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China June 2018 – New Energy: BYD back in charge in market up 92%

BYD Yuan

* See the Top 55 brands and Top 108 models by clicking on the title *

This is a new Chinese monthly update exclusive to BSCB, part of a China coverage we want as exhausting as possible. 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. June New Energy models see their sales surge 92% year-on-year in June to 74.177 official units. Chinese carmaker BYD (for Build Your Dreams) reclaims the top spot it used to hold a few years back thanks to deliveries up 140% to over 14.000 units with Toyota (+44%) remaining at #2 with over 13.000 sales but remains #1 so far in 2018. Roewe (+245%) more than triples its sales to land on the third step of the podium, JMC (+93%) roughly follows the market at #5 while GAC Trumpchi (+3357%), Changan (+1243%), BMW (+467%), Lexus (+348%), Honda (+320%) and Zotye (+204%) also post extravagant gains.

Zotye E200

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (+37%) snaps the top spot both in June and YTD while last month’s leader, the BAIC BJEV EC-Series (-13%) dives to #14 in June. The BYD Qin (+288%) soars to 2nd place overall with the Toyota Levin Hybrid (+17%) rounding up the podium. In fact, if in May 13 of the 15 best-selling New Energy models were Chinese, this month this figure is 14 in the Top 20. The Zotye E200 (+306%) is up 7 spots on May to #4, the Roewe ei6 is ip 4 to #6 ad the JMC E200 (+309%) is down two to #6. BYD places the Song EV at #8, the e5 at #9 and the all-new Yuan EV at #19. Much hyped Chinese EV startups remain discreet: the Xpeng G3 (#58), Nio ES8 (#64) and Sinogold GM3 (#76) all sell less than 100 units in June in China.

Previous month: China May 2018 – New Energy: 13 Chinese models in Top 15

Full April 2018 Top 55 brands and Top 108 models below.

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China June 2018 Retail sales: SUV slump, Sedan recovery confirmed

The Nissan Sylphy is the #1 vehicle with Chinese end-consumers for the 2nd time running.

* See the Top 94 All China-made brands and Top 598 models by clicking on the title *

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

With a little delay this month, after exploring China June Wholesales we can now detail for you China June Retail sales, a new exclusive monthly BSCB update. Retail sales are dealership sales to end-customers as opposed to Wholesales which are ex-factory sales to dealerships. These new Retail updates enable a second perspective, perhaps closer to the reality on the ground. The wholesales thunderclap in China in June is the sudden decline of SUV sales for the first time in 9 years. Yet if you have been following our recent retail updates this spectacular trend reversal was in fact predictable. Indeed, sedans had already monopolised the retail podium in April and May before doing so in the wholesales ranking in May and June, with SUVs enduring severe drops. This is easy to explain: dealership orders for the next month (=wholesales) are directly impacted by actual sales to customers (retail sales) for the ongoing month. Poor retail sales in May will trigger poor wholesales in June as dealers’ available stock is high and orders low. In other words, retail sales are a good indication of what will happen the following month in wholesales. Still with me? So the question becomes: will the wholesale SUV slump continue in July, and we can get a glimpse at the answer ahead of time by looking at June retail sales. Last note: this update only includes China-made vehicles, China imports are covered in a separate update.

Unheard of: Baojun retail sales are actually down in July at -14%.

Brand-wise, Volkswagen (-8%) remains the clear leader by still selling more than twice the amount of the #2 but drops frankly this month. Toyota soars 14% to score a third consecutive month in 2nd place and now threatens Geely (+18%) for the #2 spot YTD at 597.000 vs. 601.000. In contrast, Honda (-10%) falls heavily but is up one spot on May to #3. Nissan (+3%) is stuck in 5th place, with the remainder of the Top 10 entirely in negative as Buick (-28%) and Wuling (-23%) get hit the hardest. Back in the game with wholesales up 147% this month, Hyundai continues to struggle retail-wise at -9% but the most surprising evolution is delivered by Baojun which has seen its growth thaw from +8% in April, +1% in May and now tilts towards deep negative territory at -14%. The success of the 530 (9.259 sales), 360 (7.721) and 310W (+181%) now fails to offset steep declines by the 560 (-92%), 730 (-54%), 310 (-50%) and 510 (-22%).

Haval retail sales plunge 30% in June, with the H2s down 67%.

Another striking evolution is Haval, one of the heroes of the past decade in China but plateauing from early 2017 on and now in great difficulty, freefalling 30% in June after -28% in May and -42% in April. Here, the arrivals of the H4 (3.240) and M6 (2.161) and the timid uplift of the facelifted H9 (+3%) are far from compensating the painful drops of the brand’s best-seller, the H6 (-31%), as well as the H1 (-96%!), H8 (-73%), H2s (-67%), H2 (-58%), H7 (-57%) and H6 Coupe (-23%). Audi (-5%) holds onto the China-made premium spot for a mere 273 sales ahead of Mercedes (+12%) with BMW (+22%) the most impressive but over 5.000 units below. WEY (+645%), JMC (+70%), MG (+58%), Roewe (+34%), BYD (+33%) and Jinbei (+26%) post stunning gains but we have to wait until the 36th position and Volvo (+14%) to see a foreign brand lodging a double-digit gain in an unprecedented show of weakness by foreign manufacturers. And it gets worse as we go down the charts: if Chinese Hongqi (+381%), Qoros (+251%), Maxus (+150%), Foton (+147%), Zhi Dou (+34%) and Landwind (+15%) also score extravagant gains in the Top 60, only Jaguar (+44%) does so in the foreign aisle, then DS (+33%) at #71 and Isuzu (+28%) at #75…

The GAC Trumpchi is the most popular SUV with Chinese consumers: a first.

