* See the Top 326 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! *
Is the Chinese new light vehicle market finally experiencing the much talked about slowdown that has supposedly been looming for years? In September, sales are up only 3% year-on-year – the slowest growth rate in the past 19 months – to 1.98 million units. Passenger Cars rose 6% while commercial vehicles decreased by 16%. This brings the year-to-date total to 14.4 million, up 7% on 2013 compared to a 14% annual growth in 2013. Automotive News quotes Li Xiangfeng, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy ISE: “China already has a huge auto market, and with more cities restricting auto sales to fight pollution, it’s natural for growth to slow down – double-digit pace cannot go on forever.” Nissan (-20%) and Honda (-20%) both lodge their third consecutive monthly decline, while Audi (+13%), BMW (+18%) and Mercedes (+31%) continue to shine.
As always the models ranking is full of surprises in China. Below the Wuling Hongguang (+18%), VW Lavida (+8%) and Ford Focus (-11%), the Buick Excelle is up 5 spots to 4th place, its highest ranking since May 2013. The Haval H6 stays at a record 5th position, bettering its monthly score to an all-time high 27,744 sales, its 11th monthly record in the past 15 months. The Chevrolet Sail is also back in shape: up 8 ranks on August to #7 while the Hyundai Elantra Langdong is strong again at #8 vs. #13 year-to-date.
Just outside the Top 10 at #14 with 21,016 sales, we have what has now become the most successful new nameplate launch since the VW Lavida: the Baojun 730. The low-cost MPV is up 75% for its 2nd month in market and single-handedly lifts the Baojun brand to blockbuster status. It is the third MPV to ever top 20,000 monthly sales in China (others: the Wuling Hongguang and Chana Honor at 20,259 units last March), illustrating further the strong long-term sales trend I’ve detailed on this site before: micro vans are being replaced by low-cost MPV in rural areas: they are larger, more practical and sold at a similar price.
Unsurprisingly, the MPV segment is currently the fastest-growing in China and this is where Chinese manufacturers can catch up part of the market share they have given away to foreign carmakers. In the same vein this month, both the Dongfeng Joyear and Fengguang double their sales vs. September 2013 to smash their volume and ranking records at #33 and 12,037 sales, #50 and 9,281 units respectively. The Toyota Corolla is above 20,000 sales for the first time since August 2011 at #17 and 20,238 units, up 43% year-on-year, the VW Golf posts the nameplate’s 2nd all-time highest monthly score at 18,697 units (best: 19,116 last April), up 3-fold on September 2013 and the Emgrand EC7 is back up 13 ranks to #19, reclaiming the title of best-selling Chinese sedan off the ChangAn Eado, up 82% to #23.
The SUV segment is the other main engine of growth in China right now. The Nissan X-Trail (+746% to 12,968 sales), Chery Tiggo 3 (+150% to 12,877 units) and ChangAn CS35 (10,594 sales) all breaking their monthly volume records are prime examples. But it doesn’t stop there. A few recent launches are becoming instant blockbusters too: the ChangAn CS75 is up 60% and 24 spots on its August record to finish the month just outside the Top 50 at #52 and 9,239 sales, the Haval H2 doubles its August score to 8,288 sales and #60 (now the brand’s 2nd best-seller in between the H6 and H5), the Beijing Auto Hansu S3 is up 42% for its 2nd month of sales to #67, the JAC Refine S3 triples its inaugural August figure to 6,103 sales at #89 and the Luxgen 6 SUV is up a further 4 spots to a record #92, the highest a Luxgen model has ever ranked in China.
We also have a bunch of heroes in the sedan category: the Toyota Levin imposes itself as a new nameplate to be reckoned with by breaking into the monthly Top 50 as early as for its 2nd month at #46 and ending the month only 12 units shy of the symbolic 10,000 monthly sales milestone. An extremely impressive start indeed. The Audi A3 takes off thanks to the sedan variant, up 32 spots on August to #76, the Mazda3 Axela is up 10 ranks to #82, the GAC Trumpchi GA5S shoots up 47 ranks and 92% on its first month to #110 and the Kia K4 is up 49 spots and 106% to #114. There are 3 all-new nameplates making their first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month, but this will be the subject of a next post as is the tradition on BSCB.
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Full September 2014 Top 326 All-models Ranking Table below.