The Chinese car market is one of the most diverse, with over 400 different locally produced passenger cars, and more than 1.000 including import models, minivans and commercial vehicles. And it keeps expanding, with 12 all-new models in March, 7 introductions in April and another 7 in May, excluding 3 additional (electrified) versions of existing models. We’ve already discussed the overall May 2016 sales figures for China, here we’ll introduce those newly launched models for this month.
FAW Xenia R7
The most successful new introduction is from a brand that has suffered from a product drought, as this is only the third new model in the past 20 months. No wonder the FAW Xenia R7 immediately becomes the brand’s second best selling model in its introduction month with 3.931 sales, more than a quarter of FAW brand sales in May, but not enough to keep the brand from losing 17,3% of volume this month. The Xenia R7 is a small crossover priced from 69.800 Yuan (US$ 10,600 / € 9.350), powered by a 1,6 liter four-cylinder engine with 109hp and 155 Nm. Size: 4.300/1.780/1.650 mm. It is produced by FAW-Jilin, a subsidiary of First Auto Works based in Jilin province. It will probably replace the FAW Xenia, also known as Xenia M80, which was based on the previous generation Daihatsu Xenia / Toyota Avanza, the best selling cars in Indonesia. But don’t be surprised if this model stays in production, as long as there’s demand for an even cheaper alternative.
Dongfeng Fengguang 580
Dongfeng has also launched another crossover, the Dongfeng Fengguang 580, which is not much more expensive than the Xenia R7 as it starts at 72.900 Yuan (US$ 11,100 / € 9.800). However, it’s one size bigger at 4.680/1.845/1.715 mm and is powered by a more modern turbocharged engine, a 1,5 liter four-cylinder with 150hp, making it a better value-for-money proposition than the R7. The 580 is the first SUV made by Dongfeng Xiaokang, the company’s commercial-vehicle division which until now has only produced minivans, mini MPVs, mini pick-ups and small trucks. It’s also the first SUV under the Fengguang sub-brand which was known for its MPVs. In its first month, the Fengguang 580 sold 3.022 units.
Beijing Senova X35
Another low-priced crossover from a Chinese brand launched this month: the BAIC Beijing Senova X35. No wonder, as this is one of the fastest growing segments in China. As Beijing Auto is quickly expanding its Senova sub-brand with a full line-up of crossovers, the X35 slots nicely between the Senova X25 and Senova X55 with its size of 4.300/1.815/1.640 mm, which is also comparable to the Xenia R7 mentioned above. Beijing Auto sells it from 65.800 Yuan (US$ 10,000 / € 8.800) powered by a 1,5-liter four-cylinder engine with 116hp and 148 Nm. A 1,5 liter turbocharged engine is expected to follow later. Like the Senova X25 and Changhe Q25, BAIC’s sub-brand will build the Changhe Q35 on the same platform. With 3.003 sales in its first month it beats the introduction months of its smaller sibling (4 units in October 2015) and its larger sibling (1.502 units in December 2015). It also almost matches the X55’s sales this month.
Geely Emgrand GS
The Geely Emgrand GS is a hatchback that’s marketed a crossover. It’s the first of the new generation Emgrand and will be followed by a sedan to replace the Emgrand EC7. It’s designed by Peter Horbury, the British chief of design for Volvo and Geely and sits on Geely’s new Framework Extended (FE) platform. This platform has been co-developed with Volvo, who will call it the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA). It will also underpin the upcoming Volvo XC40 small crossover, as well as a sedan and possible hatchback to replace the current V40. Geely also plans to start selling a crossover on that same platform in Europe by 2018, and that seems pretty realistic considering its exterior design and interior quality wouldn’t look out of place here at all. The dimensions of the Emgrand GS are 4.400/1.833/1.560 mm and it’s powered by either a 1,3-liter turbo engine with 130hp and 185 Nm or a 1,8-liter with 133hp and 170 Nm. Prices start at 77.800 Yuan (US$ 11,800 / € 10.400). In its first month, Geely sold 2.800 units, compared to 15.101 of the Emgrand EC7 sedan on the old platform.
The Haima V70 is a new MPV from the brand, offering a lot of value for money considering its size of 4.750/1.800/1.665 mm and its price tag starting at 79.800 Yuan (US$ 12,200 / € 10.700). It’s a seven-seater in a 2/3/2 configuration and powered by either a 2-liter four-cylinder engine with 152hp and 185 Nm or a 1,5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 156hp and 220 Nm. It has a huge chrome grille with an equally huge Haima logo, but suffers from the same small wheels that most other Chinese manufacturers tend to sell their vehicles on, sacrificing safety (stability) and looks for a low price and better fuel economy. It sold 1.152 units in its first month of sales, a figure that should grow in coming months. Considering its size and price it’s likely to be popular in second and tier cities in the south where the Haima brand is strong.
