The Truth About Cars » China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/editorials/china/ China 2015: Cars of Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang Province http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-mudanjiang-heilongjiang-province/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-mudanjiang-heilongjiang-province/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152985 After Yanji in the Korean Autonomous Prefecture, we are now headed north to cross over to Mudanjiang in the Heilongjiang province, home to just under 1 million inhabitants. Mudanjiang does have an airport, but it doesn’t have direct flights to either Yanji or Harbin, so it’s bus riding all the way for me to join […]

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1. Suzuki Lingyang taxi Mudanjiang

After Yanji in the Korean Autonomous Prefecture, we are now headed north to cross over to Mudanjiang in the Heilongjiang province, home to just under 1 million inhabitants.

Mudanjiang does have an airport, but it doesn’t have direct flights to either Yanji or Harbin, so it’s bus riding all the way for me to join these 3 cities and a good opportunity to check out the car landscape in the hilly Chinese countryside.

China map with Mudanjiang

2. Hyundai ix25 Mudanjiang

The Hyundai ix25 is already one of the best-selling models in Mudanjiang.

In actual fact, it’s a pretty bare landscape as there are not many private motorised vehicles in the area, let alone new ones. Of note are a handful of Chery QQ3 sedans, the Suzuki Lingyang, Chery Cowin 2 and the ubiquitous Chana and Hafei minivans. Definitely a huge potential for growth here.

Fun: tri-wheelers seem to be the taxi of choice in Dongjing halfway between Yanji and Mudanjiang (see below).

 

22. Tri-wheelers Dongjing

Tri-wheeler taxis in Dongjing

The Russian influence is logically getting stronger and stronger as we get further north and away from Beijing. Relaxed and modern Mudanjiang reminds me a lot of Moscow in the way the streets are laid out: massive 2 x 4 lanes with large parking spaces on each side, not much vegetation and near-skyscraper housing sprouting up. It could be depressing, but strangely, staying in Mudanjiang ended up being an exhilarating experience. I really felt like I was setting foot where almost no other Westerner had before. I haven’t spotted any since I left Shanghai. Smiles everywhere, an obsession with making sure my seat-belt was buckled up either in the bus or in taxis (unheard of in China), and people in the street watching my every move — stunned, amused and curious, but not wary at all.

 

3. Haval H2 Mudanjiang

Haval H2

The first obvious sight when arriving in Mudanjiang is the cheap taxis, like in many other Chinese cities still coming to grips with private car ownership. And cheap they are: you’d be hard pressed paying more than 10 yuan ($1.60 USD) for any ride around town, whether you’re on your own or you bring your entire family. As a Mudanjiang local, it would surely make you think twice before sinking your hard-earned cash in a new car, even a Chana micro pickup truck worth around 30,000 yuan ($4,700 USD). This is the context in which domestic carmakers evolve in China: competing with taxis that cost nothing. Taxis in Mudanjiang are a unique mix of Suzuki Lingyang (a 1989 Suzuki Swift sedan still on sale in China as pictured atop this report), FAW V5, Kia Rio and Hyundai Elantra in order of popularity.

 

4. ZX Auto Grand Tiger FAW V5 taxi Mudanjiang

ZX Auto Grand Tiger and FAW V5 taxi in Mudanjiang

So what do the friendly people of Mudanjiang drive? Here the car landscape is also unique, and once again distinctly different from the one in Yanji or even Changchun. If the Chinese car ratio is roughly the same (1/3) it is achieved mainly by older models. I would expect Chinese carmakers to hold a very small market share in 2015, not more than 15-20 percent. Even though Mudanjiang is roughly twice the size of Yanji, the park is older and includes more microvans (10-15 percent of the traffic) and pickups (8 percent) with a large variety of brands, including the ZX Auto Grand Tiger, becoming a lot more popular, as well as Huanghai, Gonow and old Great Wall Steeds. This seems to indicate the Mudanjiang market is a little less developed/wealthy than Yanji.

 

5. Great Wall Steed VW Jetta Mudanjiang

Great Wall Steed and VW Jetta

Another observation confirming this status, although it is counter-intuitive, is the much higher proportion of larger, foreign SUVs: Lexus LX, Toyota Prado, Highlander, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and the first Lincoln MKX and Navigator of this trip. On the contrary, domestic SUVs apart from the FAW Besturn X80 and a few ChangAn CS35 are almost absent whereas their foreign counterparts like the Hyundai ix25, Honda Vezel/XR-V (all 3 already frequent), Kia KX3 (the first in this trip) and Buick Encore are being snapped up en masse.

6. Huanghai Great Wall Wingle Mudanjiang

Huanghai and Great Wall pickups

Why is this an indication that Mudanjiang has a less mature car market? In less developed markets, luxury options tend to weigh more as only the wealthiest customers can afford a new car. They then choose a more luxurious option to establish their status than they would at equal wealth in a more developed environment. The less-to-do drivers haven’t bought into the Chinese SUV craze just yet, remaining in a ‘sedan’ mentality for now. It’s only a question of taste because small Chinese SUVs and affordable foreign small and compact sedans are priced similarly as you’ll see below.

7. Hyundai Verna Mudanjiang

Hyundai Verna and Honda Crider

In this context, the new cars that stand out in the Mudanjiang landscape, apart from the Hyundai ix25 that could seriously pretend to an overall Top 10 ranking, are the previous generations of nameplates still on sale in China, namely the Toyota Corolla EX and Hyundai Elantra Yuedong, and foreign affordable models like the Hyundai Verna, Toyota Vios and Nissan Tiida. To give you some perspective, the Hyundai ix25 starts at 119,000 yuan ($18,600 USD) and Buick Encore at 149,900 ($23,400 USD), while the Toyota Vios starts at 69,800 yuan ($10,900 USD), Hyundai Verna at 73,900 ($11,500 USD) and the Corolla EX at 90,800 ($14,200 USD).

 

8. Toyota Corolla EX Mudanjiang

Toyota Corolla EX

At these prices, buyers would be able to afford a JAC Refine S3 (65,800 yuan or $10,300 USD), Zotye T600 (79,800 or $12,450 USD) or Haima S5 (89,800 or $14,000 USD) — yet they don’t. The only domestic SUV to be successful to-date in Mudanjiang is the FAW Besturn X80 which starts at 119,800 yuan ($18,700 USD), the same price as a Hyundai ix25 — and a different category of buyers altogether. So to summarise: wealthy buyers buy SUVs, poorer buyers buy sedans. In this aspect, the Mudanjiang market is late compared to where China is nationally (the whole market is upsizing to SUVs), and is closer in purchase patterns to Russia — which makes sense given Russia is less than 60 miles away.

21. Mudanjiang street scene 3

9. Mudanjiang street scene 4

Volkswagen is at its weakest in any Chinese city I have visited so far, and the only explanations I could find for this observation are a less dense dealership network and prices out of reach for most buyers. Saying instead that Mudanjiang car buyers completely disregard Volkswagen to opt for fellow Asian carmakers at similar prices wouldn’t make much sense as it would make this city the only one so far in China to develop this taste. Price does seem to be the issue.

 

10. Kia KX3 Buick Encore Mudanjiang

Kia KX3 and Buick Encore

Let’s end on a last surprise: the national best-seller, the Wuling Hongguang, is proving very discreet in Mudanjiang. I only saw a handful of them, and the first Beijing Auto Weiwang M20 of this trip – one of its clones. Once again I will advance the explanation that Mudanjiang may be a few years late adopting national trends. Small shop owners haven’t yet upsized from their microvan to the Hongguang and its equivalents.

