After discussing the 2017 China car sales ranking by brand, let’s zoom in on which models were the movers and shakers of the past year. And the Chinese car market is not only one of the most diverse with no less than 531 different nameplates in our ranking up from 502 in 2016, but also one of the most dynamic, with big movements up and down the ranking. On the other hand, the top-4 is stable on last year, even though 3 out of those top 4 lost volume.
That means the Wuling Hongguang celebrates its fifth pole position in as many years, but also its fourth straight year of decline after peaking at over 750.000 sales in 2014. Likewise, the Haval H6 is the best selling crossover in China for the fifth year running, although this is its first year of decline as it faces intensified competition from especially the Baojun 510, landing at #6 in its first partial year on the market and the best performing new nameplate launch ever with over 358.000 sales in its first 10,5 months on the market. In December the H6 and 510 were separated by just 1.100 sales so I anticipate the Baojun to overtake its rival in 2018. The best selling sedan in China was the for the third consecutive year, although the Buick Excelle GT narrowed the gap to less than 10%. The Nissan Sylphy (known as Sentra in other parts of the world) is only the 6th nameplate to join the 400k club, selling over 400.000 units for the first time. Besides the top-5 of 2017, the Ford Focus is the only other nameplate to have achieved this kind of volume in China, and it did so in 2013. I’m sure the list will grow again in 2018.
Biggest winner in the top-10 is the Volkswagen Tiguan with a gain of over 40% thanks to the new generation and the addition of the 3-row Allspace version. These figures also include the sales of the previous generation which is still being sold alongside the new one. Volkswagen places a third model in the top-10 with the Sagitar, while the Jetta is kicked out.
Best performer in the top-50 is the Baojun 310, the small hatchback that’s surprisingly stylish and well equipped for its bargain price, and which is helped by the addition of the wagon version. Other big winners are the Chevrolet Cavalier, which started slowly and hardly gained volume compared to its predecessor the previous generation Cruze, but which finally gained some traction by the end of the year. Also impressive are the Roewe RX5 (#19) and Geely Boyue (#13), two affordable and modern looking crossovers that entered the top-20, and the Geely Emgrand GS (#37), a crossover/hatchback version of the Emgrand GL sedan which is just outside the top-50 at #56. The final model to double up is the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (#28), which is one of the most successful rivals to the Wuling Hongguang. Notable losers are the Baojun 560 (#35) due to cannibalization of the 510, the Baojun 730 (#15) as MPVs are losing ground to crossovers, and the Kia K3 (#46), Hyundai Tucson (#49) and Ford Focus (#30).
Big winners in the second half of the top-100 are the models that arrived in late 2016: Jeep Compass (#85), BAIC EC180 (#97), GAC Trumpchi GS8 (#72), Soueast DX3 (#71), Honda Avancier and Mitsubishi Outlander, although this does not discount their solid performances at all. In fact, the DX3 is the first nameplate of the brand to hit 5-figure sales and the Outlander similarly hits the highest volume of any Mitsubishi before in China. The EC180 has taken the title of best selling electric car in China (and the world!) and the GS8 is selling impressively well for a domestic brand vehicle of its size and price. The Mercedes-Benz GLC (#68) is hitting figures its predecessor GLK could never imagine, just like in Europe and the US. The Hawtai New Santa Fe (#84) has taken off after the launch of an electric version, and the updated Mercedes-Benz E-Class (#65) and Nissan Tiida (#96) both almost double up on 2016.
Losing more than half their volume are the Chevrolet Cruze (#92) as the previous generation was replaced by the Cavalier, and the Hyundai Elantra Langdon (#61) which loses its title of best selling nameplate for the brand. Also big losers are the Changan Honor (#86) and Changan Eado (#79), although the latter is being replaced by the Raeton CC which arrived in December. Confusingly, the hatchback version will keep the Eado name with the addition of XT behind it. The Chery Tiggo 3 (#94) suffers from increased competition in the cheap crossover segment. The Jeep Cherokee (#98) is cannibalized by the new Compass which is now the brand’s best seller.
Biggest gainer in this part of the ranking that was launched before 2016 is the Brilliance H530 (#246) with sales up fivefold on 2016, followed by the Huansu H2 (#193) and the GAC Trumpchi GA6 (#216), the latter of which almost doubles up as well.
Big losers are the Brilliance V3 small crossover (#215) and Kia K2 (#168) on cannibalization of the new Pegas (#217). Both lose three quarters of their sales or more. Other models with declines of more than two thirds of their volume are the Beijing Weiwang M30 (#185), JAC Refine S3 (#133), Zotye Damai X5 (#220) and Beijing Senova X25 (#213), of which the M30, X5 and X25 are all just in their third year of sales, a sign of the fierce competitiveness of the market for affordable crossovers and how quickly a hot new model can cool down when something fresher comes along. It’s also a sign of the importance of building strong brands, as both BAIC and Zotye have built a confusing line-up of subbrands with models that share platforms and are similarly priced competing against each other.
As mentioned above, the Baojun 510 has been the most successul new nameplate launch ever and is likely to join the 400k club in 2018. The second best selling newcomer in 2017 is the Changan CS55 at #95 which means only two newcomers manage to claim a top-100 position. The Volkswagen Teramont (known as the Atlas in the US) landed at #102, followed by two domestic crossovers FAW Besturn X40 and MG ZS at #107 and #108 respectively. Both become their brands’ best sellers in their first partial year. The Roewe i6 lands at #113, making it the only sedan in the top-12 of best selling newcomers. The Zotye T700 arrives at #122, ahead of the Chevrolet Equinox in 135th place and the Wey VV7 at #136, the best selling model of all 3 brands that launched in 2017. At #145, the Skoda Kodiaq is just ahead of the much smaller Nissan Kicks at #147 and the much more expensive Honda UR-V at #148. The Changan Oushang A800 at #159 is the best selling new MPV ahead of the BYD Song MAX at #190.
China models ranking 2017
Please note these figures are for locally produced models only (unless stated otherwise), they exclude imported cars, which make up only a small portion of sales in China.
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