Over in the models ranking, the sudden change of guard atop the charts is confirmed: as it is also the case for June Wholesales, the Top 5 best-sellers are all sedans. The Nissan Sylphy (+7%) manages to stay on top for the second month running with just under 34.000 retail sales, only 18 above the Wholesales leader, the VW Lavida. The Toyota Corolla (+18%) is down one spot on May to #3, followed by the VW Sagitar (+13%) and VW Jetta (-12%). Despite a crippling 21% year-on-year decline, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 manages to snap the #1 SUV spot for the first time since we started following China Retail sales in April 2017, knocking the Haval H6 (-31%) from its pedestal just as the Baojun 510 (-22%) also loses significant ground. The VW Bora (+17%) and Buick Excelle Yinlang (-54%) complete a Retail Top 10 completely void of MPVs for the first time in at least 6 years: the Wuling Hongguang (-42%) is obliterated to #12 whereas it still ranked #2 overall in February and March – keeping in mind Hongguang S3 sales are separated here at 6.615 and #70 whereas they are included in the Hongguang wholesales total.

Hyundai Elantra Lingdong retail sales shoot up 171% in June.

Confirming the tide is definitely turning back towards sedans for the first time since 2009 – and for the foreseeable future as these retail sales will impact July and August wholesales, they monopolise the largest year-on-year gains in the remainder of the July Top 50, led by the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+171%), Toyota Camry (+67%), Geely Emgrand GL (+54%), BMW 5 Series L (+49%), Chevrolet Cavalier (+38%), Toyota Levin (+35%), Audi A4L (+26%) and Mercedes E-Class L (+23%). In contrast, only the Changan CS55 (+13322%), celebrating one year in market, and Toyota RAV4 (+23%) shine among SUVs. It’s the world upside down in China! The Baojun 530 (#48) is the most popular recent launch (<12 months), distancing the Geely Vision X3 (#54), BYD Song MAX (#60), Baojun 360 (#61) cracking the Top 100 for the first time, Lynk & Co 01 (#67), Wuling Hongguang S3 (#70) and Chana Oushang X70A (#103). Logically, all the July new entrants have already been covered in the Wholesales new model updates: the BMW X3 (#264), FAW Besturn Senya R9 (#267), Jeep Grand Commander (#307), Brilliance V7 (#529), Borgward BX6 (#539) and VW T-Roc (#564).

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

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China imports June 2018: Tesla up to #7 thanks to price cut

The Tesla Model X is the 5th best-selling import in China in June.

* 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 June, BSCB being the first media outside of China to report on these figures monthly. New car imports into China have been the subject of much attention lately, with the Chinese government lowering the import tariff from 25% to 15% as promised on July 1, however as retaliation for Trump’s own import tariffs on Chinese products including cars, raised the tariff for U.S. new car imports not back to 25% as we predicted last month, but up to 40% on July 7, virtually signing the death warrant of U.S. imports altogether. June figures remain unaffected by these changes (except for Tesla as we’ll see further down), but it will be fascinating to watch the evolution of the China imports sales charts as a large part of the most popular models in the country are manufactured in the U.S.

The MKC (+18%) helps Lincoln to #4 imported brand in China in June.

In June, 82.602 new imported light vehicles found a buyer in China, a 11% year-on-year drop in line with the YTD volume at 453.591, down 12%. Mercedes (+15%) goes against the grain to remain in the brands lead ahead of archenemy BMW (-15%) evolving in the opposite direction. Keep in mind BMW was the first importer ahead of Mercedes in 2017. Lexus (-12%) follows the market to remain in third place while Lincoln (+19%) posts an interesting surge, perhaps loading up on dealer sales in anticipation for a grey U.S. tariff future. The Tesla case is even more interesting: the U.S. firm pre-empted the lowering of import tariffs in July to 15% by cutting prices on its lineup as early as June, this in order to give a boost to its Q2 result as it does at every end of period. While these manipulations didn’t prevent the company from posting another steep loss in Q2, Tesla China sales are up 53% year-on-year in June to soar to 7th place vs. #16 so far in 2018 and #20 in 2017. July sales will be a different story altogether, as its models are now taxed at 40% and the prospect of local production is still years away. Mitsubishi (+48%) and Volvo (+31%) also shine this month.

The Volvo XC90 is up 94% to #11.

The imported models ranking is very stable in June, with the Top 4 reproducing the YTD order: the Lexus ES (+6%) is the best-seller followed by the BMW X5 (+2%), Mercedes CLA (+62%) and Mercedes GLE (+11%). The Tesla Model X benefits from lower prices to soar 76% to #5 with over 2.400 sales for the month, a new record for the nameplate. Looking at this Top 5, the Lexus ES has a production base in Japan, the CLA is assembled in Hungary but the GLE, X5 and Model X are all manufactured in the U.S. (although there are two small production bases available in Thailand and Indonesia for the GLE) and are now being slapped with a deadly 40% tariff, so let’s see how they fare in July. The Lincoln MKC (+18%) brilliantly breaks into the Top 10 at #9 vs. #18 so far this year, while the Volvo XC90 (+94%) almost doubles its sales vs. June 2017 to end the month at the Top 10’s door. The Lincoln MKZ (+31%), Continental (+128%), Audi A5 (+171%) and BMW 5 Series (+646%) also impress while the Range Rover Velar (#36) remains the most popular recent launch (<12 months) ahead of the BMW 6 Series GT (#51), Mercedes AMG GLC (#61) and Mazda CX-3 (#83).