The next stop in this exploration of North-Eastern China is the capital of the Heilongjiang province: Harbin. Stay tuned…

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a website dedicated to car sales, trends and analysis called BestSellingCarsBlog.

 

11. Mudanjiang street scene 5

Mudanjiang street scene

12. ZX Auto C3 Urban Ark Mudanjiang

ZX Auto C3 Urban Ark

13. Hafei Minivan Mudanjiang

Hafei Minivan

14. Hyundai Elantra Yuedong Suzuki Lingyang Mudanjiang

Hyundai Elantra Yuedong and Suzuki Lingyang taxi

15. Mudanjiang street scene 1

Mudanjiang street scene

16. Toyota Corolla Mudanjiang

Toyota Corolla

17. Nissan Sylphy Mudanjiang

Nissan Sylphy

18. Mudanjiang street scene 2

Mudanjiang street scene

19. Great Wall Haval H6 Mudanjiang

Great Wall Haval H6

20. Liebao Mudanjiang

Liebao SUV

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China 2015: Cars of Yanji, Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-yanji-korean-autonomous-prefecture/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-yanji-korean-autonomous-prefecture/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1148281 After Changchun, we hop on a short 45 minute flight to Yanji, capital of the little-known Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, next to the North Korean border. Yanbian was created in 1955 as a reward for Koreans who fought on the side of the communists in the Civil War and is the only minority prefecture in the […]

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1. Hyundai Elantra Yanji

After Changchun, we hop on a short 45 minute flight to Yanji, capital of the little-known Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, next to the North Korean border. Yanbian was created in 1955 as a reward for Koreans who fought on the side of the communists in the Civil War and is the only minority prefecture in the north of China. Many Koreans refer to it as the “third Korea” — after the South and North, given it’s around half the size of South Korea. However, it’s home to just two million inhabitants, including roughly 400,000 in Yanji.

2. Chery QQ Yanji

Chery QQ in Yanji (notice the Russian sign)

It’s a fascinating and unexpected experience to see most street signs including shops, restaurants and hotels bilingual in Chinese and Korean (and even Russian, sometimes), newspapers in Korean and hearing Korean spoken instead of Chinese.

As has been the case in China’s western Xinjiang province with its Uyghur population, the percentage of ethnic Koreans in Yanbian has fallen from 60  in the 1950s to 38 percent today.

 

China map with Yanji TTAC

Yanji localization in China

 

2. Kia K3 Yanji

Kia K3 and Hyundai Mistra

Apart from taxis that account for a good 25 percent of cars in circulation in the centre of town and composed at 75 percent of 2000 Hyundai Elantras (still sold in China, the rest are VW Jetta König), it is not the Korean car tidal wave I expected. The Kia K3, Sportage R, Hyundai ix35 and Mistra are present in good numbers, but not much more than expected given their respective national rankings. The Kia Sorento may have had its sales inflated by the region’s proximity of Korea, but that would be about it.

 

3. VW Jetta Chery QQ Yanji

Chery QQ and VW Jetta under a Korean-style arch in Yanji.

Chinese manufacturers represent roughly 1/3 of all cars in the centre of town (excluding taxis), a ratio that increases as we reach the outskirts of the city. In any case, a slight improvement over the 25-30% of Changchun — with the added specificity that in Shanghai (Roewe) and Changchun (FAW) one local carmaker clearly dominated — here the landscape is a lot more varied and most main domestic manufacturers are fairly well represented.

 

7. Yanji Street scene 2

Yanji street scene

The Yanji car park is markedly older than in Changchun where it seemed that almost every private car in circulation had been bought in the past year. Sedans rule by far, but are skewed towards smaller sizes and more affordable brands — a logical trend as we step out of the big cities and revenue per inhabitant goes south. SUVs are frequent but not a craze yet, and we remain at a very low pickup ratio in traffic, dominated by the Dongfeng Oting, JMC and Great Wall Wingle.

 

4. Dongfeng V07S Yanji

Dongfeng V07S

 

FAW V70 Yanji

FAW V70

Microvans, however, are back in force — though this time the brand spread is very large. It’s not just Wulings and Chanas like the national sales figures indicate. Other lesser-known models have their time in the limelight here: the FAW V70 is at its most popular here versus anywhere I’ve been in China so far (see further down this report for an illustration), and I spotted generous amounts of Dongfeng V07S, Beijing Auto Weiwang 205, Karry Youyi and various Jinbei and Hafei models.

 

5. Wuling Hongguang Yanji

2 x Wuling Hongguang in Yanji

 

Wuling Hongguang Yanji 2

Wuling Hongguang

Overall though, the Wuling Hongguang should top the sales charts in Yanji as it does nationally, with the Chana Honor also strong and the Karry K50 starting to show itself.

 

6. Chery E3 Yanji

Chery E3

 

Chery Tiggo5 Yanji

Chery Tiggo5 (notice the Korean characters above the Chinese ones)

Two brands are clearly noticeable much more often in Yanji than in other Chinese cities I have visited so far. The first one is domestic manufacturer Chery. I am willing to bet the 2013 Chery QQ ranks inside the Top 5 in Yanji, with the Tiggo3 inside the Top 10 and the Tiggo5 and E3 small sedan inside the Top 15. That’s a spectacular success for a brand that has been relatively discreet on the national stage for the past couple of years. The Fulwin 2 hatchback is also a very frequent sight.

Chery Fulwin 2 Kia Sportage Yanji

Chery Fulwin 2 and Kia Sportage R

 

Chery Cowin 2 and E3 Yanji

Chery Cowin 2 and E3

But the most interesting element about Chery’s success in Yanji is that it seems to be relatively recent, as there is no significant heritage of previous generations QQ or Tiggo. If this is true, it would make for a very interesting insight as it shows a Chinese brand is reclaiming lost territory in the sedan and SUV segments with low-end models. Cities like Yanji are the reason why affordable sedans like the E3 are still manufactured by Chinese carmakers even though their success nationally is relatively limited. These aren’t successful in big cities, but in smaller ones where new car sales are growing the fastest.

Citroen C-Quatre Hyundai Elantra Yanji

Citroen C-Quatre and Hyundai Elantra taxi

The second brand that captured my attention by its unusual frequency — albeit at a much lower level than Chery — is Citroen, in particular with the C-Quatre hatchback and sedan that seem to be very successful here. This is in contrast with Peugeot,  which is almost inexistent bar one single 408 and a couple of 2008. I also saw the first DS 5LS of this trip in Yanji.

 

Nissan Sylphy Yanji

Nissan Sylphy

 

Nissan Teana Yanji

Nissan Teana

 

Nissan Sunny Yanji

Nissan Sunny

Although Citroen was stronger than expected, the most popular foreigner overall here seems to be Nissan, whose Sylphy is a blockbuster seller in Yanji, and the Tiida, Sunny, X-Trail and Teana also very strong in this order. Logical in a city keen on affordable sedans, the Toyota Vios is a hit in Yanji (as is the Yaris L), while in the Honda aisle the XR-V and Vezel twins are already frequent, which is extremely impressive given they have been in market for just a handful of months.

