* See the May 2017 Top 414 All China-made models and Top 74 brands here *
As is the case every month, we pay special attention to the new locally produced launches in China so you stay aware of the latest development in the fastest-evolving car market in the world. May marks the second consecutive month of year-on-year decline for the light vehicle market in China, and fittingly it is a very slow month for newcomers with only three new nameplates this month, all Chinese.
1. Lifan Xuanlang: 2.541 sales
With the recently launched Myway 7 seat SUV, Lifan had started to reassure us that they were back in the race. Unfortunately, here comes the Xuanlang. No, this is not a Ford S-Max, but an almost identical clone, up to the crease lines in the door and the alloys. The S-Max isn’t currently sold in China so unlike the Range Rover Evoque and its Landwind clone we can’t make a price comparison. The Xuanlang signals the fact that cloning is still very much present in the Chinese auto industry and not limited to Landwind and Zotye which we thought were the latest culprits of this dubious practice.
Seating seven and powered by a choice of three petrol engines: 1.8 (133hp), 2.0 (141hp) and 1.5T (141hp), the Xuanlang is priced very competitively from 69.800 to 106.800 yuan (US$10.250-15.700). This places it squarely against the #2 best-seller in the segment, the Baojun 730, as well as the Dongfeng Fengxing S500, Chana Ousheng and Changan Linmax. Already by far the most successful entrant this month with over 2.500 sales, this is unchartered territory for Lifan that hasn’t had a similar offering before. Doubling this initial monthly score would cement the Xuanlang as a force to be reckoned with in the MPV market.
Bar for success: 4.500 monthly sales
2. Zotye T700: 107 sales
Just as Lifan tests the murky waters of cloning, Zotye seems to have emancipated from it with this T700. Agreed, there is an air of Range Rover in the silhouette but the latest Zotye offerings had been almost identical clones so there is progress. Cue the Damai X7 (VW Cross Coupe GTE concept), T600 (Audi Q5), Damai X5 (VW Tiguan), SR7 (Audi Q3) and SR9 (Porsche Macan). The T700 is the new flagship of the brand and impresses with sharp design both exterior-wise and inside the cockpit featuring a 14 inch-touch screen.
The T700 is powered by a choice of three turbo engines a 1.8 (177hp) and two 2.0 (190 and 220hp) mated with a five-speed manual or six-speed DCT for the 1.8 and six-speed DCT for the two 2.0. It is priced from 106.800 to 155.800 yuan (US$15.700-22.900) and will aim at taking some business away from Haval. Zotye has been struggling lately with overall sales down 25% in May and its best-seller the T600 only gathering 3.654 deliveries, so our bar for success for the T700 is lowered down to 4.000 which would place it as the brand’s best-seller this month.
Bar for success: 4.000 monthly sales
3. Geely Yuanjing X1: 104 sales
Going from strength to strength with sales up 87% year-to-date thanks mainly to a series of new SUVs, Geely launches its smallest SUV to-date, the Yuanjing X1, unveiled at the last Shanghai Auto Show in April. Unfortunately, under a new nameplate and a seemingly new car hides a hastily facelifted version of the Geely Panda. The interior is its best asset with a huge 11.6 inch touch screen.
The X1 keeps the Panda’s 1.0 68hp engine and replaces the 1.5 by a 1.3 88hp engine, and its price range is at a tiny 39.900-57.900 yuan (US$5.850-8.500). It seems everything Geely launches is a success these days, but this X1 will have a tougher job in a segment that has traditionally struggled with big volumes. It will compete with the Baojun 510 (that proved this struggle wrong), the Haval H1 and the JAC Refine S2mini.
Bar for success: 5.000 monthly sales
Previous month: China April 2017: Focus on the All-new models
One year ago: China May 2017: Focus on the All-new models