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China January 2018: Focus on the All-new models

Traum S70

As per the BSCB tradition, after covering January sales in detail, we now focus on the all-new locally produced launches so you can stay up-to-date on the fastest-evolving automobile market in the world. After seven new entrants in December, the 2018 year starts with 9 newcomers for January vs. just 6 a year ago, but none reach 2.000 units for the month. Illustrating the incredible dynamism of local manufacturers, 7 of these 9 new entrants are Chinese, 3 of them inaugurating a new brand – as many as last month. One is Japanese and one is Czech, while in terms of segments we have 5 SUVs and 4 Sedans, the latter being interestingly high. But fear not, you can stay up-to-the-minute on the fast expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 143 Chinese Brands.

1. Traum S70 (#245 – 1.519 sales)

First off the starting blocks in January is new brand Traum, created by Zotye Auto in June 2017 and German for dream. The Chinese name is Junma (君马) translated as Supreme Horse. All Traum-branded vehicles will be manufactured by Jiangnan Auto, a subsidiary of Zotye which until now was reduced to selling a 1985 Maruti 800. Traum already has two nameplates to its name: the MEET3 based on the Zotye SR7 and this S70, looking pretty sharp with a gaping grille, aggressive headlight and a floating roofline. Priced from 81.900 to 115.900 yuan (US$12.900-18.300) and powered by a 156hp 1.5T engine mated to a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, the S70 enters the most cluttered segment in China: compact SUVs, that also houses the best-sellers in the overall SUV segment such as the Haval H6, GAC Trumpchi GS4 and Geely Boyue. The task is difficult but not impossible, as Zotye has already demonstrated with the success of the Hanteng brand.

Traum S70 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The S70’s pièce de résistance is, as it is the case for more and more Chinese vehicles, to be found inside with a tremendous 25 inch touch screen combining the instrument panel and entertainment unit looking very luxurious indeed, especially for the price it’s asking. A seven-seat variant will be launched later, putting all the cards in its game to guarantee a solid success. All the elements are united for the S70 and future Traum nameplates to find its place in the crowded Chinese SUV market. A long-term objective of 5.000 monthly units will establish the brand the same way Hanteng did 18 months ago.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

2. Lifan X70 (#263 – 1.238 sales)

Alternating ok months with disastrous ones (-27% in October, -16% in December, +10% in January), Lifan edged up 3% in 2017 at home with just under 110.000 units. The carmaker knows its salute is in the SUV segment, but after showcasing a stream of concepts in the local Auto Shows over the past 3 years, the actual launches have been far and few between. The Myway managed to stir some interest at launch (10.080 units in December 2016) but has been down roughly 50% year-on-year every month since last June, and the X80 has but registered a blip on the radar. We are still waiting for the X40, just as both the X50 and X60 are starting to painfully show their age. In comes the X70, and it does show some significant improvement design-wise, thankfully staying clear of copycats such as the outrageous Xuanluan MPV, a clone of Ford S-Max.

Lifan X70 interior.

Launched as a concept at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2015, it took almost three years for the X70 to hit the market, and strangely it seems to have reached faraway shores faster than its home turf, with the X70 already featured and test-driven on both Argentinean and Russian car websites, markets where Lifan has managed to make some significant in-roads accompanied with Chery. Interior-wise, the progress is also showing, but the comparison set is particularly low, with Lifan still creating some of the worst-finished cockpits in the Chinese industry. No price info yet for the X70, but expect it to start around 70.000 yuan (US$11.000). The X70 is powered by a 2.0 engine mated with a 5-speed manual or CVT.

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly units

3. GAC Trumpchi GA4  (#269 – 1.164 sales)

Present at the Detroit Auto Show both in 2017 and 2018, GAC has reaffirmed its plan to enter the hyper-competitive (and saturated) U.S. market by the end of 2019. An ambitious target that would make it the first Chinese manufacturer to venture into the home of Donald Trump. GAC is counting on its Chinese joint-venture with FCA (Jeep and Fiat) to ease the process. At home, the carmaker has had a very impressive run over the past three years. The GS4 crossover has put the brand on the map with an unthinkable 800.000 units now in market, and the GS8 was the first large Chinese SUV to hit 10.000 monthly sales. The GM8 MPV is intending to reproduce the same segment-bending prowess just as the GS3 crossover is looking like a hot shot already. Sedans: like the majority of Chinese carmakers, not GAC’s forte.

GAC Trumpchi GA4 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

That doesn’t mean GAC should give up, and it is launching this GA4, as polished outside and inside, to try and follow in the steps of Geely which has been hugely successful with its sedan lineup lately. The GA4 is powered by a 137hp 1.3T or a 114hp 1.5 mated with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto and is priced from 73.800 to 115.800 yuan (US$11.600-18.300). It will compete full-frontal with the Geely Emgrand GL (78.800-115.800), MG 6 (96.800-132.800), Venucia D60 (69.800-111.800) and Changan Raeton CC (89.900-138.900), a really tough bunch to compete with as they all offer wildly improved perceived quality and aggressive designs. The GA3 hit 8.585 sales for its 5th month of sales in December 2014 but has only hit 1.000 units three times in the past 3 months, while the GA6 lately oscillates between 2.000 and 3.200 sales and the GA8 just crossed the 1.000 unit-milestone for the first time this month. GAC should contain its enthusiasm for the GA4: high volumes are reserved to crossovers nowadays.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

4. Skoda Karoq (#341 – 380 sales)

Launched in April 2017, the Skoda Kodiaq hit 7.000 sales in December. Skoda is on a roll, and just launched the locally-produced Karoq only a couple of months after its European debut. The Kamiq, slotted below the Karoq, will follow shortly with an official presentation scheduled for the Beijing Auto Show next April. The Karoq is set to replace the Yeti, launched here in October 2013 and whose 8.101 sales in January seem highly dubious, given they constitute – and by far – the nameplate’s volume record (previous best: 5.561 in December 2015). Skoda will want the Karoq to improve on the Kodiaq as it is smaller but also more affordable. Skoda’s positioning in China is much more high-market than it is in Europe, trying for a level of sophistication rivalling Volkswagen by playing on heritage with the “Since 1895” tagline – something that VW can’t emulate.

Skoda Karoq interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

If this is good for the bottom-line, sales volumes in turn can’t be expected to match those potentially reached in parts of Europe. Local press pits the Karoq against the blockbusters Haval H6, Changan CS75, Roewe RX5 and Geely Boyue as these four nameplates have managed to lift the brand image of Chinese manufacturers to such a level that the question is now genuinely raised as to whether to choose a foreign brand – traditionally always considered superior – or the best of the Chinese crop. Competing with local brands is not what Skoda had in mind and it indicates their ambitious aim at sophistication cannot really gel once the cockpit betrays its low-cost European origins.

Bar for success: 7.000 monthly units

5. Yudo π1 (#344 – 356 sales)

Yudo New Energy is an electric vehicle company partly owned by Fujian Motor and the Putian city, located in the eastern Fujian province. The brand’s first two production models, the π1 and π3 crossovers, were both unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show in April 2017, with a commercial launch for the π1 happening in July 2017. Delayed reporting means wholesales figures have only become available in January 2018 at a low 356. Retail figures sourced elsewhere nevertheless indicate 2.258 sales for 2017 including 2.029 π1 in December.

Yudo π1 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Priced between 138.900 and 197.500 yuan before green cars subsidies (US$21.900-31.100), the π1 competes with the 2017 best-seller in the segment, the BAIC EC-Series (151.800-164.800 yuan) as well as other electric vehicles such as the smaller Changan Benben EV (154.800-171.800 yuan) and the larger BAIC EX-Series (192.900-202.900 yuan). The success of electric vehicles remain for now heavily dependent on car-sharing schemes in China, with private ownership still nascent. Yudo’s association with a province may restrict its expansion across the nation and muzzle its sales though.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly units

6. FAW Junpai A50 (#349 – 321 sales)

Founded in 1953, First Automotive Works, or FAW, was the very first Chinese carmaker. Its state-owned structure has traditionally hampered its development but thanks to a slew of low-cost crossover the brand is up 3% at home in 2017 to 191.000 passenger car sales. FAW has remained far from the headlines though and in just over a decade has become almost anonymous, whereas it had China’s passenger car best-seller in 2005 with the Xiali N3. Far are the times Heavy trucks are another specialty. FAW splits itself into a handful of sub-brands rebadging the same vehicles. Besturn is for slightly more sophisticated fares whereas both Senya and Junpai are manufactured by FAW-Jilin, the latter specifically aimed at replacing Xiali low-cost models. Accordingly, the A50 sedan is available at cut-throat pricing: from a mere 60.000 to 68.000 yuan (US$9.500-10.700)! That’s a lot of – relatively modern and good-looking – car for the money, the A50 coming in at 4.59m long.