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

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

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

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China June 2018: Focus on the All-new models

Leopaard Mattu

Now that June China sales are out of the way, we focus on the all-new locally produced launches for the month so you can remain on the bleeding edge of the fastest-evolving market in the world. Note these updates remain based on wholesales data. Although this month SUVs see their first year-on-year decline in a whopping 9 years, the nameplates launched this month were conceived months ago and are still dominated by SUVs at 4 out of 6, with sedans the remaining two. Keep track of the fast-expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 174 Chinese Brands, updated live.

1. Chery Tiggo 8 (#109 – 5.220 sales)

The Tiggo 8, presented at the Beijing Auto Show last April, tops Chery’s Tiggo SUV lineup, a group of cars that have been named logically and satisfyingly, which is actually pretty rare for a Chinese brand, and that now includes the Tiggo 3, 3x, 5, 5x and 7. Disappointingly, despite being 4.70m long and the new jewel of the Chery crown, the Tiggo 8 remains a 5-seater. It is powered by a choice of two engines: a 137 hp 2.0L DVVT or a 155 hp 1.6L Turbo. Its price point, from 98.800 to 142.800 yuan (US$14.600-21.100, 12.500-18.100€), means the Tiggo 8 is thrown in the deep end of the Chinese SUV pool already swarming with hungry sharks: it will compete with no less than the ultimate blockbusters in the segment, such as the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800 yuan), Changan CS75 (79.800-184.800 yuan), Roewe RX5 (99.800-188.800 yuan), Geely Boyue (98.800-188.800 yuan) or Geely Emgrand GS (77.800-116.800 yuan).

Chery Tiggo 8 interior. Picture

The Tiggo 8’s entrance in the wholesales charts this month is already impressive at over 5.000 sales: in the Tiggo lineup, only the 3/3x does better in June (6.665) only thanks to the new 3xe electric variant (1.837). All other Tiggo variants are outsold for June: the 5x (3.460), 7 (2.830) and 5 (2.000)… So this is a good start, but Chery will need this level to be at least maintained and at best overcome to find its way back towards growth. Adding to the challenge is the fact Tiggo models tend to hit their highest at or near launch, such as the Tiggo 5x which could never beat the 10.693 units it sold for its inaugural month in December 2017, or the Tiggo 7 whose personal best was reached on Month 4 at 11.039 in December 2016. As for the Tiggo 3 (17.081 in December 2015) and TIggo 5 (12.469 in December 2014), their record volumes have long been forgotten.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

2. Changan Eado DT (#128 – 4.341 sales)

Changan continues to update the design of its entire lineup under the pen of David Hilton who previously created the spectacular NIO EP9. After the new Raeton CC and the new Eado and Eado XT, here comes the Eado DT which is in fact an update version of the Yuexang V7 aligning the model with the new Changan identity with a gaping X-shape grille that hints of Lexus and Mitsubishi. Chinese sedans are dirt cheap, and the Eado DT is no exception, priced from 54.900 to 80.900 yuan (US$8.100-11.950 or 6.950-10.250€), to be compared with its big sister the Eado at 71.900-105.900 yuan. The Eado will compete squarely with the Geely Vision (53.900-72.900 yuan), but thanks to a much improved interior quality that places it among the best in the segment, it will also try and steal sales from the Hyundai Reina (49.900-73.900 yuan), its twin the Kia Pegas (same price range) and the Chevrolet Sail (63.900-79.900 yuan).

Changan Eado DT interior. Picture

As for volumes, the benchmark for the Eado DT is obviously its predecessor the now discontinued Yuexiang V5/V7 which peaked at 10.573 units in December 2010 and remained at strong levels up until the end of 2016, especially successful in the rural areas such as Alashan Youqi in Inner Mongolia. Changan will want the Eado DT to do better of course, but it could be difficult given the lack of enthusiasm for local sedans lately. We want at least 7.500 monthly units to call the Eado DT a success.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

3. Leopaard Mattu (#167 – 3.100 sales)

Unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April, the spectacular (inside and out) Mattu propelled Leopaard to #8 in our ranking of the Chinese brands you must know. My comments at the Show: “With its gigantic grille (see lead picture of this article) and chiselled features, the Mattu is here to confirm – if needed be – that the Chinese have made phenomenal progress in terms of exterior design and, in their eager push to impress the world, they sometimes go overboard, daring what more conservative Western brands would only dream of. This is the case with the Mattu.” I stand by this, adding that the interior (see below) looks and feels like a Mercedes with a giant digital panel à la new A-Class. Leopaard inaugurates a new front look but smartly links the Mattu with the rest of the lineup thanks to similarly shaped tail lights. As Leopaard’s new range-topper, the Mattu is logically more expensive than its smaller siblings but has, in true Chinese fashion, managed to contain its pricing to a mere 116.800-158.800 yuan, that’s just US$17,200-23.400 or 14.800-20.100€, in other words a car looking like a premium German for the price of a Dacia Duster…

