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China September 2018 New Energy: BYD leads, Weltmeister lands

Weltmeister EX5

* See the Top 60 brands and Top 105 models by clicking on the title *

Just as the rest of the Chinese market seems to be caught in a downward spiral – wholesales down 11.5%, imports down 7% and retail sales down 16%, the last refuge of growth remains New Energy vehicles, that include electric, hydrogen, PHEV and hybrid models. We are referring to retail sales here including imports here as these offer a much more complete picture of New Energy sales than wholesales data. Thanks to generous government subsidies, the green car fleet in China has quickly become the largest in the world, topping 2.21 million EVs and plug-in hybrids by the end of September according to China’s Ministry of Public Security, with 1.78 million being EVs. China Association of Automobile Manufacturers figures have the 2018 EVs and plug-in hybrid sales at 721.000 at end-September, up 81% on the same period a year ago and including 541.000 EVs and 181.000 plug-in hybrids. Our dataset is slightly different as it includes standard, non rechargeable hybrids, and also only carmakers reporting official figures. As such. New Energy models included in this study see their sales soar 48% year-on-year in September to 84.322, leading to a year-to-date total of 596.218.

Red Star Shining X2

Brand-wise, BYD (+129%) confirms it is back at the helm of China’s New Energy assault with over 18.000 sales, snapping the #1 spot for the 3rd time in the past 4 months. Toyota (+29%) remains in 2nd place while Geely (+377%) overtakes Roewe (+92%) to climb on the podium thanks to strong sales of the Emgrand PHEV and a good start by the Emgrand GE. Once-dominant, BAIC BJEV (+8%) and JAC (+10%) are now panting, whereas they have spent all their energy and budget into electrifying their lineup at the YTD at the detriment of their traditional models, in freefall.  It however also means there is only one foreigner (Toyota) in the Top 6. BMW (+467%) gallops ahead, even outselling hybrid-specialist Lexus. Note Tesla (-38%) in difficulty due to the new 40% tariffs on U.S imports. We welcome Chrysler, Nissan, but also Red Star with the Shining X2 (more on this brand in our Exclusive Guide to all 176 Chinese Brands) and Weltmeister (German for World Master, no less) and its EX5, a marque I selected as one of the “Top 5 brands you should know about” during the latest Beijing Auto Show in April this year.

Nio ES8

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (+25%) remains on top but trails the market, with the Geely Emgrand PHEV (+289%) and BYD Tang EV (+329%) catching up fast while the BYD Yuan EV is the best-selling recent launch (<12 months) at #4 with just under 4.500 sales for the month. Leader over the last 9 months of 2017 and #2 so far in 2018, the BAIC BJEV EC-Series (-97%) is annihilated at #64 but a strong push by the EU-Series (+330%) and EX-Series (+4963%) somehow compensates. Hybrid variants for the Honda CR-V (+305%) and Toyota Camry (+415%) also evolve at markedly higher levels than a year ago. Finally, one notable entry inside the 20 most popular New Energy models this month is the Nio ES8 up 55% on August to a new all-time high 1.758 sales, doubling its YTD tally to 3.414 and single-handedly lifting the Nio brand at the Top 10’s doorstep (#11).

Previous month: China August 2018 New Energy: BYD up 169% to #1 brand

Full September 2018 Top 60 brands and Top 105 models below.

China September 2018 Retail sales: market at standstill at -16%

No surprise: the C-HR/IZOA duo is instrumental in lifting Toyota up 12% in a depressed market.

* See the Top 95 China-made brands and Top 615 models by clicking on the title *

April 2017 – September 2018 monthly All-models China Retail data also available, Contact us

After exploring China wholesales for September 2018 meaning sales to dealerships, it is now time to study China September Retail sales, meaning sales to end-customers, a new monthly update exclusive to BSCB. We indeed now have two separate monthly updates for China in our endeavour to provide you with the most exhaustive coverage of the largest car market in the world. Note this update only covers China-made light vehicles. Retail and Wholesales are obviously inter-connected, with poor retail sales triggering poor wholesales the following month as dealer reduce their orders to allow existing stock to clear. Case in point, August retail sales down 10.1% threw September wholesales into double-digit loss at -11.5%. In an extremely worrying turn of event our exclusive Retail figures show a market close to standstill at -16% to 1.834.000 units vs. 2.180.000 in September 2017. Unless the Chinese government decides to wake up the market with lower taxes next week, this in turns means the October wholesales drop will be rather ghastly, at least -15%.

The new Tang helps lift BYD retail sales up 36% in September.

Volkswagen (-16%) follows the market, seeing its deliveries limp from 303.000 in September 2017 to 254.000 this month, but Toyota (+10%) is one of only two carmakers in positive in the Top 12 alongside Audi (+5%) and the only one managing posting a double digit gain with all its best-sellers improving this month – Camry (+100%), RAV4 (+21%), Corolla (+3%), Highlander (+4%) and Levin (+1%) and the C-HR/IZOA tandem already totalling almost 7.000 sales for the month. German premium marques ignore the market gloom: Mercedes (+18%) is lifted by the C-Class (+37%), E-Class (+20%) and GLC (+19%), BMW (+15%) is pushed by the 5 Series (+27%), 3 Series (+16%) and the new X3 while Audi (+5%) takes advantage of strong scores by the A4L (+30%), A6L (+21%) and new Q5L. There’s only two additional Top 30 brands in positive: BYD (+36%) thanks to the new Tang (+602%), Song MAX and Yuan (+99%) and MG (+30%) thanks to the new 6. Add Jinbei (+43%) and Qoros (+310%) and you have the mark of a true catastrophe: only 8 carmakers managing a year-on-year gain in the Top 40.

Haval (-8%) and its best-seller the H6 (-2%) are on the mend: no double-digit drops this month.

Back to the top of the brands ranking where even Geely (-9%) is in negative, arguably compensated by another stellar performance by Lynk & Co, stable above 10.400 sales for the 2nd straight month and unlike in the wholesales order where the 01 remains a notch above, September retail sales for the 02 are now just 100 units below the 01 at 5.158 vs. 5.262. This as archenemy WEY (-42%) tumbles down to 6.000 units. Hyundai (-3%) posts the smaller skid in the Top 10, with Haval (-8%) clearly on the mend after enduring drops going from -25% to -42% over the past 5 months. Nissan (-9%) also manages to remains within single-digits at #5 overall but it is not the case for Honda (-12%) still falling slower than the market though. Baojun (-38%) and Buick (-23%) are hit hardest in the Top 10, while further down Haima (-65%), Soueast (-63%), Peugeot (-55%), BAIC (-50%), Suzuki (-50%), Ford (-49%), Leopaard (-49%), Land Rover (-47%), Renault (-43%), Dongfeng (-39%), JAC (-39%), Chana (-37%), Citroen (-31%) and Changan (-30%) are all in great difficulty.

One Hongqi L5 found a buyer in China in September, the first of 2018.

We’ll finish with a handful of success stories: Chinese luxury marque Hongqi (+802%) surges thanks to the new H5 – also note one L5 sold this month (see pictured) – Foton (+126%), Maxus (+73%), Jaguar (+25%), Brilliance (+13%), Nio (1.759 sales) and newcomers Red Star (#88) and Weltmeister (#95). Over in the models ranking, the podium is unchanged on last month with the VW Lavida (-8%), Nissan Sylphy (-6%) and Toyota Corolla (+3%) in the lead, the Sylphy snapping the #2 YTD spot off the Corolla in the process. As illustrated by the brand’s much better score this month, the Haval H6 (-2%) posts its first single-digit drop of the year and climbs back up to #4 and #1 SUV, now just 1.800 sales below the Baojun 510 (-45%) in the YTD order. VW places the Jetta (-10%), Sagitar (-23%) and Tiguan (-24%) just below while the Honda Civic (+43%) manages the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 10. The Geely Emgrand (+5%) manages to remain inside this same Top 10, with the Hyundai ix35 (+609%) and Elantra Lingdong (+49%) also very dynamic further down.

First appearance of Weltmeister in the Chinese sales charts.

The Wuling Hongguang S3 (#33) rallies back up 19 spots on August to top all recent launches (<12 months) ahead of the GAC Trumpchi GA4 (#52), the Baojun 360 (#54), the latter two nameplates posting their first five-digit monthly volume, the Geely Vision S1 (#68), BYD Song MAX (#75), Baojun 530 (#79) already in decline and Roewe RX3 (#95). Note the Hyundai Celesta (7.460), Haval H4 (5.008), Chery Tiggo 8 (4.037) and Skoda Kamiq (3.870) all break their volume record as well. Among models launched in August, the Toyota C-HR is up 107% to #143, the Toyota IZOA is up 26% to #164 and the Leopaard Mattu up 21% to #245. Nameplates making their first appearance in the Retail ranking in September are the Kia Stonic (#210), SWM G01 (#294), Lifan 650EV (#387), Traum SEEK 5 (#411), Geely Binrui (#424), BYD Qin Pro (#487), MG HS (#505) and Hyundai Celesta RV (#539), all having been covered in our Focus on All-new models updates, as well as the Red Star Shining X2 (#535) and Weltmeister EX5 (#615), two EVs we will study in more detail in our upcoming New Energy September 2018 update.