FAW Junpai A50 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Powered by a 112hp 1.5 engine mated with a seven-speed DCT, it also has some oomph and a respectable interior (especially for its price) that will surely help it fight the likes of the Chery Arrizo 5 (63.900-97.900 yuan), Geely Vision (53.900-72.900 yuan) and Great Wall C30 (54.900-74.900). The Junpai A50 will exclusively be aimed at third- and fourth-tier cities as well as rural areas. Unfortunately the precedents for Junpai sedans are dismal: launched in August 2016, the A70 only managed two 4-digit sales month and a grand total of 8.103 units since launch. FAW will rather look to the similarly-sized (but frankly dearer) Besturn B30 for inspiration: a personal best of 6.219 units in January 2016.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

7. Cowin E3 (#372 – 151 sales)

In 2014, Chery decided to graduate its Cowin lineup into a fully fledged low-cost brand aimed at younger first-time buyers in second and third tier cities. But despite the services of a new design agency led by Pininfarina’s ex-director Lowie Vermeersch and two large and affordable crossovers, the V3 and X3, Cowin sold less than 50.000 new cars in 2017. Worse: sales are freefalling 66% at the start of 2018. Chery seems to already have given up: the X5 crossover is a rebadged Chery Tiggo 5 and for this E3, Cowin doesn’t makes the effort of renaming the car! This is indeed a Chery E3 with subtle cosmetic adjustments.

Cowin E3 interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

Problem: this is a very low margin, highly competitive segment with numerous Chinese offerings already well established and the Chery E3 wasn’t even a blockbuster to start with, peaking at 10.678 wholesales for its 5th month in market in January 2014 but failing to hit 2.500 monthly sales since March 2016…  Powered by the same 109hp 1.5 engine as the Chery mated with a 5-speed manual, to add insult to injury the Cowin E3 is not even particularly cheap: priced from 52.900 to 72.900 yuan (US$8.300-11.500). It is undercut in price by larger and arguably better vehicles such as the Geely King Kong (43.900-65.900 yuan), BYD F3 (43.900-77.900 yuan) and even a foreigner: the Hyundai Verna (49.900-73.900 yuan). You will have guessed it, the very launch of the Cowin E3 seems like a waste of marketing money.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

8. Acura TLX-L (#377 – 137 sales)

Acura is a newcomer on the local production scene, with its first China-made nameplate being the CDX crossover launched in March 2017 and exclusive to this market. After 10 consecutive months above 1.000 units and a peak at 1.962 in December, the CDX crumbled in January at just 500 wholesales, coinciding with the release of the brand’s second local product: the TLX-L, an extended wheelbase variant of the TLX sold in America. It follows in the steps of almost all premium carmakers selling extended variants of their worldwide best-sellers to satisfy a Chinese clientele that gets chauffeured and therefore needs extra space in the back.

Acura TLX-L interior. Picture courtesy autohome.com.cn

All-in-all, 13.191 China-made Acuras were sold in China over the Full Year 2017, less than half the amount of China-made Infinitis sold in the same period (27.826) and only one-tenth of all imported Lexus (130.348). In other words, a disappointment. And given the SUV craze that is hitting China much like the rest of the world, it’s not certain that a sedan will help. Powered by a 208hp 2.4 engine mated with an 8-speed DCT, the TLX-L is priced from 279.800 to 379.800 yuan (US$44.100-59.900) and enters a segment already cornered by the Audi A4L (292.800-409.800), Mercedes C-Class L (312.800-489.000), BMW 3 Series L (288.000-486.900), Cadillac ATS-L (298.800-428.800) and Infiniti Q50L (279.800-409.800). Brand loyalty is much higher with premium marques in China, therefore convincing German premium owners to switch to little-known Acura that offers no price advantage will prove a challenge, a very big challenge indeed. An improvement on the slow-selling CDX is expected.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly units

9. XPeng G3 (#403 – 39 sales)

Third new Chinese brand to make its first appearance in its home sales charts this month, Xiaopeng Motors or XPeng was founded in 2014 as an R&D bureau but is now launching its first vehicle, the electric crossover G3. XPeng Motors recruited former employees from Guangzhou Automobile, BMW, Lamborghini, BYD, ALi, Tencent, Huawei, and Samsung to help with the creation of the G3. Smartly, XPeng has chosen to opt out of manufacturing the G3 itself, instead giving this responsibility to Haima Auto in a factory located in Guangdong Province.

XPeng G3 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

That will help reduce fixed costs and may mean the company will be able to provide high volumes if the G3 is met with success: the factory’s initial annual capacity is 50.000 cars, with a full capacity of 100.000 cars. It’s hard not to mention the Tesla Model X when looking at the G3, whose angled lines and extravagant touch screen remind of the American superstar. For a fraction of the price, Chinese carbuyers can now afford to drive a local equivalent that has started being surrounded with significant buzz. Initial sales are contained but the sky is the limit for this new startup. Based on the factory’s capacity, 3.500 monthly sales as a long term target seem like a reasonable bar for success.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

Previous month: China December 2017: Focus on the All-new models

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

China January 2018: VW, Geely, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes & BMW all break records, market showing surprising strength at +12%

The Bora hits a new record, helping VW to its largest ever wholesale volume.

* See the Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 425 models by clicking on the title *

New light vehicle sales in China start the year a lot better than expected given the purchase tax on vehicles with 1.6L engines and below was raised back from 7.5% to 10% on January 1: the market is up 11% to 2.456.200 units. Once again the main engine of growth in China is the SUV segment up 22.9% to 1.081.300, still close to the 1.173.000 record set last month while sedans/hatches are up 7.3% to 1.158.800. In contrast, MPVs are down 13.4% to 178.600 and microvans freefall 30% to 35.700. Truck sales shoot up 18% to 353.100, meaning the total vehicle market in China adds up to 2.809.300 units for January, up 12% year-on-year. Eco-Friendly car sales are up a fantastic 4.3-fold on January 2017 to 38.470, including 26.753 EVs and 11.717 plug-in hybrids. Chinese brands continue to fare very well but trail the overall passenger car market this month at +9.4% to 1.068.700 units or 43.5% share vs. 44.1% a year ago.

Local carmaker Geely posts a 5th consecutive all-time volume record.

Some manufacturers officially announce Chinese retail sales including imports which differ from the data tables we provide further down in the article (locally-produced wholesales). This paragraph is dedicated to these announcements. The Volkswagen Group is up 16% to 398.600 retail, with the Volkswagen brand up 9.7% to 296.900 retail (almost 56% of VW’s global sales) and Audi up 73% to 60.688. That’s less than Mercedes up 16% to an all-time retail record of 68.425. BMW+Mini is up 6.5% to 54.675. General Motors gains 15% year-on-year to 367.712 units, with Chevrolet up 40% to 54.350, Baojun up 36% to 92.356, Cadillac up 12% to 20.222 (its 23rd consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains), Buick up 5.7% to 113.007 as Wuling totals 87.777 including microvans. Ford Motor plunges 18% to 75.990 sales whereas at 60.688 units, Audi surges 73% on a January 2017 figure hampered by a stop order by dealers due to plans to open a second distribution network. Great Wall Motor reports 110.040 sales up 20.6% year-on-year including 98.748 SUVs (+22.1%).

Toyota has its best month ever in China in January, with the Corolla at its highest too. 

Back to wholesales data of locally produced models, and at this game Volkswagen dominates as usual with factory deliveries up 6% year-on-year to 346.739, and according to BSCB records this is VW’s largest ever monthly wholesale volume in China, boosted by new volume records for the Bora (32.585) and Magotan (29.297) while the Tiguan drops 15%. Tellingly, 6 of the 8 best-selling sedans in China in January are VW nameplates. Geely manages the incredible feat of a 5th consecutive all-time record volume, lifting it to 148.916, up a smashing 46% year-on-year. Just as the Boyue remains above 30.000 monthly sales for the 4th time in a row, the Emgrand GS (20.987) posts its 7th consecutive monthly record and the Vision (20.055), Emgrand GL (15.163) and Vision S1 (10.303) also hit all-time bests. Honda soars 38% to its third highest monthly volume ever at 138.306 (below the 151.587 of December 2015 and the 140.963 of December 2014) with the Accord up 54%, the CR-V up 20%, the Vezel up 34%, the Crider up 38% and the Avancier up 142%.

The Baojun is now the most successful car launch in history, both in China and in the world.

Toyota surges 31% to break a new volume record at 129.336, almost 20.000 units above the previous best of 110.802 set in December 2014. Up 78% to 46.735 deliveries, the Corolla sets a new monthly volume record for a Japanese nameplate in China (beating the Nissan Sylphy’s 45.232 from November 2016) while the RAV4 is at its highest since December 2013. Changan is down 8% to 114.373 but sees the CS55 beat its volume record at 23.209, while Buick is down 4% to 112.344. Baojun is up 23% year-on-year but down 32% on December to 94.966 as the 510 crossover posts a 5th all-time record in a row, adding 4.000 units to its December score to 58.006 but bizarrely 560 model sales are not reported by the brand. Note only four nameplates have managed to cross the 60.000 monthly unit-mark in all of China’s history: the Wuling Hongguang (record of 82.543 in December 2016), the Haval H6 (80.495 in December 2016), Wuling Sunshine (73.302 in January 2011) and VW Lavida (61.568 in January 2014). With 416.883 sales in 12 months, the Baojun 510 has now become the best-selling new car ever introduced in the world, beating the previous record held for the past 40 years by the Ford Fairmont with 405.780 units sold in its first 12 months in the US in 1978.