 

Ford Escort Yanji

Ford Escort

Volkswagen is still successful here but nowhere near as much as in Changchun. The Santana, Lavida and Jetta are the most popular. Ford’s Kuga (Escape in the U.S.) is a winner and I already saw one Escort. Obviously, and this is becoming comical, we have our residents Toyota Tundra (two in fact) and Ford F-150 Raptor in Yanji. No pictures yet but there will be some in the next stops…

Brilliance H330 Yanji

Brilliance H330

 

BAW BJ40 Yanji

BAW BJ40

 

ChangAn CS75 Yanji

ChangAn CS75

Back to the Chinese: Apart from the Chery QQ, Yanji consumers are avid buyers of all its minicar competitors. The BYD F0, JAC A10 and ChangAn Benben are all popular here. ChangAn does very well indeed in Yanji, the CS35 is very well established and the CS75 is becoming quite frequent already. Brilliance also gets noticed with its V5 SUV (I spotted 3 in a matter of meters) and the H330 sedan pictured above. The FAW Besturn X80 is once again among the best-selling SUVs in Yanji – although a lot weaker than in Changchun. I spotted two BAW BJ40s, the first Leopaard Q6 of the trip (facelifted Mitsubishi Pajero), and half of all police sedans are of the Haima family with the other half of the police fleet comprising of VW Jetta Königs.

 

Great Wall M4 Yanji

Great Wall M4

Finally, there is a very solid heritage of Great Wall M4, C20R and C30. Now that these models are being phased out, it will be interesting to see where these specific consumers (mainly women from what I saw) report their next sales. The Haval H1 — in effect a modernised Great Wall M4 — would be the first possible choice, but the door is open for another domestic manufacturer to win the sale.

 

Jaguar XJ Yanji

Jaguar XJ in Yanji

Next we are going further north to Mudanjiang in the Heilongjiang province… Stay tuned!

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a website dedicated to car sales, trends and analysis called BestSellingCarsBlog.

Buick Excelle GT YanjiBuick Excelle GT

Yanji Street scene 3Yanji street scene

Geely EC7 YanjiGeely EC7

Yanji Street scene 1Yanji street scene

Foton Pickup YanjiFoton Pickup

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China 2015: The Cars of Changchun http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-changchun/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/china-2015-cars-changchun/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1140666 After exploring the Shanghai car landscape, we are now headed North to land in Changchun, the capital city of the Jilin province and known as the Chinese Detroit.   The city itself has 3.6 million inhabitants. Including the greater Changchun, this figure climbs to 8 million, or almost as much as Paris or London! Yes, you’ve […]

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VW Jetta taxi in front of the Chanchun Railway Station

After exploring the Shanghai car landscape, we are now headed North to land in Changchun, the capital city of the Jilin province and known as the Chinese Detroit.

 

Where is Changchun?

Where is Changchun?

The city itself has 3.6 million inhabitants. Including the greater Changchun, this figure climbs to 8 million, or almost as much as Paris or London! Yes, you’ve read that right: There are cities in China you may not have heard of that are larger than most European cities. Changchun was the Japanese capital of Manchukuo between 1933 and 1945. It houses the former residence of Puyi, the Qing dynasty’s final emperor (also known as the ‘puppet emperor’), whose story was made into the 1987 movie “The Last Emperor”. Adequately, Changchun also used to be the capital of the Chinese film industry in the ’50s and ’60s.

Nowadays, Changchun is known as China’s Detroit. It is the largest vehicle manufacturing, research and development centre in China, producing roughly 10 percent of the country’s automobiles in 2014. First Automobile Works (FAW), you would have guessed, is the first ever Chinese carmaker and has its headquarters here along with its various joint ventures with foreign manufacturers including FAW-Volkswagen and FAW-Toyota. This impacts the Changchun car landscape greatly as we will discover in a lot more detail below. Anecdotally, Changchun also produces 50 percent of all passenger trains in China.

 

FAW Besturn B50 taxi and BMW X1 in Changchun

FAW Besturn B50 taxi and BMW X1 in Changchun

Landing in Changchun means we have arrived in what I call ‘the real China’: I did not see a single foreigner the entire time I stayed here (24 hours) and my very presence in the streets has everyone glued to their bus windows in curiosity, waving and smiling at me like they just spotted a movie star. Having around 50 bus patrons turn their head all in the same motion to keep staring while the bus drives on is a very interesting experience indeed. Must be the beard.

 

FAW Xenia S80 at Changchun Longjia Airport

FAW Xenia S80 at Changchun Longjia Airport

As soon as I step on the airport tarmac, the evidence I’m in FAW city awaits in the form of a FAW Xenia S80 minivan in its Changchun Longjia Airport livery. It is the start of a constant flow of FAW models streaming through Changchun, but they were not the ones I expected. The FAW Xiali sedan, a decade ago among the best-sellers nationwide — although not produced in Changchun but 850km South in Tianjin — is nowhere to be seen. I only spotted two lonely Xiali N5s. It goes the same for the lower end of the FAW lineup: only a couple of Oley sedans and Xiali N7 hatchbacks and one Junpai D60.

 

FAW Besturn X80

FAW Besturn X80

No. What Changchun drivers can’t get enough of are the more upmarket FAW offerings, namely the Besturn sub-brand. The Besturn X80 SUV is absolutely everywhere; 2 or 3 of them at every block, no less. While only ranking #91 nationally in 2014, in Changchun it is flirting with the pole position.

 

FAW Besturn B70

FAW Besturn B70

Also very popular are the Besturn B50 and B70 — all generations of them (they both launched in 2006), with the 2014 B70 model already very present in the Changchun streets. I would safely bet on a Top 10 ranking here, even potentially Top 5.

 

FAW Besturn B50 and Jinbei Haise

FAW Besturn B50 and Jinbei Haise

The first generation Besturn B50 also accounts for roughly 5 percent of all taxis here. Only the flagship B90 has yet to become a local favourite, potentially because of its 139,800 yuan pricetag (US$22,800). I did see one FAW Hongqi H7, the first time I’ve seen one of these out and about, and Hongqi has one H7 exhibited in the Departures hall of the Changchun Airport along with very sleek brochures. To know more about the Hongqi prestige brand, check out my coverage of the Shanghai Auto Show here.

 

FAW Hongqi H7 at Changchun Dongjia Airport

FAW Hongqi H7 at Changchun Dongjia Airport

As such, FAW secures itself the lion’s share of domestic carmakers who account for roughly 25-30 percent of a car park still largely dominated by sedans. SUVs are starting to be relatively popular, but there is no heritage of any SUV buying pattern in the past. Meanwhile, minivans and microvans are relatively rare compared to cities like Chongqing, and pickup trucks are non-existent.

 

Changchun street scene

Changchun street scene

In Changchun, we see the return of the Wuling Hongguang — well established here but a long way from matching its #1 national ranking — as well as a sprinkling of the microvans that preceded it. I spotted the first two Wuling Hongguang Vs and the first four Baojun 730 MPVs in circulation, confirming the mesmerising sales starts of these two nameplates are no legend but well and truly confirmed in the streets.

 

Haval H1

Haval H1

Great Wall is relatively strong here and I learned by studying the Changchun traffic that the Haval H6 Sport has, in effect, replaced the H6 over the past 18 months in terms of sales. That is before the new generation H6, unveiled at Auto Shanghai this year, will take the relay. Also of note were the success of the Dongfeng X3 SUV and ChangAn CS75.