Previous month: China August 2018 Retail sales: Crisis deepens – market down 10.1%

Full September 2018 Top 95 All-brands and Top 615 All-models below.

China imports September 2018: Lexus repeats at #1, market down 7%

Lexus and the NX spend a 2nd consecutive month atop the Chinese imports market.

* See the Top 50 All imported brands and Top 230 models by clicking on the title *

All-brands and All-models January 2017-September 2018 monthly data available, us here.

Complete Chinese imports data is now available for September, BSCB being the first media outside of China to report on these figures monthly. Since July 1 new cars imported into China follow a two-pronged tariff policy: 40% on U.S. imports and 15% on all other imports. For the first time since June, imports sales in China are down year-on-year at -7% in September to 101.146 units, signalling a possible negative impact on the raised U.S. tariffs. Year-to-date imports are now up 4% on the same period in 2017 to 842.343 units.

China is the first market to get the 2019 Cayenne, helping Porsche up 14%.

Whereas the Japanese premium marque had not topped the imported brands ranking this year, Lexus manages to repeat at #1 after its August win thanks to deliveries up a very impressive 37% to over 15.600, prompting Toyota to finally consider manufacturing cars in China now that joint-venture rules are loosening up. Lexus’ health contrasts with BMW and Mercedes both tumbling down 18% due to their reliance on U.S.-built imports: the Mercedes GLE (-40%) and BMW X5 (-29%) are hit hard this month. Porsche (+14%) overtakes Toyota (-9%) to step up to a brilliant 4th place, with Volvo (+25%) and Audi (+22%) also in great shape in the remainder of the Top 10.

Chrysler is now importing the Pacifica hybrid into China.

Model-wise, the Lexus NX (+263%) repeats in pole position thanks to stunning year-on-year gains, but is stuck at #3 YTD (+72%). The BMW X5 (-29%) and Lexus ES (-31%), best-sellers YTD, round up the podium ahead of a streak of 5 models producing double-digit gains, the most dynamic being the Porsche Cayenne (+35%), Mercedes CLA (+31%) and BMW 7 Series (+24%), with the Lexus RX (+11%) and Toyota Land Cruiser (+10%) a notch below. The Lexus IS (+414%) also post an extravagant uptick to close up the Top 10, just as the Mitsubishi Pajero (+147%), Porsche Panamera (+136%), Toyota Alphard (+88%) and Volvo XC90 (+63%) stand out. We welcome the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid at #127.

Previous month: China imports August 2018: Lexus snaps lead in market up 12%

Previous year: China Full Year 2017: Exclusive imports data by model and brand

Full September 2018 Top 50 All-Brands and Top 230 models below.

China September 2018: Focus on the All-new models

The Jetour X70 is one of the cheapest 7-seat SUVs in the Chinese market.

After exploring September China wholesales, it’s now time to shed light on all the new locally produced launches hitting dealerships for the month so you are up-to-date on the fastest-evolving market in the world. Note these updates remain based on wholesales data. September wholesales confirmed the slump is here to stay and has now spread to sedans. Meanwhile, new models being launched on the market steadily continue to reflect the SUV surge we have witnessed for the past decade in China with the risk of now appearing out of step with current market conditions. In July, 5 of the 7 new launches were SUVs, in August it was 6 out of 7 and in September 9 out of 12. You can also keep track of the fast-expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 176 Chinese Brands, updated live.

1. Jetour X70 (#83 – 7.777 sales)

Sporting a suspiciously “lucky” sales figure this month (7 is considered a lucky number in China) is Jetour’s first nameplate, the X70 7-seater SUV. A very impressive start indeed, the strongest 1st month tally since the Baojun 360 last May. Now that Chery has a “clean” SUV lineup with the Tiggo 3, 3x, 5, 5x, 7 and 8 and after presenting the semi-premium Exeed SUV sub-brand last year (to no avail just yet), the company has judged it was time to spread its dwindling budget even thinner and launch a new brand, which is a questionable strategy especially looking at unstable Cowin, another one of Chery’s brands. But the first signs are very positive: the Jetour X70 is as soon as its first month in market the Chery Group’s best-selling SUV above the Chery Tiggo 8 (7.201) and 2nd best-selling nameplate outright below the Chery Arrizo 5 (8.185). In fact, the X70 actually delivers the goods as I was able to verify during the latest Beijing Auto Show in April this year where I selected Jetour as one of the “Top 5 brands you should know about” alongside Chana Oshan’s COS and EV-makers NIO, Weltmeister and Byton. Like COS with its 1°, the Jetour brand is a somewhat “macho” brands aimed at third-, fourth-tier cities and rural areas where Leopaard for example is doing very well, and the X70 offers the full package with 7 seats and a modern (if bland) design and a cut-throat pricing.

Jetour X70 interior. Picture

The Jetour X70’s pricing is indeed quite dramatically lower than its appearance would let us believe, from 69.900 to 120.900 yuan (US$10.100-17.450 or 8.750-15.100€). This significantly undercuts the COS 1° (93.800-145.800 yuan) and positions the X70 as one of the cheapest 7-seater SUVs in the Chinese market, at roughly the same level as much more blunt nameplates such as the Chana CX70 (59.900-109.900), Bisu T5 (72.900-104.900), BAIC Hyosow S7 (78.800-115.800) and Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (78.900-123.000), as well as Zotye’s better-designed Traum SEEK 5 (77.900-128.900) and S70 (81.900-115.900) and the Changhe Q7 (87.900-148.900). To better understand Jetour’s positioning vs. Chery, the Chery Tiggo 8, a 5-seater, is priced 40% higher from 98.800 to 142.800 yuan. The X70’s first month is already above our bar for success of 6.000 sales, the trick now will be to be stable at that level, keeping in mind scores such as the 19.771 peak reached by the Dongfeng Fengguang 580 or the 18.071 record of the Chana CX70 seem out of reach, especially for a new brand.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

2. Geely Binrui (#122 – 5.029 sales)

Geely continues to renew and expand its lineup at breakneck speed, and this sharply-designed Binrui sedan manages an excellent start above 5.000 sales in a depressed context for Chinese sedans. 4.68m-long, the Binrui’s design is very close to the recently-launched 4.99m Emgrand GE – itself is a facelift of the Borue, also already above 5.000 monthly sales. Faithful to what has built Geely into the #1 Chinese manufacturer at home, the Binrui is cheap: from 79.800 to 110.800 yuan (US$11.500-15.990 or 9.990-13.900€), features a high-quality cockpit but mid-range engines with a choice of 133hp 1.4T or 136hp 1.0T mated with a 6 speed manual or CVT.

Geely Binrui interior. Picture

The fact that the Binrui enters an overcrowded Chinese sedan market goes without saying but it hasn’t prevented previous Geely sedans such as the Emgrand GL and GE from succeeding and it will also be the case for the Binrui. The oddity with the Binrui naming is that it uses neither the upmarket Emgrand nor the mass-market Vision sub-brands. Its pricing is closer to an Emgrand model. For comparison, the slightly shorter 4.60m Geely Vision (53.900-72.900 yuan) is a lot cheaper while the 4.63m Emgrand (69.800-100.800) and 4.725m Emgrand GL (78.800-115.800) are closer with the Emgrand GE (136.800-179.800) topping the range. Geely has managed to create an extremely successful sedan lineup thanks to its ability to go fight with foreign models and the Binrui is emblazoned with the same mission, taking aim at the VW Jetta (79.900-134.900), Toyota Vios (69.800-113.800) and Chevrolet Cavalier (79.900-114.900) while among local fares the Roewe 360 notably (77.900-129.900) is targeted. Because it’s a Geely model and because of the fantastic performances the brands has repeatedly aligned over the past couple of years, expectations are high for the Binrui.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly units

3. Cadillac XT4 (#198 – 2.313 sales)

Another illustration of the prime importance of the Chinese market in the world today, Cadillac has launched Chinese production of its new small crossover, the XT4, at the same time as in the U.S. Even then, the XT4 may be arriving here two years too late, but better late than never. The XT4 joins the China-made XT5 and the imported Escalade in the American manufacturer’s SUV lineup, a smart “trickle-down” move that is making the brand more accessible to Chinese consumers the exact same way Volvo is doing with the XC40 and as all German premiums understood years ago. XT4 pricing starts at 259.700 yuan and ends at 399.700 (US$37.500-57.700 or 32.500-50.000€) almost exactly the same as its U.S. pricing but 40.000 yuan/US$5.800/5.000€ lower than Cadillac’s entry sedan offerings, the ATS-L (298.800-428.800) and XTS (299.900-359.900). Additionally, the XT4 is 100.000 yuan/US$14.400/12.500€ cheaper than the XT5 (359.900-539.900).

