After two months of slumping sales in April and May, the Chinese car market recovers with two months of increases in June and July. July sales are up 5,4% on 2016 and a whopping 30,8% on July 2015, which was especially depressed when the Chinese stock market crashed, before the Beijing government stepped in with their tax reduction on vehicles with small engines. A total of 1,65 million new passenger cars were sold last month, naturally a new record for July sales in China. The year-to-date total now stands at 12,59 million sales, an increase of 3,4% on the first seven months of 2016. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate stands at 24 million in July, the highest figure since January. SUVs and crossovers are once again the main (and only) winners in April with sales up 18% to 689.500 units, while sedans decline for the fourth consecutive month at -0,3% to 824.900 sales and MPV sales continue to plunge at -11% to 136.500. New Energy vehicle sales improved 55% to 57.000 units, as EV sales gained 70% to 45.000 units and PHEVs rebounded for the second straight month at +16% to 12.000 sales. Year-to-date, EV and PHEV sales in China are up 22% to 251.000 sales, of which 204.000 EVs (up 34%) and 47.000 PHEVs (down 13%). Sales of domestic automakers were up 9,5% and their share is up from 38% to 39,5%, although that is the lowest share since last January. Japanese brand cars are up 16,3%, sales of US brand cars are up 3,9% and of European brand cars are up 0,9%, while sales of South-Korean brand cars are down 46,7%.
The Haval H6 tops the charts for the second time this year and the first time since last April, despite a 4,5% loss. The traditional leader of the Chinese ranking, the Wuling Hongguang, is down even worse at -18,7% and into third place for the month as last month’s leader Buick Excelle GT is up 10,5% which puts in in2nd place. In fourth place, the Baojun 510 improves once again and is now only 4.269 sales from becoming China’s best selling nameplate. Its effect on the slightly larger Baojun 560 is not unnoticed, as the latter is down by 55% to 82nd place. The Toyota Corolla outsells the Nissan Sylphy for the second time this year after February. The best selling Volkswagen is only in 6th place and it’s not even the Lavida but the Sagitar, for the first time ever in the 11-year history of the nameplate. VW does put 6 models in the top-14, 7 in the top-16 and 8 in the top-20. The Tiguan is outsold by the Geely Boyue for the second time ever after last February, but that was before the addition of the long wheelbase Tiguan L to its volumes. Behind the Tiguan, the best selling import brand crossover is the Nissan X-Trail in 18th place (7th among crossovers). We note record sales for among others the Geely Emgrand GS (#25), Volkswagen Teramont (#68) outselling the also record breaking Honda Avancier (#69) and its twin UR-V (#93), Skoda Kodiaq ( #91), Peugeot 5008 (#143), Volvo S90 (#192) for the second time above the also record breaking Jaguar XFL (#197), and their import rival Lincoln Continental, for the first time above 1.000 sales at #262.
We welcome the Nissan Kicks this month, the small crossover that was developed for emerging markets, arriving with a bang at #113, immediately Nissan’s 5th best selling nameplate, promising a bright future in China for this important model. Considering the Honda Vezel and XR-V regularly sell two or even up to three times that volume each, there’s still plenty of room to grow for the Kicks. Among other recent launches, the Wey VV7 almost doubles the volume of its first month at 6.075 sales in 88th place, the Changan Oushang A800 is up almost tenfold on its launch month with 5.330 sales in 97th place, the Zotye T700 is up to 4.355 sales in 114th place and the Leopaard CS9 is already the brands best selling model in only its second month with 4.223 sales at #118, the Bisu T5 is up to 3.115 sales in 153rd plce while the JAC Refine S7 is down on its first month, to 2.728 sales and #164. Finally, the SWM X3 is up to 2.429 sales at #175.
Helped by the success of the Teramont which is responsible for half the brand’s gain in July, Volkswagen beats the market with a 7,4% increase. We already mentioned the Sagitar grabbing the title of best selling VW thanks to a 37,5% improvement, but some of the brand’s other best sellers are in worse shape: the Lavida, Jetta and Santana show double digit losses. On the other hand, the Tiguan and Magotan both add almost 50% to their volumes and the Polo gains 39%. It luxury brand Audi records its first monthly gain in 2017 at +10,3% to 48.232 sales of locally produced models after it resolved a dispute with its dealers on the expansion of production and most notably distribution through the VW Group joint venture with SAIC Motor. Audi is still down 6,1% year-to-date. Mercedes-Benz gained 48,8% to 37.205 sales because the E-Class L (#50) was in its transition to the new generation last year and saw only a handful of sales. BMW was up 15% to 30.050 sales, helped by the addition of the 1-Series sedan (#157) in February and nice improvements of the 3-Series L sedan (#48) and X1 crossover (#74). After a 16,6% gain in June, Skoda is back in the red for the fourth month this year with a 4,4% loss as the Octavia (#80) is down 41,5%.