 

VW Jetta

VW Jetta

That’s it for the Chinese. What brands compose the remainder of the Changchun park?

One word: Volkswagen. Or two: VW Jetta.

Being produced locally since 1991, the Jetta is logically the best-seller in Changchun whether it be with taxi companies or private buyers. I spotted hundreds of them in the streets in the space of only a few hours. The first generation Jetta (1991-1997) and its facelifts König (1997-2010) and Pionier (2010-2013) still account for around 75 percent of the Changchun taxi park, with the current generation called Jetta Night (2013-) holding a 20-percent share and growing. Come back in a few years time and the new gen will be dominant.

 

VW Jetta taxis in Changchun

VW Jetta taxis in Changchun

In fact, all mass-market Volkswagens produced in Changchun are popular here: the Sagitar (the Chinese name for the Jetta we know in the U.S.) follows the Jetta, ahead of the Bora, Magotan and Golf. Changchun is the first Chinese city where I spotted the European best seller in significant numbers, including one station wagon.

 

Chery E3

Chery E3

Even though Toyota produces in Changchun, it’s Honda that could snap the title of most popular Japanese manufacturer with a regular flow of Criders, CR-Vs, Citys, Civics and Accords, whereas in the Toyota camp only the Vios and to a lesser extent the Yaris L and RAV4 have made a real mark so far. Mazda has also made a very strong and very recent impression with the 3 Axela and 6 Atenza — the names of the latest generations have taken to differentiate them from the earlier ones still on sale — placing way above their respective #84 and #150 national rankings. Korean-wise, the Hyundai Mistra and Kia Optima have also struck a chord with Changchun car buyers, and the ix25 small SUV is off to a great start.

 

Mercedes C-Class

Mercedes C-Class

There is one car of choice for the wealthy: the Audi A6L, surprisingly frequent despite its price starting at a whopping 355,000 yuan (US$57,300). But it doesn’t stop there. Changchun wealth is clearly visible through the cars that roam its streets, including three Porsche Macans spotted in one hour, a handful of BMW X5s and X6s, a new generation Mercedes C-Class, and a dozen Audi Q3s and Q5s produced locally.

 

Changchun street scene

Changchun street scene

Let’s finish on an American note: It would seem that each Chinese city has one resident Ford F-150 Raptor scaring its pedestrians and Changchun is no exception — with the added surprise of one Toyota Tundra. Next stop is Yanji in the Yánbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture at the border with North Korea…

Matt Gasnier is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a website dedicated to car sales, trends and analysis called BestSellingCarsBlog.

 

Toyota Yaris L

Toyota Yaris L

Changchun street scene

Changchun street scene

VW Jetta taxi 

VW Jetta taxi

Hyundai Mistra

Hyundai Mistra

Maxus M80

Maxus M80

Haval H6 Sport

Haval H6 Sport

FAW Xiali N7

FAW Xiali N7

FAW Besturn B70

FAW Besturn B70

Porsche Macan and Audi A6L

Porsche Macan and Audi A6L

Toyota Vios

Toyota Vios

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New Geely Mirrors Your iPhone Screen Sideways For Guaranteed Neck Injuries http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/new-geely-mirrors-your-iphone-screen-sideways-for-guaranteed-neck-injuries/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/new-geely-mirrors-your-iphone-screen-sideways-for-guaranteed-neck-injuries/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 17:32:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075138 Chinese Geely is offering up smartphone integration in the most Chinese way possible…by just copying the screen, no matter what the screen orientation. Personal injury lawyers: your Chinese golden egg has arrived thanks to tweaked necks as drivers try to swipe up and down on Tinder. According to CarNewsChina, this is the new Geely Englon Haijing SC7 […]

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geely-englon-sc7-china-1

Chinese Geely is offering up smartphone integration in the most Chinese way possible…by just copying the screen, no matter what the screen orientation. Personal injury lawyers: your Chinese golden egg has arrived thanks to tweaked necks as drivers try to swipe up and down on Tinder.

According to CarNewsChina, this is the new Geely Englon Haijing SC7 and it features either the worst Photoshop ever for press photos or the worst smartphone integration on the planet. Or both. Even the home button on the pictured iPhone is on the wrong end.

[Source: CarNewsChina]

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China-Only Ford Taurus Emerges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/china-ford-taurus-emerges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/china-ford-taurus-emerges/#comments Fri, 02 Jan 2015 20:47:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970465 Back in the spring of 2013, our sources told us that a CD-based Taurus was under development, but promptly sent to the garbage dump after its design bombed its consumer clinics. Marketing brass at Ford decided to kill the Taurus, due to dissatisfaction with the way it looked, and the shrinking mid-size car market. But […]

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Back in the spring of 2013, our sources told us that a CD-based Taurus was under development, but promptly sent to the garbage dump after its design bombed its consumer clinics. Marketing brass at Ford decided to kill the Taurus, due to dissatisfaction with the way it looked, and the shrinking mid-size car market. But the large sedan will live on in China.

The sedan, shown above, is said to be exactly that car. Ford is already planning a large Lincoln flagship,codenamed GOBI. Based on the CD architecture and targeted at Chinese business consumers by emphasizing rear seat comfort and amenities, GOBI will replace what we know as the Lincoln MKS in both China and the United States. A Ford with the same attributes would serve as a flagship for the Blue Oval in a way that it never could in America.

The full-size sedan market in America is heavily weighted towards fleet sales. With the Fusion outselling the Taurus by a roughly 4:1 ratio, it’s understandable that Ford would not want to renew the Taurus for another model cycle.

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The Definition Of Insanity: Selling A Premium Volkswagen And Expecting Different Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/definition-insanity-selling-premium-volkswagen-expecting-different-results/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/definition-insanity-selling-premium-volkswagen-expecting-different-results/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:24:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916458 If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then Volkswagen has gone certifiably bonkers. Volkswagens unrelenting determination to have consumers accept the notion of a premium priced Volkswagen has led them down the path of insanity before: first, the Phaeton, then their planned, cut-price Phaeton […]

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If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then Volkswagen has gone certifiably bonkers.

Volkswagens unrelenting determination to have consumers accept the notion of a premium priced Volkswagen has led them down the path of insanity before: first, the Phaeton, then their planned, cut-price Phaeton for America, which is apparently on track despite Phaeton 1.0’s spectacular failure.

Now, VW is preparing a China-specific premium sedan based on the Audi A6L. Apparently not contend with its exponentially higher volumes, VW wants Audi’s profit margins too. And the best way to accomplish that is, apparently, by making an expensive sedan priced perilously close to Audi, with a badge that, even in China, will be difficult for premium consumers to swallow.

Apparently, a crackdown on luxury car spending by government officials has created a market for upscale vehicles without premium badges, but it seems difficult to understand how this niche will sustain planned volumes of 50,000 units annually, even in the booming Chinese market.

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Volkswagen Shows Off CLA Competitor In Chengdu http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volkswagen-shows-cla-competitor-chengdu/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volkswagen-shows-cla-competitor-chengdu/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:50:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903378 Volkswagen’s latest MQB-based vehicle is another challenge to Mercedes-Benz – the last time they threw down the gauntlet against Daimler, we ended up with the Phaeton. This should fare a bit better. Dubbed the “Lamando”, the vehicle in question is based on the MK7 Golf and its MQB chassis, and uses both the 1.4L and 2.0L […]

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Volkswagen’s latest MQB-based vehicle is another challenge to Mercedes-Benz – the last time they threw down the gauntlet against Daimler, we ended up with the Phaeton. This should fare a bit better.