The Haval H6 is the #1 vehicle in China outright for the 5th time, all in the past 22 months.

In 8th place in the brands ranking, Nissan gains 16% to 94.595 units with the Qashqai hitting a new high at 16.519. Haval drops 4% to 78.459 but places the H6 in the overall models pole position thanks to sales up 29% to 59.133. It is the 5th time the H6 is the best-selling nameplate in China outright after April 2016, November 2016, July 2017 and October 2017. Rounding up the Top 10 whereas it ranked at a paltry #25 in December, Audi shoots up 35% to 69.194 wholesales – a new record, with the Q5 beating its volume record at 16.688. Both Mercedes (+34%) and BMW (+37%) also post their all-time wholesale monthly volume records with no less than three Mercedes nameplates reaching an all-time high wholesale volume: the C Class L (18.408), E Class L (15.041) and GLC (13.152) while two BMWs break records: the 3 Series L (14.370) and X1 (9.984).

Audi, Mercedes and BMW are all at record levels this month, with sedans doing the heavy lifting.

Other foreign carmakers posting sizeable wholesale gains in January include Jaguar (+190%), Mitsubishi (+96%) with the Outlander hitting a new high at 11.565 units, Land Rover (+94%), Citroen (+68%) even though the new C5 Aircross is down a steep 59% on December, Cadillac (+60%) with the XT5 the first Cadillac nameplate to crack 10.000 monthly sales in China (10.385, up 90%), Volvo (+53%), Chevrolet (+39%), Mazda (+27%) with the 3 Axela breaking a record at 15.952 sales (+63%) and Renault (+7%) setting a new benchmark at 9.000 units. Foreign manufacturers in difficulty this month include DS (-71%), Suzuki (-44%), Ford (-30%) hampered by the Kuga (-72%) and Edge (-62%), and Hyundai (-24%) even though the ix35 is boosted by the new generation to its 2nd largest monthly volume at 16.540 (record: 17.431 in Dec-14) and just as sister brand Kia rallies back up 1%.

Renault breaks its monthly volume record in China to 9.000.

Among Chinese manufacturers, some of the best performers in January are Yema (+350%), Qoros (+248%), MG (+166%) with the ZS posting its first ever five-digit result (10.913) and the 6 up 11-fold on the previous generation, Bisu (+98%), Brilliance (+81%) bolstered by the new V6 crossover, Maxus (+78%), Venucia (+69%), Soueast (+58%) helped by the DX3 hitting an all-time high (13.589), Roewe (+57%) with the RX3 at a new high (9.963), Weichai (+49%), BYD (+47%), GAC Trumpchi (+32%) as the GS3 breaks a new record (7.482), Zotye (+32%), Hanteng (+28%) and Leopaard (+22%) with a new all-time high for the CS9 (7.241). Those in difficulty this month include Hawtai (-82%), Jinbei (-75%), Cowin (-66%), Landwind (-65%), SWM (-59%), JMC (-58%), Changhe (-57%), Great Wall (-54%), Karry (-36%) and JAC (-32%).

The new 6 (+985%) helps lift MG sales up 166% in January.

Great Wall’s semi premium SUV brand WEY remains by far the most popular new brand launch of the past 12 months in China, eclipsing 20.000 monthly sales for the third time in a row. It is followed at a distance by Geely’s own premium marque, Lynk & Co, up a slim 2.7% on its inaugural score last month. We welcome new local brands Traum (1.518), Yudo (356) and Xpeng (39) in the local charts in January – all the new launches are covered in a separate update as always. As for December launches, the Chery Tiggo 5X is still in the lead but drops a heavy 30% to 7.527, the Changan Raeton CC is up 18% to 6.421, the Lynk & Co 01 up 2.7% to 6.173, the Jaguar XEL down 20% to 1.062, the GAC Trumpchi GM8 up 82% to 1.001 and the Arcfox Lite down 87% to just 60 sales, but far from showing a poor reception, this drop has more to do with the fact that BAIC had filled December wholesales up to benefit from the maximum amount of subsidies for 2017.

Previous post: China Full Year 2017: Geely becomes #1 Chinese brand, market up 3.2%

Previous month: China December 2017: Geely, Baojun and Zotye end year at record levels

One year ago: China January 2017: Audi tumbles down 35% in market down 1.1%

Full January 2018 Top 77 All China-made brands and Top 425 models below.

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

The Lexus ES is the most popular import in China for 2017. 

* See the Top 50 All-brands and Top 300 All-models by clicking on the title *

Detailed 2017 imports data for China is now available on BSCB thanks to a new source in China. All-brands and All-models 2017 monthly data is available, please contact us here for more details. Chinese imports sales data is traditionally a very secretive part of the worldwide market representing over one million annual units, but we can now report on it monthly. No media outside of China is reporting on these figures, and BSCB being the first to do so, in line with our pledge to improve coverage of the Chinese market. Import sales in China tend to be stable year-on-year, not replicating the market’s growth simply because more and more manufacturers are opening factories in China and less and less remain pure importers. In 2017, 1.114.866 new cars were imported into China, that’s a slim 11% gain over the 1.007.088 of two years prior in 2015.

The BMW X5 comes in at #2 in the imported models ranking. Picture auto.ifeng.com

BMW is the best-selling importer in China for 2017, with a slim 4.000 unit-margin over #2 Mercedes, both above 170.000 units. Pure importer Lexus is above 130.000 sales in third place followed by Toyota (76.000) and Porsche (69.000). Land Rover (#6), Lincoln (#7), Audi (#9) and pure importer Mini (#10) make it 8 premium manufacturers in the Top 10. With 20% import taxes being slapped on incoming nameplates, it makes sense that premium carmakers are the most popular. Subaru is the third best-selling pure importer at #11 overall and one of only 6 above 10.000 annual sales alongside Smart (#16), Maserati (#19) and Tesla (#20). Alfa Romeo makes its landing at #23 with just under 5.000 deliveries of the Giulia and Stelvio.

The Toyota Prado rounds up the imports podium. Picture auto.ifeng.com 

Over in the models aisle, the Chinese tastes are clear: 8 luxury SUVs in the Top 10, although the overall best-seller is a sedan: the Lexus ES leaps from #4 in 2015 to pole position and earned its 2017 victory with 11 monthly wins (every month bar January) and an almost 7.000 sales gap with the #2, the BMW X5 which was leader two years ago and ranked #1 in January but #2 during every other month of 2017. #3 in 2015, the Jeep Compass has been replaced by a locally-produced model in 2017 and accordingly sees its imported ranking plunge to #139 this year, illustrating the fate of brands that become local producers. The Toyota Prado is knocked down to #3 and is one of only a handful of nameplates that sell well both their locally-produced and imported variants. The BMW X3 comes in 4th (+1 on 2015) while the Mercedes GLE rounds up the Top 5, almost exactly replacing its predecessor the M-Class (#6 in 2015).

The Porsche Macan ranks at a very impressive 6th place, one of Two Porsches in the Top 10.

Porsche maintains an impressive presence in the Top 10 with both the Macan (#6) and Cayenne (#9) up one spot on their 2015 rankings. Lexus adds the RX (#7, +32) and NX (#10, -1) to make it three nameplates inside the imported Top 10, the most of any importer. Fantastic performances of the Mercedes CLA at #8, BMW 7 Series at #11 with almost 25.000 sales, the Nissan Patrol getting a good kick at #16. Based on price and not brand, the Subaru Forester would remain the most popular “mass” nameplate and the only one in the Top 20 but drops 6 spots on 2015 to #17. Lincoln manages to place the MKC at #19, the MKX at #22 and the MKZ at #30.

The Mercedes GLS is the best-selling newcomer, ending 2017 just outside the Top 20. 

Which new launches have been the most successful among imports? By this we mean nameplates that weren’t present in the FY2015 ranking. No surprise: the most popular are luxury SUVs, led by the Mercedes GLS (#21), Jaguar F-Pace (#25), Maserati Levante (#35), Tesla Model X (#39) and Mercedes GLC Coupe (#43). The Smart Forfour (#47) and Lincoln Continental (#53) follow, while the Mercedes Maybach S-Class signs a very impressive 54th place with just under 6.500 sales over the past 12 moths, making China its #1 market in the world, and by far. Granted, China was probably the only reason why the Maybach brand was revived for this ultra-luxury sedan.

The Ford F-150 is now officially imported in China alongside Ram Pickup and Toyota Tundra.

