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

An SEC filing reveals low reservation volumes for the NIO ES8.

* See the Top 50 brands and Top 100 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. Keep in mind we are referring to retail sales including imports here as these offer a much more complete picture of New Energy sales than wholesales alone. New Energy models included in this study see their sales soar 57% year-on-year in July to 64.190, lifting the year-to-date total to 429.947. Toyota (+33%) reclaims the brands top spot off BYD (+176%), the two manufacturers being the only ones scoring five-digit sales figures. Roewe (+304%) remains in third place while Geely (+184%) is up 5 spots on June to #4 and BAIC BJEV (+2%) down one to #4, making it four Chinese carmakers in the Top 5 like in June. GAC Trumpchi (+30100%), Changan (+2852%), Lexus (+507%) and Honda (+331%) all post spectacular gains in the remainder of the Top 10. Model-wise, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid remains on top, a spot it also holds year-to-date, followed this time by the BYD e5 (+203%) and BYD Qin (+202%) with the Geely Emgrand EC7 PHEV (+79%) up 7 spots to #4 and the Roewe ei6 holding onto its 5th position. The Honda CR-V Hybrid shines at #9 and the Geely Emgrand GE lands directly at #10.

In July NIO scores its first three-digit sales month at 388 units of its electric SUV the ES8 vs. 83 in June, following an official launch on 28 June. One of the most impressive Chinese carmakers at the Beijing Auto Show last April, NIO is touted as the “Chinese Tesla” but has been extremely secretive – even combative – about disclosing actual sales. When we ed them last April, they contested the sales figures we published (at the time 2 units in March) without providing additional info. A , a mandatory disclosure before any potential IPO in New York which is what the company is aiming at, has uncovered the truth about NIO. As of 31 July 2018, the company had only 17.000 ES8 reservations, of whom only 4.989 are firm (ie non-refundable with 45.000 yuan deposit) and 12.000 are fully refundable (5000 yuan deposit). NIO also declares that if these 17.000 reservations were to be converted into actual orders, it would take the company “6 to 9 months” to produce the required vehicles. That is an awful lot of time for a local producer (through a license with JAC) in a market where to be deemed a success they would need to be able to pop out – and sell – that amount in 2-3 months max: Tesla imported 27.230 units over the past 9 months alone. NIO also claimed it delivered just 481 ES8 SUVs since the June 28 launch – a figure that ends up very close to the official 521 YTD we have in our charts this month. Bloomberg reports a little less than 1,000 units in August (see graph above). Better, but still low.

Previous month: China June 2018 – New Energy: BYD back in charge in market up 92%

Full July 2018 Top 50 brands and Top 100 models below.

China July 2018 Retail sales: Peer-to-peer lending crackdown identified as main reason behind SUV crisis

In 2017, 10 to 15% of new cars were sold in China thanks to peer-to-peer lending online platforms.

* See the Top 95 All China-made brands and Top 600 models by clicking on the title *

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

After detailing China July Wholesales we can now explore China July Retail sales, a new exclusive monthly BSCB update. 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 July imports are covered in a separate update. The Chinese new light vehicle market is currently undergoing an unexpected and sudden slump linked to SUV sales in crisis, a segment that had been the engine of Chinese growth for almost a decade.

I had not found a plausible explanation for this blindsiding trend reversal up until today, and it turns out a government crackdown on peer-to-peer lending digital platforms is behind the slump. Peer-to-peer lending – a financing method that bypasses banks by directly connecting borrowers with lenders – was legalised by the Chinese government in 2015. In a very short timespan, the Chinese P2P lending industry had become the largest in the world, with over 8 million investors and borrowers active in June 2018 alone, but it grew unbridled and unregulated to over 8.500 platforms by the end of 2017. Faced with a wave of lender scams and borrower defaults, the government intervened and closed the vast majority of P2P lending platforms over the course of the past few months, with only 1.800 remaining by the end of June.

Young car buyers, very fond of Chinese SUVs, are the main users of P2P financing.

How is this connected to declining new car sales – and particularly Chinese SUV registrations? It’s simple: the P2P lending platform is particularly popular with younger Chinese who tend to fall in love with Chinese SUVs more so than their older compatriots. Car loans secured through P2P financing had reached roughly 10 to 15% of new car sales in China in 2017 according to Shanghai-based Shenwanhongyuan Securities. Link the dots and the surprising evolution of the Chinese market is now explained. Roughly speaking, if you can afford a foreign SUV or sedan, you don’t usually need P2P financing. Therefore, the government crackdown on P2P lending platforms has prevented 10 to 15% of potential young buyers, very keen on Chinese SUVs, from entering the market over the past couple of months. That’s enough to explain a very targeted sales slump on Chinese SUVs and not the rest of the market, less favoured by younger buyers and therefore less affected by a P2P lending crackdown.

Second consecutive month of decline for Volkswagen, despite the new Bora up 22%.

In this context, it’s no surprise that sedans continue their comeback in the retail charts as we’ll see further down in this report, and similarly to wholesales figures, the retail market is down 4.9% to 1.688.700 units. In the brands ranking, handicapped by weak registrations for the Jetta (-21%), Tiguan (-20%) and Passat (-15%), market leader Volkswagen drops 6% to just over 240.000 units. Honda (-1%) steps up on spot on June despite declining sales, with Toyota (+16%) and Geely (+21%) both posting fantastic performances and the Japanese carmaker overtaking Geely in the YTD order to rank #2 so far. There are no other double-digit gainers in the Top 10 with Nissan (+8%), Audi (+5%) and Hyundai (+1%) up but Baojun (-23%), Buick (-17%) and Wuling (-14%) in difficulty.

The 5 Series L (+133%) and the new X3 help BMW up a whopping 51% in July.

Great performers further down include Hongqi (+801%), Qoros (+446%), MG (+76%), BMW (+51%), Roewe (+27%), BYD (+23%) and Mercedes (+19%). Having focused solely on this segment at the detriment of sedans, Chinese carmakers are hit full frontal by the SUV crisis, such as Haima (-66%), Lifan (-53%), Soueast (-52%), Bisu (-46%), Cowin (-45%), BAIC (-42%), JAC (-41%), Leopaard (-40%), SWM (-38%), Zotye (-38%), Borgward (-35%), Haval (-31%), Chana (-27%), JMC (-23%), Landwind (-23%), Dongfeng (-21%), Karry (-20%), Changan (-18%) and Yema (-17%)… A fair amount of foreign carmakers are also freefalling this month, led by Peugeot (-40%), Suzuki (-38%), Ford (-37%), Acura (-27%), Luxgen (-21%), Renault (-21%), Land Rover (-20%) and Mazda (-15%).

Hyundai Elantra Lingdong sales shoot up 147% year-on-year.

Like in June, the five best-selling nameplates in China are all sedans: the VW Lavida (+2%) scores its first monthly retail win of 2018 even though it dominates YTD, outselling the #1 of the past two month, the Nissan Sylphy (+16%) ahead of the Toyota Corolla (+15%), VW Sagitar (+4%) and VW Bora (+22%) already helped by a facelift. The VW Tiguan (-20%) becomes the #1 SUV for the first time in at least 16 months and despite a heavy year-on-year fall. But the Haval H6 (-33%), Baojun 510 (-30%) are falling even harder. The Wuling Hongguang (-37%) and Biuck Excelle Yinlang (-48%) totally implode to complete the Top 10. Illustrating the regain of form of sedans in China, they once again monopolise the largest gains in the remainder of the Top 50 with the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+147%), BMW 5 Series L (+133%), Toyota Camry (+95%), Geely Emgrand GL (+51%), Audi A4L (+37%), Chevrolet Cavalier (+32%), BMW 3 Series L (+26%), or Honda Civic (+17%). In the SUV aisle, only the Honda CR-V (+157%) and Toyota RAV4 (+31%) shine.