Dubbed the “Lamando”, the vehicle in question is based on the MK7 Golf and its MQB chassis, and uses both the 1.4L and 2.0L TSI 4-cylinder engines, along with a 7-speed DSG gearbox. The Lamando will be built in China, for the Chinese market only, with a starting price of about $29,000. This puts it in direct competition with the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

Live shots of the car can be seen here.  Sales of the Americanized Jetta have slumped recently, despite a strong (but price-driven) introduction. A car like this would do a lot to add some pizzazz to Volkswagen’s compact sedan, and given its MQB bones, it could likely be built in Mexico easily. How about it, VW?

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Buick Envision Spied On The Eve Of Its Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/buick-envision-spied-eve-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/buick-envision-spied-eve-debut/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:18:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901778 Right before its debut at the Chengdu Auto Show, the Buick Envision was spied outside an exhibit hall as it prepares to make its debut in China, a crucial market that is hungry for both crossovers and Buick brand vehicles. Although the Envision is almost certain to make its way to North America, GM has […]

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Right before its debut at the Chengdu Auto Show, the Buick Envision was spied outside an exhibit hall as it prepares to make its debut in China, a crucial market that is hungry for both crossovers and Buick brand vehicles.

Although the Envision is almost certain to make its way to North America, GM has made no formal announcement of its arrival. Reports indicate that a Q2 2015 launch is likely, with the GM 2.5L 4-cylinder joining alongside the corporate 2.0T engine powering the Chinese version.

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Current Volvo XC90 Will Keep Trucking Along http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/current-volvo-xc90-will-keep-trucking-along/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/current-volvo-xc90-will-keep-trucking-along/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:58:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901642 If you like your Volvo XC90, you can keep it – as long as you live in China. This spyshot from Carnewschina.com shows the newly dubbed “XC Classic“, while Just-Auto reports that the XC Classic will be built in China, at first using imported components, with local content ramping up over the life of the vehicle. […]

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If you like your Volvo XC90, you can keep it – as long as you live in China.

This spyshot from Carnewschina.com shows the newly dubbed “XC Classic“, while Just-Auto reports that the XC Classic will be built in China, at first using imported components, with local content ramping up over the life of the vehicle.

The current-gen XC90 was once Sweden’s most valuable export, with a value of close to $6 billion during the peak of its 636,000 unit production. Given the investment in a Chinese production facility, it’s not unreasonable to expect the XC90 to be built for another decade or so, including a Geely badged spin-off. That should give the car a two decade production run, making it one of the longest-running Volvo vehicles in recent years.

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This Is Not The Hyundai Crossover You Are Looking For http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/hyundai-crossover-looking/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/hyundai-crossover-looking/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 11:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889065 Here’s an interesting study in how two markets, with a similar affinity for small crossovers, will get wildly different products. Hyundai is planning on launching a new small crossover in America, one that will reportedly be akin to the Nissan Juke: small, targeted at Millennial buyers and, ahem, distinctively styled. The ix25, shown above at […]

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Here’s an interesting study in how two markets, with a similar affinity for small crossovers, will get wildly different products.

Hyundai is planning on launching a new small crossover in America, one that will reportedly be akin to the Nissan Juke: small, targeted at Millennial buyers and, ahem, distinctively styled.

The ix25, shown above at Carnewschina, is probably not it. Hyundai has shown a concept of the ix25 before, but this version will reportedly be for the Chinese market only. Built in China and based on the Kia Soul platform (look hard and the resemblance is obvious), the ix25 is designed to compete with the Ford Ecosport and other B-segment crossovers.

Offering the ix25 and the North American Juke-fighter would probably result in overcrowding in Hyundai showrooms, not to mention, fierce competition for finite marketing dollars. But it’s a nice looking vehicle that would be a solid competitor to the Honda HR-V and Chevrolet Trax, if nothing else.

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2015 Cadillac ATS-L Is “Coming With Length” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-cadillac-ats-l-is-coming-with-length/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-cadillac-ats-l-is-coming-with-length/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:18:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875137 Our most recent review of the Cadillac ATS determined that Cadillac had finally made a sports sedan worthy of besting the F30 BMW 3-Series. But the ATS was also docked points for providing E36 3-Series-esque rear passenger space. Cadillac’s Chinese division appears to have remedied the problem, with a rather unfortunate English marketing slogan. For […]

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Our most recent review of the Cadillac ATS determined that Cadillac had finally made a sports sedan worthy of besting the F30 BMW 3-Series. But the ATS was also docked points for providing E36 3-Series-esque rear passenger space. Cadillac’s Chinese division appears to have remedied the problem, with a rather unfortunate English marketing slogan.

For the Cadillac ATS-L’s launch, Cadillac has decided to go with the rather unfortunate slogan “I’m Coming With Length”. We’ll leave it at that.

The ATS-L really is packing more size. With an additional 3 inches of wheelbase, .79 inches of width and a .25 inch lower ride height, the ATS-L is the car that we should have gotten all along. From the photos, it doesn’t look like the car’s proportions were compromised either. Powertrains are the same as well, but only the 2.0T and 3.6L engines are available.

We now return to your regularly scheduled, less juvenile programming.

 

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Buick Gets Another Crossover – What Took So Long? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-gets-another-crossover-what-took-so-long/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-gets-another-crossover-what-took-so-long/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:10:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856833   Buick will launch a new mid-size crossover, dubbed “Envision” in China first, then presumably in other markets. All we can say is “hurry up”. Given the sales strength of the Enclave and Encore, it’s amazing that Buick isn’t busting their hump to get this thing on sale tomorrow. Then again, China is Buick’s most […]

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All-new high-end midsize SUV, the Buick Envision, will make its

 

Buick will launch a new mid-size crossover, dubbed “Envision” in China first, then presumably in other markets. All we can say is “hurry up”.

Given the sales strength of the Enclave and Encore, it’s amazing that Buick isn’t busting their hump to get this thing on sale tomorrow. Then again, China is Buick’s most important market, and their thirst for CUVs seems nearly impossible to satiate. No word on what platform this new CUV will ride on, but the Theta chassis that underpins the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain is a good bet.

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Volvo Will Export Chinese-Made Cars To America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volvo-will-export-chinese-made-cars-to-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volvo-will-export-chinese-made-cars-to-america/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:42:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845897 Honda may have been the first OEM to bring Chinese-made cars to North America, but their Made-In-China Fit never arrived in the United States. Now, it looks like Volvo will be the first brand to import Chinese-made cars to America. Reuters is reporting that Volvo will import the S60L (for long wheelbase) sedan to the […]

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Honda may have been the first OEM to bring Chinese-made cars to North America, but their Made-In-China Fit never arrived in the United States. Now, it looks like Volvo will be the first brand to import Chinese-made cars to America.

Reuters is reporting that Volvo will import the S60L (for long wheelbase) sedan to the United States, with volumes of around 10,000 units per year. The S60L is identical to the S60, save for a 3.1 inch longer wheelbase, for enhanced rear seat comfort. Volvo did not confirm which models will actually come to the United States, but a Volvo spokesman confirmed to Reuters that exports from China are indeed planned for Volvo.