Finally it’s worth touching on the latest new trend in official imports into China. At last reacting to the love of large American pickup trucks I witnessed in every single rural city I visited in the country (2016 Photo Reports are here), U.S. carmakers are now officially importing a handful of full-size pickups into China instead of counting on private importers and the grey market. This way, the Ford F-150 makes its appearance at #126, the Ram Pickup is at #183 and the Toyota Tundra #193. However expect these rankings to improve drastically in 2018 as well as a few additions to the list from General Motors, such as the Chevrolet Silverado, Colorado (both present at the Guangzhou Auto Show) and even the GMC Sierra.

Previous post: China June 2017: Exclusive imports data now available

Two years ago: China Full Year 2015: Exclusive imported models ranking now available

Full Year and December 2017 Top 50 All-brands and Top 300 All-models below.

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China Full Year 2017: Geely becomes #1 Chinese brand, market up 3.2%

Geely makes a splash in 2017 and overtakes Wuling and Changan to become #1 Chinese. 

* See the Top 95 All China-made brands and Top 595 models by clicking on the title *

Consult 35 years worth of Chinese Historical Data here

NOW UPDATED with additional data featuring Foday, GAC Gonow, Hongqi, Sinogold, Traum, Yudo and Zinoro and the addition of 19 nameplates.

New vehicle sales in China put on the brakes this year: after a 14% surge in 2016, the year-on-year growth slows down to 3.2% in 2017 to an all-time record 28.878.900 registrations. This upholds China as the largest car market in the world by far: the second largest is the U.S., almost 11.5 million units below. The reason behind this slowdown is the end of a 50% purchase tax cut that applied to small engine vehicles (1.6L or less), reduced from 10% to 5% from October 1, 2015 until December 31, 2016. It was raised to 7.5% on January 1, 2017 and back to 10% on January 1, 2018, meaning prospects for growth in 2018 are limited. Even though the growth rate is markedly below that of previous years, China races to its 27th consecutive annual sales record, with the last time deliveries declined year-on-year being in 1990.

The Baojun 510 has become the most successful launch in history in China.

Light vehicle sales edge up 1.4% to 24.718.300, this time solely pulled up into positive territory by the SUV segment. Sedans and hatches are down 2.5% to 11.848.000 units, MPVs are down 17% to 2.070.700 units and microvans down 20% to 547.000 but SUVs surge up another 13.3% to a record 10.252.700 deliveries. After breaking their monthly sales record four consecutive times at the end of 2016, SUV sales did so twice in 2017: in November (1.108.182) and December (1.173.000). Commercial vehicles (trucks and buses) also confirm their return to form, posting a second consecutive year in positive at a stunning +13.9% to 4.160.600 units. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicts 2018 light vehicle sales up 3% to 25.6m with SUV sales up 11% to 11.5m, sedans down 1% to 11.8m, MPVs down 11% to 1.8m and microvans down 7% to 510k. This should bring the Chinese new vehicle market just across the 30 million mark for 2018, including 4.45m commercial vehicles.

The Wuling Hongguang remains the best-selling vehicle in China but drops 18%. 

Meanwhile, the most dynamic platforms remain the eco-friendly ones, with electric and plug in hybrid passenger cars even accelerating their growth compared to 2016: electric vehicles are up 59% to 652.000 units divided into 468.000 passenger cars (+82% vs. +75% in 2016) and 184.000 commercial vehicles (+21%). Plug-in hybrids are up 28% to 125.000 units including 111.000 passenger cars (+41% vs. +17% in 2016) and 14.000 commercial vehicles (-26%). All-in-all, a total of 770.000 “green” cars were registered in 2017 (+53%) placing China frankly on top of the world,  with the million unit mark likely to be surpassed in 2018. Beijing Auto has taken a stance in the segment this year, with BYD taking a step backwards as we will see further down this Report. Keep in mind that in China, only domestically built all-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles qualify for government subsidies, whereas conventional hybrids do not, neither do imports.

The VW Lavida is down 6% but up to 2nd place in 2017. 

For the first time on BSCB we can share with you details of the Chinese market by geographic region, according to data submitted by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. It shows that the Eastern seaboard, by far the largest region in the country in terms of sales and accounting for 35% of the total market at 10.2m units, is in steep decline at -10.2%, Southwest China is also down at -4.9% to 3.02m units and North China is down 3.5% to 4.1m. Areas showing growth are the Northeast at +3.4% to 2.54m units, Northwest at +6.9% to 1.9m and, most strikingly, Central South China up a whopping 12.9% to 7.1m. Explore 30 cities and regions all around China with our detailed Photo Reports here.

Haval H6 sales are down 13% despite the arrival of a new generation.

(The following data is retail sales data including imports as reported by manufacturers) The Volkswagen Group remains the most popular manufacturer in the country for 2017, outpacing the market with a 5.1% uplift to 4.18 million units, including 3.18 million (+5.9%) for the VW brand, 598.000 (+1.1%) for Audi, 325.000 (+2.5%) for Skoda, 71.500 (+10%) for Porsche and 265 for Lamborghini. General Motors for its part is up 4.4% to 4.040.789 units with SUV sales soaring 37%, Buick is stable at 1.18m units, Wuling tumbles down 16% to 1.14m units including microvans, Baojun is up 45% to 996.629, Chevrolet up 4.2% to 547.651 and Cadillac surges 51% to 175.489. Japanese carmakers had a fantastic year in China: Honda Motor is up 16% to 1.46m units, Toyota Motor is up 6.2% to 1.29m and Nissan Motor up 12% to 1.27m. Reversely, Ford Motor sees its sales drop 6.3% to 1.192.625.

The Buick Excelle is up 14% year-on-year but stays in 4th place. 

Audi managed to save its #1 spot in the luxury race by the skin of its teeth, handicapped for a large part of the year by a boycott from dealers who protested its plans to open a second distribution channel. The BMW Group was #1 up until end-November but Audi clawed back on top during the last days of the year with annual sales are up 1.1% to 597.866 vs. 594.388 for BMW and Mini (+15%). Daimler AG posted the biggest year-on-year gain by far at +26% to 587.868. Other notable improvements in the luxury aisle include Volvo up 26% to 114.410 sales and Lincoln up 66% to 54.124. A handful of other Japanese carmakers have also communicated retail sales: Mazda is up 8.3% to 309.407 while Mitsubishi is up 56% to 129.160, with both manufacturers’ China sales finally overtaking U.S. ones. Finally, Subaru, the only large carmaker with Lexus to not have a local production facility, is starting to seriously suffer from it at -35% to just 30.029 sales vs. 647.956 in the U.S.

The Nissan Sylphy steps up one spot on 2016 to 5th place this year. 

We are now back to wholesales data – keep in mind these exclude imports and light commercials which will both be covered in separate Reports. The 2017 brand ranking shows lots of movement at the top: below VW up 4% to 3.14m, Honda shoots up an impressive 18% to snap the #2 spot at 1.42m units but the stunner of the year is undoubtedly Geely. The private company surges 61% year-on-year and leaps from #10 brand in 2016 to #3 overall this year with 1.23m units. This makes Geely the most popular Chinese brand at home for the very first time, ending at least 8 years of domination by Wuling (1.14m), also overtaking Changan (1.06m) and Haval in one go! Geely even edges past Buick (1.22m, -1%) at the last minute to snap the third overall spot. The company is targeting 1.58 million sales in 2018 (+27%). Below Buick, Toyota (1.14m) and Nissan (1.12m) follow with 7% and 12% gains respectively, ahead of Changan (-8%).

The VW Tiguan shoots up 40% to 7th place overall thanks to the new model. 

The other winner of 2017 is Baojun, lifted to unheard-of levels thanks to the smashing success of its 510 crossover and 310 wagon. Launched in February, the Baojun 510 became the fastest nameplate in history to reach 300.000 sales: only 10 months vs. 11 for the Baojun 560 and 12 for the Baojun 730, the previous record holders. The 510 is also the fastest to 350.000 in 11 months vs. 14 for the Baojun 560. The 510 ends 2017 in 6th place overall and #2 SUV but should threaten the supremacy of the Haval H6 in 2018. For its part the 310 saw its sales take a completely new dimension with the arrival of the 310w wagon variant, hitting a record of 35.048 in December which is only a thousand units below the 36.046 reached by the BYD F3 in March 2010, still to this date the all-time record for a Chinese sedan/hatch. The 310 was China’s 4th best-selling sedan/hatch overall in December. As a result, Baojun wholesales majestically cross the million mark this year at 1.02m compared to just 761.000 in 2016, a 34% improvement.

GAC Trumpchi adds the GS8 to the smashing success of the GS4.

Haval disappoints in 9th place with deliveries down 9% to 850.000. Its parent company Great Wall Motors saw its deliveries slip 0.4% to 1.070.161 sales in 2017 despite the addition of the premium WEY brand (see further down) and strong Great Wall-branded pickup sales up 13% 119.846. There were many other double-digit gains however among Chinese carmakers further down the ranking: GAC Trumpchi doubles up on the tremendous success of the GS4 with a blockbuster GS8 and gains 37% to #17, Roewe surfs on the popularity of its RX5 crossover (#20 overall) and gains 59%, Soueast is up 50% thanks to the DX3 crossover crossing the 100.000 annual sales mark for its first full year in market, Venucia is up 25%, MG up 68%, Hawtai up 77% and Leopaard up 36%. Outside the Top 40, notice Hanteng (+285%) above 60.000 for its first full year, SWM (+150%) just under 65.000 over the same period, Denza (+117%), Zhi Dou (+109%), Foton (+73%), Maxus (+71%), Kandi (+68%), Borgward (+48%), JMC (+44%) and Karry (+25%).