Leopaard Mattu interior. Picture

For reference, the CS9 is priced from 76.800 to 129.800 yuan and the CS10 from 89.800 to 146.800 yuan, while the Q6, a facelifted Mitsubishi Pajero built under license, goes for 119.900-169.800 yuan. Oddly, Chinese automotive media pits the Mattu against the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800), Roewe RX5 (99.800-188.800), Geely Boyue (98.800-159.800) and Changan CS75 (79.800-184.800) but these are all cheaper and shorter. If anything, the Chery Tiggo 8 described above seems like a more fitting competitor as they are both large 5-seaters standing at 4.70m long. The Mattu lands with a bang over 3.000 sales, unfortunately this is done to the detriment of the rest of the lineup: the CS9 is down 28% to 2.390 and the CS10 implodes at -84% to 1.127 while the Q6 remains anecdotal at -53% to 287 sales. All-in-all, Leopaard sales are down 38% in June so the Mattu has its work cut out for it if its mission is to return the brand’s sales into the black. The CS9 peaked at 7.241 in January 2018 and the CS10 at 10.300 in March 2017.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

4. Hongqi H5 (#205 – 2.120 sales)

Hongqi is FAW’s and China’s only luxury brand, charged with the heavy responsibility of transporting the leaders of the Communist Party in all ceremonies. Although we have seen the H5 sedan appear in the retail sales ranking over the past few months, this is its first appearance in the wholesales charts. The H5 is based on the Mazda6, one of the carmaker’s joint-venture partners in China. Alongside the new E-HS3 electric crossover, the H5 enabled Hongqi to rank #6 in our ranking of the Chinese brands you must know about at the latest Beijing Auto Show last April. Sporting a surprisingly attractive exterior design, picture perfect cockpit and expensive pricing for a Chinese car at 149.800-195.800 yuan (US$22.100-28.900 or 19.000-24.800€), the H5’s aspirations are definitely foreign, with its home media sending it into the same sandpit as the Toyota Camry (179.800-279.800), Honda Accord (169.800-279.800), Nissan Teana (175.800-298.800), VW Magotan (189.900-303.900) and Passat (189.900-316.900).

Hongqi H5 interior. Picture

In terms of commercial success, it’s difficult to find a benchmark for the H5 as this is Hongqi’s first offer resembling a mass model. Indeed, the H7 which was its first try at a model aimed at a private audience, has been on and off in the wholesales charts, actually reaching its highest volume since its first appearance in May 2013 just this June 2018 at 883. sales. More hints can be caught in our exclusive retail rankings where it hit a 12-month best of 925 sales last December. In this context, the H5 start over 2.000 units is already treading unchartered territories for the brand. We want more and often to call the H5 a success.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

5. Brilliance V7 (#261 – 1.250 sales)

Only 6 months after adding to its SUV lineup the V6 launched last November, Brilliance now readies the larger V7, lifting to 4 its SUV lineup alongside the V3 and V5, even though they only represent 17% of Brilliance June sales. Brilliance charges a premium for its association with BMW, and the V7 is no exception at 108.700-194.700 yuan (US$16.000-28.700 or 13.800-24.700€). Yet although the exterior design is improved yet in line with the brand’s stylistic codes, the interior is frankly lagging behind some cheaper Chinese such as Geely with the Boyue, Haval with the H6 and the aforementioned Leopaard Mattu.

Brilliance V7 interior. Picture

Once again automotive Chinese media pits the V7 against the segment’s best-sellers such as the Haval H6 or Roewe RX5 but I disagree. It’s a 4.70m long 5-seater powered by a 204 hp 1.6 turbo engine, and therefore exactly the same length as the Leopaard Mattu (116.800-158.800) and Chery Tiggo 8 (98.800-142.800) mentioned above but price-wise in my view it competes with other plush 5-seaters such as the Haval H7 (139.000-180.000), GAC Trumpchi GS7 (149.800-209.800), WEY VV7 (167.800-188.800 and Lynk & Co 01 (158.800-220.800) although all these models are powered by a 2.0T engine and run rings around the V7 in terms of interior presentation. The V3 peaked at 21.117 sales in December 2015, the V5 at 5.519 in November 2013 and the V6 at 3.676 for its 3rd month of sales last January, so we want at least 5.000 units to deem the V7 a success, which also means the V6 is a failure and I stand by it.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

6. COS1° (#408 – 80 sales)

COS is a new marque by the Oshan MPV division of Changan that will specialise in… SUVs and is aimed at a rural clientele. Like Chery’s Jetour, it was launched last April at the Beijing Auto Show and like Jetour, COS was one of the “Top 5 brands you should know about” I selected from the latest Beijing Auto Show in April this year, the other three being EV makers NIO, Weltmeister and Byton. The marque’s first offering is the creatively-named 1° (for one degree), a modern, sober and toned down exterior design that goes against the rulebook for the extrovert traits that characterise rural customers – a risk has been taken here by being a little muted. The interior is extremely well packaged up with a large touchscreen beautifully integrated in the dashboard, luxurious pattern on the tunnel and doors (see below), Pioneer speakers artfully positioned alongside the inside door handles, matte-painted gearshift and gold-painted controls for the driver: this does look like a much more expensive car than what it is.