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Infiniti ESQ: Infiniti Gets A Small Crossover, But Only For China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/infiniti-esq-infiniti-gets-a-small-crossover-but-only-for-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/infiniti-esq-infiniti-gets-a-small-crossover-but-only-for-china/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:41:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842514 That Infiniti-badged Nissan Juke that seemed so outlandish? It’s coming – but only for China. A Nissan spokesman confirmed to Jalopnik that the Infiniti ESQ, pictured here, is indeed a Chinese-only Infiniti product. Essentially a rebadged Nismo Juke, the ESQ makes next to no attempt to disguise its origins – it’s literally a rebadge job […]

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That Infiniti-badged Nissan Juke that seemed so outlandish? It’s coming – but only for China.

A Nissan spokesman confirmed to Jalopnik that the Infiniti ESQ, pictured here, is indeed a Chinese-only Infiniti product. Essentially a rebadged Nismo Juke, the ESQ makes next to no attempt to disguise its origins – it’s literally a rebadge job that only the least discerning consumers would ever confuse for a distinct Infiniti product. But it does give Infiniti a toehold in the red-hot compact crossover segment.

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QOTD: Why There Will Be No “Made In China” Lexus Products http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/qotd-why-there-will-be-no-made-in-china-lexus-products/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/qotd-why-there-will-be-no-made-in-china-lexus-products/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 14:02:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=815530 Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing […]

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Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing Lexus vehicles in China.

Speaking at the Beijing Auto Show, Lexus head Tokuo Fukuichi said

“We are often asked whether we plan to manufacture Lexus cars in China. But the question is whether our brand has earned the trust of customers. If a brand is really trusted, it can sell its products wherever they are manufactured. But Lexus has not yet achieved such a status.” 

Building an automotive luxury brand is a decades long process. Audi is an overnight success nearly 40 years in the making, while Infiniti is now on the slow, long road to lifting themselves up out of the doldrums of Tier 2 luxury. Lexus has arguably been the most successful Japanese effort at a Tier 1 luxury brand, but they still have work to do. In world markets (specifically Western Europe), Lexus does not enjoy the same footing as it does in the United States, and has only been on sale in Japan since 2005.

In Fukuichi’s estimation, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz (not to mention, Cadillac and Infiniti) can all do what Lexus cannot: build cars in China without harming brand perception. This is a big problem for Lexus – it must import its cars from Japan (and the NAFTA zone) and sell them at a higher price thanks to import tariffs and other duties. But it’s also a deliberate calculation on the part of Lexus.

If any of the German brands suffered quality problems from Chinese made cars, their customers would likely forgive them, due to the burning desire to have four rings, a three pointed star or two blue triangles on the hood of their car. But nobody feels the same pull for the stylized “L”.

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2104 Beijing Auto Show: Ford Introduces Everest SUV to Chinese Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2104-beijing-auto-show-ford-introduces-everest-suv-to-chinese-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2104-beijing-auto-show-ford-introduces-everest-suv-to-chinese-market/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:30:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805658 While two days after an avalanche killed 13 Nepalese Sherpas on Mount Everest may not be the best time to highlight a vehicle named for the peak, Ford is going ahead with introducing the Everest Concept to the Chinese market at the Beijing auto show. The  seven passenger SUV, larger and more expensive than the […]

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While two days after an avalanche killed 13 Nepalese Sherpas on Mount Everest may not be the best time to highlight a vehicle named for the peak, Ford is going ahead with introducing the Everest Concept to the Chinese market at the Beijing auto show. The  seven passenger SUV, larger and more expensive than the Kuga and EcoSport crossovers already on sale there, will take the slot at the top of Ford’s utility vehicle offerings in China. The Everest was developed by Ford’s Asia-Pacific design team in Australia and it will be built in China by Jiangling Motors, one of Ford’s joint venture partners there. The Everest Concept was previously shown at last month’s Bangkok Motor Show.

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 While the red hot Chinese market has cooled a bit, with light vehicle sales growing at an annual rate of 10-15% compared to the 30% growth seen in 2009 and 2010, SUV sales continue to be strong, with 40% growth year to year.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has said that the new Chinese market Escort sedan will likely end up in the United States (with local revisions) the company had no comments about selling the Everest outside of China.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Fushou: Donfeng’s Dragon Won’t Eat PSA’s Lion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fushou-donfengs-dragon-wont-eat-psas-lion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fushou-donfengs-dragon-wont-eat-psas-lion/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:08:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773753 In light of fears regarding the three-way deal between Dongfeng, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government leading toward a time where Dongfeng would take the reins of the ailing automaker, CEO Zhu Fushou assured his company would not do so. Automotive News Europe reports in an interview between Fushou and French newspaper L’Alsace, the […]

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In light of fears regarding the three-way deal between Dongfeng, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government leading toward a time where Dongfeng would take the reins of the ailing automaker, CEO Zhu Fushou assured his company would not do so.

Automotive News Europe reports in an interview between Fushou and French newspaper L’Alsace, the 14 percent stake in PSA is a “win-win cooperation, not a purchase deal but a way to help PSA return to growth.”

In return for a capital increase of 3 billion euro — made up of 800 million euro contributions from both the Chinese automaker and the French government in exchange for 14 percent of PSA — the two automakers will begin work on conquering the Asia-Pacific automotive market with an aim of 1.5 million units annually, as well as helping Dongfeng better compete against local rivals.

As for Europe, the deal will help PSA reduce its share of vehicle sales in its local market from 62 percent to 50 percent as focus turns toward emerging markets, including Russia and South America. In turn, 10,000 jobs will be cut in the next three years as part of the recovery plan for the French automaker.

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Tesla Hires Renault-Nissan Communications Director http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-hires-renault-nissan-communications-director/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/tesla-hires-renault-nissan-communications-director/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:35:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770985 In preparation to enter the Chinese market while battling state governments of direct sales, Tesla has hired Renault-Nissan communications director Simon Sproule to the role of vice president of communications and marketing for the EV automaker. Bloomberg reports Sproule’s experience gained from stints with Microsoft, Jaguar, Ford and Renault-Nissan may be of benefit to Tesla, […]

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In preparation to enter the Chinese market while battling state governments of direct sales, Tesla has hired Renault-Nissan communications director Simon Sproule to the role of vice president of communications and marketing for the EV automaker.

Bloomberg reports Sproule’s experience gained from stints with Microsoft, Jaguar, Ford and Renault-Nissan may be of benefit to Tesla, according to AutoTrends Inc. principal Joe Phillippi:

In many respects he’s got the perfect background. He’s been on the tech side, he’s been on the international auto side and he works for a CEO with peripatetic qualities who runs more than one company.

Sproule will be responsible for marketing Tesla to Europe and China — who aim to increase sales of its Model S 55 percent through exports to the two markets this year — while aiding in the fight with various state regulators over direct sales to customers, including this week’s blow-up between the automaker and New Jersey.

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Opel Adam Entering Chinese Market As A Buick http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/opel-adam-entering-chinese-market-as-a-buick/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/opel-adam-entering-chinese-market-as-a-buick/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:55:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756345 When the Opel Adam enters the Chinese auto market in 2015, it will do so with a Buick badge as General Motors’ first high-end city car. CarNewsChina reports the Adam will sell for somewhere between 169,800 yuan and 268,800 yuan, the same price range as that of the city car’s main competitor, the Fiat 500. […]

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When the Opel Adam enters the Chinese auto market in 2015, it will do so with a Buick badge as General Motors’ first high-end city car.