WEY is by far the most successful brand launch of 2017. 

Among the new brands coming into the Chinese market in 2017, the most noteworthy is of course WEY. Launched in June, Great Wall Motors’ premium SUV marque sold a stunning 86.427 units in just seven months with both the VV5 and VV7 each posting two consecutive 10.000-sales months at the end of the year. Lynk & Co also made its appearance in December with a first month above 6.000 units, with Yudo, Yu Lu, Arcfox and Dearcc the only other new domestic brands above 100 units. Bisu, launched in late 2016, closely misses the 50.000 unit-mark. Struggling Chinese carmakers include Jiangnan (-71%), Landwind (-47%), JAC (-40%), Brilliance (-38%), Haima (-38%), Qoros (-36%), Weichai (-35%), Jinbei (-31%), Beijing Auto (-20%), BYD (-18%) and Chery (-12%).

The C5 Aircross arrived too late to reverse the PSA Group’s dismal performance in 2017. 

Continuing on the bad news but in the foreign aisle, Hyundai (-30%) goes from #5 to #11, suffering from a North Korea-related political row between South Korea and China, as does sister brand Kia down 44% to #23. The PSA Group had a nightmare year: Peugeot is down 29%, Citroen down 47% and DS down an abysmal 64% as the company rebuilds its dealer network. Fiat, now discontinued, is down 82%, Luxgen down 56% and Suzuki down 24%. Reversely, Jeep soars 57% and now has a three locally-produced model lineup (Compass, Cherokee, Renegade), Renault is up 141% to over 72.000 units with just the Koleos and Kadjar, Jaguar is up 296% to 22.340 and Acura lands at 13.191 deliveries for its first annual appearance as a local producer.

The Baojun 310 became the best-selling Chinese sedan over the last two months of the year. 

Over in the models ranking, the Wuling Hongguang celebrates five consecutive years as the national best-seller (no interruption since 2013), and this despite a steep 18% drop to 532.000 units. Astonishingly, this marks the 12th consecutive year a Wuling nameplate is the all-vehicle best-seller in China (2006-2012 were dominated by Wuling microvans). The Hongguang was shortly overtaken in the YTD charts during the course of the year by the VW Lavida, down 6% but up one spot to #2 and 517.000 sales including the Gran Lavida. One of the heroes of 2016, the Haval H6 goes backwards in 2017 despite the launch of a new generation with deliveries down 13% after a 56% gain in 2016 to a still extremely impressive 506.000 units. The Haval H6 remains the best-selling SUV in China, a title it has now held continuously since 2013 but that could be in jeopardy in 2018 if the Baojun 510 (#6 this year) avoids cannibalisation by the larger 530, which is uncertain given how the 510 absolutely butchered the 560 (-53%) in 2017. The Buick Excelle (+14%) and Nissan Sylphy (+10%) follow as reliable sedan blockbusters with the Toyota Corolla (+10%) a notch below, in a category that saw the VW Sagitar (-4%), Jetta (-9%), Santana (-10%) and Ford Escort (-4%) all lose ground year-on-year. The Chevrolet Cavalier posts a very strong first full year in the Chinese market (189.000).

Below the Baojun 510, the Changan CS55 is the 2nd most popular 2017 launch…

The VW Tiguan lifts up 40% thanks to the new generation to place #7 with a record-breaking 340.000 units, #3 SUV and one of only three foreign fares in the segment’s Top 10 along with the Buick Envision at #7 and the Nissan X-Trail at #10. The GAC Trumpchi GS4 (+3%), manages to beat an already stellar 2016 score while the Geely Boyue storms into the 5th SUV spot thanks to 286.000 sales for its first full year in market. The Changan CS75 (+15%) accelerates its growth slightly while the Roewe RX5 (+160%) lands at over 230.000 units for its first full year, never-heard-before heights for the brand. The Haval H2 (+9%) stays in positive thanks to the arrival of the H2s variant, the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (+103%) becomes the brand’s best-seller while the Geely Emgrand GS (+149%) and Vision SUV (+157%) both post stunning first full years.

…followed by the VW Teramont. 

In the Chinese sedan category, the Baojun 310 outpaced the long-term best-seller the Geely Emgrand EC7 towards the end of the year but remains below annually at #21 overall vs. #16, while the Geely Vision (+5%) remains above the Chery Arrizo 5 (+6%) but the Geely Emgrand GL storms in just below with sales up 313% for the nameplate’s first full year in market. In the MPV aisle, the facelifted Baojun 730 remains a distant second below the Hongguang as its 26% sales drop pull it from #5 overall in 2016 to #15 this year, with the Buick GL8 an even more distant third but up 83% thanks to the new generation. The BYD Song MAX is an instant blockbuster and ranked third in the segment in December. The Audi A6L (+6%) retains the luxury model crown above the Mercedes C-Class L (+23%), BMW 3 Series L (+27%), Audi Q5 (-6%) and BMW 5 Series L (-16%). The Audi A4L (+19%), Mercedes E-Class L (+97%) and GLC (+28%) also cross the 100.000 annual sales mark. The green car ranking is completely reshuffled this year: the BAIC-EC-Series takes the lead with 78.000 sales ahead of the Zhi Dou D2 at 42.000, the JAC iEV at 28.000, the Chery eQ at 26.000 and the BYD Qin, #1 in 2016, at 25.000 (-21%). The BYD e5 (+50%) makes up for it at #6.

The BAIC EC-Series has become the best-selling green car in China in 2017. 

Finally, to cap our monthly “Focus on the All-new models” series and in anticipation of the December update, let’s have a look at the most popular 2017 launches. There’s no contest on top: the Baojun 510 is the most successful nameplate launch in the history of automobile in China and spat out almost 360.000 units in just 11 months. Below, far below is the Changan CS55 with just under 80.000 units, followed by the VW Teramont at 75.000 sales, the FAW Besturn X40 and MG ZS both at 70.000 deliveries, the Roewe i6 at 64.000, the Zotye T700 at 59.000, the Chevrolet Equinox and WEY VV7 both at 53.000, the Skoda Kodiaq, Nissan Kicks and Honda UR-V all around 44.000, the Chana Oushang A800 at 41.000, the Toyota Yaris L Sedan at 40.000 and the Haval M6, Leopaard CS9 and Toyota Vios FS around 35.000. In summary: 13 SUVs, one MPV and three sedans with 10 Chinese nameplates and 7 foreigners, very aptly illustrating the engines of growth and dynamism that were at play in China in 2017.

Previous post: China December 2017: Geely, Baojun and Zotye end year at record levels

Previous year: China Full Year 2016: Tax cut boosts market up 14% to record 28 million sales

Two years ago: China Full Year 2015: Market up 4.7% to record 24.61 million despite sluggish summer

Full Year 2017 Top 95 All China-made brands and Top 595 models vs. Full Year 2016 figures below.

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China LCV Full Year 2017: Wuling dominates, pickups gain 18%

The Wuling Mini Truck is the best-selling LCV in China for the third straight year.

* See the Top 25 All-brands and Top 70 models by clicking on the title *

Consult 35 years worth of Chinese Historical Data here

After the Full Year 2017 Report for Passenger Cars, thanks to our partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars we can share with you detailed light commercial vehicles data for China over the Full Year 2017, with complete minivan, pickup and mini truck data by model available. Note LMC Automotive-sourced Light Truck/Van data was discontinued in 2017 except for Ford Transit and JMC Light Truck sales provided by Ford. Minivans continue their descent into hell but somewhat slow down their freefall at -21% in 2017 to 512.033 registrations vs. -37% in 2016. Up until 2016 we witnessed a sales transfer from Minivans onto Mini Trucks (the pickups variants of minivans) but this year that category is also down at -3% to 566.940 – note inconsistencies with the 2016 Data Report come from some manufacturers releasing both 2017 and 2016 data simultaneously.

The Wuling Hongguang V remains #2 but drops 13%.

As it was the case in 2016, the one-tonne pickup segment is the hero of the pack with deliveries shooting up 18% to 410.665 units vs. +11% a year ago, benefiting once again from a loosening up of legislation forbidding them to enter main cities (more details on this change here). All-in-all, LCV sales add up to 1.489.638 units, almost 100.000 below the 2016 result or a 5.7% drop. It’s important to note that this is only a small part of all commercial vehicles sold in China in 2017, which total 4.160.600 units, up 13.9% year-on-year thanks to very dynamic heavy truck sales.

The Great Wall Wingle 5 remains the uncontested leader in the pickup segment. 