The Geely Emgrand GE is new for July.

Among recent launches (<12 months), the Geely Vision X3 is the most popular for the first time at #51 (+3) ahead of the Baojun 360 at #58 (+3), Baojun 530 at #62 (-14), BYD Song MAX at #66 (-6), Wuling Hongguang S3 at #68 (+2), Lynk & Co 01 at #75 (-7), GAC Trumpchi GS3 at #97 (+26) and WEY VV5 at #102 (+14). Looking at models launched last month, the BMW X3 is the best-seller at #163, up 176% and 101 spots, followed by the FAW Besturn Senya R9 at #206, up 82% and 61 ranks, the Jeep Grand Commander at #216, up 141% and 91 spots and the Brilliance V7 at #290, up 6146% and 239 ranks. We welcome five new nameplates in the Chinese retail charts in July: the Geely Emgrand GE at #189, the Skoda Kamiq at #192, the Audi Q5L at #232, Chana Star V3 at #243 and the Lark Q1 at #537.

Previous month: China June 2018 Retail sales: SUV slump, sedan recovery confirmed

July wholesales update: China July 2018: Deepening SUV crisis pulls entire market down 5.3%

Full July 2018 Top 95 All China-made brands and Top 600 models below.

China imports July 2018: BMW leads, Volvo, Land Rover and Porsche up

Volvo Chinese imports are up 62% in July thanks to the XC90 (+148%).

* See the Top 50 All imported brands and Top 235 models by clicking on the title *

All-brands and All-models 2017 monthly data available, us here for more details.

Complete Chinese imports data is now available for July, 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 the following: 15% on all imports (instead of 25% up until June 30) except imports coming from the U.S. which are now taxed at 40% as retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. However what we are looking at here are retail sales which remain globally unaffected by the tariff changes in either direction, as dealership would mostly be clearing out existing stock: imports are actually up 5% year-on-year in July to 95.120, matching the year-to-date 4% uptick to 631.234. The next few months may give us a better indication of the impact of these new tariffs on car imports into China.

First surprise in the imported brands ranking: BMW (+12%) takes the lead above Mercedes (-6%) for the first time this year – the last time BMW was the most popular import was in December 2017. Year-to-date, Mercedes (+11%) however remains a comfortable 18.440 units above BMW (-6%). Lexus (+12%) continues to gallop ahead in third place with a YTD uplift at an even more impressive +18%. Excellent month for Porsche (+19%) up four spots on June to #4, distancing Toyota (-9%) while Land Rover soars 30% year-on-year but is knocked down one rank on last month to #6. Volvo (+62%), Lincoln (+20%) and Audi (+15%) also make themselves noticed in the remainder of the Top 10 whereas Volkswagen sinks 18%, the largest decline in the Top 15. Further down, let’s single out Mazda (up 360-fold thanks to the new CX-3 and MX-5), Mitsubishi (+117%), Chrysler (+49%), Rolls-Royce (+48%) and Tesla (+41%).

Model-wise, the BMW X5 surges 27% to become the best-selling import for the third time this year after January and February, and takes advantage of a particularly weak month by the traditional leader the Lexus ES (-73%) to also snap the YTD lead with over 31.700 sales (+18%) vs. 30.900 (+0.01%) for the ES. The Lexus NX (+119%) and RX (+50%) complete the podium with spectacular gains, with the NX earning a 4th spot YTD, overtaking the Mercedes GLE (-31%). The Mercedes CLA (+75%) is knocked down one spot on June to #4 despite a hefty uptick and remains at #3 YTD. The Porsche Cayenne (+41%) and BMW 7 Series (+25%) also shine in the Top 10, while below the Toyota Alphard (+330%), Volvo XC90 (+148%), Land Rover Discovery (+113%), Lincoln Continental (+106%) and Porsche Panamera (+69%) are among the most dynamic. The BMW 6 Series GT (#40) leads all recent launches above the Mercedes AMG GLC (#63), Mazda CX-3 (#80) and Audi S4 (#87) new for the month.

Previous month: China imports June 2018: Tesla up to #7 thanks to price cuts

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

Full July 2018 Top 50 All imported brands and Top 235 models below.

China July 2018: Focus on the All-new models

Lynk & Co 02

Now that July China wholesales have been studied, we can focus on the all-new locally produced launches for the month so you are up-to-the-minute on the fastest-evolving market in the world. Note these updates remain based on wholesales data. The big news in July is the sudden and unexpected freefalling of SUV sales at -8.2%. This edition of the All-new models reveals an issue that will quickly become front and centre over the next few months: all manufacturers present in China have been working overtime over the past couple of years on engineering as many SUVs as possible to make sure to ride the popularity wave. Even though SUV thirst seems to have dried up among Chinese buyers, the carmakers’ SUV tap is far from being done with as we are now witnessing the launch of SUVs conceived years ago, except that it has now become harder than ever to succeed in this now depleted segment. A perfect illustration of this phenomenon is the 5 SUVs making their first appearance in the Chinese charts in July out of 7 new launches, the rest being EVs, with no “traditional” sedans. 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. Lynk & Co 02 (#141 – 3.040 sales)

Launched in December 2017, the Lynk & Co 01 inaugurated Geely’s new semi-premium brand that has its sights on the European and US markets. A true exploit, the 01 has kept seeing its wholesales climb up to this day with a new volume record every month. This is a really great sign that retail demand has not slowed. It is now time for Lynk & Co to expand its lineup with this 02, which I had the chance to test drive as part of the Beijing Auto Show last April, before launching the 03 sedan later this year. The 02 is shorter in height and length than the 01, giving its a sporty crossover look. The mechanics are Volvo – the XC40 specifically – making it one of the best Chinese models I ever drove. So far so good. At 122.800 to 192.800 yuan (US$18.000-28.250 or 15.400-24.200€), the 02 is priced at a premium vs. mass Chinese SUVs with similar dimensions, logical in order to establish the Lynk & Co brand as aspirational, but remains very affordable when compared to foreign competitors such as the Mazda CX-4 (140.800-215.800) or Nissan Qashqai (139.800-189.800).

Lynk & Co 02 interior. Picture

Lynk & Co’s archenemy among the Chinese is the equivalent venture at Great Wall Motors, WEY, and the 02 comes full frontal with the WEY VV5 (150.000-163.000). There’s great news right from the start for Lynk & Co: with over 3.000 wholesales for its first month, the 02 starts with a bang and already outsells the WEY VV7 (3.032) while coming very close to the WEY VV5 (3.508). To a lesser extent, it also competes with larger Chinese SUV blockbusters such as the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800) and Geely’s very own Boyue (98.800-159.800) whose volumes will remain inaccessible to the 02. The Director of Lynk & Co’s Zhangjiakou factory which produces the 02, Xiangbei Tong, told me in April that the production target for the 02 in 2018 is 82.000 units. That’s ambitious, and we place the bar for success at 6.500 monthly sales.