Cadillac XT4 interior. Picture

Equipped with a 241hp 2.0T engine, the XT4 enters a very competitive premium small SUV arena composed of the imported Lincoln MKC (275.800-385.800), BMW X2 (289.800-379.800) and Volvo XC40 (321.800-411.800) and a growing contingent of China-made blockbusters such as the BMW X1 (283.800-439.000), Mercedes GLA (269.800-395.800), Audi Q3 (246.900-340.700) and Jaguar E-Pace (288.800-395.800). The sales potential of the XT4 is strong yet paradoxically weaker than larger premium SUVs, with some Chinese buyers failing to see the use of paying a disproportionate amount of money for what they consider cramped vehicles. The largest volumes in the category flirt with 5 figures: 10.580 for the Q3, 9.984 for the X1 and 8.002 for the GLA. The American carmaker has some flex in terms of production capacity: the largest monthly volume reached by any Cadillac nameplate is 10.385 by the XT5 SUV in January 2018, with other personal bests including 7.500 by the XTS sedan and 5.919 by the ATS-L sedan. In a slightly morose SUV context, we want at least 6.000 sales to consider the XT4 a success.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

4. Chevrolet Orlando (#209 – 2.095 sales)

In a challenging context for foreign mass market carmakers, Chevrolet surprises us with this second generation Orlando (the first one was never produced locally) which has morphed from a bland MPV into a racy crossover that starts relatively well above 2.000 wholesales. Classified by the CAAM as a sedan perhaps because it is very low, the Orlando is however definitely a crossover in the minds of consumers. By pricing it competitively at 119.900-154.900 yuan (US$17.300-22.400 or 15.000-19.400€), Chevrolet positions the Orlando more as a potential upgrade from sedans in its lineup such as the Cavalier (79.900-114.900) or even the Cruze (109.900-169.900) than a logical addition in its SUV lineup where it should definitely kill the already slow-selling, much smaller but similarly priced Trax (99.900-149.900). The Equinox (174.900-250.900) on the other hand is placed unequivocally above the Orlando.

Chevrolet Orlando interior. Picture

Touted as a 7 seater despite a relatively short 4.68m long, the Orlando is moved by a 163hp 1.3T mated with a 6 speed manual or auto, simple mechanics to help lower the price. Local automotive press is a little confused by the format, aiming it at a couple of low MPVs such as the Buick GL6 (141.900-168.900) or BYD Song MAX (79.900-129.900) or even the Honda Jade (129.900-179.900). Will choosing an unconventional approach pay for Chevrolet? It’s a worthwhile bet, and all will depend on whether the younger customer base will deem the Orlando cool enough. GM is definitely putting its right foot forward by focusing the communication on the sporty-looking (but actually not sporty) Redline variant. A refreshing entry in a saturated SUV segment, especially as the Equinox, on paper a straight-forward blockbuster, has been sputtering off (previous best at 7.697).

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

5. BYD Qin Pro (#287 – 1.003 sales)

BYD virtually launched the electric car market in China with nameplates such as the e6 hatchback and the Qin sedan. The Qin Pro is simply the 2nd generation of the model, allowed to co-exist with the first and therefore needing a specific denomination. The first month of sales is slow, and it remains to be seen whether the Pro will progressively swallow up the original Qin or whether it will act as a pricy and niche premium version. BYD will definitely be hoping for the former option, especially as the Qin Pro is the third model after the Song MAX and the new Tang to feature BYD’s new “Dragon Face” design language imagined by Wolfgang Egger, ex-Audi, that pretty much makes all BYDs look very much like Hyundais.

BYD Qin Pro interior. Picture

The Qin Pro is available in combustion variants powered by a 109hp 1.5 mated with a 5 speed manual or a 154hp 1.5T mated with a 6 speed DCT and going for a very attractive 79.800-115.800 yuan (US$11.500-16.700 or 10.000-14.500€) or hybrid powered by a 154hp 1.4 and pure electric priced at 149.900-299.900 yuan (US$21.600-43.300 or 18.800-37.600€). The combustion variants compete with the Geely Binrui (79.800-110.800) and foreigners such as the Buick Excelle (109.900-144.900), Honda Civic (115.900-169.900), Toyota Corolla (107.800-175.800) and VW Lavida (109.900-165.900) while the green variants compete with BYD’s very own e5 (220.700-230.700, the BAIC EU-Series (79.800-252.650), JAC iEVA50 (183.700-234.500), Geely Emgrand (165.800-238.300) and Geely Emgrand GE (199.800-232.800). Even though the new Qin Pro had already been unveiled by then, the Qin has managed record volumes in the past few months, hitting 5.597 last June. BYD will hope for at least the same for the Qin Pro.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

6. VW Tayron (#290 – 954 sales)

Reacting with many years’ delay, Volkswagen has finally decided to significantly embolden its SUV presence in China with two nameplates exclusive to this market, both making their entrance this month: the Tayron and Tharu (see further down). To understand how these new SUVs position themselves in the China-made Volkswagen galaxy, it is essential to distinguish the carmaker’s two joint-ventures in this country. SAIC-VW has had a significant SUV presence in China for many years through the Tiguan – the first generation of the nameplate was kept on sale alongside the new generation Tiguan L aka Allspace, as well as the larger Teramont since January 2017. FAW-VW has been playing catchup this year, receiving its very first SUV in the form of the T-Roc in June, and the Tayron is its 2nd entry in the segment. The Tayron is in fact based on the second generation short-wheelbase Tiguan that is only imported into the country but not produced locally. Still with me?

VW Tayron interior. Picture

Dimensions may help clarify: the Tayron is 4.589m long, vs. 4.712 for the Tiguan L, 4.506 for the 1st gen Tiguan, 4.486m for the imported 2nd gen short wheelbase Tiguan and 4.318m for the T-Roc. Therefore Volkswagen has found a smart way to not put any of its China-made SUVs in a cannibalisation situation, something it had not managed with its sedan lineup, mirrored between the two joint-ventures. The Tayron comes with a 186hp or 220hp 2.0T engine mated to a 7-speed DCT. Although no pricing has been communicated yet as the Tayron’s official on-sale date is 22 October, it will slide in an overlapping spot bewteen the 1st gen Tiguan (199.800-237.800 yuan) and the Tiguan L (223.800-359.800) and accordingly, local automotive press pits it against the Buick Envision (219.900-319.900) and Toyota Highlander (239.800-422.800). It’s a Volkswagen and it’s an SUV, it’s FAW-VW’ best shot at SUV glory so far, so our expectations are high.

Bar for success: 17.000 monthly units

7. Ora iQ (#315 – 707 sales)

Instead of electrifying its existing Haval and WEY lineup, Great Wall Motors has preferred to create a standalone EV brand it unveiled at last April’s Beijing Auto Show: Ora. I have doubts on the viability of this decision, but the implacable GWM marketing machine is unstoppable and after an aggressive WeChat campaign counting down the days until launch, Ora’s first offering, the iQ, has now hit the sales charts with an ok 707 sales. The exterior design is… different, bold? and the interior looks like it has been patched up compared to a dreadful experience in Beijing.

Ora iQ interior. Picture

Powered by a 163hp electric engine, the iQ is priced between 188.800 and 204.800 yuan (US$27.250-29.600 or 23.700-25.700€) which is not cheap for a very standard-looking vehicle (I did not say low-cost, but…). The issue is the Chinese EV SUV pool is getting bigger every month, currently including the Chery Tiggo 3xe (157.800-189.800), BYD Song (176.900-219.900), BAIC EX-Series (183.900-202.900) and GAC Trumpchi GE3 (212.800-246.500). Setting goals for an entirely new brand is always difficult as there are no benchmarks, but GWM’s other attempt at an electric SUV has currently been pretty dismal with the WEY P8 culminating at just 570 units after 5 months, a result the cheaper iQ has already surpassed.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

8. Citroen C4 Aircross (#324 – 650 sales)

Looks familiar, but this is not the C3 Aircross. In China, Citroen is upside down, firstly sales-wise (-45% in September) but also launch-wise: the larger C5 Aircross was commercialised a year ago just here as the C3 Aircross hit European dealerships. This year, the C5 Across is reaching Europe whereas a stretched version of the C3 Aircross, baptised C4 Aircross, is now available in China. Based on the C3 Aircross for all exterior and interior design elements, the C4 Aircross is 12 cm longer with a wheelbase 6 cm longer. The extra space goes to the rear passengers and the boot. The C4 Aircross  is priced competitively at 109.800-159.800 yuan (US$15.850-23.100 or 13.800-20.100€) but looking at Citroen’s current SUV lineup it also means it will kill the smaller C3-XR (108.800-171.800) while logically siding well below the larger C5 Aircross (152.700-236.700). To say that the segment it enters is crowded is an understatement…