Wuling remains the uncontested Light Commercial Vehicle leader in China despite a 15% year-on-year drop pulling it from 700.000 sales in 2016 to under 600.000 this year, with two nameplates each selling more than the 2nd best-selling brand. Chana comes in at #2 with surprisingly stable deliveries just under 163.000 units, followed like in 2016 by Dongfeng up 2% to 154.000. Great Wall (+13%) and JMC (+16%) surf on the pickup wave to overtake Foton (-37%) handicapped by weak minivan sales. Jinbei leaps up 48% but remains 7th, distancing ZX Auto (+5%), Jiangxi Isuzu (+69%) – the only sino-foreign joint venture in the Top 10 and Huanghai (+20%). Beyond the Top 10, notice KAMA (+30%), JAC (+34%), Changhe (+34%), Zhengzhou Nissan (+34%), FQT Motor (+174%) and Leopaard (+219%) all positing spectacular gains.

The ZX Auto Terralord is the most popular new LCV launch for 2017… 

Over in the models charts, the Wuling Mini Truck – the pickup variant of the Rongguang Minivan – is the most popular LCV in China for the third consecutive year, managing to edge up 1% to over 255.000 units. The Wuling Hongguang V cements the brand’s supremacy in the segment but drops 13% year-on-year two under 175.000 sales. Below the JMC Light Truck up 5%, the Great Wall Wingle 5 cements its domination of the pickup segment with deliveries up 8%. The Chana Star (+2%) and Dongfeng K-Series (+18%) Mini Trucks both overtake the once-mighty Wuling Sunshine (-39%) and Rongguang (-36%) freefalling Minivans, a sign of the times, while the Chana Star Minivan manages to contain its fall to -6% at #9.

…followed by the Zhengzhou Nissan Navara. 

Among pickups, the most dynamic nameplates include the Jiangxi Isuzu Ruimai (+87%), JMC Yuhu (+58%), Jiangxi Isuzu D-Max (+42%), JAC Pickup (+34%), Great Wall Wingle 6 (+32%) and Huanghai N2-Series (+31%), while among Mini Trucks the Changhe (+58%), Jinbei (+52%) and KAMA (+30%) are among the biggest gainers and Minivans have the FQT M70 (+174%) and Jinbei Haise (+45%). The most popular all-new LCV in China in 2017 is the ZX Auto Terralord with just under 14.000 units, followed by the Zhengzhou Nissan Navara at 10.500 and the Maxus T60 Pickup at 7.900.

Previous month: China LCV November 2017: Pick ups soar 32.1% with JMC Yuhu #2

Previous year: China LCV Full Year 2016: Wuling Mini Truck leads, pickups up 11%

Two years ago: China LCV Full Year 2015: Sales transfer to mini pickups boosts Wuling Mini Truck

Full Year 2017 Top 25 All-brands and Top 70 models vs. Full Year 2016 figures below.

Full December 2017 Top 50 models ranking below.

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China December 2017: Focus on the All-new models

The Lynk & Co brand has now launched in China.

As is the tradition on BSCB, after covering December sales in detail, we now focus on the all-new locally produced launches so you can stay up-to-date on the fastest-evolving automobile market in the world. The December 2017 class has a clear air of Guangzhou Auto Show with almost all newcomers having made their debut there in mid-November. Make sure you check out our Guangzhou Auto Show coverage for more details on this month’s new launches. Six of December’s seven new entrants are Chinese with the only odd one out being the Jaguar XEL. We have two SUVs, two electric cars, two sedans and one MPV and, undoubtedly a first, no less than three new brands make their debut this month in China – adding to the total count of 136 Chinese Brands covered in our Exclusive Guide.

1. Chery Tiggo 5x (#79 – 10.693 sales)

Originally slated to replace the ageing Chery Tiggo 5, the 5x finally takes its place alongside it, but is priced more aggressively at 79.900-110.900 yuan (US$ 12.500-17.300) vs. 88.800-123.800 for the Tiggo 5. The 5x is also shorter at 4.34m vs. 4.51m for the Tiggo 5. In Guangzhou, the Tiggo 5x impressed me with with its interior quality but most strikingly with the design flair displayed in the cockpit, something Chery had not got us used to. The Tiggo 5x is the first car on Chery’s new T1X platform which will next be used for a seven-seat variant of the same crossover. The Tiggo 5x is priced very competitively and it will need it as it enters one of the most contested segments in the whole of the Chinese market: Chinese-branded compact crossovers. No less than 20+ other contenders are already playing in the same sandpit.

Chery Tiggo 5x interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Among them the Changan CS55 (83.900-132.900 yuan), the 2nd best-selling 2017 launch in China, the Soueast DX3 (67.900-105.900) posting a 100.000+ sales result for its first full year in market, the MG ZS (73.800-115.800) enabling the brand to double its sales year-on-year, the Zotye T300 (56.800-93.800) already above 10.000 monthly units a few months after launch and the GAC Trumpchi GS3 (73.800-116.800). Sales-wise, the Tiggo 5x lands with a bang: directly above 10.000 units which places it by far atop the Tiggo lineup this month (the Tiggo 7 is at 6.021, the Tiggo 3/3x at 7.400 and the Tiggo 5 is obliterated at -92% to just 265 sales). In terms of all-time highs, the Tiggo 7 peaked at 11.039 units in December 2016, the Tiggo 3 at 17.081 in December 2015 and the Tiggo 5 at 12.469 in December 2014, so in a sense the Tiggo 5x has already accomplished its mission but let’s give it a stretch goal at 15.000.

Bar for success: 15.000 monthly units

2. Lynk & Co 01 (#138 – 6.012 sales)

Unveiled a year ago in October 2016, Lynk & Co is a semi-premium marque owned by Geely and positioned in-between Geely and Volvo, also a Geely property. Its models are using the same platform that underpins the new Volvo XC40. In Guangzhou, the Lynk & Co stand was the hippest around with a pleasing sense of confidence peppered with some irreverent streaks. The manufacturer put the first batch of 6.000 pre-sales cars for sale online in November 2017, and they sold out in 2 minutes and 17 seconds, making the 01 the fastest-selling car in the world. These are translated into the car and brand’s first ever month of official sales in China.

Lynk & Co 01 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

It’s a solid start for the brand, which will have to confirm with growing figures over the coming months and a short-term target of 10.000 monthly units, a milestone both WEY models launched this year already reached. Yes, Great Wall Motors semi-premium SUV brand WEY is the natural local competitor for Lynk & Co but the latter also has its sights firmly set on foreign manufacturers. The 01 is priced from 158.800-220.800 yuan (20.300-28.300 € or US$24.400-33.950), to be compared with 150.000-163.000 for the WEY VV5 and 167.800-188.000 for the WEY VV7. But foreign blockbuster SUV pricing shows where Lynk & Co’s true competition is: the Honda CR-V (169.800-259.800), Toyota RAV4 (179.800-269.800), Nissan X-Trail (179.800-268.800) and VW Tiguan (199.800-237.800) are all in the 01’s line of fire.

Bar for success: 12.500 monthly units

3. Changan Raeton CC (#152 – 5.440 sales)

Another Guangzhou unveiling, the Changan Raeton CC confuses us with its naming as it has nothing to do with a Coupe version of the much larger Raeton, rather it is the successor to the best-selling Eado sedan. It stands on a new Changan-developed platform, the P3, which will also underpin an upcoming crossover. It features the new signature grille of the brand which is far from being unattractive. Power comes from a new 155 hp 1.5T engine mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Changan has meticulously updated every inch of the old car that was the Eado to release this very accomplished sedan that had the international press buzzing with flashes and video cameras at the Guangzhou Auto Show. It is deserved, as the car offers all the sophistication you would expect from a model one or two segments above and is priced at a cut-throat 89.900-138.900 yuan (US$ 14.000-21.700),

Changan Raeton CC interior. Picture autohome.com.cn 

This throws the Raeton CC in the same bath as the recently overhauled MG6 (96.800-132.800), Roewe i6 (89.800-143.800) and Geely Emgrand GL (78.800-115.800) as far as locals are concerned. But Changan will also eye the foreign competition and aim at reclaiming buyers that had fallen for western charms. For this, it undercuts such blockbusters as the Toyota Corolla (107.800-175.800), VW Lavida (109.900-159.900), Buick Excelle (109.900-150.900) and Honda Civic (115.900-169.900). The Eado was one of the very rare Chinese sedans to cross the 20.000 monthly units milestone (22.964 in January 2015), including the XT hatchback which is now a separate model, so Changan will be tabling on high volumes for the Raeton CC.

Bar for success: 14.000 monthly units

4. Jaguar XEL (#302 – 1.328 sales)

The XEL is a long-wheelbase version of the Jaguar XE extended by 10cm to make more legroom for the back seats, as is the custom in China. It is manufactured by the Chery-JLR joint-venture and is the second China-made Jaguar after the XFL launched in September 2016. It offers a choice between two 2.0T engine with either 200 or 250hp. Power comes from two 2.0 turbocharged engines; one with 200 and one with 250 horses. Producing the XE locally enables a drastic price drop: the imported variant, still on sale alongside the XEL, starts at 417.500 yuan (US$ 65.200) whereas the XEL is priced from 288.800 to 428.800 yuan (US$ 44.950-66.900).