Bar for success: 6.500 monthly units

2. Toyota IZOA (#165 – 2.538 sales)
7. Toyota C-HR (#381 – 151 sales)

Finally! Almost two years after hitting dealerships in Europe, North America and most Western markets, the Toyota C-HR has landed in China. Last February we took the C-HR on a 5.000 km trip to the Australian Outback and were very impressed. It is now time for Chinese customers to discover Toyota’s daringly designed blockbuster, and it does look like this vehicle was designed with China in mind in the first place, so fitting it is to the current SUV trends. Until a couple of months ago that is, and Toyota might very well find they have waited way too long to launch the C-HR in China as the SUV bubble is now suddenly and spectacularly bursting. As it is the case with the Corolla and Yaris already, Toyota has launched two twin versions of the C-HR, one for each joint-venture. GAC-Toyota keeps the original name while FAW-Toyota re-baptises it IZOA.

Toyota IZOA interior. Picture

I estimate Tyota has missed out on 130.000 to 160.000 sales of C-HR in China by not having launched it at the same time as other markets two years ago. An illustration of Toyota’s tardiness is the stupendous success of direct competitors by Honda, the Vezel and XR-V twins (the same way the C-HR and IZOA are split between two joint-ventures) which have racked up over one million sales in China alone since their simultaneous introduction in late 2014! That’s how much Toyota misjudged its crossover priorities for China. The IZOA is priced from 149.800 to 175.800 yuan (US$21.950-25.750 or 18.800-22.100€) and the C-HR from 144.800 to 179.800 yuan (US$21.200-26.350 or 18.200-22.600€), aimed at the Honda XR-V (127.800-162.800) and Vezel (128.800-189.800) as well as the Nissan Qashqai (139.800-189.800) and Hyundai ENCINO (129.900-155.900). Toyota should not be shy in predicting sales for this blockbuster couple, however they might be hampered by the sudden falling out of Chinese customers with crossovers.

Bar for success: 10.000 monthly units each

3. SWM G01 (#170 – 2.400 sales)

The SWM brand was launched in China in September 2016. Originally an Italian motorcycle brand, it was bought in 2014 by a joint-venture between Brilliance Auto and Xinyuan Holding (aka Shineray). Its initials stand for Sironi Vergani-Vimercate Milano but Chinese management canned that to replace it with Start Win More. SWM plays its Italian “heritage” to death with, for example, a Beijing Auto Show stand recreating an Italian caffe complete with a multitude of Italian flags. In a little less than two years, SWM has managed to sell over 110.000 units, a solid score that however remains far below the 300.000 units of annual capacity sported by its Chongqing factory. Worse, the brand is down a damning 36% so far in 2018. Some fresh metal was therefore badly needed… In comes the frustratingly-named G01 (why not X4, X5 or X6 to fit with the rest of the lineup?), priced from 79.900 to 152.000 yuan (US$11.700-22.250 or 10.000-19.100€) and sliding in between the X3 (59.900-82.900) and X7 (85.900-113.900).

SWM G01 interior. Picture

Local outlet pits the G01 against SUV blockbusters such as the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800) and Geely Boyue (98.800-159.800) but this seems a tad overrated: SWM models mainly find their clientele in less developed areas where buyers aren’t too worried about brand image but can still be tricked into purchasing an Italian-looking Chinese brand – the same way Borgward is playing the German card and MG the English one. In terms of targets, a worrying trend has seen previous SWM nameplates reach their highest volumes at the very start of their career: the X7 launched in September 2016, peaked at 7.168 sales in December 2016 (a very satisfying result in itself) but its first 5 months in market ended up being its 5 best months ever, while the X3 launched in July 2017 and peaked at 2.429 as early as for its 2nd month of sales in August, with its first 2 months remaining its best 2 ever. Therefore the fact that the G01 has instantly become SWM’s best-seller straight from its launch month shouldn’t come as a surprise but isn’t an indication of the model’s future success.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

4. Kia Stonic (#271 – 864 sales)

Another worldwide crossover that has taken way too much time to reach Chinese shores, the Kia Stonic was originally going to be called KX1 to fit in with the rest of the brand’s Chinese lineup, but it looks like the Dongfeng-Yueda-Kia joint-venture that produces it has decided otherwise at the last minute. A competitor of the Honda HR-V, Toyota C-HR and Hyundai Kona elsewhere, the Stonic stuns with its Chinese tariff: from a tiny 69.800 to 79.800 yuan – that’s US$10.200-11.700 or 8.800-10.000€! In effect half the price of its twin the Hyundai ENCINO (the name of the Kona in China) itself available from 129.900 to 155.900 yuan… A rather troubling situation and a questionable marketing decision from the Korean sister brands, perhaps triggered by the absolute lack of success of the ENCINO so far (only 5.199 wholesales in 4 months).

Kia Stonic interior. Picture

What it means is that the Stonic competes not with Western models but with a range of Chinese crossovers such as the Baojun 510 (54.800-76.800), Changan CS35 (68.900-92.900) and MG ZS (73.800-115.800), a dangerous trajectory for the Korean brand that will forever struggle to meet the cost-cutting standards most Chinese carmakers are capable of at home. Moreover, the Stonic also competes full-frontal internally with the similarly-sized KX Cross, a crossover-looking variant of the Kia Rio, priced from 74.900 to 90.900 yuan. It might sell high volumes but definitely won’t be profitable for Kia… A strange equation from the Korean carmaker.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

5. Lifan 650EV (#314 – 414 sales)

That Lifan is struggling in 2018 is not new news, but the freefall is accelerating with wholesales down a ghastly 71% in July vs. -29% so far this year. The low-cost Chinese carmaker had placed almost all its eggs in the same SUV basket and now that even this segment is struggling, there aren’t many ways to grow. Except perhaps EVs, hence the launch of this 650EV variant this month, priced from 168.900 to 175.800 yuan before government subsidies (US$24.750-25.800 or 21.200-22.100€) that will struggle to find its public.

Lifan 650EV interior. Picture

Bar for success: 1.500 monthly units

6. Chery Ruitesi Q2 (#329 – 366 sales)

Not much information is trickling in about this new EV, in essence an electric version of the previous generation Chery QQ launched by Chery itself through a new sub-brand with its own logo, therefore eyeing a status upgrade as a full-blown brand in case of success. The micro EV market is way too crowded already to allow this very bland Q2 to flourish in my opinion.

Bar for success: 1.000 monthly units

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

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

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

Geely posts a 28th consecutive month of double-digit gains thanks to a strong sedan lineup.

* See the Top 83 All China-made brands and Top 440 models by clicking on the title *

According to data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), in July the Chinese new light vehicle market endures its second month of decline in 2018 after February when the Chinese New Year Holiday disrupted sales. Wholesales drop 5.3% to 1.589.500 units, yet the year-to-date volume remains strong at +3.4% to 13.364.500. Last month’s big story, the sudden decline of SUV wholesales after 9 consecutive years of monthly gains, gets a lot worse in July: after dropping just 0.5% in June, SUV wholesales dip a very worrying 8.2% to 632.700 units. Sedans are down also, but by just 1.3% to 814.600 with MPVs diving 22% to 106.600 and microvans getting a small respite at +30% to 35.600. It’s hard to emphasise enough how unexpected, sudden and steep this SUV crisis is turning out to be, and it now has the potential to turn local carmakers’ strategies and fortunes upside down as most had completely focused their energy on launching as many SUVs as possible, totally neglecting the sedan segment. With the notable exception of Geely, which made sure to strengthen its sedan game over the past few years, this SUV crisis will indeed paradoxically benefit foreign carmakers that had been a lot slower to launch their own SUV lineups and can now fall back on strong existing sedan ranges.