Citroen C4 Aircross interior. Picture

The 4.27m-long C4 Aircross will compete with its cousin the Peugeot 2008 (89.700-128.700), but also such foreign blockbusters as the 4.27m Honda XR-V (127.800-162.800), 4.29m Hyundai ix25 (109.800-152.800), 4.31m VW T-Roc (139.800-209.800), 4.38m Nissan Qashqai (139.800-189.800), 4.39m Skoda Kamiq (109.900-130.900), 4.41m Roewe RX3 (89.800-135.800) and to a lesser extent the 4.40m Toyota C-HR (144.800-179.800). Citroen needs a success very badly these days and a lot of hope rests on the C4 Aircross, especially as the C5 Aircross bubble has already been busted: -66% to just 1.640 units in September. Realistically, even if it is successful the C4 Aircross won’t be enough to reverse Citroen’s fortunes in China, but regularly evolving above 5.000 monthly units would be a good start, if a tad frivolous in the current context.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

9. Audi Q2L (#329 – 594 sales)

After adding the Q5L a few months back, Audi is expanding its China-made SUV lineup with this Q2L, supposedly with a  stretched wheelbase but in actual fact it is only extended by 2.7cm to 2.628m while the length is up just 4.5cm to 4.229m vs. 4.191m for the imported Q2. Powered by a 150hp 1.4TSI engine, the Q2L is entering a pretty empty competitive set as premium carmakers haven’t had the chance to launch small SUVs just yet.

Audi Q2L interior. Picture

Priced between 217.700 and 279.000 yuan (US$31.400-40.300 or 27.300-35.000€), the Q2L significantly undercuts its only competitor, the imported Mini Countryman (243.800-363.800) while safely residing well below the larger Audi Q3 (246.900-340.700). However Audi shouldn’t be too ambitious with the Q2L which could act as sales support for the Q3. Indeed at 4.236m long, Chinese customers will deem the Q2L cramped despite its slightly stretched wheelbase and may be reluctant to fork out this amount of money for a vehicle that will likely be considered impractical. As such, our expectations are somewhat limited at 4.500 sales/month.

Bar for success: 4.500 monthly units

10. Kandi Gleagle EX3 (#396 – 173 sales)

Part of the Geely Group, Kandi specialises in micro and small EVs. This EX3, using a Gleagle badge (previously a Geely brand), is in fact a simple electrified version of the Geely Vision X3. It is powered by a 67hp electric engine giving it 302km of autonomy and is 4.005m long. Priced from 76.800 to 96.800 yuan (US$11.100-14.000 or 9.600-12.150€), the EX3 is among the cheapest electric vehicles on sale in China at the moment, and competes with the likes of the Changan CS15EV (79.900-89.900) or BYD Yuan EV (79.900-99.900).

Kandi Gleagle EX3 interior. Picture

Electric vehicle volumes are traditionally seesawing depending on the time of the year, with November and December showing sudden surges in time to benefit from government subsidies. Looking at the performance of its direct competitors and taking into account the mighty production power of Geely we are setting the bar for success at 1.500 monthly units.

Bar for success: 1.500 monthly units

11. Hyundai Celesta RV (#401 – 164 sales)

Emboldened by the success of the Hyundai Celesta which is nothing more than a 18 year-old Hyundai Elantra Yuedong with an up-to-date bodywork, the Korean carmaker has now launched a station wagon variant of the Celesta, baptised Celesta RV and its first foray in this segment. At 4.40m long and powered by a 123hp 1.6 engine mated with a 6-speed manual or auto or a 130hp 1.4T engine mated with a 7-speed DCT, the Celesta RV is priced from 80.900 to 119.900 yuan (US$11.700-17.300 or 10.150-15.050€) which is a lot of car for the money indeed.

Hyundai Celesta RV interior. Picture

To pus this pricing into perspective, let’s note that the entry model Celesta RV is only a tad dearer than the top-of-the-range 4.62m Baojun 310W (42.800-69.800) while logically positioning itself above the 4.24m Kia KX-Cross (74.900-90.900). Station wagons are still a pretty rare occurrence on Chinese roads and in local lineups so it’s a make-or-break bet for Hyundai here, with models such as the 4.518m Dongfeng AX3 (69.900-87.900) and 4.538m Buick Excelle GX (119.900-146.900) falling flat in market whereas the VW Gran Lavida (112.900-162.900) has resonated with buyers. Hyundai should therefore be prudent in its sales expectations for the Celesta RV.

Bar for success: 3.000 monthly units

12. VW Tharu (#430 – 52 sales)

On top of the Tayron described earlier in this article, Volkswagen also launches the Tharu SUV this month. Unlike the Tayron, the Tharu is manufactured by the SAIC-VW joint-venture that already has the 1st gen Tiguan, 2nd gen Tiguan Allspace and Teramont in its SUV lineup. The Tharu won’t disorient SAIC-VW customers as it looks like a mini Teramont but is in fact based on the Skoda Karoq. So here too, Volkswagen has managed to insert a new nameplate in its range without creating a cannibalising potential given its other joint-venture, FAW-VW has the much shorter T-Roc as entry SUV. Yet this is all very confusing so as per the Tayron we’ll try and clarify the situation with dimensions. The SUV lineup of the SAIC-VW joint-venture is now composed of the 4.453m Tharu, 4.506 1st gen Tiguan, 4.712 Tiguan L and 5.039m Teramont. Across the road at FAW-VW we have the 4.318m T-Roc and the 4.589m Tayron.

VW Tharu interior. Picture

There is no price info yet for the Tharu as it is not yet officially listed but it will slide in-between the T-Roc at 139.800-209.800 yuan (US$20.200-30.300 or 17.550-26.300€) and the 1st gen Tiguan at 199.800-237.800 yuan (US$28.800-34.300 or 25.100-29.800€) which also means it will be priced at a significant premium over the Skoda Karoq (139.900-185.900) on which it is based. Therefore local automotive media pits it against the meaty end of the Chinese SUV world: the Toyota RAV4 (179.800-269.800), Honda CR-V (169.800-276.800) and Nissan X-Trail (188.800-271.300) while among Chinese fares the cheaper but larger Haval H6 (103.000-146.800) and GAC Trumpchi GS4 (89.800-151.800) would also enter into consideration. The Tharu won’t get as much attention within SAIC-VW as the Tayron should within FAW-VW simply because SAIC has its hands full already with 2 Tiguans and the Teramont, so our sales expectations are lower.

Bar for success: 12.000 monthly units

China September 2018: Sedans trigger third consecutive market decline

The Nissan Sylphy is the only Top 10 model in positive in September.

* See the Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 450 models by clicking on the title *

Wholesales seem to now be stuck in a downward spiral in China: September deliveries plunge 11.5% to 2.394.100 units, the second double-digit gain in 2018 after the last February (-11.6%). This steep drop logically echoes August retail sales down 10.1% as dealers adjust their commands to lower demand. Following -5.3% in July and -3.8% in August, this is the third consecutive year-on-year decline, a situation we haven’t seen since August 2015. At the time, the Chinese government halved the purchase tax on vehicles of 1.6L and less with instantaneous and spectacular results: double-digit gains from October to December 2015. The China Automobile Dealers Association in fact has started lobbying finance and commerce ministries in China last month, suggesting similar measures to salvage sales given the purchase tax was raised back up to 10% last January. In the segment detail, the main September news is sedans now joining SUVs in their freefall. Indeed sedans are down 13.4% to 1.005.000 units, SUVs down 10.1% to 872.800, MPVs down 11.4% to 147.000 and microvans down 21.9% to 34.900 leading to a light vehicle score down 12% to 2.060.500. Commercial vehicles slip 8.4% to 533.600 units to reduce the overall market decline slightly to -11.5%.

The Wuling Hongguang is back on the podium thanks to its facelift.

Year-to-date levels remain at record high for now at +1.5% to 20.409.000, with sedans up 1.3% to 8.426.900, SUVs up 3.9% to 7.235.500, MPVs down 13.1% to 1.261.400, microvans down 19.6% to 337.100 leading to light vehicles as a whole up 0.6% to 17.259.700 and commercial vehicles up 6.3% to 3.230.900. Yet what started as a sudden, surprising and historical plateauing of SUV sales last June (-0.5%) has now spread to every corner of the Chinese market in a worrying trend. In fact, Nomura Securities expect Q4 sales to drop 7.5% leading to an annual result for 2018 at -1.6% to 28.4 million which would be the first market decline since 1990. To keep things in perspective, we are still looking at an astounding 27 years of uninterrupted growth leading China from a non-existent car market then to the largest in the world by an unsurmountable margin now, and the 2nd largest annual volume reached by any nation in the world in the history of automobile. But it is the first time an annual decline is even talked about in China. How did we get to this?

Volkswagen (-16%) is planning to reverse its fortunes with a slew of new SUVs such as the Tayron.