Despite the success of its crossovers 4008 (#126) and 5008 (#143), which now make up more than 50% of its sales, Peugeot is still down 26% on last year, as sales of the 2008 have come to a virtual halt and its sedans are slumping except for the 308, down “just” 6,6%. Sister brand Citroën doesn’t have its new crossover C5 Aircross yet and suffers even harder at -55,7% as all of its nameplates are down except for surprisingly the C5 sedan (#255) which was presumed dead when it sold just 18 units last March, but is back up to over 1.000 sales for the first time since December 2015. The French brand is outsold by Volvo for the third consecutive month, as the Swedish brand is up 37,8% thanks to the addition of the S90 sedan and continued interest in the aging XC60 crossover (#147). Land Rover gains 36% but Renault is down to its lowest monthly volume since last October, before the launch of the locally produced Koleos. The two problem children among European brands continue to struggle as DS is down 49,6%, amazingly its lowest decline of the year so far, but its 346 sales are only the third-lowest volume for the troubled brand so far this year. Only one of its nameplates sold more than 100 units in July: the DS6 crossover in 383rd place. Fiat will be discontinued again in China as sales are down to just 72 sales in July. The Ottimo sold less than 40.000 units in four years, while the Viaggio sold less than 135.000 copies in 6 years. Fiat’s best year was 2014 with just over 68.000 sales or 0,37% of the market, but is down to just 2.000 sales in the first half of 2017, just 0,02% of the market.
After two months of declines, Buick is back in the black in July, for the 3rd time this year. More importantly, the increase is carried by its large cars with the mid-sized Regal sedan (#86) up 62,5%, the large LaCrosse sedan (#84) up 61,6% and the GL8 MPV (#33) up 81,3%, with GM reporting the new generation GL8 and its luxury version Avenir remain “highly popular”. The Buick Velite 5 (#342), China’s version of the current generation Chevrolet Volt, is starting to get noticed but is still very shy with less than 400 sales. It will be interesting to see where it ends up finding its monthly pace, Despite the success of its higher-end models, Buick is down to #5 in the brands ranking, from #3 a year ago. Sister brand Chevrolet surges an impressive 22,4%, also on its higher-end models: the mid-sized Malibu sedan (#42) up 71,2% and the new Equinox crossover (#103).
Cross-town rival Ford is down a painful 28,7% and out of the brands top-10 as its high-volume compact sedans Escort (#57) and Focus (#52) are down harshly: -63,9% and -41,6% respectively. But also some of Ford’s low-volume members suffer, like the Taurus large sedan (#239) at -62% and the Ecosport small crossover (#319) at -78,5%. But it’s not all bad news at Ford: the Kuga crossover (#45) more than doubles up and becomes the brand’s best selling nameplate for the first time ever. Cadillac sales are up 49,9%, its slowest gain in 16 months. All of its models gain volume and for the second month in a row the ATS-L (#122) is the brand’s best seller, ahead of the XT5 (#134). The ATS-L sells more than 5 times as many copies as the ATS does in its home market US. The XTS (#151) sells almost six times as much in China, while the CT6 (#265) also sells better than “at home”. Only the XT5 is more popular in the US than in China in July. Now that its honeymoon period is over, Jeep shows the first year-over-year loss since its start of local production in China. Its loss of 9,8% is a result of a plunging Renegade (#188) and Cherokee (#132), which aren’t offset by the addition of the Compass (#87), which also has its slowest month since February.
Honda has its lowest monthly gain this year at “only” +11,4% but holds on to its #2 position in the brands ranking ahead of Toyota, up 24,2%. The new generation Civic (#19, +72,6%) continues to boost Honda, while the CR-V (#47, -45,7%) takes a pauze to change over to the current generation with its Sport Turbo and Sport Hybrid versions. Expect the CR-V to return to its place as best selling Honda in a few months time. Its still fresh large SUV duo UR-V and Avancier sell a combined 13.819 copies, not bad for such pricey yet only 5-seater models. Toyota benefits from the RAV4 crossover (#44), which gains 59,4%, and from its expanded line-up of small sedans and hatchbacks which add 74% to their sales after the addition of the Vios FS hatchback (#127) and the Yaris L sedan (#111) last March. Nissan gains 15% thanks to the addition of the Kicks small crossover and an almost doubing of sales of the Teana large sedan (#70).