Chana OshanCOS1° interior and detail. Picture

The 1° is a 7-seater SUV priced at 129.800 yuan for its unique variant, that’s US$19.200 or 16.400€. It is powered by a 178 hp 1.5 turbo engine mated with a 6-gear automatic. Its main competitor is the yet-to-be-launched Jetour X70, also a 7-seater aimed at a rural clientele and inaugurating a new brand, this time created by Chery. In terms of already existing models, the 1° could potentially be pitted against the Zotye T800 (139.800-185.800) at the higher end, the Chana CX70 (59.900-109.900), BAIC Hyosow S7 (78.800-115.800) and Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (72.900 to 123.000 yuan) at the lower end, but as you can realise, there is no real Chinese offer at this price point at the moment, hence the smart decision by Changan to launch 1°. The launch of an all-new brand is debatable however. Looking at previous Chana Oshan models, the original Oshan (pictured above) peaked at 16.070 sales in January 2017 while the Oshan A700 hit a high of 9.967 in October 2017. We want at least half of this to deem the 1° a success.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

New Buick Excelle

Also of note is the launch of the new generation Buick Excelle this month, a nameplate that has been dormant for roughly a year – only one sale between January and May 2018 – while the Buick Excelle GT was renewed. The new Excelle lands directly at #151 with 3.528 sales, a level that its predecessor last reached in December 2016.

China First Half 2018: Market accelerates to +5.6% despite sudden SUV weakness

Geely sales surge 37%, leaping from #6 to #2 in the brands ranking.

* See the Top 85 All China-made brands and Top 540 models by clicking on the title *

After slowing down from +9.2% in H1 2016 to +1.6% in H1 2017, the new light vehicle market in China rallies back up 4.8% over the First Half of 2018 to a record 11.8 million units. Sales were up each month during the period except in February (-11.2%) due to the Lunar New Year holiday. Although a momentous and spectacularly sudden trend shift is at play at the end of the period with SUVs losing share year-on-year for the first time in 6 years in May and actually losing volume year-on-year for the first time in 9 years in June, it does not yet appear in half-year figures. Indeed, SUV wholesales gain a sturdy 9.7% over H1 2018 to just under 5 million units, a pace still ahead of sedans up a very satisfying 5.5% to 5.7 million units. H2 2018 could however be a very different story and SUVs could end up dragging the market down. Elsewhere, green cars surge 112% to 412.000 units, with EVs up 96% to 313.000 and plug-in hybrids up 182% to 99.000. Adding commercial vehicles up 4.8% to 2.3 million units over the period, the overall Chinese new vehicle market is up 5.6% or 750.000 units to a record 14.1 million wholesales. At this pace, Chinese wholesales will easily break the symbolic 30 million annual units by the time 2018 comes to an end (exactly 30.5 million), keeping in mind China was already the only country in the world to ever cross the annual 20 million units back in 2013.

Chevrolet is up 40% on H1 2017 thanks to the continued success of the Cavalier (+55%).

In the brands ranking (no imports here, only wholesales to dealerships and not to end-consumers), Volkswagen (+5%) roughly follows the market to 1.54 million units, able to maintain an unsurmountable lead over all other carmakers in market: the German carmaker sells more than double the #2: Geely. The Volvo owner stuns once again with a splendid 37% year-on-year gain propelling it from #6 a year ago and #2 Chinese to a clear second so far in 2018 and by far the best-selling Chinese manufacturer with over 720.000 wholesales. Geely knocks Honda (+1%) and Toyota (+7%) down one spot to #3 and #4 respectively. Nissan soars 14% and two spots to round up the Top 5, overtaking Buick (-6%) and Changan (-9%) both in difficulty. The tail end of the Top 10 is extremely dynamic: Baojun gains 17% to over 470.000 units but could be handicapped in H2 by over-cannibalisation within its constantly renewed lineup (see further down). Hyundai (+26%) offsets a horrific start of year in 2017 when anti-Korean sentiment locked sales down. Finally, Chevrolet (+40%) posts the largest gain in the Top 25 thanks to the success of its low-cost Cavalier.

Suddenly, Qoros wakes up: +412% thanks to the 5 SUV accounting for 87% of sales.

The two manufacturers ejected from the Top 10 over the period are notable: SUV leader Haval drops 18% as the H6 struggles to compensate for an otherwise ageing lineup while for Ford, 2018 its annus horribilus with wholesales freefalling 39% to see its ranking drop from #10 to #19. Audi (+16%) manages to remain the #1 premium marque when only wholesales of China-made vehicles are taken into account, ahead of Mercedes (+21%) and BMW (+13%) but overall retail sales including imports place Mercedes #1 with 340.000 sales (+16%) above Audi at 306.590 (+20%) and BMW at 286.536 (+3.4%). In the Top 50, spectacular gains are rarer than usual in China. Among foreigners, Citroen (+72%), Kia (+36%) also benefitting from a low 2017 base, Cadillac (+39%), Volvo (+30%) and Mitsubishi (+26%) stand out, but the biggest improvements remain by and large a Chinese affair with Qoros (+412%), MG (+91%), Roewe (+40%), Zotye (+37%), Changhe (+28%), BYD (+21%), Venucia (+20%) and Hanteng (+17%) the most impressive.

WEY ranks #31 so far in 2018.

