By on January 18, 2011

All Chinese drive bicycles, make that cheap QQs. No, all Chinese drive big Buicks, I mean, all Chinese are chauffeured around in A6s and Mercedes S-Class.

All wrong. So, what do Chinese really drive?

Global Times compiled a list of China’s Top Ten passenger cars, based on official China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) data. Global Times made a little mess out of the data (sometimes, they miss a digit – it’s a huge country, and the numbers can be confounding.) Where they did, the numbers have been corrected.  China’s Top Ten represent 2.14 million units, out of a total of more than 18 million. Which just goes to show how fractionalized that market is.

No.1 BYD F3

China’s bestselling car is the Toyota Corolla the BYD F3. (pictured above.) The car from the supposedly electrified company is powered by a 4 cylinder, 1.5 L, Mitsubishi Orion engine. Can be had anywhere between $7,821 and $ 12,200. Some 263,900 units were sold in 2010.

No.2 Volkswagen Lavida

The Volkswagen Lavida was developed by Shanghai Volkswagen from parts provided by the Volkswagen PQ34  (think Golf Mk4) kit. It is available in China only. Power is delivered by a 1.6L or 2.0L VW engine. Priced between $18,117 and $21,137 some 251,600 units of the model were sold in 2010.

No.3 Hyundai Elantra Yue Dong

The Beijing Hyundai joint venture redesigned an Elantra HD and called it “Hyundai Elantra Yue Dong” for the Chinese market. It can be had with 1.6- Gamma and 2.0-L Beta II gasoline inline-four engines, and a 1.6-L turbo diesel inline-four. With price tags between $16,247 and $18,088, some 233,300 units were sold.

No.4 Volkswagen Jetta

The car that won’t say die, China’s equivalent of the VW Bug. If they ever kill it, they will have to roll a boulder on its grave to keep it from relaunching itself. Still based on the venerable Golf Mk2 platform. The FAW-VW Jetta is powered by a 1.6 L engine, and costs between $11,440 and $14,912. VW sold 224,500 units of the model.

No. 5 Buick Excelle

Built on an Opel Astra, the Buick Excelle is a product of Shanghai GM. Three engines are available: 1.6L, 1.8L, and 1.6L turbo. Priced between $15,976 and 17,940, some 222,500 units changed hands in 2010.

No. 6 Volkswagen Santana

The car that started China’s mass motorization, still going strong since 1985. Scheduled to bite the dust in 2012, but with these numbers, who knows. The car made by Shanghai-VW is powered by a 2.0 liter engine. It sets you back between $11,592 and $12,045. Shanghai-VW sold 210,100 units of the model.

No.7 FAW Xiali

Based on the facelifted Xiali A series, which is based on the Daihatsu Charade Mark 2, the Xiali (Chinese for “Charade”) is produced at the FAW subsidiary Tianjin FAW Xiali Automobile. It would cost you between $6,626-7,532. In 2010, a total of 198,700 units were sold.

No. 8 Chevrolet Cruze

Co-engineered by Daewoo and Opel, the car is made by Shanghai GM. Available with a 1.6L and 1.8 L engine, the model sold 187,800 units in 2010.

No. 9 Cowin

The Cowin is a 5-door, 1.5 L petrol engine liftback produced by Chery. Its ancestors go way back. The Cowin is a restyled Chery A11, which used the tooling of the first SEAT Toledo, which in turn was based on the Golf Mk2. 173,500 Cowins were sold last year.

No. 10 Volkswagen Bora

Produced by the FAW-VW joint venture, the car is based on the Golf/Jetta Mk4. (FAW also sells the Mk5 as Sagitar.) Priced between $16,280 and $22,321 the Bora sold 172,500 times in China in 2010.

So there you have it. In case you miss the Japanese: The Nikkei [sub] also complains that “Japanese cars failed to crack the top 10 in a ranking of China’s top-selling passenger cars last year, beaten out by U.S. and European subcompacts.” It’s not that Chinese don’t like Japanese cars, they represent a market share of 22.7 percent. It’s just that the Honda Accord and the Toyota Corolla and Camry slipped from the Top Ten.  Guess the Nikkei didn’t want to accept the Xiali as Japanese …

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25 Comments on “China’s Best Selling Cars Of 2010...”

  • avatar

    Isn’t the Cowin a face-lifted 1st gen (91-98) SEAT Toledo ?

  • avatar

    It’s amazing how dated the Jetta and Santana look. Why would they still sell when there’s more modern cars available at similar pricing? Do the modern models also not have the same safety features as the world equivalents?