Jaguar XEL interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The Jaguar XEL will be competing against the leaders of its segment, all featuring long wheelbases: the Audi A4L (292.800-409.800 yuan), BMW 3 Series L (288.000-486.900) and Mercedes C-Class L (312.800-489.000) as well as the Volvo S60L (266.900-390.900). Priced at 388.000-688.000 yuan, the larger Jaguar XFL just reached its all-time high monthly volume this month at 2.559 units. Jaguar will want to easily top this for the US$15.000-cheaper XEL.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

5. GAC Trumpchi GM8 (#365 – 550 sales)

Logically unveiled at the Guangzhou Auto Show last November, the GM8 is the largest vehicle ever produced by GAC at 5.07m long. The company just announced at the Detroit Auto Show that it would enter the U.S. market in 2019. This is GAC’s first foray into the MPV segment and the carmaker’s intention is to reproduce the astonishing success it has enjoyed with the GS4 and GS8 in the SUV segment. If all other Chinese carmakers have entered the MPV segment from the low-cost door with tremendous success (Wuling Hongguang, Baojun 730, Chana offers), no one has managed to be successful yet at the more premium end.

GAC Trumpchi GM8 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

Jinbei did attempt this feat with the Huasong brand but has bitterly failed so far. Luxury MPVs are used by hotel companies to transport VIP guests and luxury interiors are the norm. Buick has dominated the segment with the GL8 and a new generation launched this year has propelled the nameplate to never-seen before volumes (14.332 in November 2017). This is where the GM8 comes, priced from 176.800-259.800 yuan (US$ 27.600-40.600) which, although high for a Chinese nameplate, greatly undercuts both the Buick GL8 (229.900-449.900 yuan) and Honda Odyssey (228.800-354.800) while offering similar levels of sophistication.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

6. Arcfox Lite (#375 – 472 sales)

The Arcfox Lite is perhaps the coolest EV launched by a Chinese company so far. Arcfox is a brand by Beijing Auto BJEV and it had dozens of them inundating the Guangzhou Auto stand in both bright and pastel colours. There are two main attractions in the Lite: first, the interior which is one of the most exciting ever launched for a Chinese brand, featuring not one but three 8 inch screens forming a full digital bar. Second, it has LED displays at the front and rear of the car where both the driver and passenger can ‘advertise’ their own messages, in Chinese or Western alphabets, and even emoticons. So you get to be able to write anything you want, including insults. Now that’s cool.

Arcfox Lite interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

The Lite is under 3m long and is powered by a 49hp electric motor mated with a 16.4 KWh battery located below the floor. Range is just 170km which keeps the Lite firmly put in the city. Top speed is 110 km/h and fast charging takes half an hour to 80% battery and the manufacturer is using advanced materials to keep the car light to fit its name at 895 kg. Price before subsidies is 152.800-162.800 yuan (US$ 23.850-25.400) down to 93.800-106.800 (US$ 14.600-16.700). The Lite will compete with the Zotye E200 (181.800-185.800 before subsidies), Zhi Dou D2 (151.800-188.800) and Chery eQ1 (155.900-205.900).

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

7. Dearcc EV10 (#419 – 109 sales)

The last launch of the month is the third brand to make its very first appearance in the Chinese sales charts: Dearcc, an EV brand by Soueast whose Mandarin name Dianka weirdly translates as “electric coffee“… Dearcc was created by Beijing Dearcar Auto Technology, a tech firm based in Beijing devoted to research and development of new energy vehicle/electric vehicle platforms and smart technologies. Unveiled at the 2016 Guangzhou Auto Show, the EV10 had to wait over a year to launch in market. It is rather trendy, especially when compared to the rest of the Soueast line-up, with a dual tone colour scheme.

Dearcc EV10 interior. Picture autohome.com.cn

It is powered by a 57hp electric motor giving the 3.69m 5-door hatch a 150km range and 100 km/h top speed strictly limiting it to city driving. 80% battery charge is reached in 48 minutes on a fast charger. The EV10 is priced from 133.800 to 141.800 yuan before subsidies (US$ 20.900-22.100) and will compete with some of the best-selling EVs of the moment such as the BAIC EC-Series (151.800-164.800), Changan Benben EV (154.800-161.800) and the Chery eQ1 (155.900-205.900).

Bar for success: 2.000 monthly units

Previous month: China November 2017: Focus on the All-new models

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

China December 2017: Geely, Baojun and Zotye end year at record levels

Zotye surges 83% to a record 61.290 sales thanks to the T700 and T300. 

* See the Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 455 models by clicking on the title *

It’s another setback for passenger car sales in China, posting their fourth year-on-year decline of the year after last JanuaryApril and May at -0.7% to 2.653.300 deliveries. The comparison set is harsh as December 2016 was the largest ever month of passenger car sales in China and the world (2.67m units). Commercial vehicles are up 5.7% to 407.700 units which leads to an overall market up 0.1% to 3.060.300 sales. Sedans and hatchbacks are down 4.3% to 1.2m units, MPVs are down 16% to 208.30 and microvans down 18.7% to 51.800 with once again SUVs the sole segment in positive at +8.4% year-on-year to break its monthly record at 1.173.000 deliveries, eclipsing the 1.108.182 units of last month. China-branded passenger cars go against the grain with a 3.4% year-on-year gain to 1.293.600 sales and 48.7% share vs. 45.8% a year ago.

The Boyue helps Geely break its all-time monthly volume record for the 4th month in a row.

In the brands ranking (wholesale figures), below Volkswagen following the market at -2% to 258.000 units, our two heroes of the year strike again. Firstly, Geely posts an astonishing fourth consecutive all-time monthly volume record: from 108.980 in September to 125.201 in October, 141.312 in November and 147.647 in December, up 36% on a December 2016 score that was a record at the time. This absolutely stunning streak obviously positions Geely as the #2 brand overall, only outsold by Volkswagen and eclipsing all other foreign carmakers. Geely has also become the uncontested #1 Chinese brand both in the passenger car segment and overall, overtaking Wuling. For perspective, its 147.647 sales score is the second largest monthly volume ever recorded by a brand other than Volkswagen in China, below the 151.587 from Honda in December 2015 and above the 146.008 from Hyundai in December 2016. No less than six Geely nameplates break their all-time monthly volume best this month: the Boyue is up 53% to 31.205 and third best-selling SUV, the Emgrand GS is up 84% to 18.850, the Vision SUV up 39% to 14.610, the Vision X3 up to 10.729, the Vision S1 up 427% on its inaugural month to 9.049 and the Vision X1 up to 3.371.

The 310 wagon boosts Baojun to a third consecutive all-time monthly record.

The other superstar of 2017, Baojun, also smashes its all-time volume record in December and for the third consecutive month thanks to deliveries up 39% to 140.268, after previous bests of 128.486 in November and 108.387 in October. This way, both Geely and Baojun are on the China brands podium for the first time in history. The Baojun 510 once again serves up a new monthly record, crossing the 50.000 unit-milestone for the first time at 54.050 (previous best 49.866 last month). Since its launch in February, the 510 as improved month-on-month during every single month of the year bar August. It is now the most successful Baojun nameplate ever as the previous monthly volume record holder for the brand was the 730 at 50.128 in December 2016. The 510 also becomes the fastest nameplate to 350.000 sales (11 months), beating the previous record held by the Baojun 560 by three months. The 310 also stuns and breaks its monthly volume record for the 5th consecutive month at 35.048 in 7th place overall and #4 sedan thanks to the new wagon variant. That’s less 1.000 units below the all-time record for a Chinese sedan held by the BYD F3 since March 2010. With the 730 at #9, Baojun places three nameplates inside the Top 10 for the 2nd month running vs. just one for VW.

The D60 posts its first five-digit sales month and lifts Venucia up 43%. 

Buick (+5%) follows in the brands ranking, posting an all-time record month just under 130.000 units, ahead of Honda (-3%), Nissan (+11%) and Hyundai back up three spots on November to #7 even though it  is down 17% year-on-year. Above Ford (-9%), Changan (+1%) is timid in 8th place with the CS55 posting a new all-time high result (17.612). The biggest loss in the Top 25 is delivered by Haval which had broken its all time record in December 2016 but plunges 35% to just under 89.000 this time, rounding up a Top 10 including four Chinese carmakers. Outstanding performance of Zotye this month, crossing a few milestones with sales up 83% year-on-year to 61.290, its first time above 50.000 monthly units, its highest ever ranking at #15 (previous best: #19) and only its second time ever inside the Top 20 brands in China. Two Zotye nameplates shoot up and break their all-time record this month: the T700 is up 37% on November to 14.411 – only posting month-on-month gains since its launch in May – and the T300 up a whopping 132% on last month to 12.093, only only on the up since its September debut.

The BYD Song MAX is the third best-selling MPV in China for its third full month in market. 