CarNewsChina reports the Adam will sell for somewhere between 169,800 yuan and 268,800 yuan, the same price range as that of the city car’s main competitor, the Fiat 500. Buick will import the Adam at first, though local production could come to fruition further down the road.

Under the hood, two engines will be available to future Adam owners, including a 1.2-liter engine driving 69 horses through the front wheels, and a larger 1.4-liter with 100 horsepower. Both engines are gasoline-powered.

The customer base for the Adam are those seeking a trendsetting lifestyle machine that has little to do with their parents’ Regal or other sedans.

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Ford CEO Mulally To Head Boeing Or Microsoft Soon? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/ford-ceo-mulally-to-head-boeing-or-microsoft-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/ford-ceo-mulally-to-head-boeing-or-microsoft-soon/#comments Sat, 19 Oct 2013 16:06:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=627322 The rumor mill has been grinding away as of late regarding the possible return of Ford CEO Alan Mulally to helm either one of two of Seattle’s many economic engines: Microsoft and Boeing. In the face of these rumors, Mulally has opted not to dispel the rampant speculation. Reuters was  among those in attendance at an […]

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Alan Mulally Posing With 2013 Ford F-150 Circa June 2012

The rumor mill has been grinding away as of late regarding the possible return of Ford CEO Alan Mulally to helm either one of two of Seattle’s many economic engines: Microsoft and Boeing. In the face of these rumors, Mulally has opted not to dispel the rampant speculation.

Reuters was  among those in attendance at an automotive conference in Wuhan, China, where Mulally’s response to being asked whether he was directly or indirectly approached by either company to take the wheel was, “I love serving Ford.” He added that there were no changes to the plan laid out for Ford to find a successor to the third longest serving CEO when he steps down at the end of 2014, though Reuters did report that the auto maker may be open to an earlier departure should Mulally accept an offer elsewhere.

Since taking over Ford in 2006, Mulally helped steady the then-troubled company through his One Ford plan, which led to the sale of acquired brands — including Aston Martin and Volvo — to bring the focus back upon the Ford and Lincoln product lines. In turn, Mulally’s Ford was the only auto maker to avoid the pitfalls and bailouts experienced by Chrysler and General Motors during the Great Recession’s early days in late 2008.

With Microsoft’s market price still stagnant a decade on, and Boeing’s own woes with the 787 Dreamliner, either company could possibly benefit should the right offer approach his desk, especially if hand-delivered by his senior contacts in both companies to his home in Seattle.

Of course, when asked if he were open to a new executive post upon the end of his term at Ford, Mulally laughed and only had three words for the reporter: “I don’t know.”

Photo credit: Ford

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Justice for the Zombie Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/justice-for-the-zombie-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/justice-for-the-zombie-cars/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:19:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=626898 Just in time for Halloween, NBC News’ China-centric news blog “Behind the Wall” is running a piece on the removal of a Chinese “Zombie car.” The car, actually a small blue van, was left in a roadside parking lot just over a year ago and has since been consumed by a voracious ivy plant. When […]

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Photo courtesy of NBCnews.com

Just in time for Halloween, NBC News’ China-centric news blog “Behind the Wall” is running a piece on the removal of a Chinese “Zombie car.” The car, actually a small blue van, was left in a roadside parking lot just over a year ago and has since been consumed by a voracious ivy plant. When photos of the plant covered car became an internet sensation earlier this year, the police became involved but had little luck tracing the current owner. Eventually the decision was made to impound the vehicle, but by then the vines were so thick that local authorities determined it would be easier to haul the entire mess away in one fell swoop. The end result makes an interesting photo.

Photo courtesy of NBCnews.com

There is something sad about an abandoned car. How a vehicle goes from the object of a person’s desire to a worthless piece of trash is an amazing journey. Think about the money and effort involved in purchasing a car. The average person struggles for years to find the money to make the down payment, then years more to service the loan. Along the way there is gas, oil, tires, batteries, tune-ups and eventually parts and repairs, but in return for all that your car gives its entire life to your service. It is, at first, a status symbol, the object of your neighbors’ envy, then a faithful servant that carries you on every errand. Later it becomes that part of your family that carried you to the hospital when your son or daughter was born and eventually that aging but stalwart companion that carried you across the country on your family vacations.

Sooner or later something new catches your eye, your situation changes, or the repair bills begin to mount up so high that you decide a change is in order. In most cases people trade their old car in for another and, although they are thrilled to have something new, they are saddened to see the old one go. Still, the idea that the old car may find some service for another family, may live to serve that family as it has served your own, helps soften the blow. I know that’s how I felt when I traded the keys to my Ford Freestar for the ones to our new T&C but I walked away from the relationship knowing that I did my best to ensure that it would live on for some time to come.

I can’t look at an old, abandoned car without imagining how it came to be there, the people it carried and the lives it touched. In my mind, abandoning your vehicle is a despicable thing to do and it reminds me of an old folk tale called “The Bell of Atri.” Of course I know a car is not a living, breathing thing but as a faithful servant it deserves better. If it can’t go on, then at the very least take it to the recycler and let it start the process anew. Everyone deserves justice, do they not?

Image Courtesy of Gutenburg.org

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Reuters: Dongfeng/PSA Tie-Up Resulted From GM Scaling Back Cooperation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/reuters-dongfengpsa-tie-up-resulted-from-gm-scaling-back-cooperation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/reuters-dongfengpsa-tie-up-resulted-from-gm-scaling-back-cooperation/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:58:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=624193 Reuters is reporting that the reason behind PSA/Peugeot Citroen’s financial tie-up with China’s Dongfeng Motors was the decision of General Motors, which owns 7% of the French automaker, to scale back cooperation with Peugeot. GM also apparently rejected a PSA/Opel merger backed by the French government. In February of 2012, GM announced its investment in […]

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Reuters is reporting that the reason behind PSA/Peugeot Citroen’s financial tie-up with China’s Dongfeng Motors was the decision of General Motors, which owns 7% of the French automaker, to scale back cooperation with Peugeot. GM also apparently rejected a PSA/Opel merger backed by the French government.

In February of 2012, GM announced its investment in PSA as part of what was publicized as a broad based partnership. However, the relationship had problems only months later when GM announced that Shanghai Automotive (SAIC), its partner in China, vetoed some of the joint GM-PSA product planning.

Also, in June of this year, Peugeot had arranged approval from the French government for a restructuring that involved a merger with GM’s European Opel division, but the Detroit based automaker disapproved the deal. The less than smooth relationship with GM persuaded Peugeot CEO Philippe Varin to find other financial partners, ending in the reported $4 billion capital investment in PSA by Dongfeng and the French government. If that deal goes through, the holdings of GM would be diluted and the Peugeot family, which currently owns a bit more than a quarter of its shares, would no longer control the firm.

In exchange for the investment, Dongfeng will get access to PSA’s technology and markets.

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Grandpa Ronnie Visits The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/grandpa-ronnie-visits-the-battery-show-and-electric-hybrid-vehicle-technology-expo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/grandpa-ronnie-visits-the-battery-show-and-electric-hybrid-vehicle-technology-expo/#comments Fri, 20 Sep 2013 11:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=523921 When a major EV and battery expo takes place at the same time as EV charging station maker Ecotality files for bankruptcy, it’s a good question as to how much of the EV and hybrid vehicle industry is truly sustainable and how much exists solely to chase government incentives, but there is no question that […]

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When a major EV and battery expo takes place at the same time as EV charging station maker Ecotality files for bankruptcy, it’s a good question as to how much of the EV and hybrid vehicle industry is truly sustainable and how much exists solely to chase government incentives, but there is no question that it’s a substantial industry, even if, according to the most optimistic forecasts, cars and trucks with electric drive will never make up more than a fraction of annual sales.