No less than 8 new brands have officially made their appearance in the Chinese wholesales ranking over the past year or so. Technically, WEY has been present for more than a year, resulting in a whopping 2353% gain to just under 78.000 sales with 3 nameplates (VV5, VV7 and P8) but is the only recent launch to approach the Top 30 brands over the period at #31. However WEY sales have kept decreasing throughout the year to fall to just 10.481 in June vs. a record of 21.349 in December 2017. Lynk & Co on the other hand continues to grow, hitting a record 9.247 units in June and up to #41 over H1 with a little over 46.000 wholesales. Below, Traum (#63), Yudo (#71), Dearcc (#73), Arcfox (#78), Xpeng (#80) and COS (#83) are also new.

2018 could be the year of the VW Lavida’s first annual win in China.

Over in the models ranking, capping 3 months on top and a new generation, the VW Lavida (-6%) edges past the Wuling Hongguang (-8%) to snap the top spot for just 1.114 sales with the Haval H6 (-3%) holding onto the #3 spot only 1.911 units above the Baojun 510 (+111%). There are a few forces at play here: despite the addition of an SUV variant (the S3) at the end of 2017, the Wuling Hongguang should be losing the annual position it has held without interruption since 2013 by the time 2018 comes to an end. Indeed the Baojun 360, launched in May, has already started cannibalising its sales and should increase the pressure in H2, at the same time killing the Baojun 730, down 55% over the period and falling from #11 to #55. It would be the very first annual crowning for the VW Lavida on the other hand, and the first Volkswagen to top the annual passenger car sales in China since the VW Jetta in 2008. The Haval H6 has managed to see through the Baojun 510 threat to the title of #1 SUV in the country it has held for 58 of the past 60 months. The 510, the most successful launch in automobile history, has ended the career of the 560, down from #23 and 90.600 sales a year ago to… zero so far in 2018, but the more recent and larger 530 (#63) has stopped its progression.

The BYD Song MAX is the most popular recent launch in China so far this year…

Surprisingly jolly despite being deep into their respective career cycles, the Nissan Sylphy (+17%), Toyota Corolla (+15%) and VW Sagitar (+11%) follow in the ranking while Volkswagen monopolises the remainder of the Top 10 with the Tiguan (-8%), Santana (+13%) and Jetta (-5%). The Chevrolet Cavalier soars 55% just as the Buick Excelle GT freefalls 42% from #4 to #18 in the leadup to the new generation Excelle launch. The Geely Boyue gains 12% and two spots to end the period just outside the Top 10, distancing in the SUV segment the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-28%) desperately needing a new generation, the Roewe RX5 (+19%), Buick Envision (-6%), Nissan X-Trail (+32%) and Changan CS55 (+2510%) which launched a little over a year ago. Geely dominates the Chinese sedan segment with the ever-green Emgrand (+10%) ahead of the Baojun 310 (+23%), Geely Vision (+18%) and Emgrand GL (+51%).

… but the Baojun 530 was the best-selling new launch from April onwards.

From the whopping 72 new nameplates laughed in the past 12 months, the BYD Song MAX is the most popular so far in 2018, landing directly at #35 with just over 81.000 wholesales. It distances the Geely Vision X3 (#57), Baojun 530 (#62), Lynk & Co 01 (#78), Geely Vision S1 (#79), WEY VV5 (#90), Kia KX Cross (#93), GAC Trumpchi GS3 (#95) and Venucia D60 (#99). The SUV wave is indeed still front and centre over H1 with 7 of these 9 new launches being SUVs vs. only one MPV and one sedan.

Previous post: China June 2018: SUV sales drop for the first time in 9 years

One year ago: China First Half 2017: Market slows growth from 9.2% to 1.6%

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China June 2018: SUV sales drop for first time in 9 years in spectacular trend reversal

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

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

According to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), new light vehicle sales in China gain 2.3% year-on-year in June to 1.874.200 units. For the second consecutive month, the market is surprisingly pulled up by very dynamic sedan sales at +9.1% to 963.400. But the June thunderclap is the year-on-year drop of SUV sales at -0.5% to 737.600 units. After losing share year-on-year for the first time in 6 years last month, we estimate that this is the first decline for SUV sales in China in 9 years, since 2009 at a time when the segment only accounted for 8% of overall light vehicles sales vs. 39% this month. Now let’s pause for a minute to digest what is a spectacular trend reversal in the largest car market in the world. Up until two months ago, SUVs had been the unique engine of growth in the Chinese light vehicle market, the only segment enjoying year-on-year gains for the past couple of years just as all others (sedans, MPV and microvans) were declining sharply. So much so that almost all China-made car launches in the past two years have been SUVs, a new model trend that will continue deep into 2018 as these were conceived during the heydays of the SUV boom.

The Haval H6 (-25%) leads a suddenly weak SUV segment in China.

Is this the end of the SUV boom in China, and the world?

If one month of weakness could definitely be deemed a freak event, poor SUV sales have now been on display for two consecutive months in China, with the trend accelerating in June and pulling the segment into negative growth. It’s no secret that the SUV sales boom has been decelerating for some time already, with the explosive growth of 2015 (+52%) and 2016 (+45%) dampened by a more measured but still very impressive +13.3% in 2017. Before the slump of May, SUV sales were still up 12.9% year-on-year over the first 4 months of 2018 and remain more dynamic than sedans over the First Half of 2018 at +9.7% vs. +5.5%. However a worrying indicator is that the sudden fall of grace of SUVs in China is not just affecting a few selected models but is damaging the June sales of most best-sellers including the Haval H6 (-25%), Baojun 510 (-33%), VW Tiguan (-35%), GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-50%), Honda XR-V (-29%) and Changan CS75 (-44%).

