Sulky boy and VW Jetta in Tongren, Qinghai province
This is the 4th stop in our 2016 Chinese adventures after Beijing, Xining and the Chinese car dealerships of Xining. We travel 165km south to the small town of Tongren (pronounced “Toungjen”), still in the Qinghai province. The road from Xining is breath-taking, following a tributary of the Yellow River through precipitous gorges. A spectacular highway with grand bridges was nearing the end of its construction at the time I visited, but we were confined to windy mountainous roads which were lots of fun too.
Tongren location in ChinaTongren Longwu Si MonasteryGreat Wall Wingle 5 on the road from Xining to Tongren
Tongren is a County level division, the third level of the administrative hierarchy below Provinces and Prefectures. Exploring the countryside of the Qinghai Province, we can now find out which cars are the most popular outside of the main population centre.
Wuling Sunshine TaxiChana Taurus TaxiFAW Xiali N5VW Jetta Taxi and Wuling Mini Truck
As I step out of the bus, the first striking element is the swarming Wuling minivans used as shared taxis, a reminder that the Wuling Sunshine and Rongguang were once the best-selling vehicle in the country, having since been replaced by the Hongguang, a lot more discreet in Tongren. Other taxis are split between the FAW Xiali N5 and the new VW Jetta.
Chana Mini Truck in Tongren Longwu Si MonasteryLandwind X7Tongren Street scene – notice the mix of Tibetan and Chinese alphabets.
Chana and Wuling Mini Trucks as well as Great Wall Wingle 5 pickups are the workhorses of choice for Tongren workers, artisans and vendors. Moreover, Changan and FAW dealerships positioned at the town’s entrance make sure the Tongren car park has a distinct Chinese flavour, with an added pinch of Dongfeng sedans, MG GS SUVs and four Landwind X7 (the Range Rover Evoque clone) spotted in 1hour in Tongren, more than in 2 days in Xining.
Tongren Longwu Si MonasteryHonda CR-V
But the most interesting observation as far as the Tongren car park is concerned is the numerical domination of large-ish Japanese and Korean SUVs. The Honda CR-V should be close to the best-selling vehicle in town outright, with other very strong performers being the previous generations Nissan Qashqai, the Kia Sportage R (from two generations ago) and VW Tiguan. The all-new Hyundai Tucson has had a fantastic start in town.
The Full Photo Report continues below with 15 additional pictures.