The new 6 sedan helps lift MG deliveries up 119% in July.

In the China-made brands ranking, once again the Top 3 best-sellers are in frank positive territory thanks to strong sedan sales: Volkswagen is up 9% to 234.000, Toyota up 13% and two spots on June to #2 and 118.000 and Geely up 18% to remain at #3 with 108.000 deliveries. That’s almost double any other Chinese brand (the #2 Baojun is down 9% to 57.000) and amounts to Geely’s 28th consecutive month of double-digit year-on-year gains and its 11th month in a row above 100.000 monthly sales. All other Top 10 brands are in negative bar Chevrolet (+17%) here too thanks to a strong sedan sales (Sail and Cavalier, see further down). Buick (-19%), Changan (-16%), Audi (-13%), Honda (-10%), Baojun (-9%) and Nissan (-7%) all fall faster than the market.

The arrival of the 02 (pictured) means Lynk & Co posts its first five-digit sales month ever.

Strong gainers further down include Qoros (+659%), MG (+119%), Hawtai (+76%), JAC (+39%), Brilliance (+34%), Mitsubishi (+34%), BYD (+30%), BMW (+25%), Chery (+23%), Hanteng (+20%), Cadillac (+19%) and Roewe (+13%) whereas Ford (-49%) continues to implode, Hyundai (-40%) is surprisingly back in hell, Dongfeng (-35%) is in great difficulty and Haval (-31%) marks a very worrying 16th consecutive month of year-on-year decline and a very clear worsening of its performance after losing 11% in April, 18% in May and 20% in June. There are more good news for the Geely Group and more bad news for Great Wall Motors: thanks to the arrival of the 02 crossover at over 3.000 units (see our upcoming Focus on the All-new models report), Lynk & Co lodges its very first five-digit month at a record 12.300 sales and #30, meaning it outpaces for the first time archenemy WEY, down a steep 32% on June and 67% on its monthly record to a meagre 7.080 units despite 3 models (VV5, VV7 and P8).

Kia Sportage sales are up a whopping 433% year-on-year thanks to the new model.

Model-wise, the VW Lavida enjoys a 4th consecutive pole position thanks to the new generation boosting wholesales up a smashing 34%, it distances the Toyota Corolla (+12%), Nissan Sylphy (+33%) and VW Jetta (+19%) meaning the Top 4 best-sellers are 100% sedans for the 2nd month running (it was the Top 5 last month), yet sedans break another record in July: they are 8 in the Top 10 with the great performances of the VW Passat (+152%) and Honda Civic (+23%), the Geely Emgrand beating a 5-year old ranking record at #9 (previous best #10 first hit in December 2012) and a disappointing show by the VW Sagitar (-12%) about to be renewed. The Haval H6 implodes 30% year-on-year but manages to hold onto the SUV lead by the skin of its teeth at #5 overall, with a meagre 487-unit advantage over the VW Tiguan (+21%) in excellent shape. Below the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-26%) and Geely Boyue (-11%) in difficulty, the Wuling Hongguang (-45%) implodes to beat its worst ranking for the 2nd month running, falling from #7 in June to #12 this month. The culprit: the all-new Baojun 360, up 15% and 20 spots on last month to a new record 12.643 sales, also cannibalising the Baojun 730 (-74%)…

The Chery Tiggo 8 leaps up to #82 overall for its 2nd month of sale.

Fittingly, the majority of impressive gainers in the Top 50 are sedans, such as the VW Lamando (+119%), Toyota Camry (+107%) boosted by the new generation, Chevrolet Sail (+64%), BMW 5 Series L (+58%), Chevrolet Cavalier (+53%), Geely Emgrand GL (+50%), Honda Fit (+47%), Skoda Octavia (+35%) and VW Bora (+15%). A sprinkling of SUVs defy the overall gloom such as the Kia Sportage (+433%) lifted by a completely new model, Buick Envision (+29%) and Toyota RAV4 (+28%), but that’s it. More common among SUVs are ghastly falls such as the BYD Song (-68%), Haval H2 (-67%), Changan CS75 (-54%), the hero of 2017 the Baojun 510 (-49%), Honda UR-V (-47%), Nissan X-Trail (-45%), Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (-44%), GAC Trumpchi GS8 (-44%), Skoda Kodiaq (-44%), Toyota Prado (-44%), Audi Q3 (-43%), Honda XR-V (-37%), Jeep Compass (-37%), Ford Edge (-34%) and Honda CR-V (-33%).

The VW T-Roc has taken off: it breaks into the Chinese Top 100 for the first time in July.

The Baojun 530 remains the most popular recent launch at #23 (+3) even though it drops 7% on June, followed by the Baojun 360 at #30 (+20), Geely Vision X3 at #38 (+18), Lynk & Co 01 at #52 (+14) and a new record 9.260 sales, the GAC Trumpchi GS3 at #60 (+28) and a new all-time high 8.389 units, the Chery Tiggo 8 at #82 (+27) up 16% on its inaugural month to 6.051 deliveries, the VW T-Roc at #95 (+183) up 358% on June to 4.641 sales and the Skoda Kamiq at #100 (+83%) up 65% on last month to 4.335 units. In the good news aisle, let’s single out the BYD Qin (+864%), Qoros 5 SUV (+731%), BYD Tang (+622%), Hyundai ix35 (+483%), Changan CS55 (+257%), JAC Refine S5 (+209%) and MG ZS (+56%), all bar the Qoros and ZS due to new generations.

Previous post: China First Half 2018: Market accelerates to +5.6% despite sudden SUV weakness

Previous month: China June 2018: SUV sales drop for the first time in 9 years

One year ago: China July 2017: Haval H6 leads, market lifted up 4.9% by SUVs

Full July 2018 Top 83 All China-made brands and Top 440 All-models below.

China June 2018 – New Energy: BYD back in charge in market up 92%

BYD Yuan

* See the Top 55 brands and Top 108 models by clicking on the title *

This is a new Chinese monthly update exclusive to BSCB, part of a China coverage we want as exhausting as possible. New Energy vehicles include electric, hydrogen, PHEV and hybrid models. Keep in mind we are referring to retail sales including imports here as these offer a much more complete picture of New Energy sales than wholesales alone. June New Energy models see their sales surge 92% year-on-year in June to 74.177 official units. Chinese carmaker BYD (for Build Your Dreams) reclaims the top spot it used to hold a few years back thanks to deliveries up 140% to over 14.000 units with Toyota (+44%) remaining at #2 with over 13.000 sales but remains #1 so far in 2018. Roewe (+245%) more than triples its sales to land on the third step of the podium, JMC (+93%) roughly follows the market at #5 while GAC Trumpchi (+3357%), Changan (+1243%), BMW (+467%), Lexus (+348%), Honda (+320%) and Zotye (+204%) also post extravagant gains.

Zotye E200

Over in the models ranking, the Toyota Corolla Hybrid (+37%) snaps the top spot both in June and YTD while last month’s leader, the BAIC BJEV EC-Series (-13%) dives to #14 in June. The BYD Qin (+288%) soars to 2nd place overall with the Toyota Levin Hybrid (+17%) rounding up the podium. In fact, if in May 13 of the 15 best-selling New Energy models were Chinese, this month this figure is 14 in the Top 20. The Zotye E200 (+306%) is up 7 spots on May to #4, the Roewe ei6 is ip 4 to #6 ad the JMC E200 (+309%) is down two to #6. BYD places the Song EV at #8, the e5 at #9 and the all-new Yuan EV at #19. Much hyped Chinese EV startups remain discreet: the Xpeng G3 (#58), Nio ES8 (#64) and Sinogold GM3 (#76) all sell less than 100 units in June in China.