Even the VW Tiguan is down 35% in June…

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it does appear that the Chinese have suddenly fallen out of love with SUVs, not just a couple of brands they could have been tired of. It’s useful to also keep in mind that a majority of local carmakers had dropped their prices significantly over the last couple of years in order to fuel continued growth (I’m looking at Haval here), and they are being caught up with this practice now with “real” sales exempt of price drops actually pretty weak. If confirmed over the next few months, this sudden turn of events will have a huge impact on the worldwide car industry as most global carmakers are now strongly influenced in their decision-making by the Chinese market. The plethora of SUVs that is still scheduled to hit dealerships over the next 18 months could find itself having a much harder time to shine. If confirmed, this sudden SUV slump will hurt Chnese carmakers much more than foreigners as the locals have put all their eggs in the SUV basket to survive over the past 5 years with foreign manufacturers struggling to keep their unabated SUV launch pace. A weakness that could turn out in foreign carmakers’ advantage: the manufacturers that will be able to weather this unexpected storm unscathed are the ones able to swap their reliance to a strong sedan lineup – and Volkswagen is best placed here.

Like in May, the Nissan Sylphy is the #2 vehicle in China this month, helping Nissan up 16%.

So if the SUV sales tap is drying out, where else can the Chinese market look for sustained growth? Sedans are the first bet with very dynamic sales over the past two months offsetting the SUV weakness to deliver overall monthly gains in the light vehicles segment. Meanwhile minibus sales drop 0.5% to 43.900 which is a striking slowing down of its freefalling pace over the past 5 years, but MPVs struggle again at -21% to 129.300 this month. Although they still account for a tiny part of the Chinese market, eco friendly cars continue to gallop ahead, up 43% to 84.000 in June, with EV sales up 30% to 62.000 and plug-in hybrids doubling year-on-year to 22.000. Finally, commercial vehicle sales surge 18% in June to 399.000 thanks to robust demand from shippers and domestic logistics providers. All-in-all, the Chinese total vehicle market is up 4.8% to 2.273.000 units in June, a new record for the month.

Geely manages a 27th double-digit gain in a row thanks to a strong sedan lineup.

A direct illustration of the increased sedan weight in carmaker’s fortunes this month is the China-made brands ranking, with the entire Top 6 in positive thanks to solid sedan sales. Volkswagen (+2%) ends the month just under 254.000 wholesales, that’s more than double any other carmaker in the country. Honda (+1%), Toyota (+4%) and Nissan (+16%) also shine but it’s Hyundai (+147%) that performs best near the top, offsetting a paltry start of 2017 handicapped by negative buyer sentiment towards South Korea in the wake of a tense North Korea situation. Up a formidable 35% on June 2017, Geely remains by far the best-selling Chinese brand at home, celebrating a 27th consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains and its 10th month in a row above 100.000 units. In the remainder of the Top 10, only Chevrolet (+18%) impresses while Baojun (+3%) has now stabilised and both Buick (-22%) and Changan (-20%) freefall.

Hyundai sales rally back up 147% in June.

Mercedes (+27%) is back above Audi (-4%) as the #1 premium brand in China in terms of wholesales, with BMW (+20%) also in great shape but almost 9.000 units below Audi this month. Total retail sales including imports place BMW much closer with Mercedes at 56.945 (+14%), Audi at 48.177 (+7.2%) and BMW at 48.062 (+1.6%). Chinese carmakers with a smile on their face in June include Qoros (+678%), Brilliance (+101%), MG (+100%) thanks to the new 6 sedan, Changhe (+90%), Maxus (+69%), Hawtai (+58%) thanks to a new electrified lineup, Roewe (+52%), Yema (+40%), Landwind (+38%), Borgward (+28%), Hanteng (+22%) and BYD (+17%). Among foreigners, the most impressive are Jaguar (+65%), Citroen (+59%) thanks to the new C5 Aircross, Infiniti (+55%) thanks to a new QX50, Kia (+49%) also catching up on a dismal 2017, Volvo (+29%) and Mitsubishi (+16%).

Brilliance sales are up 101% year-on-year in June, led by the H3 sedan.

Reversely, Jinbei (-78%), Bisu (-68%), Weichai (-66%), Cowin (-63%), Soueast (-62%), Haima (-57%), SWM (-46%), Lifan (-43%), Dongfeng (-39%), Leopaard (-38%), FAW (-25%), Karry (-25%), Wuling (-25%), JAC (-22%) and Haval (-20%) – hit full frontal by SUV disaffection, are the worst performing locals. Among foreigners, Fiat posts zero sale in June, Suzuki (-61%) has decided this month to pull out of the Chinese market, Ford (-55%) continues to freefall, while Denza (-54%), Acura (-40%), DS (-35%), Jeep (-34%), Mazda (-23%) and Peugeot (-19%) all implode.

MG deliveries double year-on-year thanks to the 6 sedan.