Among the smaller Japanese brands, Mitsubishi continues its strong comeback, especially when compared to an exceptionally weak July 2016. The start of local production of the Outlander (#90) has helped the brand sell as many cars in the past 7 months as it did in all of 2015. Mazda sales also continue to grow, but its 17,5% increase is also due to an exceptionally slow July 2016, when it sold just 79 units of the Mazda6 Atenza. At Suzuki, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet. Another 34% loss for the month keeps its year-to-date loss at a similar level, as 6 out of its 7 models lose volume, including the recently facelifted S-Cross (#332).
Those who follow these pages regularly are already familiar with the downfall of the South-Korean giants in China. South-Korean brands and stores face a public backlash from Seoel’s decision to let the Americans place a rocket shield on their soil, near the North-Korean border. This has angered Beijing because they claim it has now rockets that can reach Chinese soil. As a result, Hyundai and Kia have already lost a combined 377.500 sales in the first half of the year and another 40.000 in July. At Hyundai, it seems the situation is slightly improving, with “just” a 28,6% loss as sales of the Mistra (#43) and Elantra Lingdong (#35) sedans as well as of the Tucson crossover (#38) appear to have stabilized while the rest of the line-up is still down. At Kia, the slowdown of the losses is less profound, but its 51,2% loss is still its smallest decline in 5 months. Its crossovers are hit the hardest, as their share of total Kia sales is down from an already low 36% to just 22%, despite the addition of the KX7.
Among Chinese brands, Geely has now claimed the year-to-date crown (and #5 overall) of best selling domestic brand from Changan (down to #8 overall in July), thanks to yet another strong months of sales with an increase of 87,6% for Geely compared to a 4,1% loss for Changan, its fourth consecutive monthly loss. Adding insult to injury for Changan, it is kicked down into third place among domestic brands in July by Baojun which sees its sales increase 76,2% thanks to the addition of the 310 small hatchback (#55) and 510 crossover (#4). Changan has enough of a buffer to remain in 2nd place for the year, but it cannot rest on its laurels. Great Wall‘s Haval brand also records its 4th straight monthly loss, and its rate of decline is increasing, as the SUV brand is down a worrying 10,2% in July. Biggest contributors to this loss are the H1 (#225, -61,7%) and H7 (#190, -50,5%). GAC Trumpchi outsells Dongfeng for the fourth consecutive time (and fourth time ever) but is still 50.000 units behind in the year-to-date ranking.
Wuling is down for the 7th straight month with a 3rd straight month of losing more than 20%, but it plans to launch its first-ever crossover later this year which should make up for the decline of China’s best selling car, the Wuling Hongguang. Beijing Automotive (BAIC) is down 25,8% in July and 22,2% year-to-date, but its sub-brand Huansu is not to blame for that loss as it’s down just 3,2% in July and now accounts for 47,2% of total BAIC sales, up from 36,2% last year. Chery shows its first loss in 15 months as its best seller Arrizo 5 (#61) has its slowest month in that period and its new flagship crossover Tiggo7 (#119) cannot offset losses of the Tiggo3 (#104) and Tiggo5 (#229). As a result, Chery sold just 250 more cars than SAIC Roewe which doubled up on July of last year. BYD is down for the 6th time in the last 7 months.
Among the smaller domestic brands, the fastest gainers are JMC Jiangling which triples its sales, Foton which more than doubles and SAIC MG and Leopaard which both gain more than 50%. The Besturn X40 (#101) help FAW to its largest increase since January 2010 at +45%. On the other end of the scale we find infamous copycat Landwind with a loss of 70%, Luxgen down 60% to just 860 sales and Qoros down by almost 50% again. After being launched last month, Great Wall‘s upmarket SUV brand Wey is already the best selling newcomer in July with 6.075 sales, ahead of SWM Motor with 5.915 sales and Bisu with 4.766 sales. Borgward is down 21% on its launch month, despite having added a second model in April. The BX5 (#249) has its slowest month and the BX7 (#185) its second slowest month, after June. It seems like Wey is stealing customers from Borgward in China.
China brands ranking July 2017
Please note these figures are for locally produced models only, they exclude imported cars, which make up only a small portion of sales in China.
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