We have already related the main reason behind faltering sales: a government crackdown on P2P digital lending platforms that led to roughly 10-15% of potential new vehicle buyers – mostly younger – being kept away from the market. Logically, the direct negative sales impact was first felt by Chinese SUVs, by far the most attractive to this segment for the younger  population hit by the lending crackdown due to low prices but hip status. More on the P2P lending impact on the 2018 Chinese car market here. This negative trend is now spreading to all segments in the market, which also worryingly means all layers of the population, helped by a 25% fall of the Shanghai stock market since the start of the year and a possible gradual loss of confidence in future economic climate triggered by the trade war with the U.S., although at BSCB we feel these latter two elements have had a much smaller impact on the recent evolution of the Chinese market.

The new X3 helps BMW up 25% in China this month.

In the China-made brands ranking, Volkswagen (-16%) posts the steepest decline in the Top 7 and its first double-digit drop since February 2016, an evolution we predicted due to depressed retail sales down for the past 4 months and at -10% in August. The German carmaker is now aggressively trying to prop up sales with a slew of new SUVs: after the T-Roc last June, the China-exclusive Tayron and Tharu make their first appearance in the Chinese charts this month, an arrival we cover in detail in our September 2018 Focus on the All-new models. Despite the sudden U-turn SUV sales have endured over the past few months, this is a valid strategy as foreign SUVs have mostly been unscathed to-date. Honda (+5%), Toyota (+12%) and Nissan (+2%) on the other hand all post market-defying positive results and knock Geely (+1%), ending 29 consecutive months of double-digit gains, to #5, its lowest ranking since September 2017. Geely remains the #2 brand YTD at 1.05 million wholesales.

Yema sales jump 85% year-on-year in September.

Below Buick (-8%) and Hyundai (-6%), Baojun (+21%), Changan (-23%) and Haval (-21%) round up the Top 10 but are in great difficulty due to their reliance on the embattled Chinese SUV segment. For example, the Baojun 510 (-31%) is back up 12 spots on August to #8 but has lost more than 30% year-on-year during each of the past 4 months, the Changan CS75 (-48%) has plunged at least 44% over the same period despite a facelift and the Haval H6 (-21%), still the #1 SUV in the country, has endured double-digit drops for 10 of the past 13 months. Among foreigners carmakers, only premium brands fare well thanks mostly to growing China-made lineups: Infiniti (+26%), BMW (+25%), Cadillac (+25%), Mercedes (+17%), Audi (+3%) and Volvo (+2%) all score positive results. In fact overall sales (including imports) show BMW above Mercedes for the first time this year. In the Chinese aisle, Qoros (+462%), MG (+85%), Yema (+85%), Hawtai (+43%), BYD (+38%), Cowin (+25%), SWM (+16%) and Chery (+10%) are among the most dynamic.

The new brand Jetour makes its appearance in Chinese charts this month.

Among brands launched over the past 12 months, Lynk & Co remains the standalone leader thanks to a 7th consecutive record volume. Up to almost 15.000 units thanks to just two nameplates – the 01 at 9.301 and the 02 at 5.556, this is 50% higher than established brands such as Mitsubishi or Geely-stablemate Volvo. Even more significantly, Lynk & Co outsells its Great Wall archenemy, WEY (-12%) for the third straight month, with both its nameplates now above the entire WEY lineup (VV5, VV6, VV7 and P8 all below 4.100 units). Two very significant new brands appear this month: Chery’s Jetour with almost 8.000 sales and Great Wall’s EV marque Ora at 700. Both Traum (2.714) and Yudo (1.050) also break volume records. However its bad news for Bisu (-79%), Landwind (-75%), Lifan (-69%), Changhe (-62%), Zotye (-62%), Karry (-61%), Leopaard (-55%), Haima (-54%), Beijing Auto (-50%), FAW (-42%) and Dongfeng (-40%), while among foreigners Suzuki (-73%), Peugeot (-63%), Renault (-61%), Ford (-60%), Land Rover (-52%), Jeep (-46%), Citroen (-45%), Acura (-43%) and DS (-37%) are hit the hardest.

The Camry (+153%) helps Toyota up 12% in China in September.

Model-wise, the VW Lavida (-19%) cements its YTD leadership with a 6th consecutive pole position despite a worrying gain given the new generation is only starting its career. The Nissan Sylphy (+8%), whose electric variant has now arrived (314 sales in September), is the only Top 10 nameplate to post a year-on-year gain, here too cementing its #2 YTD ranking. Yet, illustrating their fall from grace, sedans loosen their recent grip on the ranking with “only 5 in the Top 7, the Buick Excelle GT (-17%), VW Jetta (-15%) and Santana (-4%). The Wuling Hongguang (-6%) now helped with a new generation pictured above, posts its first podium and slimmest drop since last March while the Haval H6 (-21%) returns to the #4 spot it holds YTD. The largest gains in the Top 50, in the past few months a sedan exclusive, sees a slightly more balanced scorecard this month, with the most dynamic being the Hyundai ix35 (+288%), Toyota Camry (+153%), Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+67%), Chevrolet Sail (+59%), Nissan Qashqai (+57%), Honda Fit (+42%), XR-V (+35%), Civic (+30%), Nissan X-Trail (+28%), Mercedes E-Class L (+27%) and Honda Accord (+25%).

The Baojun 360 remains by far the most successful launch of the past 12 months.

Recent launches are once again dominated by the Baojun 360, up 23% on August to a new record 18.943, ahead of the VW T-Roc (#67), Lynk & Co 01 (#69), Baojun 530 (#71) down 21% on last month, Jetour X70 (#83) covered in our Focus on All-new models, Skoda Kamiq (#87), the brand’s best-seller for the first time at a record 7.341, Chery Tiggo 8 (#88), Toyota C-HR (#101), BMW X3 (#103), Lynk & Co 02 (#105) and Brilliance V6 (#115), all breaking new volume records. Other record-breakers in September include the BYD Tang (10.435) up 10-fold on the previous generation in September 2017, the GAC Trumpchi GS3 (9.637) continuing a steady year-long progression and the Hongqi H5 (2.974). As for nameplates launched in August, the WEY VV6 is up 189% and 86 spots to #175, the MG HS is up 328% and 87 ranks to #267, the YGM E-Series up 1097% and 108 spots to #298 and the Roewe MARVEL X up 1279% and 38 ranks to #390 but the Traum SEEK 5 is down 23% and 38 spots to #318 and the Jaguar E-Pace down 36% and 53 spots to #332.

Previous month: China August 2018: P2P lending crackdown triggers 2nd decline in a row

One year ago: China September 2017: SUVs post smaller gain, VW Lavida now #1 YTD

Full September 2018 Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 450 models below.

China August 2018 – New Energy: BYD up 169% to #1 brand

BYD New Energy sales are up 169% year-on-year in August partly thanks to the new Tang (pictured).

* See the Top 50 brands and Top 105 models by clicking on the title *

This is a new Chinese monthly update exclusive to BSCB, part of a China coverage we want as exhaustive as possible. New Energy vehicles include electric, hydrogen, PHEV and hybrid models. We are referring to retail sales here including imports here as these offer a much more complete picture of New Energy sales than the wholesales data we have access to. However it still doesn’t cover the entirety of the New Energy market in China where many actors don’t report sales officially. New Energy models included in this study see their sales soar 59% year-on-year in August to 78.893, leading to a year-to-date total of 508.840. BYD confirms its New Energy renaissances, surging 169% year-on-year to snap the brands pole position for the 2nd time in the past 3 months with just under 20.000 deliveries.

Toyota (+33%) is knocked down to #2 but remains in the YTD lead with 97.500 sales. Roewe (+118%) and Geely (+354%) both post brilliant results and camp on their July positions at #3 and #4 respectively, as does BAIC BJEV (-35%) but this time despite a hefty fall. GAC Trumpchi (+686%), BMW (+423%) and Changan (+225%) also see their New Energy presence greatly improved compared to a year ago. Model-wise, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (+27%) is the best-seller once again, followed this time by the Geely Emgrand EC7 PHEV (+246%) and the BYD Yuan EV coming back to life. The BYD Qin (+182%) and Toyota Levin Hybrid (+2%) complete the Top 5 with the Roewe ei6 (+555%), BYD Tang EV (+258%) and BYD e5 (+127%) also posting spectacular gains in the remainder of the Top 10.

Previous month: China July 2018 – New Energy: The truth about NIO revealed

Full August 2018 Top 50 brands and Top 105 models below.

China August 2018 Retail sales: Crisis deepens – market down 10.1%

At GAC Trumpchi, while SUVs are struggling the GA4 breaks its volume record.