Among new brands recently launched in market, Great Wall’s WEY (+241%) shows spectacular year-on-year gains but has been steadily declining month-on-month since March, hitting just 10.481 units in June with 3 models (VV5, VV7 and P8) which is only 49% of its all-time high of 21.349 hit last December. In contrast, its direct competitor, Geely’s Lynk & Co continues to progress, up 0.1% on May to a record 9.247 sales this month and still with only one nameplate, the 01, with the 02 and 03 slated for H2 2018. These two carmakers dominate recent launches in China head and shoulders, with the next best thing being Traum which seems to already have plateaued at 1.168 units (-4% on May). Next are Yudo (461), Xpeng (146) and June arrival COS (80), a new marque by Chana Oshan (more on this shortly in the June 2018 edition of our Focus on the All-new models series). EV makers Arcfox and Dearcc are both below 10 sales for the month.

Volkswagen places 5 nameplates among the Top 7 best-selling sedans, including the Bora (+41%).

Over in the models ranking, confirming the fall of grace of SUVs, the Top 5 best-sellers are all sedans officially for the first time since August 2013 when the Wuling Hongguang was still counted as a commercial vehicle. However, inserting the Hongguang – as it should be – into the PC sales ranking from its launch in 2011 leads to an even more impressive feat by sedans this month: the Top 5 best-selling passenger cars in China are 100% sedans for the first time in 6.5 years since January 2012. Leading the way is the VW Lavida (+26%) boosted by a new generation – and snapping the YTD lead off the Hongguang – ahead of the Nissan Sylphy (+32%) and Toyota Corolla (-0.4%) reproducing the May podium. The VW Santana (+81%) and Jetta (+14%) round up the Top 5, with Volkswagen even placing 5 nameplates in the Top 7 sedans: add the VW Sagitar (+3%) and Bora (+41%).

The Baojun 360 scores a five-digit figure for its 2nd month but cannibalises the Wuling Hongguang.

The Wuling Hongguang (-25%) skids down to #7 – its lowest-ever ranking – cannibalised by the new Baojun 360 up 37% on its inaugural month in May to record 11.002 units, all the while the Baojun 730 implodes at -70%. The Haval H6 sinks 25% to #6 but overtakes the Baojun 510 YTD, and the Geely Boyue (+4%) steps up to #2 best-selling SUV in China for the first time and one of only two inside the Top 10. For once, sedans monopolise the largest year-on-year gains in the Top 50 with best performers including the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+740%), Hyundai Celesta (+485%), BMW 5 Series L (+123%), Toyota Camry (+73%), Geely Emgrand GL (+68%), Hyundai Mistra (+68%), Chevrolet Cavalier (+63%), Chevrolet Sail (+60%), Honda Fit (+58%), Mercedes C-Class L (+47%), Audi A4L (+31%), Mercedes E-Class L (+29%), Geely Emgrand (+25%), Honda Accord (+15%) and Geely Emgrand GS (+13%). Only the Hyundai ix35 (+1263%) boosted by the new generation, Changan CS35 (+19%), Nissan X-Trail (+14%) and Buick Envision (+10%) shine among SUVs.

The FAW Senia R9 is up 232% on its inaugural month in May to #160.

The 5-seat SUV Baojun 530 (#26) is the most popular recent launch (<12 months) but is already down 12% on May to just above 15.000 units. It is followed by the BYD Song MAX (#38), Baojun 360 (#50), Geely Vision X3 (#56), Lynk & Co 01 (#66), Geely Vision S1 (#86), GAC Trumpchi GS3 (#88), Haval H4 (#93) up to a record 6.114 sales and Kia KX Cross (#102). Among nameplates launched last month in May, the Baojun 360 is obviously the best performer at +37% to #50, followed by the FAW Senia R9 up 232% to #160, the Skoda Kamiq up 554% to #183, Jeep Grand Commander up 703% to #184, Changhe A6 up 31% to #215, BMW X3 up 3090% to #242, VW T-Roc up 25250% to #278 and WEY P8 up 13% to #319. The Changhe Q7 is the only May launch to see its sales drop vs. its inaugural month at -25% to #281.

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

One year ago: China June 2017: Buick Excelle in the lead, market back up

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China May 2018 – New Energy: 13 Chinese models in Top 15

The Zhi Dou D2 is the 2nd best-selling EV in China in May.

* See the Top 55 brands and Top 108 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. BAIC BJEV takes the lead of the brands ranking thanks to a 564% surge due to the EC-Series (see further down), selling almost double the traditional leader Toyota (+69%). BYD (+116%) and Roewe (+360%) are both knocked down one spot on their April ranking but still post outstanding performances. JMC (+414%), Zotye (+307%), JAC (+127%) and Zhi Dou (+89%) also shine inside the Top 10 while Leopaard jumps up 10 spots on last month to #13.

Roewe Ei5

As we already described in our May 2018 Retail update, the BAIC BJEV EC-Series surges 10-fold year-on-year to dominate the New Energy ranking with over 24.000 units. In fact, this month’s New Energy push is almost solely brought about by Chinese manufacturers, with no less than 13 Chinese models in the Top 15. The only two exceptions are the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (+58%) at #2 and the Toyota Levin Hybrid (+47%) at #7. The Zhi Dou D2 soars 75% year-on-year and 12 spots on April to land on the third step of the podium, distancing the JMC E200 up 11-fold year-on-year and 25 ranks on last month, the Baojun E100 up three spots on April and the BYD Song EV us 16-fold on May 2017. This month we welcome the Roewe Ei5 at #21, the JMC E400 at #76 and the JAC iEVA50 at #92.

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

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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

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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 returning 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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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