Exactly two years after the European launch of the new, third generation Mercedes-Benz V-Class and 7 months after its launch in the US as the Mercedes-Benz Metris, the model is launched in China. Like in Europe, it replaces the Viano passenger van which was based on the second generation Vito commercial van. In China, the V-Class is powered by a 2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine with 200hp and 350 Nm, as opposed to Europe where it is only available with diesel engines. Prices start at 489.000 Yuan (US$ 74,400 / € 65.500), so it shouldn’t be surprising this isn’t a volume model. Still, first month sales of 628 units is more than the Viano has sold in any month since the end of 2011. The V-Class’ more basic sibling, the Vito Tourer is likely to follow soon with local Chinese production, as will the commercial version of that car, but we don’t have a reliable source of LCV sales figures for China.
GAC Trumpchi GA8
As the domestic Chinese brands are starting to reach serious volumes, whether or not helped by sales of (low-priced) crossovers, they aspire to boost their image with a flagship sedan of around 5 meters in length to compete with the premium offerings of the import brands. We’ve seen a slew of such models hit the market in the past year, and most are limited to triple digit monthly sales, and only one model can actually be called successful. That is the Geely Borui (a.k.a GC9, priced from 119.800 Yuan), which was introduced in April 2015 and has sold almost 21.500 units in the first five months of this year (monthly sales of 4.300 units). Of lesser success are the Zotye Z700 (priced from 99.800 Yuan), launched last January and having racked up 2.138 sales (427 per month), the Lifan 820 (priced from 81.800 Yuan), launched in March 2015 with 1.297 sales year-to-date (260 per month). Absolute failures are the Dongfeng Fengshen A9 (priced from 179.700), launched two months ago for a total of 306 sales (153 per month) and the Roewe 950 (189.800 Yuan) which has been around since 2012 and was facelifted early 2015: 327 sales YTD (65 per month). Coincidentally, the slowest selling models are those with significantly higher prices, indicating there may be a ceiling to how much money Chinese customers are prepared to shell out for a domestic sedan.
Prices of the all-new GAC Trumpchi GA8 start at 169.800 (US$ 25,800 / € 22.750), which puts it in the range of the least successful models, not a great indicator for a successful career. In that light its 215 sales in its first month are not too bad at all, putting it on par with the Lifan 820 which costs less than half that kind of money. One more comparison: the also much cheaper Geely Borui sold 1.000 units in its first month. The GA8 is powered by either a 1,8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 177hp and 242 Nm or a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 188hp and 300 Nm. Its dimensions are 5.003/1.910/1.508 mm.
Additional versions of existing models:
Besides the all-new models, we also welcome three electrified versions of existing models: first the BYD Qin EV300, based on the Qin Plug-in Hybrid. A 218hp and 310 Nm electric motor powers the front wheels and gets its energy from a 48kWh battery pack. The EV300 has a top speed of 150 km/h and does the 0-100 km/h sprint in 7,9 seconds. The official range is 300 kilometers, hence the EV300 name. It sold 207 units in its first month, compared to 2.705 for the PHEV version, which has been on sale since December 2013. The price including clean-energy subsidies of 109.000 Yuan (US$ 16,600 / € 14.600) starts at 150.800 Yuan (US$ 23,000 / € 20.200). The Qin PHEV starts at 189.800 Yuan (US$ 28,900 / € 25.400).
Then there are two totally different models from the same company: the SAIC-Roewe E950 sedan and the SAIC-Maxus EG10 MPV. The E950 is the Plug-in Hybrid version of the petrol-powered Roewe 950 as mentioned above. It is powered by a 1,4-liter gasoline engine with 150hp and 235 Nm, coupled to an electric motor with 81hp and 318 Nm. It has an 11,8 kWh battery. Roewe sold just 12 units in its first month of sales, compared to 46 sales for the gasoline-powered 950. At 288.800 Yuan (US$ 44,000 / € 38.700), the PHEV version is a whopping 100.000 Yuan or over one third more expensive than the gasoline powered version.
A similar price differential can be found at Maxus, with a base price of 133.800 Yuan for the G10 vs 230.000 Yuan (US$ 35,000 / € 30.800) for the EG10. The Maxus EG10 is the pure electric version of the Maxus G10 MPV. It’s powered by a 204hp, 800 Nm electric motor which gives the large van a range of 150 km. Just 7 sales in its first month leaves you wondering the chances of survival for the model, but keep in mind there’s also a commercial van version, which sales are not included in our analysis. The G10 with the internal combustion engine sold 1.353 units in May.