Previous month: China May 2018 – New Energy: 13 Chinese models in Top 15

Full June 2018 Top 55 brands and Top 108 models below.

China June 2018 Retail sales: SUV slump, Sedan recovery confirmed

The Nissan Sylphy is the #1 vehicle with Chinese end-consumers for the 2nd time running.

* See the Top 94 All China-made brands and Top 598 models by clicking on the title *

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

With a little delay this month, after exploring China June Wholesales we can now detail for you China June Retail sales, a new exclusive monthly BSCB update. 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. The wholesales thunderclap in China in June is the sudden decline of SUV sales for the first time in 9 years. Yet if you have been following our recent retail updates this spectacular trend reversal was in fact predictable. Indeed, sedans had already monopolised the retail podium in April and May before doing so in the wholesales ranking in May and June, with SUVs enduring severe drops. This is easy to explain: dealership orders for the next month (=wholesales) are directly impacted by actual sales to customers (retail sales) for the ongoing month. Poor retail sales in May will trigger poor wholesales in June as dealers’ available stock is high and orders low. In other words, retail sales are a good indication of what will happen the following month in wholesales. Still with me? So the question becomes: will the wholesale SUV slump continue in July, and we can get a glimpse at the answer ahead of time by looking at June retail sales. Last note: this update only includes China-made vehicles, China imports are covered in a separate update.

Unheard of: Baojun retail sales are actually down in July at -14%.

Brand-wise, Volkswagen (-8%) remains the clear leader by still selling more than twice the amount of the #2 but drops frankly this month. Toyota soars 14% to score a third consecutive month in 2nd place and now threatens Geely (+18%) for the #2 spot YTD at 597.000 vs. 601.000. In contrast, Honda (-10%) falls heavily but is up one spot on May to #3. Nissan (+3%) is stuck in 5th place, with the remainder of the Top 10 entirely in negative as Buick (-28%) and Wuling (-23%) get hit the hardest. Back in the game with wholesales up 147% this month, Hyundai continues to struggle retail-wise at -9% but the most surprising evolution is delivered by Baojun which has seen its growth thaw from +8% in April, +1% in May and now tilts towards deep negative territory at -14%. The success of the 530 (9.259 sales), 360 (7.721) and 310W (+181%) now fails to offset steep declines by the 560 (-92%), 730 (-54%), 310 (-50%) and 510 (-22%).

Haval retail sales plunge 30% in June, with the H2s down 67%.

Another striking evolution is Haval, one of the heroes of the past decade in China but plateauing from early 2017 on and now in great difficulty, freefalling 30% in June after -28% in May and -42% in April. Here, the arrivals of the H4 (3.240) and M6 (2.161) and the timid uplift of the facelifted H9 (+3%) are far from compensating the painful drops of the brand’s best-seller, the H6 (-31%), as well as the H1 (-96%!), H8 (-73%), H2s (-67%), H2 (-58%), H7 (-57%) and H6 Coupe (-23%). Audi (-5%) holds onto the China-made premium spot for a mere 273 sales ahead of Mercedes (+12%) with BMW (+22%) the most impressive but over 5.000 units below. WEY (+645%), JMC (+70%), MG (+58%), Roewe (+34%), BYD (+33%) and Jinbei (+26%) post stunning gains but we have to wait until the 36th position and Volvo (+14%) to see a foreign brand lodging a double-digit gain in an unprecedented show of weakness by foreign manufacturers. And it gets worse as we go down the charts: if Chinese Hongqi (+381%), Qoros (+251%), Maxus (+150%), Foton (+147%), Zhi Dou (+34%) and Landwind (+15%) also score extravagant gains in the Top 60, only Jaguar (+44%) does so in the foreign aisle, then DS (+33%) at #71 and Isuzu (+28%) at #75…

The GAC Trumpchi is the most popular SUV with Chinese consumers: a first.

Over in the models ranking, the sudden change of guard atop the charts is confirmed: as it is also the case for June Wholesales, the Top 5 best-sellers are all sedans. The Nissan Sylphy (+7%) manages to stay on top for the second month running with just under 34.000 retail sales, only 18 above the Wholesales leader, the VW Lavida. The Toyota Corolla (+18%) is down one spot on May to #3, followed by the VW Sagitar (+13%) and VW Jetta (-12%). Despite a crippling 21% year-on-year decline, the GAC Trumpchi GS4 manages to snap the #1 SUV spot for the first time since we started following China Retail sales in April 2017, knocking the Haval H6 (-31%) from its pedestal just as the Baojun 510 (-22%) also loses significant ground. The VW Bora (+17%) and Buick Excelle Yinlang (-54%) complete a Retail Top 10 completely void of MPVs for the first time in at least 6 years: the Wuling Hongguang (-42%) is obliterated to #12 whereas it still ranked #2 overall in February and March – keeping in mind Hongguang S3 sales are separated here at 6.615 and #70 whereas they are included in the Hongguang wholesales total.

Hyundai Elantra Lingdong retail sales shoot up 171% in June.

Confirming the tide is definitely turning back towards sedans for the first time since 2009 – and for the foreseeable future as these retail sales will impact July and August wholesales, they monopolise the largest year-on-year gains in the remainder of the July Top 50, led by the Hyundai Elantra Lingdong (+171%), Toyota Camry (+67%), Geely Emgrand GL (+54%), BMW 5 Series L (+49%), Chevrolet Cavalier (+38%), Toyota Levin (+35%), Audi A4L (+26%) and Mercedes E-Class L (+23%). In contrast, only the Changan CS55 (+13322%), celebrating one year in market, and Toyota RAV4 (+23%) shine among SUVs. It’s the world upside down in China! The Baojun 530 (#48) is the most popular recent launch (<12 months), distancing the Geely Vision X3 (#54), BYD Song MAX (#60), Baojun 360 (#61) cracking the Top 100 for the first time, Lynk & Co 01 (#67), Wuling Hongguang S3 (#70) and Chana Oushang X70A (#103). Logically, all the July new entrants have already been covered in the Wholesales new model updates: the BMW X3 (#264), FAW Besturn Senya R9 (#267), Jeep Grand Commander (#307), Brilliance V7 (#529), Borgward BX6 (#539) and VW T-Roc (#564).

Previous month: China May 2018 Retail sales: BAIC BJEV EC-Series up to #7

Full June 2018 Top 94 All China-made brands and Top 598 models below.

China imports June 2018: Tesla up to #7 thanks to price cut

The Tesla Model X is the 5th best-selling import in China in June.

* See the Top 50 All imported brands and Top 240 models by clicking on the title *

All-brands and All-models 2017 monthly data available, us here for more details.

Complete Chinese imports data is now available for June, BSCB being the first media outside of China to report on these figures monthly. New car imports into China have been the subject of much attention lately, with the Chinese government lowering the import tariff from 25% to 15% as promised on July 1, however as retaliation for Trump’s own import tariffs on Chinese products including cars, raised the tariff for U.S. new car imports not back to 25% as we predicted last month, but up to 40% on July 7, virtually signing the death warrant of U.S. imports altogether. June figures remain unaffected by these changes (except for Tesla as we’ll see further down), but it will be fascinating to watch the evolution of the China imports sales charts as a large part of the most popular models in the country are manufactured in the U.S.