* See the Top 90 China-made brands and Top 602 models by clicking on the title *

April 2017 – August 2018 monthly All-models China Retail data also available, Contact us here

After detailing China August wholesales it is now time to explore China August Retail sales, a new monthly update exclusive to BSCB. Retail sales are dealership sales to end-customers as opposed to Wholesales which are ex-factory sales to dealerships. These new Retail updates enable a second perspective, perhaps closer to the reality on the ground. This update only includes China-made vehicles, China August imports are covered in a separate update. Chinese new light vehicles are enduring a spectacular and sudden slump linked to a government crackdown on P2P digital lending platforms the younger generation was using to finance the purchase of Chinese SUVs.  More on this crackdown and its impact on the Chinese car market here. If wholesales stabilise their fall in August at -4.7% vs. 5.3% in July, the reverse is true for retail sales plummeting down 10.1% (vs. just -4.9% in July) from 2.003.200 to 1.801.400. This means dealerships in China remain bearish about the next few months and reducing their orders drastically, which in turns means at least a couple more months of wholesales decline are in the cards.

Toyota (+14%) is helped by the (late) arrival of the C-HR/IZOA tandem.

Brand leader Volkswagen (-10%) follows the market but still sells more the twice the amount of any other carmaker in China. Toyota (+14%) is very dynamic, helped by the (very late) arrival of the C-HR/IZOA tandem, overtaking Honda (-9%) to snap the overall 2nd spot. This is a clear illustration that the market slump is only selectively affecting Chinese-branded SUVs, the ones that younger Chinese were buying through P2P lending, and less so foreign SUVs and sedans, traditionally purchased by an older age group that hadn’t been using that type of financing as much. Geely (+10%) continues to gallop ahead but retrogrades to #4 YTD, now below Honda, Hyundai (+7%) shyly recovers and Audi (+1%) edges up but Baojun (-35%), Changan (-25%), Haval (-25%) and Buick (-20%) all plunge. BMW soars 43% to #12, BYD is up 50% to #17, with MG (+48%), Cadillac (+17%), Mercedes (+10%) and Roewe (+9%) also impressive in the Top 40.

The H5 lifts Hongqi sales to a whole new level: +1310% year-on-year!

However most carmakers endure very harsh falls, such as Zotye (-61%), Soueast (-55%), BAIC (-53%), Suzuki (-47%), JAC (-45%), Ford (-41%), Peugeot (-38%), Leopaard (-31%), Chana (-29%), FAW (-29%) and Dongfeng (-28%). Among smaller brands, notice Hongqi (+1310%) thanks to the arrival of the H5 sedan, Qoros (+265%), Maxus (+167%), Foton (+125%) and Jaguar (+27%) in great shape. Among marques launches than a year ago, Lynk & Co dominates head and shoulders with a record 10.468 retail sales, its first ever five-digit retail month – logically following its first five-digit wholesales score in July – and frankly outsmarting archival WEY (7.131) for the first time retail-wise. Another important milestone is passed by NIO, the Chinese premium EV maker delivering its first four-digit monthly result at 1.135 sales.

Sales of NIO es8 are starting to gear up, passing the 1.000 mark for the first time in August.

No surprises atop the retail models ranking: for the third consecutive month the five most popular nameplates are all sedans, with the Top 4 unchanged on July led by the VW Lavida (-5%) despite a decline ahead of the Nissan Sylphy (+4%), Toyota Corolla (+5%) and VW Sagitar (-11%). The VW Jetta (-7%) climbs up 6 spots on July to break into the Top 5 while the VW Tiguan (-15%) manages a second consecutive month atop the retail SUV charts in spite of a double-digit declines however smaller than traditional SUV leader Haval H6 (-27%) stuck at #7.

The Hyundai Celesta hits an all-time record retail volume in August.

Confirming the return in form of sedans in China given the P2P lending crackdown prevents younger Chinese from snapping up crossovers en masse, 12 of the 15 double-digit gains in the Top 50 are the works of sedans, led by the BMW 5 Series L (+126%), Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+96%), Toyota Camry (+96%), Honda Civic (+40%), Geely Emgrand GL (+35%) and BMW 3 Series L (+31%). Only the Hyundai ix35 (+727%) thanks to the new generation, Changan CS55 (+49%) and Toyota RAV4 (+36%) stand out in the SUV aisle. Notice also the Hyundai Celesta up 123% to an all-time record 7.235 sales.

The third generation Wuling Hongguang has just launched. Will it stop its freefall?

The Wuling Hongguang S3 (#52) is up 16 spots on July to become the best-selling recent launch (<12 months) just as Wuling launched a new generation of its once outright best-seller Hongguang (#18) to try and stop freefaling sales down 50% year-on-year in August. The Baojun 360 (#60) slows down its growth to just +3% on July, the GAC Trumpchi GA4 stuns with a 61% surge on last month to a new all-time record 8.601 sales, the BYD Song MAX (#68) confirms it’s an instant blockbuster, ahead of the Baojun 530 at #72 (-10) and the Lynk & Co 01 at #88 (-13).

The Haima F5 has landed in the retail charts.

The Lynk & Co 02 is up 178% on its inaugural month to a cool 4.447 sales, jumping 101 spots to #121 and strikingly outselling both the WEY VV5 (3.852) and VV7 (2.855). The Skoda Kamiq (3.426) overtakes the Geely Emgrand GE (2.751) to become the most popular July launch. The August retail charts welcome the Toyota IZOA (2.580), Toyota C-HR (1.786), Leopaard Mattu (1.109) and Haima F5 (150), a replacement for the Haima Family that hasn’t pointed its bonnet inside the wholesales ranking just yet.

Previous month: China July 2018 Retail sales: P2P lending crackdown identified as main reason behind SUV crisis

August wholesale update: China August 2018: P2P lending crackdown triggers 2nd decline in a row

Full August 2018 Top 90 All China-made brands and Top 600 models below.

China August 2018: Focus on the All-new models


Now that we explored August China wholesales, it is time to focus on the all-new locally produced launches for the month so you are up-to-date on the fastest-evolving market in the world. Note these updates remain based on wholesales data. In August, the market posts a second consecutive year-on-year decline partly due to the continuing weakness of SUV sales. This has been triggered by a government crackdown on P2P digital lending platform that enabled up to 15% of car sales in 2017. More on the P2P lending impact on the 2018 Chinese car market here. We spoke about it last month: the new nameplates that are now hitting the market were conceived years ago at a time when SUVs were the sole engine of growth of the Chinese market, and therefore we are seeing a constant flow of new SUVs hitting local dealers even though the market conditions are now a lot tougher. If in July 5 of the 7 launches were SUVs, in August the ratio is even higher with 6 of the 7 new launches being SUVs. You can also keep track of the fast-expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 175 Chinese Brands, updated live.

1. WEY VV6 (#261 – 1.038 sales)

Unveiled in November 2017 at the Guangzhou Auto Show, the VV6 is the 4th nameplate under the WEY brand, a new semi-premium marque launched by Great Wall Motors in 2017. It logically slots in-between the VV5 and VV7 but does seem like a superfluous addition, given how similarly-looking it is from its siblings but also the Haval H6 (see below). WEY has seen its wholesales peak quickly at 21.349 units in December 2017, down to just 10.174 in August 2018 after a low of 7.080 in July and despite the arrival of the P8 hybrid. Direct competitor Geely’s Lynk & Co overtook WEY in July (12.300) and doubled-down in August (13.674) with the 02 taking off. The glaring difference between the two Chinese semi-premium brands is Lynk & Co models have their own design and personality whereas WEY seems to be content just popping out upscale versions of Haval models. As a result, Haval have been cannibalised and are tumbling down so far in 2018: -20% YTD and -23% in August.

Are WEY models looking too similar to Haval’s H6 (pictured)? We think so.WEY VV6 interior. Picture

In this context, the VV6 enters a challenging environment not only internally within the Great Wall stable but also nationally: consumers aren’t gobbling up Chinese SUVs blindly like they had been this decade. The VV6 is based on the VV5 platform but is 12.3 cm longer at 4.585m vs. 4.462m for the VV5 and 4.749m for the VV7, and is equipped with the same 169hp 1.5T and 197hp 2.0T engines. The VV6 is priced from 148.000 to 175.000 yuan (US$21.600-25.500 or 18.500-21.800€) compared to the VV5 at 150.000-163.000 and the VV6 at 167.800-188.800. This is still not cheap, and may handicap the model’s career given the pricing of direct competitor Lynk & Co 02 (122.800-192.800) and the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800). But what WEY is hoping to target instead – a difficult task – are foreigners such as the Mazda CX-4 (140.800-215.800) and VW T-Roc (139.800-209.800). The VV5 peaked at 10.798 sales and the VV7 at 10.551 but times will be harder for the VV6 and reaching half this volume should be a realistic target.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

2. Jaguar E-Pace (#279 – 896 sales)

Unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April, the E-Pace is Jaguar’s first China-made SUV, manufactured by a joint-venture with local manufacturer Chery. It joins two stablemates, the XFL launched in September 2016 and the XEL launched in December 2017, and should comfortably become the brand’s best-seller in the country. In fact it already is, outselling both sedans for its first appearance in the Chinese charts. Unlike its sedan siblings, the E-Pace has the same length and wheelbase as the rest of the world, with no plans to launch a China-only long-wheelbase version for now. The E-Pace is powered by 250hp or 200hp 2.0T engines and priced from 288.800 to 395.800 yuan (US$42.100-57.700 or 36.000-49.400€), placing it in the same sandpit as the BMW X1 (283.800-439.000), Mercedes GLA (269.800-395.800) and Volvo XC40 (321.800-411.800).

