skoda Octavia Scout (119.900-179.900), VW Cross Lavida (148.900-171.900) and, to a lesser extent because not SUV-looking, the Excelle GX (119.900-146.900). More realistic sales benchmarks would be the 4.624 record sales hit by the Dongfeng Fengshen AX3 in January 2017 and the high of 2.198 managed by the Jumpal A50 sedan so far, in February 2018. In this context, aiming for at least 3.500 monthly units seems reasonable.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

China April 2018: Geely, Hyundai, Chevrolet lift market up 11.5%

Volkswagen has now sold over 1 million vehicles in China in 2018. The Lavida is #1 in April.

* See the Top 80 China-made brands and Top 435 models (wholesales) by clicking on the title *

Based on wholesales data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), new light vehicle sales in China soar 11.2% year-on-year in April to 1.913.400 units. Adding 404.200 commercial vehicles (+13%) brings the total sales figure for April to 2.318.600 (+11.5%), a new record for the month. For once the regular cars segment almost matches the market growth at +10.8% to 928.300, while SUVs continue to be the engine of growth at +18.3% to 810.000, with MPV down 4.6% to 137.100 and microvans down 30.7% to 39.000. Year-to-date, light vehicles are up 4.4% to a record 8.011.400 units, with regular cars up 3.1% to 3.790.500, SUVs up 12.9% to 3.654.400, MPVs down 12% to 613.600 and microvans down 36.9% to 141.800. Commercial vehicles are up 6.6% to 1.481.900, lifting the YTD total vehicle sales up 4.8% to a record 9.501.200. Chinese-branded passenger cars see their sales trail the market ever so slightly at +10.5% to 810.400 to account for a 42.3% share vs. 20.4% for German cars (390.800), 17.7% for Japanese (339.200), 11.5% for American (221.000), 5.4% for Korean (103.100) and 1.8% for the French (34.300).

Geely posts an incredible 25th consecutive double-digit gain in April.

In the brands ranking, keeping in mind these figures are wholesales excluding imports, Volkswagen posts its largest year-on-year gain since last September at +9% to a little over 235.000 units, sending its YTD volume across the 1 million mark after just four months (+5%). Scoring a 7th consecutive month in second place, #1 Chinese brand Geely impresses once again with a 42% year-on-year surge. Now pause for a second: this is Geely’s 25th double-digit year-on-year gain in a row, with no interruption since March 2016! At just under 120.000 units, it’s also the brand’s 8th consecutive six-digit monthly sales figure and its 11th ever. Honda reclaims the #3 spot it holds YTD despite a 11% decline while Nissan soars 17% to #4 and now ranks #7 YTD. It distances Buick (+1%), Toyota (+3%) and Baojun (+21%) signing a 13th double-digit gain in a row.

Hyundai is back in the game with sales doubling year-on-year.

Hyundai (+100%) spectacularly recuperates from a nightmarish 2017 linked to Korea-China tensions around the North Korean situation, lodging only its second monthly gain in the past 14 months and edging up to #8 brand overall. In the tail end of the Top 10, Changan (+56%) posts its largest gain since September 2016, helped by its three star SUVs (CS35, CS55 and CS75) as well as the new generation Eado (+97%) while Chevrolet (+55%) has its largest improvement in at least five years, with the Cavalier (+83%) accounting for one-third of its April sales. Further down the ranking, Qoros (+401%) thanks to the 5 SUV, Kia (+115%) in the same situation as Hyundai, Jaguar (+94%) thanks to the new XEL sedan and Zotye (+81%) thanks to a slew of new models including the T500 and T300, now the brand’s two best-sellers, deliver the best performances.

The Haval H6 reclaims the title of #1 SUV in China.

Also standing out are Denza (+73%), MG (+65%), Citroen (+62%), DS (+61%), Volvo (+43%), Roewe (+42%), Maxus (+37%), Cadillac (+29%), Skoda (+28%), Mercedes (+27%), Bisu (+25%) and BYD (+20%). The list of struggling carmakers is however almost as long and aside from Fiat (-72%), Acura (-53%), Jeep (-44%) and Ford (-22%) is composed exclusively of Chinese carmakers, namely Kandi (-94%), Cowin (-81%), Jinbei (-79%), Borgward (-59%), Weichai (-52%), FQT Motor (-49%), Great Wall (-48%), Soueast (-44%), Haima (-43%), SWM (-35%), Yema (-33%), JMC (-28%), Landwind (-27%), Hawtai (-25%), Brilliance (-24%) and Foton (-20%). WEY once again recently launched brands but retracts 7% on March to 13.139 and is now almost 40% below its December 2017 record of 21.349. In contrast competitor Lynk & Co improves 6.7% to a record 9.079 with just one model: the 01. Traum (-1%), Yudo (+64%) and Dearcc (-50%) follow but all stand below 1.300 sales.

The Nissan Sylphy misses out on its first overall monthly win by just 89 sales.

The models ranking displays further signs of fragmentation with the VW Lavida returning to the overall lead for the first time since last September despite dropping 5% year-on-year. It distances the Nissan Sylphy (+16%) by just 89 units and the Haval H6 (-6%) by just 542. The H6 therefore reclaims the title of best-selling SUV in China for the 56th time in the past 58 months after being outsold for two months of Baojun 510, itself up 50% year-on-year to #4 in April. Leader in March and YTD, the Wuling Hongguang skids 12% to #5 this month despite the help of the new S3 SUV variant. VW has the Tiguan (+24%) at #3 SUV and continues to show its power in the sedan category by placing 4 nameplates in the segment’s Top 6: the Lavida, Sagitar (+26%), Magotan (+26%) and Jetta (-14%). Geely’s best-seller is the Boyue (+8%) ending April as the 4th best-selling SUV in the country while the Emgrand EC7 leaps up 41% year-on-year to rank #10 overall, its highest ranking since November 2013.

The Baojun 530 breaks the 15.000 monthly unit benchmark for the first time.

The Baojun 530 is now the most popular recent launch in China (<12 months), improving 25% on March to cross the 15.000 monthly units milestone for its third month in market and ranking 10th best-selling SUV in the country. It distances the Geely Vision X3 breaking its volume record at 10.965, ahead of the Lynk & Co 01 also at a record high 9.079 and now frankly outselling both the WEY VV5 (6.630) and VV7 (6.509). In between, the Geely Vision S1 (7.841) and Kia KX Cross (6.902) slot in. Among last month’s launches, the Zotye T500 gains 23% and 32 spots to #101, the Haval H4 is up 256% and 135 ranks to #120 and the Roewe Ei5 is up 96% and 67 to #245. The BAIC EC-Series continues to dominate new energy models with sales soaring 72% year-on-year to 7.471, ahead of the BYD Qin at 5.497 (+480%), BYD e5 at 4.294 (+71%), Zhi Dou D2 at 4.152 (+12%), JAC iEV at 3.803 (+89%), Chery eQ at 3.799 (+262%) and Baojun E100 at 3.760.

The Lynk & Co 01 is above 9.000 monthly units for the first time.

Previous month: China March 2018: Hyundai and Chevrolet shine in market back up 4.7%

One year ago: China April 2017: Market marks a pause at -3.7%

Full April 2018 Top 80 China-made brands and Top 435 models below.

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