The MKC (+18%) helps Lincoln to #4 imported brand in China in June.

In June, 82.602 new imported light vehicles found a buyer in China, a 11% year-on-year drop contrasting with YTD volumes up 4% to 536.114. Mercedes (+15%) goes against the grain to remain in the brands lead ahead of archenemy BMW (-15%) evolving in the opposite direction. Keep in mind BMW was the first importer ahead of Mercedes in 2017. Lexus (-12%) follows the market to remain in third place while Lincoln (+19%) posts an interesting surge, perhaps loading up on dealer sales in anticipation for a grey U.S. tariff future. The Tesla case is even more interesting: the U.S. firm pre-empted the lowering of import tariffs in July to 15% by cutting prices on its lineup as early as June, this in order to give a boost to its Q2 result as it does at every end of period. While these manipulations didn’t prevent the company from posting another steep loss in Q2, Tesla China sales are up 53% year-on-year in June to soar to 7th place vs. #16 so far in 2018 and #20 in 2017. July sales will be a different story altogether, as its models are now taxed at 40% and the prospect of local production is still years away. Mitsubishi (+48%) and Volvo (+31%) also shine this month.

The Volvo XC90 is up 94% to #11.

The imported models ranking is very stable in June, with the Top 4 reproducing the YTD order: the Lexus ES (+6%) is the best-seller followed by the BMW X5 (+2%), Mercedes CLA (+62%) and Mercedes GLE (+11%). The Tesla Model X benefits from lower prices to soar 76% to #5 with over 2.400 sales for the month, a new record for the nameplate. Looking at this Top 5, the Lexus ES has a production base in Japan, the CLA is assembled in Hungary but the GLE, X5 and Model X are all manufactured in the U.S. (although there are two small production bases available in Thailand and Indonesia for the GLE) and are now being slapped with a deadly 40% tariff, so let’s see how they fare in July. The Lincoln MKC (+18%) brilliantly breaks into the Top 10 at #9 vs. #18 so far this year, while the Volvo XC90 (+94%) almost doubles its sales vs. June 2017 to end the month at the Top 10’s door. The Lincoln MKZ (+31%), Continental (+128%), Audi A5 (+171%) and BMW 5 Series (+646%) also impress while the Range Rover Velar (#36) remains the most popular recent launch (<12 months) ahead of the BMW 6 Series GT (#51), Mercedes AMG GLC (#61) and Mazda CX-3 (#83).

Previous month: China imports May 2018: Mercedes CLA, Lexus NX up in market down 4%

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

Full June 2018 Top 50 All imported brands and Top 240 models below.

China June 2018: Focus on the All-new models

Leopaard Mattu

Now that June China sales are out of the way, we focus on the all-new locally produced launches for the month so you can remain on the bleeding edge of the fastest-evolving market in the world. Note these updates remain based on wholesales data. Although this month SUVs see their first year-on-year decline in a whopping 9 years, the nameplates launched this month were conceived months ago and are still dominated by SUVs at 4 out of 6, with sedans the remaining two. Keep track of the fast-expanding list of all active Chinese brands by consulting our Exclusive Guide to all 174 Chinese Brands, updated live.

1. Chery Tiggo 8 (#109 – 5.220 sales)

The Tiggo 8, presented at the Beijing Auto Show last April, tops Chery’s Tiggo SUV lineup, a group of cars that have been named logically and satisfyingly, which is actually pretty rare for a Chinese brand, and that now includes the Tiggo 3, 3x, 5, 5x and 7. Disappointingly, despite being 4.70m long and the new jewel of the Chery crown, the Tiggo 8 remains a 5-seater. It is powered by a choice of two engines: a 137 hp 2.0L DVVT or a 155 hp 1.6L Turbo. Its price point, from 98.800 to 142.800 yuan (US$14.600-21.100, 12.500-18.100€), means the Tiggo 8 is thrown in the deep end of the Chinese SUV pool already swarming with hungry sharks: it will compete with no less than the ultimate blockbusters in the segment, such as the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800 yuan), Changan CS75 (79.800-184.800 yuan), Roewe RX5 (99.800-188.800 yuan), Geely Boyue (98.800-188.800 yuan) or Geely Emgrand GS (77.800-116.800 yuan).

Chery Tiggo 8 interior. Picture

The Tiggo 8’s entrance in the wholesales charts this month is already impressive at over 5.000 sales: in the Tiggo lineup, only the 3/3x does better in June (6.665) only thanks to the new 3xe electric variant (1.837). All other Tiggo variants are outsold for June: the 5x (3.460), 7 (2.830) and 5 (2.000)… So this is a good start, but Chery will need this level to be at least maintained and at best overcome to find its way back towards growth. Adding to the challenge is the fact Tiggo models tend to hit their highest at or near launch, such as the Tiggo 5x which could never beat the 10.693 units it sold for its inaugural month in December 2017, or the Tiggo 7 whose personal best was reached on Month 4 at 11.039 in December 2016. As for the Tiggo 3 (17.081 in December 2015) and TIggo 5 (12.469 in December 2014), their record volumes have long been forgotten.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

2. Changan Eado DT (#128 – 4.341 sales)

Changan continues to update the design of its entire lineup under the pen of David Hilton who previously created the spectacular NIO EP9. After the new Raeton CC and the new Eado and Eado XT, here comes the Eado DT which is in fact an update version of the Yuexang V7 aligning the model with the new Changan identity with a gaping X-shape grille that hints of Lexus and Mitsubishi. Chinese sedans are dirt cheap, and the Eado DT is no exception, priced from 54.900 to 80.900 yuan (US$8.100-11.950 or 6.950-10.250€), to be compared with its big sister the Eado at 71.900-105.900 yuan. The Eado will compete squarely with the Geely Vision (53.900-72.900 yuan), but thanks to a much improved interior quality that places it among the best in the segment, it will also try and steal sales from the Hyundai Reina (49.900-73.900 yuan), its twin the Kia Pegas (same price range) and the Chevrolet Sail (63.900-79.900 yuan).

Changan Eado DT interior. Picture

As for volumes, the benchmark for the Eado DT is obviously its predecessor the now discontinued Yuexiang V5/V7 which peaked at 10.573 units in December 2010 and remained at strong levels up until the end of 2016, especially successful in the rural areas such as Alashan Youqi in Inner Mongolia. Changan will want the Eado DT to do better of course, but it could be difficult given the lack of enthusiasm for local sedans lately. We want at least 7.500 monthly units to call the Eado DT a success.