GAC Trumpchi also impresses at +37% and has the GS8 post a new monthly record at 10.498 units, Venucia is up 43% with the D60 cracking the 10.000 monthly sales milestone for its 2nd month in market while WEY lifts up to 21.349 units thanks to its two nameplates each breaking their record: the VV5 at 10.798 and the VV7 at 10.551. Hawtai is up 162% with the Shengdafei establishing a new all-time best at 14.573 sales, Maxus is up 155%, Bisu up 113%, MG up 105% just as the new generation MG6 hits dealerships, Leopaard is up 52%, Karry up 49%, FAW up 43%, Changhe up 34%, Hanteng up 33% and Brilliance up 28%. Struggling Chinese brands include Cowin (-58%), JMC (-56%), Haima (-47%), Qoros (-46%), Jinbei (-37%), Soueast (-31%), Zhi Dou (-31%), Foton (-29%), Yema (-26%), Great Wall (-24%), Dongfeng (-23%) and Wuling (-23%).

First five-digit sales month for the Karry K60. 

Wholesales results place Mercedes (41.518) well above BMW (35.549) and Audi (30.889) in the luxury race, but retail sales data including imports reported by manufactures paint a very different picture: Audi is up 34% to 69.160 ahead of BMW/Mini up 19% to 52.026 and Mercedes/Smart up 12% to 48.140, with the Mercedes GLC posting a new high at 11.640 units. As a result Audi retains the luxury crown in 2017 by the skin of its teeth as we’ll detail in our Full Year 2017 Report. Other great performers among foreign carmakers in China in December include Jaguar (+140%) as the XEL launches this month, Jeep (+45%) with the Compass at an all-time high 10.302 units, Mazda (+33%), Skoda (+25%) and Mitsubishi (+13%). At the other end of the scale the PSA Group grabs all the honours with the three worst results of the month: DS (-80%), Peugeot (-38%) and Citroen (-37%), followed by Kia (-29%) and Toyota (-20%). Finally, no less than three new brands launch in the Chinese market this month and they are all Chinese: Lynk & Co (6.000 sales), Arcfox (500) and Dearcc (100). We’ll explore these newcomers in a lot more detail shortly in our monthly Focus on the All-new models.

The Lynk & Co brand launches with the 01 crossover in China in December. 

Despite steep respective 23% and 32% year-on-year drops, the Wuling Hongguang and Haval H6 manage to remain on top of the Chinese models charts in December, while the Baojun 510 brilliantly rounds up the podium a mere 1.166 units below the H6. The VW Lavida (+9%) is knocked down one spot while the Nissan Sylphy (+1%) remains at #5, so does the Buick Excelle at #6 but with deliveries up 29% on December it hits a new all-time high for the nameplate at 40.939 units. The record-breaking Baojun 310 advances three spots to #7, ahead of the Ford Escort (+9%), Baojun 730 (-35%) and Geely Boyue. Among notable performances in December, let’s single out the BYD Song MAX up 52% on last month to a fantastic 15.606 units for its third full month in market, the Chery Tiggo 5x landing directly above the symbolic 10.000 unit-milestone at 10.693 which we will cover in our Focus on the All-new models, and the Karry K60 posting its very first five-digit sales figure at 10.070.

Previous month: China November 2017: Geely and Baojun push forward with new records

One year ago: China December 2016: Haval up 73%, Geely up 101% in final tax rush

Full December 2017 Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 455 models below.

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BSCB Exclusive: Your Guide to all 146 Chinese Brands

Our Exclusive Guide to all 146 active Chinese brands is here! It includes car, electric vehicles, pickup, bus and truck manufacturers and is the result of research spanning over two 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 – 16 in the past couple of years. In a way, China is now where the USA and Europe markets were in the 1920s with dozens of 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 monthly basis, it can be a truly confusing maze. No more. Thanks to our Exclusive Guide to all active Chinese brands, the Chinese market won’t have any secrets for you anymore.

This is a live Guide, updated as new information comes about. Since the first version of this guide was published on 5th January 2018, 11 new brands have been added (Aiways, COS, Doda, Jetour, LvChi, ORA, Qingling, SF Motors, Sinogold, Sol and YGM), 1 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. We can create tailor studies to suit your needs.

Please contact us here if you want to become a sponsor of our Chinese Brands Guide or if you want to advertise on this page

The full Chinese Brands Guide is below.

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BSCB Exclusive: The car landscapes of 30 Chinese cities and regions

All the cities and regions explored by BSCB since 2013.

Across five years, BSCB has been lucky enough to visit no less than 30 Chinese cities and regions spread all around the country. We came back with extensive Photo Reports so you can discover how the car landscapes vary geographically but also through time as we were able to return to a few cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou. Every year, BSCB attends at least one major Chinese Auto Show, and these are also covered extensively in separate reports. You will find below all Photo Reports covering the cities and regions BSCB has explored since 2013, and all of them indicated on the map above.

1. Wuling Rongguang DegeWuling Rongguang in Dégé, Sichuan Province.

The cars of Guangzhou and Huangge, Guangdong province (2017)

The cars of Tagong and Daocheng Airport

The cars of Dégé, Sichuan province

The Chola Pass, Sichuan province (videos)

Chola Pass 12Just after the summit at Chola Pass, Sichuan Province.

The Kangding to Dégé road, Sichuan province

The cars of Kangding, Sichuan province

The cars of Chengdu, Sichuan province

The mountain road from Xiahe to Xining, Gansu province

The cars (and 3-wheelers) of Xiahe, Gansu province(video)

1. VW Jetta Taxi Kangding China 2016VW Jetta Taxi in Kangding, Sichuan province

The cars of Tongren, Qinghai province

The Chinese car dealerships of Xining, Qinghai province

The cars of Xining, Qinghai province

The cars of Beijing (2016)

1. Great Wall Wingle 6 Xiahe China 2016Great Wall Wingle 6 in Xiahe, Gansu province

The cars of Guangzhou, Guangdong province

The cars of Mohe, Heilongjiang province

The cars of Harbin, Heilongjiang province

The cars of Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang province

Chery QQ YanjiChery QQ in Yanji (notice the Russian sign)

The cars of Yanji, Korean autonomous prefecture

The cars of Changchun, Jilin province

The cars of Shanghai

Taklamakan Desert May 2014Crossing the Taklamakan desert, Western China

The cars of Turpan, Xinjiang Uyghur, Western China

The cars of Kuqa, Xinjiang Uyghur, Western China

Crossing the Taklamakan desert, Western China

The cars of Hotan, Xinjiang Uyghur, Western China

Travelling on the Chinese Silk Road like a Boss (videos)

2. K2On the Karakoram Highway: the pyramid-shaped mountain in the back is the K2, the world’s 2nd highest summit.

On the Karakoram Highway – China side

The cars of Kashgar, South-Western China

3. Dongfeng Pickup 4WDDongfeng Pick-up at Kashgar livestock bazaar

The pick-ups of Kashgar, South-Western China

The cars of Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur, Western China Part 2

The cars of Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur, Western China Part 1

1. Chana TaurusChana Taurustar in Chongqing

The cars of Chongqing, Central China

A voyage into Beijing hutongs (2014)

The cars of Badaling, Great Wall of China

A visit to the Chaoyang car market in Beijing, China

The cars of Beijing (2013)

China LCV November 2017: Pickups soar 32.1% with JMC Yuhu #2

JMC Yuhu sales are up 60% in November thanks to the new model. Picture autohenan.com

* See the Top 45 best-selling models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to our partnership with Chinese consultancy outlet Cedars, we can share with you today detailed data for light commercial vehicle sales in China in November. Over the month, minivans are down 36.4% to 30.879 units leading to a year-to-date volume down 19% to 477.969, micro pickups are also down 8.4% to 43.151 and down 1.1% to 530.880 so far in 2017 but pickups continue to shine with deliveries up 32.1% to 41.587 in November and up 17.9% to 363.456 year-to-date. As it has been the case every month this year, the Wuling Mini Truck is the most popular LCV in China but sees its sales thaw 13% to 20.315. It is the only vehicle to lodge a five-digit sales figure this month. The Great Wall Wingle 5 is up 15% to land in 2nd place and now rank #4 year-to0date, overtaking the Wuling Sunshine (-53% this month) and Dongfeng K-Series Mini Truck (+26%). The Wuling Hongguang V rounds up the podium but drops 54% year-on-year. Another great performance by the JMC Yuhu whose new generation pushes sales up 60% to #2 pickup in the country and #7 overall, the ZX Auto Grand Tiger (+49%) and JMC Baodian (-3%) lurk just behind. Notice also the Jinbei Mini Truck up 82%, the Great Wall Wingle 6 up 74%, the Jiangxi Isuzu Ruimai up 67% and the FQT Motor M70 up 9-fold on a year ago.

Previous month: Chia LCV October 2017: Pickups surge 28.9%, JMC Yuhu up

One year ago: China LCV November 2016: Discover the Top 45 models (BSCB Exclusive)

Full November 2017 Top 45 models ranking below.

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