  • avatar

    Yeah, interesting how they’re still able to sell some of these cars that were designed 25 years ago next to products that were designed 10 years ago with this kind of relatively small price differences. Makes one wonder what the used car market is like in China. I for one would prefer a mildly used ‘MkIV Golf’ over a brandnew ’85 Passat.

    But I guess it depends upon how the Chinese think about maintaining their cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I guess, these old Volkswagens are very popular in fleet sales market, they use it especially as taxi cabs and police cars. So, they prefer to buy cheap and reliable new cars instead of maintain used ones, sometimes in very poor condition.

  • avatar

    I’m a little confused about the Buick Excelle’s data, because GM stated that they sold more than 300.000 units in 2010. What is behind the difference?

  • avatar

    Wow. Most interesting. So how/why did all those old VWs still sold so well? Especially since they don’t seem to be that cheap. Several of the more modern-looking competitors are considerably cheaper.
    So China must be heaven for all those watercooled VW lovers, eh? Mk.2 Golf/Jetta, several different MK.4, and Mk.5 too? All for sale brand new at the local VW dealers? Oh my…

  • avatar

    Maybe the older VW’s sell well because they’re relatively easy to work on and repair for DIYer’s and people living in rural areas (where computerized diagnostic equipment and other similar things may be less available). I would assume they would have fewer electronic and computerized components and maybe parts are easy to find.

  • avatar

    It’s a shame VW doesn’t offer us “City” versions of the Golf/Jetta as is done north of the border.  I’d gladly take a MkIV Jetta over the 2011 version.

    • 0 avatar

      No, you wouldn’t.  Trust me on this, the City models don’t just show they’re age, they also show the evidence of rampant cost-cutting VW is doing to meet margin targets.  I’ve seen the NCS Jetta and even if it isn’t up to the spec set by the MkV, it’s way, way better than the City.
      For one, it’s equipped with the old 2.0 (fondly known as the 2.Slow).  For another, the “modern” bits are grafted on very haphazrdly.  Oh, and the tires are awful.  Also, it has all the baked-in unreliability of the MkIV without much of the redeeming quality.
      Personally, there’s nothing like selling me a product that’s two generations back of current to make me, as a consumer, feel third-rate.  Thanks, but no thanks, VW: everyone else somehow manages to sell new cars in North America and make money.  That you have to resort to this doesn’t inspire confidence.

    • 0 avatar

      The reliability and build quality of those particular cars are terrible. Would you spend any amount of new-car money on an older car?

    • 0 avatar

      The real deal on the “City” models was during their first year of production when, if I’m not mistaken, they were scarcely changed from their MkIV brethren on which they were based. In 2008 (I think) they did some cost cutting and subtle facelifting; it’s been all downhill from there. Maybe they’ll make a city Routan one of these days — call it a Dodge Caravan?

  • avatar

    The only car on that list that is also sold in the US is the Chevrolet Cruze.  This same car is also sold in Europe and other markets worldwide–more or less unadjusted.  Since the US and China are the two largest markets, if the Cruze manages to do at least as well as the Cobalt in the US market, then it is likely to be one of the world’s top selling cars.

  • avatar

    hold on… there’s one very very important fact here that deserves investigation…
    this top 10 represents a little over 2 million cars
    that leaves just under 16 million cars of underdeterminate make
    since the top selling car only sold 263,000 units and #10 sold 172,000 units that means there must be hundreds of different makes from the stuff we known (eg. Toyota Mark IIs and Hyundai Rohens nee Genesis Coupe) to exotics to the really obscure native marques (Polarsun, Wuling, Zhong Xing etc.)

    what an incredibly fascinating market

  • avatar

    Does Buick pull a “Corolla” with regard to bundling Excelle sales? The old Daewoo Lacetti-based Excelle is pictured, but there’s also an Excelle XT, based on the 5-door New Astra, and the Excelle GT, which is similar to the US Verano.

  • avatar

    Seen a bunch of those Chinese Corollas in the Caribbean as Taxis. Corolla is by far the most popular car in the Dominican, as well as some other coutries, but that is because they are reliable as hell. I took mine up the hills with Cayennes, Land Cruisers and Patrols. If the Chinese version is reliable they could have a winner abroad.

  • avatar

    Bertel, the Excelle is based on the Daewoo/Chevrolet Nubira/Lacetti/Optra, and also sold as Suzuki Forenza, Holden Viva and who knows what else.
    I have yet to see an Astra with independent rear strut suspension, which the Korean thing has. The ones I’ve seen have a twist beam axle like most European cars.

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