Bar for success: 7.500 monthly units

3. Leopaard Mattu (#167 – 3.100 sales)

Unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April, the spectacular (inside and out) Mattu propelled Leopaard to #8 in our ranking of the Chinese brands you must know. My comments at the Show: “With its gigantic grille (see lead picture of this article) and chiselled features, the Mattu is here to confirm – if needed be – that the Chinese have made phenomenal progress in terms of exterior design and, in their eager push to impress the world, they sometimes go overboard, daring what more conservative Western brands would only dream of. This is the case with the Mattu.” I stand by this, adding that the interior (see below) looks and feels like a Mercedes with a giant digital panel à la new A-Class. Leopaard inaugurates a new front look but smartly links the Mattu with the rest of the lineup thanks to similarly shaped tail lights. As Leopaard’s new range-topper, the Mattu is logically more expensive than its smaller siblings but has, in true Chinese fashion, managed to contain its pricing to a mere 116.800-158.800 yuan, that’s just US$17,200-23.400 or 14.800-20.100€, in other words a car looking like a premium German for the price of a Dacia Duster…

Leopaard Mattu interior. Picture

For reference, the CS9 is priced from 76.800 to 129.800 yuan and the CS10 from 89.800 to 146.800 yuan, while the Q6, a facelifted Mitsubishi Pajero built under license, goes for 119.900-169.800 yuan. Oddly, Chinese automotive media pits the Mattu against the Haval H6 (103.000-146.800), Roewe RX5 (99.800-188.800), Geely Boyue (98.800-159.800) and Changan CS75 (79.800-184.800) but these are all cheaper and shorter. If anything, the Chery Tiggo 8 described above seems like a more fitting competitor as they are both large 5-seaters standing at 4.70m long. The Mattu lands with a bang over 3.000 sales, unfortunately this is done to the detriment of the rest of the lineup: the CS9 is down 28% to 2.390 and the CS10 implodes at -84% to 1.127 while the Q6 remains anecdotal at -53% to 287 sales. All-in-all, Leopaard sales are down 38% in June so the Mattu has its work cut out for it if its mission is to return the brand’s sales into the black. The CS9 peaked at 7.241 in January 2018 and the CS10 at 10.300 in March 2017.

Bar for success: 6.000 monthly units

4. Hongqi H5 (#205 – 2.120 sales)

Hongqi is FAW’s and China’s only luxury brand, charged with the heavy responsibility of transporting the leaders of the Communist Party in all ceremonies. Although we have seen the H5 sedan appear in the retail sales ranking over the past few months, this is its first appearance in the wholesales charts. The H5 is based on the Mazda6, one of the carmaker’s joint-venture partners in China. Alongside the new E-HS3 electric crossover, the H5 enabled Hongqi to rank #6 in our ranking of the Chinese brands you must know about at the latest Beijing Auto Show last April. Sporting a surprisingly attractive exterior design, picture perfect cockpit and expensive pricing for a Chinese car at 149.800-195.800 yuan (US$22.100-28.900 or 19.000-24.800€), the H5’s aspirations are definitely foreign, with its home media sending it into the same sandpit as the Toyota Camry (179.800-279.800), Honda Accord (169.800-279.800), Nissan Teana (175.800-298.800), VW Magotan (189.900-303.900) and Passat (189.900-316.900).

Hongqi H5 interior. Picture

In terms of commercial success, it’s difficult to find a benchmark for the H5 as this is Hongqi’s first offer resembling a mass model. Indeed, the H7 which was its first try at a model aimed at a private audience, has been on and off in the wholesales charts, actually reaching its highest volume since its first appearance in May 2013 just this June 2018 at 883. sales. More hints can be caught in our exclusive retail rankings where it hit a 12-month best of 925 sales last December. In this context, the H5 start over 2.000 units is already treading unchartered territories for the brand. We want more and often to call the H5 a success.

Bar for success: 3.500 monthly units

5. Brilliance V7 (#261 – 1.250 sales)

Only 6 months after adding to its SUV lineup the V6 launched last November, Brilliance now readies the larger V7, lifting to 4 its SUV lineup alongside the V3 and V5, even though they only represent 17% of Brilliance June sales. Brilliance charges a premium for its association with BMW, and the V7 is no exception at 108.700-194.700 yuan (US$16.000-28.700 or 13.800-24.700€). Yet although the exterior design is improved yet in line with the brand’s stylistic codes, the interior is frankly lagging behind some cheaper Chinese such as Geely with the Boyue, Haval with the H6 and the aforementioned Leopaard Mattu.

Brilliance V7 interior. Picture

Once again automotive Chinese media pits the V7 against the segment’s best-sellers such as the Haval H6 or Roewe RX5 but I disagree. It’s a 4.70m long 5-seater powered by a 204 hp 1.6 turbo engine, and therefore exactly the same length as the Leopaard Mattu (116.800-158.800) and Chery Tiggo 8 (98.800-142.800) mentioned above but price-wise in my view it competes with other h 5-seaters such as the Haval H7 (139.000-180.000), GAC Trumpchi GS7 (149.800-209.800), WEY VV7 (167.800-188.800 and Lynk & Co 01 (158.800-220.800) although all these models are powered by a 2.0T engine and run rings around the V7 in terms of interior presentation. The V3 peaked at 21.117 sales in December 2015, the V5 at 5.519 in November 2013 and the V6 at 3.676 for its 3rd month of sales last January, so we want at least 5.000 units to deem the V7 a success, which also means the V6 is a failure and I stand by it.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

6. COS1° (#408 – 80 sales)

COS is a new marque by the Oshan MPV division of Changan that will specialise in… SUVs and is aimed at a rural clientele. Like Chery’s Jetour, it was launched last April at the Beijing Auto Show and like Jetour, COS was one of the “Top 5 brands you should know about” I selected from the latest Beijing Auto Show in April this year, the other three being EV makers NIO, Weltmeister and Byton. The marque’s first offering is the creatively-named 1° (for one degree), a modern, sober and toned down exterior design that goes against the rulebook for the extrovert traits that characterise rural customers – a risk has been taken here by being a little muted. The interior is extremely well packaged up with a large touchscreen beautifully integrated in the dashboard, luxurious pattern on the tunnel and doors (see below), Pioneer speakers artfully positioned alongside the inside door handles, matte-painted gearshift and gold-painted controls for the driver: this does look like a much more expensive car than what it is.

Chana OshanCOS1° interior and detail. Picture

The 1° is a 7-seater SUV priced at 129.800 yuan for its unique variant, that’s US$19.200 or 16.400€. It is powered by a 178 hp 1.5 turbo engine mated with a 6-gear automatic. Its main competitor is the yet-to-be-launched Jetour X70, also a 7-seater aimed at a rural clientele and inaugurating a new brand, this time created by Chery. In terms of already existing models, the 1° could potentially be pitted against the Zotye T800 (139.800-185.800) at the higher end, the Chana CX70 (59.900-109.900), BAIC Hyosow S7 (78.800-115.800) and Dongfeng Fengguang 580 (72.900 to 123.000 yuan) at the lower end, but as you can realise, there is no real Chinese offer at this price point at the moment, hence the smart decision by Changan to launch 1°. The launch of an all-new brand is debatable however. Looking at previous Chana Oshan models, the original Oshan (pictured above) peaked at 16.070 sales in January 2017 while the Oshan A700 hit a high of 9.967 in October 2017. We want at least half of this to deem the 1° a success.

Bar for success: 5.000 monthly units

New Buick Excelle

Also of note is the launch of the new generation Buick Excelle this month, a nameplate that has been dormant for roughly a year – only one sale between January and May 2018 – while the Buick Excelle GT was renewed. The new Excelle lands directly at #151 with 3.528 sales, a level that its predecessor last reached in December 2016.

China First Half 2018: Market accelerates to +5.6% despite sudden SUV weakness

Geely sales surge 37%, leaping from #6 to #2 in the brands ranking.