Jaguar E-Pace interior. Picture

You may have noticed that the E-Pace is cheaper than the XC40 which seems like an anomaly but also means Jaguar can target solid volumes with this compact SUV. To which extent is hard to predict, as the XFL peaked at 2.558 sales, the XEL at 1.539 and the imported F-Pace at 1.526. Looking across the street the BMW X1’s personal best is 9.984 and the Mercedes GLA is at 8.002 with the XC40 yet to launch in China. We set the bar for success at 3.500 monthly sales.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

3. Traum SEEK 5 (#280 – 894 sales)

Traum, German for dream, is a new brand by Zotye launched in June 2017. The Chinese name is Junma (君马) translated as Supreme Horse. The English slogan is Driven by Dreams, while the Chinese slogan is Dream for a Horse. All Traum-branded vehicles are manufactured by Jiangnan Auto, a subsidiary of Zotye. The SEEK 5 is Traum’s third launch in less than a year alongside the S70 and the MEET3 (yet to appear in the wholesales charts). It is based on the same platform as the S70 with an identical wheelbase. The SEEK 5 is 4.771m long while the D70 is at 4.746m. Engines are the same: a 116hp 1.6 and 156hp 1.5T and they are both 7-seater SUVs. The pricing is also very similar, which is a Zotye specialty – launching as many cars as possible in the midsize SUV segment – that results in cannibalisation and lower volumes.

Traum SEEK 5 interior. Picture

It looks like Zotye is repeating the same mistakes with the Traum brand although this SEEK 5 isn’t a copycat of any existing car, so that’s some progress right there. SEEK 5 pricing is a tight 77.900-128.900 yuan (US$11.350-18.800 or 9.700-16.100€) compared to 81.900-115.900 for the S70. Traum is aiming at younger buyers in third and fourth tier cities and as such is competing full frontal with similar new brands by large Chinese manufacturers: Chery’s Jetour X70 (69.900-120.900) and to a lesser extent Chana’s COS1° (93.800-145.800). The SEEK 5 slides in-between Haval’s “low cost” offering the M6 (66.000-86.000) and its best-seller the H6 103.000-146.800). Traum has had a difficult start so far with the S70 peaking at a meagre 1.601 units last month, so the SEEK 5’s bar for success will be modest.

Bar for success: 2.500 monthly units

4. JMEV E400 (#281 – 874 sales)

JMEV is a brand by JMC dedicated to electric vehicles, already including the E100, E160, E200 and E200N sedans, rebadged and electrified versions of existing models by other brands, notably Zotye. True to form, this E400, JMEV’s first SUV, is in fact an electric Landwind X2. Priced between 163.800 and 175.800 yuan before government subsidies (US$23.900-25.600 or 20.400-21.900€), the E400 competes with the likes of the Chery Tiggo 3xe (157.800-189.800), JAC iEV6e (118.500-158.800), BAIC EC-Series (121.900-164.800), BAIC EV-Series (158.900-189.900) and BAIC EX-Series (183.900-202.900).

JMEV E400 interior. Picture

JMEV’s other nameplates have had uneven but quite successful careers so far, notably the E200 launched in December 2016 and peaking at 4.914 sales last December, with the E100 also launched in December 2016 and peaking at 1.755 but the E160 launched in April 2017 a lot weaker with a peak at a meagre 299 units at its 2nd month of sales. In this context, we’ll place the bar for success for the E400 halfway between the E200 and E100’s best scores, at 3.500 sales.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

5. MG HS (#354 – 284 sales)

The HS is MG’s third crossover offering after the successful GS and ZS, but also its largest so far. It is built on the same platform as the enormously successful Roewe RX5 which sold just under 475.000 units since it launched two years ago in July 2017. The MG HS comes with driver assist features such as lane-departure warning, blind-spot assistance and rear-cross traffic alert. It is powered by a 170hp 1.5T or 220hp 2.0T but doesn’t offer any 4×4 variant. It is 4.574m long vs. 4.31m for the ZS and 4.51m for the GS. It is logically priced above MG’s existing SUV offers at 119.800-189.800 yuan (US$17.500-27.700 or 14.900-23.700€) compared to 73.800-115.800 for the ZS and 98.800-175.800 for the GS. Some overseas markets such as Thailand are already considering discontinuing the GS to make room for the much more modern HS.

MG HS interior. Picture

In terms of external competition, the HS is markedly dearer than the Roewe RX5 on which it is based (99.800-188.800) in order to maintain the premium and UK-origin brand image of MG in China. The other two Chinese blockbusters in the category are also cheaper: the Haval H6 goes for 103.000-146.800 and the GAC Trumpchi GS4 is at 89.800-161.800. The MG HS will also try and snap customers away from the similarly-priced but smaller VW T-Roc (139.800-209.800). Looking at the commercial performance of the other two MG crossovers, the ZS’s highest monthly volume is 11.755 hit last April while the GS has been on a long a painful slide down given its record (6.740) dates back from December 2015 only a few months after launch. We want at least the GS score to feel content.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

6. YGM E-Series (#406 – 72 sales)

Although listed under the Link Tour brand, the E-series electric hatch is actually branded YGM, a brand by mini EV manufacturer Hebei Yogomo Motors owned at 25% by Great Wall Motors. The YGM marque was created to sell road-worthy EVs and its first model is this E-Series. Link Tour is a separate brand by Yogomo that also sells EVs whose first offer is the K-One that should appear shortly in the charts. More details on both brands can be found in our Exclusive Guide to all 175 Chinese Brands.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly units

7. Roewe MARVEL X (#428 – 14 sales)

The spectacular MARVEL X debuted at the Beijing Auto Show last April and is an electric SUV based on the upcoming Roewe RX7. It is 4.678m long and powered by two electric motors (116hp + 71hp), one on each axle, giving a range of 370 or 403km depending on the variant. The MARVEL X is one of the first premium electric SUVs manufactured by a Chinese company, and as such has few competitors for now. It is priced from 268.800 to 308.800 yuan before government aids (US$39.200-45.000 or 33.500-38.500€).

Roewe MARVEL X interior. Picture

Chinese competitors include the Weltmeister EX5 (186.600-298.800), Borgward BXi7 (358.800-378.800) and NIO ES8 (448.000-548.000), which foreigners in its line of fire are none others than the Jaguar i-Pace (648.000-736.800) and Tesla Model X (964.900-1.572.200). The MARVEL X certainly competes with the Tesla Model X when it comes to the gigantic touch screen on its dashboard. Being more of a pinnacle product strategy for the Roewe brand, don’t expect high volumes for this MARVEL X.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly units

Previous month: China July 2018: Focus on the All-new models

One year ago: China August 2017: Focus on the All-new models

China August 2018: P2P lending crackdown triggers 2nd decline in a row

Chinese brand Bisu (-79%) had focused solely on SUVs and is now paying the price dearly.

* See the Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 450 models by clicking on the title *

Wholesales data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) shows a second year-on-year decline in a row for the Chinese new light vehicle market in August at -4.6% to 1.789.900 units. As a reminder, these are ex-factory sales to dealerships as opposed to retail sales that are direct to consumer and will be reported in a separate update. Once again, SUV sales are weak at -4.7% to 737.600 units but recover somewhat after dropping 8.2% in July. Sedans are down 3.4% to 901.100, MPVs sink 14% to 119.300 and microvans are up 5.1% to a still tiny 31.900 units. We have now identified the reason behind this sudden and unexpected market slump: a government crackdown on P2P digital lending platforms following a wave of lender scams and borrower defaults.

The new generations Tang (pictured) and Qin lift BYD up 46% in August.

These P2P platforms are used by a younger audience to finance their car purchase to the extent of 10-15% of total car sales and explains a very targeted market slump towards Chinese-branded SUVs in particular, a category of vehicles favoured by younger Chinese. As a result Chinese brands, many of which have been solely focusing on SUVs in the past few years, are struggling: down 11% in August after sinking 6.1% in July whereas foreign carmakers are stable. More on the P2P lending impact on the 2018 Chinese car market here. However a strong start of the year means the YTD volume remains at record heights after 8 months, up 2.6% to 15.2 million light vehicles. Meanwhile, commercial vehicles gain 1.1% to 313.000 units and are up 8.7% YTD To 2.903.300 units. This means the overall Chinese new vehicle market is down a more modest 3.8% to 2.102.900 units and the YTD volume gallops up 3.5% to a record 18.1 million units. Once again the most dynamic segment of the Chinese market is electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, up 50% to 101.000 units with EVs up 32% to 73.000 and PHEVs up 131% to 28.000. Year-to-date, EV sales soar 72% to 447.000 while PHEVs surge 160% to 154.000, bringing the category up 88% to 601.000.

