After analysing August 2022 Chinese wholesales, it is now time to detail the new locally produced models for the month. This way you can stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the largest and most dynamic market in the world. This month we have 9 new models hitting Chinese roads, seven of them Chinese, plus the Audi Q4 e-Tron (121 sales) and Mercedes EQE (10 sales). That’s 8 BEVs in a total of 11 launches. To thoroughly understand the dynamics at play in China, make sure you consult our Exclusive Guide to all 192 active Chinese Brands.
1. BYD Seal (1,726 sales)
The BYD Seal is the second model under the manufacturer’s Ocean series after the Dolphin, like it it is a BEV. The other series are Dynasty (Han, Qin, Song…) and Warship (Destroyer 05). The Seal is a sporty compact sedan squarely aimed at the Tesla Model 3 and very close to it in its silhouette. It is 4.80m long vs. 4.69m for the Model 3. The Seal will swim overseas and is scheduled to launch in Europe and Australia among other markets, branded as the Atto 4. The Dolphin will also be sold in Australia as the Atto 2. There are three variants of the Seal: RWD single-motor 204 hp, RWD single-motor 313 hp and AWD dual-motor 530 hp. The range varies between 550 and 700 km and charging 300 km lasts 15 minutes.
All Seal variants feature the brand’s own BYD Blade battery packs. The Seal also has Cell to Body technology (CTB) which means the battery is integrated into the frame. Interior-wise, the centre touch screen can rotate landscape/portrait. The Seal is priced from 209,800 to 286,800 yuan (30,500-41,700€ or US$29,400-40,100) vs. 291,000 to 367,900 yuan for the Tesla Model 3. It also competes internally with the Han (214,800-329,800 yuan) as well as the likes of the Shenlan SL03 (168,900-699,900 yuan) also an August launch, the Zeekr 001 (299,000-38,600 yuan) and the Xpeng P7 (239,900-439,900 yuan). In terms of commercial performance, the Seal has reportedly already pre-sold 110,000 units whereas BYD had aimed for 60,000 units/year, so sky high expectations for this model in relation to its price.
Bar for success: 12,000 monthly sales
2. Ora Ballet Cat (1,056 sales)
Those who though the copycat years of Chinese car manufacturers were long gone are proven wrong this month. The Ora Ballet Cat is unfortunately a defiant copy of the VW Beetle, together with bi-colour design. Ora is a BEV brand by Great Wall that has seen its sales soar since the entire lineup is composed of models named after cats (Black Cat, White Cat, Good Cat…). Inside, the feeling is very feminine with pastel blue or pink colours (depending on the colour of the car) and a diamond-imitation charging pad. The large digital tile is inspired by Mercedes and features two screen: one for instruments and one for the infotainment. Note also the metallic horn ring on the driving wheel.
The Ballet Cat comes with a 171hp engine delivering 401 or 500 km range. It is 4.40m long and seats five people. All this retro feels come for a price and the Ballet Cat is not cheap, starting at 193,000 yuan (28,000€ or US$27,000) and going up to 223,000 yuan (32,400€ or US$31,200). It competes with the likes of the Smart #1 (194,200-279,000 yuan). As for sales predictions, the Good Cat peaked at 10,685 sales last December so we’d want at least half of that to call the Ballet Cat a success.
Bar for success: 5,000 monthly sales
3. Shenlan SL03 (879 sales)
Shenlan, in mandarin 深蓝, meaning “Deep Blue” is a New Energy brand by Changan launched in April 2022. It is a cooperation between Changan, Huawei and CATL. Its first vehicle is this sedan called SL03, available in BEV, EREV range-extender and FCEV variants. It is another Tesla Model 3 killer, at 11cm longer. The BEV has a single 218 hp electric motor with a large capacity battery allowing a 700 km range or 258 hp with less battery capacity for a 515 km range. The EREV has a 1.5L 95hp naturally aspirated engine for a 1200 km range and the FCEV has a 218 hp motor for a 730 km range but, as we will see further down, is priced extravagantly.
The SL03 is definitely a high tech vehicle, it is equipped with 27 different sensors and level-4 autonomous driving support. The interior is clean and sober with a 14.6-inch screen that can rotate 15 degrees right or left. The SL03 It is priced between 168,900 and 699,900 yuan, the latter for the FCEV model. That’s 24,500 to 101,800€ or US$23,600-97,800. It competes with the likes of the BYD Seal (209,800-286,800 yuan), BYD Han (214,800-329,800 yuan) and Neta S (199,800-338,800 yuan). The SL03 pre-sold 10,000 units in 30 minutes thanks to a savvy marketing strategy that reserves the model to those ordering it within 48 hours.