* See the Top 85 All China-made brands and Top 540 models by clicking on the title *

After slowing down from +9.2% in H1 2016 to +1.6% in H1 2017, the new light vehicle market in China rallies back up 4.8% over the First Half of 2018 to a record 11.8 million units. Sales were up each month during the period except in February (-11.2%) due to the Lunar New Year holiday. Although a momentous and spectacularly sudden trend shift is at play at the end of the period with SUVs losing share year-on-year for the first time in 6 years in May and actually losing volume year-on-year for the first time in 9 years in June, it does not yet appear in half-year figures. Indeed, SUV wholesales gain a sturdy 9.7% over H1 2018 to just under 5 million units, a pace still ahead of sedans up a very satisfying 5.5% to 5.7 million units. H2 2018 could however be a very different story and SUVs could end up dragging the market down. Elsewhere, green cars surge 112% to 412.000 units, with EVs up 96% to 313.000 and plug-in hybrids up 182% to 99.000. Adding commercial vehicles up 4.8% to 2.3 million units over the period, the overall Chinese new vehicle market is up 5.6% or 750.000 units to a record 14.1 million wholesales. At this pace, Chinese wholesales will easily break the symbolic 30 million annual units by the time 2018 comes to an end (exactly 30.5 million), keeping in mind China was already the only country in the world to ever cross the annual 20 million units back in 2013. Note used car sales advance even faster at +13% but still have a lot of ground to catch up at just 6.6 million units. Sedans are up 12% to 3.9m, buses up 15% to 701.000, trucks up 14% two 590.600, SUVs up 37% to 552.700 and MPVs up 13% to 386.400.

Chevrolet is up 40% on H1 2017 thanks to the continued success of the Cavalier (+55%).

In the brands ranking (no imports here, only wholesales to dealerships and not to end-consumers), Volkswagen (+5%) roughly follows the market to 1.54 million units, able to maintain an unsurmountable lead over all other carmakers in market: the German carmaker sells more than double the #2: Geely. The Volvo owner stuns once again with a splendid 37% year-on-year gain propelling it from #6 a year ago and #2 Chinese to a clear second so far in 2018 and by far the best-selling Chinese manufacturer with over 720.000 wholesales. Geely knocks Honda (+1%) and Toyota (+7%) down one spot to #3 and #4 respectively. Nissan soars 14% and two spots to round up the Top 5, overtaking Buick (-6%) and Changan (-9%) both in difficulty. The tail end of the Top 10 is extremely dynamic: Baojun gains 17% to over 470.000 units but could be handicapped in H2 by over-cannibalisation within its constantly renewed lineup (see further down). Hyundai (+26%) offsets a horrific start of year in 2017 when anti-Korean sentiment locked sales down. Finally, Chevrolet (+40%) posts the largest gain in the Top 25 thanks to the success of its low-cost Cavalier.

Suddenly, Qoros wakes up: +412% thanks to the 5 SUV accounting for 87% of sales.

The two manufacturers ejected from the Top 10 over the period are notable: SUV leader Haval drops 18% as the H6 struggles to compensate for an otherwise ageing lineup while for Ford, 2018 its annus horribilus with wholesales freefalling 39% to see its ranking drop from #10 to #19. Audi (+16%) manages to remain the #1 premium marque when only wholesales of China-made vehicles are taken into account, ahead of Mercedes (+21%) and BMW (+13%) but overall retail sales including imports place Mercedes #1 with 340.000 sales (+16%) above Audi at 306.590 (+20%) and BMW at 286.536 (+3.4%). In the Top 50, spectacular gains are rarer than usual in China. Among foreigners, Citroen (+72%), Kia (+36%) also benefitting from a low 2017 base, Cadillac (+39%), Volvo (+30%) and Mitsubishi (+26%) stand out, but the biggest improvements remain by and large a Chinese affair with Qoros (+412%), MG (+91%), Roewe (+40%), Zotye (+37%), Changhe (+28%), BYD (+21%), Venucia (+20%) and Hanteng (+17%) the most impressive.

WEY ranks #31 so far in 2018.

No less than 8 new brands have officially made their appearance in the Chinese wholesales ranking over the past year or so. Technically, WEY has been present for more than a year, resulting in a whopping 2353% gain to just under 78.000 sales with 3 nameplates (VV5, VV7 and P8) but is the only recent launch to approach the Top 30 brands over the period at #31. However WEY sales have kept decreasing throughout the year to fall to just 10.481 in June vs. a record of 21.349 in December 2017. Lynk & Co on the other hand continues to grow, hitting a record 9.247 units in June and up to #41 over H1 with a little over 46.000 wholesales. Below, Traum (#63), Yudo (#71), Dearcc (#73), Arcfox (#78), Xpeng (#80) and COS (#83) are also new.

2018 could be the year of the VW Lavida’s first annual win in China.

Over in the models ranking, capping 3 months on top and a new generation, the VW Lavida (-6%) edges past the Wuling Hongguang (-8%) to snap the top spot for just 1.114 sales with the Haval H6 (-3%) holding onto the #3 spot only 1.911 units above the Baojun 510 (+111%). There are a few forces at play here: despite the addition of an SUV variant (the S3) at the end of 2017, the Wuling Hongguang should be losing the annual position it has held without interruption since 2013 by the time 2018 comes to an end. Indeed the Baojun 360, launched in May, has already started cannibalising its sales and should increase the pressure in H2, at the same time killing the Baojun 730, down 55% over the period and falling from #11 to #55. It would be the very first annual crowning for the VW Lavida on the other hand, and the first Volkswagen to top the annual passenger car sales in China since the VW Jetta in 2008. The Haval H6 has managed to see through the Baojun 510 threat to the title of #1 SUV in the country it has held for 58 of the past 60 months. The 510, the most successful launch in automobile history, has ended the career of the 560, down from #23 and 90.600 sales a year ago to… zero so far in 2018, but the more recent and larger 530 (#63) has stopped its progression.

The BYD Song MAX is the most popular recent launch in China so far this year…

Surprisingly jolly despite being deep into their respective career cycles, the Nissan Sylphy (+17%), Toyota Corolla (+15%) and VW Sagitar (+11%) follow in the ranking while Volkswagen monopolises the remainder of the Top 10 with the Tiguan (-8%), Santana (+13%) and Jetta (-5%). The Chevrolet Cavalier soars 55% just as the Buick Excelle GT freefalls 42% from #4 to #18 in the leadup to the new generation Excelle launch. The Geely Boyue gains 12% and two spots to end the period just outside the Top 10, distancing in the SUV segment the GAC Trumpchi GS4 (-28%) desperately needing a new generation, the Roewe RX5 (+19%), Buick Envision (-6%), Nissan X-Trail (+32%) and Changan CS55 (+2510%) which launched a little over a year ago. Geely dominates the Chinese sedan segment with the ever-green Emgrand (+10%) ahead of the Baojun 310 (+23%), Geely Vision (+18%) and Emgrand GL (+51%).

… but the Baojun 530 was the best-selling new launch from April onwards.

From the whopping 72 new nameplates laughed in the past 12 months, the BYD Song MAX is the most popular so far in 2018, landing directly at #35 with just over 81.000 wholesales. It distances the Geely Vision X3 (#57), Baojun 530 (#62), Lynk & Co 01 (#78), Geely Vision S1 (#79), WEY VV5 (#90), Kia KX Cross (#93), GAC Trumpchi GS3 (#95) and Venucia D60 (#99). The SUV wave is indeed still front and centre over H1 with 7 of these 9 new launches being SUVs vs. only one MPV and one sedan.

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One year ago: China First Half 2017: Market slows growth from 9.2% to 1.6%

Full H1 2018 Top 85 All China-made brands and Top 540 models below.