Over 300 battery vendors and tier 1 and tier 2 vendors to the battery and EV industries had displays this week at The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, held just outside of Detroit in Novi. To be honest, there wasn’t really much news generated at the combined shows, which were pretty much trade shows with booths from companies eager to do business. A lot like the SAE World Congress, I came home with more logo inscribed pens than with breaking news.

As most of the vendors were involved with selling motors, wiring, insulating films, welding systems, powder pulverizers, battery management systems and other components, equipment and processes that go into making hybrid or electric vehicles, there were only a handful of actual cars and trucks at the event, one of them being a medium speed electric vehicle (top speed: 60 kmh / 36 mph) called the ZD, from the Shandong Xindayang Electric Vehicle Co. Ltd. of Huangyan, China, part of the XDY group.

It comes with a 10.8 kw/h battery, and a DC motor rated at 6 kw continuous, 18 kw maximum, which work out to about 8 and 24 horsepower respectively. It has 82 Newton meters of torque, ~60 ft lbs. It’s decently equipped, as you can see at their charmingly Chinglishy web site. Their representative told me that the ZD isn’t for sale yet in the United States but the company has a dedicated website for potential distributors.

779ff1be-3759-4272-a585-c737191f80f5My daughter-in-law is finishing up nursing school and had clinicals to do, so I was assigned the very pleasant task of babysitting my grandson, Aryeh Leib, named after my late father, Leonard. Aryeh has gone to a bunch of car shows and car events with me and he’s usually pretty cool about riding around in his stroller. That leaves my hands free for shooting photos and video.

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Aryeh is a very cute child. Don’t take my word for it.Forget yellow Lamborghinis. As babe magnets, PMY Gallardos must surely pale beside toddlers. IMG_0007a_l

Still, a 16 month old child has a limited amount of patience and by the time I came across the booth with the little white ZD electric car, Aryeh was beginning to fuss. I wanted to take some photographs of the EV but he really didn’t want to stay in the stroller, so I let him play in the little hatchback, much to the amusement of the nice, albeit English impaired, Chinese lady staffing the booth.

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Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view on cars at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Geely & Volvo to Jointly Develop Cars, Volvo Pilot Production Begins in Chengdu, Two More Chinese Volvo Factories Approved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/geely-volvo-to-jointly-develop-cars-volvo-pilot-production-begins-in-chengdu-two-more-chinese-volvo-factories-approved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/geely-volvo-to-jointly-develop-cars-volvo-pilot-production-begins-in-chengdu-two-more-chinese-volvo-factories-approved/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:50:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500630 Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., owned by the same Chinese company that bought Volvo Cars in 2010, announced that it will soon start developing cars jointly with the Swedish company. The cars will be intended for the Chinese and export markets and will go on sale in 2015. Geely has ambitions to be China’s largest car […]

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Pilot production begins at Volvo's Chengdu plant in China

Pilot production begins at Volvo’s Chengdu plant in China

Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., owned by the same Chinese company that bought Volvo Cars in 2010, announced that it will soon start developing cars jointly with the Swedish company. The cars will be intended for the Chinese and export markets and will go on sale in 2015. Geely has ambitions to be China’s largest car exporter. Working jointly with Volvo is seen as giving Geely products some of Volvo’s reputation for safety and reliability.

“We have entered into actual research and development stage and I believe we can see the new product in the year after next,” said Geely Chief Executive Officer Gui Sheng Yue yesterday in Hong Kong.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., bought Volvo from Ford for $1.8 billion and last year the two companies signed a memorandum to “leverage its full access” to technology to develop vehicles. Earlier this year, Volvo announced that it was going to build a joint R&D center with Geely in Gothenburg. Volvo has also started assembling test builds at its first factory in China, in Chengdu, which will have an annual capacity of 120,000 cars.

Volvo Cars also announced today that it has received approval from the Chinese national government to build two more factories in China. The assembly plant in Daqing, in northeast China, will have a capacity of 80,000 units a year and is hoped to be fully operational some time next year. The facility in Zhangjiakou will be an engine plant and it will supply the Chengdu assembly operation where actual production will begin in Q4 2013. The two assembly plants are not expected to reach capacity for a few years.

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Tesla Faces Trademark Issues With “Model E” In U.S. and “Tesla” in China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/tesla-faces-trademark-issues-with-model-e-in-u-s-and-tesla-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/tesla-faces-trademark-issues-with-model-e-in-u-s-and-tesla-in-china/#comments Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:10:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500626 Tesla Motors faces trademark issues in the United States and China as it tries to expand its lineup of cars and countries where it is sold. According applications found at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s web site, on August 5th, Tesla filed three trademark applications for use of the name “Model E” in three […]

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Chinese businessman Zhan Baosheng’s “Tesla” web site

Tesla Motors faces trademark issues in the United States and China as it tries to expand its lineup of cars and countries where it is sold. According applications found at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s web site, on August 5th, Tesla filed three trademark applications for use of the name “Model E” in three categories, “automobiles and structural parts therefore,” automobile maintenance and repair services, and apparel. With merchandise sales being an important part of car marketing today, additional filings to cover apparel and similar logoed items are standard practice. Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted at a Model E in an interview with Jalopnik, “There will definitely be more models after the S and X. Maybe an E :).”

Tesla may run into problems using Model E, though. Thirteen years ago, Ford Motor Company sued a company called the Model E Corp, claiming that it would cause confusion with Ford’s trademark on the name Model T. That case in a Michigan court was dismissed for lack of standing. Records at the USPTO show that Ford subsequently cancelled or abandoned applications for a trademark on Model E. Initially, when the news broke about Tesla’s applications, a Ford spokesman said that the Dearborn automaker would likely not challenge Tesla’s use. However, a later statement from Ford said that the company will review Tesla’s application and have no further comment on the matter at this time.

Tesla is also having difficulty entering the Chinese car market because a local Chinese businessman already secured rights to use the name Tesla in the world’s largest car market. Tesla Motors had hoped to open a company owned showroom in Beijing by the beginning of 2014, but that plan has now been delayed while they work out the intellectual property issue. The Tesla showroom has posters of the Model S, but no brand signs. A Tokyo-based Tesla representative said that the company had begun taking reservations for the Model S in China.

The “Tesla” trademark was registered in China to a Guangdong businessman named Zhan Baosheng in 2006, according to a trademark agency representing him, in both English and Chinese characters. Zhan also owns the teslamotors.com.cn domain name (and similar domain names) where he appears to promoting his own electric cars. Not only is he using the Tesla name and a Chinese-language slogan ‘Te Si La, Live For Electricity’, he’s also using the T shaped Tesla logo. Experts familiar with Chinese trademark issues say that Tesla may have no other choice than pay Zhan for the use of the name. According to published reports, the EV maker offered him $326,000, but Baosheng is holding out for $32 million. Last year Apple Inc. paid $60 million for the Chinese rights to the name iPad. As a backup plan Tesla has registered the name Tuosule, which phonetically reproduces their brand name.

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