Geely snaps a 29th consecutive month for double-digit year-on-year gains.

Volkswagen (-2%) remains comfortably in the lead of the China-made brands ranking but posts its first year-on-year wholesales decline in the past 5 months, a trend we predicted because the brand’s retail sales have been in negative for the past two months, and wholesales are bound to catch up at some point: declining retail sales to consumers mean higher dealer stock and lower orders the following months. Geely (+18%) climbs back to the 2nd place overall for the first time since last April and the 8th time in the past 11 months, managing an incredible 29th consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains and a full 12 months in a row above 100.000 monthly sales. Geely edges past Toyota (+15%) for just 568 wholesales, with the Japanese manufacturer scoring one of only two double-digit gains in the Top 6. Honda (-15%) takes a hit but post a 20th month in the past 25 above 100.000 sales. Nissan (+7%) is also solid but Buick (-12%) endures a fourth consecutive double-digit decline. Hyundai (+14%) confirms its recovery, rallying back up 11 spots on July to #7, with Audi (+20%) and Chevrolet (+12%) also very strong at the tail end of the Top 10. In contrast, Changan (-29%), Baojun (-26%) and Haval (-23%) are all hit full frontal by the SUV slump.

The ix35 is up 11-fold on August 2017, helping Hyundai up 14%.

In the remainder of the Top 20 China-made brands, BYD (+46%) now is in full swing thanks to the launch of new generations for the Tang SUV (+1068%) and Qin sedan (+102%) and the continued success of its new best-seller the Song MAX (#55). BMW (+30%) is lifted by strong sales of the 5 Series L (+67%) and new X3 (#125) and Chery (+49%) surfs on the success of the new Tiggo 8 (#79) hitting a new volume record at 7.187, the eQ micro-EV (+105%) and the new Tiggo 5x. The most impressive gains further down are almost uniquely Chinese with Qoros (+308%), MG (+102%), Yema (+80%), Hawtai (+70%), JAC (+53%), WEY (+41%) and SWM (+35%) among the most dynamic while among foreigners only Mitsubishi (+36%) and Jaguar (+23%) stand out.

Despite the arrival of the V7, Briliance sinks 47% due to an over-reliance on SUVs.

This month the four most popular brands launched in the past year all break their volume record, starting with Lynk & Co at 13.674, frankly outselling archenemy WEY (10.174) for the 2nd month running, Traum up to 1.990 thanks to the arrival of the SEEK 5 (see our upcoming August focus on the all-new models), COS scoring its first four-digit figure at 1.007 and Yudo up to 777. We also welcome YGM/Link Tour at #76 (more on this new carmaker in our Exclusive to all 175 Chinese brands). In contrast, some Chinese carmakers that had put all their eggs in the same SUV basket suffer greatly such as Bisu (-79%), Landwind (-79%), Lifan (-60%), Soueast (-57%), Changhe (-56%), Foton (-48%), Brilliance (-47%), Venucia (-43%), Dongfeng (-42%), Leopaard (-42%), Zotye (-42%), BAIC (-37%), FAW (-37%) or Jinbei (-37%). Some foreigners also have a terrible month, such as Ford (-65%), Suzuki (-63%), Peugeot (-57%), Land Rover (-53%), Acura (-51%), Renault (-42%), Jeep (-33%) or Citroen (-28%).

After only three months in market, the VW T-Roc already flirts with the 10.000 monthly wholesales.

Over in the models ranking, sedans confirm their return to grace by monopolising the Top 5 for the second time in the past 3 months: the VW Lavida (-1%) is the outright best-seller for the 5th consecutive month, cementing its YTD domination ahead of the Nissan Sylphy (+11%) now also #2 YTD, the VW Jetta (+14%), Toyota Corolla (+0.02%) and VW Sagitar (-1%). The Buick Excelle GT (-43%) and Geely Emgrand (+9%) make it 7 sedans in the August Top 10. The Haval H6 (-31%) remains the most popular SUV despite a 4th consecutive double-digit gain, the Wuling Hongguang (-33%) climbs back up 5 spots on July to #8 but continues to freefall just as the VW Tiguan (-23%) post a very disappointing score that may have a lot to do with the smashing success of the VW T-Roc, up 108% and 32 spots on July to 9.660 sales.

The 02 pushes Lynk & Co towards a new monthly volume record at 13.674.

Once again sedans post the majority of the largest gains in the remainder of the Top 50 with the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+139%), Chevrolet Sail (+126%), Toyota Camry (+108%), BMW 5 Series L (+67%), Audi A4L (+55%), Honda Accord, Civic and Fit (all at +32%), VW Magotan (+29%) and Chevrolet Cavalier (+28%). The sole SUVs standing out are the Hyundai ix35 (+1048%) and Audi Q5 (+21%). Below, notice the Geely Vision X3 (+2806%), BYD Tang (+1068%) breaking the nameplate’s volume record at 10.048 thanks to the 2nd generation, the Hyundai Celesta (+191%), Kia Sportage (+181%) and Hyundai ix25 (+102%). The GAC Trumpchi GS3 (8.650) also breaks its volume record this month.

The Toyota C-HR now outsells its twin the IZOA.

The Baojun 360 is up 22% on July to break its volume record at 15.391 wholesales, becoming the most popular recent launch (<12 months) at #26 ahead of the Baojun 530 at #48, the BYD Song MAX at #55, VW T-Roc at #63, Lynk & Co 01 at #67 (new record at 9.303), Chery Tiggo 8 at #79 and Skoda Kamiq at #87 (new record at 5.794). The Geely Vision S1 (#105), WEY VV5 (#106) and Geely Emgrand GE (#114) complete the Top 10 best-selling recent launches, making it an astounding 8 Chinese nameplates and 7 SUVs vs. 2 MPVs and one EV sedan. As far as models launched last month, the Lynk & Co 02 (+44%) remains in the lead at #117, but the most impressive surge is delivered by the Toyota C-HR (+2387%) at 3.756 sales #137), now outselling its twin the Toyota IZOA (+45%) at #142. The C-HR/IZOA tandem is already up to 7.434 wholesales in August vs. 25.259 for its archenemy the Honda Vezel/XR-V. The SWM G01 (+53%) impresses and slots in-between at #141, while the Kia Stonic (+259%) is also gearing up nicely at #163.

Previous month: China July 2018: Deepening SUV crisis pulls entire market down 5.3%

One year ago: China August 2017: Chinese SUVs near 60% segment share, market up 4.1%

Full August 2018 Top 80 All China-made brands and Top 450 models below.

China imports August 2018: Lexus snaps lead in market up 12%

The Lexus NX is the best-selling import in China in August.

* See the Top 50 All imported brands and Top 215 models by clicking on the title *

All-brands and All-models January 2017-August 2018 monthly data available, us here.

Complete Chinese imports data is now available for August, BSCB being the first media outside of China to report on these figures monthly. The new tariff situation for new car imports in China is now two-fold: 40% on U.S. imports and  15% on all other imports (instead of 25% up until June 30). However once again there is no negative effect (yet) of the U.S. import tariff hike with total August volumes up 12% year-on-year to 109.496. The year-to-date tally is now up 5% to 740.730. Surprise atop the imported brands ranking: Lexus surges 61% to almost 18.600 units, roughly 4.000 above #2 Mercedes (+1%) while last month’s leader, BMW (-6%), is down two ranks to #3 and 14.100. Toyota (+28%) is back above Porsche (+29%) with Audi (+48%) and Lincoln (+30%) also frankly beating the market in the Top 10 and Mazda (+37700%), Mitsubishi (+217%), Volvo (+43%), Renault (+38%) and Ford (+32%) doing so further down.

The imported models ranking reflects Lexus’s domination this month: the Lexus NX (+155%) shoots up to pole position for the first time in at least 20 months, followed by the RX (+55%) at #2. As a result, the NX steps up to #3 year-to-date, overtaking the Mercedes CLA (+64%) and the RX is up to #5, now above the Mercedes GLE. The BMW X5 (-9%) posts a decline this month at #3 but remains in the YTD lead with 35.800 sales ahead of the Lexus ES (-28%) back up 16 spots on July to #6 in August but in difficulty again. The Lexus IS (+668%), Audi Q7 (+90%), Porsche Cayenne (+48%) and Toyota Land Cruiser (+44%) also stand out in the Top 10 with the Toyota Alphard (+717%), Lincoln Continental (+211%) and Volvo XC90 (+109%) making waves further down. The BMW 6 Series GT (#38) tops all recent launches ahead of the Mercedes AMG GLC (#74) and Mazda CX-3 (#77).

Previous year: China Full Year 2017: Exclusive imports data by model and brand

Full August 2018 Top 50 All imported brands and Top 215 models below.