Bar for success: 4,000 monthly sales.
4. NIO ES7 (398 sales)
NIO has been one of the most successful EV start-ups in recent years despite hefty prices. There is a Tesla-like cult for the brand in China, the only Chinese brand to enjoy such status. Their newest vehicle was revealed at a NIO event on 15 June 2022, it is the fourth SUV for the brand after the EC6, ES6 and ES8. At 4.85m long, It logically slots in between the ES6 (4.85 m) and ES8 (5.02m). It is a 5-seater SUV and loaded with tech, including, like the ET7, 33 high-performance sensors and 12 ultrasonic sensors. The exterior design has nothing to be very excited for, only stepping slightly away from the design of the brand’s other models.
The interior looks very much like the ET7, it is clean and minimalistic, with a 9.8 inch screen for instruments and 12.8 inch portrait screen for the infotainment. Notice, again, the absence of passenger glove box as we have been used to for NIO models. We find the usual Nomi AI assistant on top of the dashboard, allowing, according to NIO, a “fluid conversation” with front passenger and turning towards the passenger who speaks. The armrest console includes a touch screen for back passengers that controls the air conditioning. The ES7 is in a bit of a whole competition-wise, which may be to its advantage. It is priced from 468,800 to 548,000 yuan (67,900-79,400€ or US$65,500-76,600), well below SUVs like the BMW X5 (605,000-775,000 yuan) but above the Xpeng G9 (309,900-469,900 yuan) and BMW X3 (396,900-479,800 yuan). Volume-wise, the ES6 peaked at 5,260 units in September 2021 and the ES8 at 3,349 in November 2018, so we’d want to ES7 to regularly reach 3,000 monthly units to be called a success.
Bar for success: 3,000 monthly sales
5. MG Mulan (209 sales)
A 4.29m long compact hatchback, the MG Mulan is BEV-only and one of the first Chinese vehicles (if not the first) to launch simultaneously in China and Europe where it is marketed as the MG4. 10,000 units have already been pre-sold in China and a batch of 10,000 additional vehicles is locked for Europe where it will be available in 20 countries including Norway, the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and France. Range goes from 425 km to 520 km.
The interior features two touch screens that are relatively small in the current Chinese context: 7 in for instruments and 10.25 in for infotainment. Interestingly, the dashboard is bi-colour: we have seen two examples: white on top and black at the bottom and white/red. The steering wheel can also be ordered as bi-colour, which is a feature we don’t see everyday. The air vent design runs the entire width of the dashboard. Priced from 129,800 to 186,800 yuan (18,800-27,100€ or US$18,100-26,100), the MG Mulan is squarely aimed at the VW ID.3 (149,900-185,300 yuan) and also competes in price with the likes of the BYD Yuan Plus (137,800-165,800 yuan). The Mulan is off to a great start pre-sales-wise, let’s hope it holds itself well in the long term.
Bar for success: 5,000 monthly sales
6. Audi Q6 (96 sales)
Unveiled last July in China, the Audi Q6 is for now available in ICE versions that will remain exclusive to China. A Q6 e-Tron EV version, though unrelated mechanically, will be the first to use the Premium Platform Electric developed with Porsche, and a Q6 coupe version will follow later. Both will launch in Europe. The Q6 comes as two variants: a 2.0T offering 231 hp or 265 hp and a 2.5T offering 299 hp. It is a large 3-row SUV seating 6 or 7 passenger that at 5.10 m long is actually longer than the Q7 and Q8, making it the largest SUV currently marketed by Audi.
It is the third model of the SAIC-Audi joint-venture after the Q5 e-Tron and the Audi A7L. The Q6 shares the same MQB Evo platform with the Volkswagen Talagon (5.15m) and Teramont (5.04m). The interior design is a mix of old-school and modernity. It has three screens (12.3 in, 10.1 in and 8.6 in) but the instrument panel features old round tachos. Priced from 459,600 to 630,600 yuan (66,600-91,300€ or US$64,200-88,100), the Q6 is cheaper than the imported Q7 (623,800-804,800 yuan) and Q8 (782,800-1,146,800 yuan) but dearer than the locally-made Q5L (396,800-488,800 yuan). As for its sales potential, the Q6 could be a surprise hit as the Q5L regularly pulls 10,000+ sales months and peaked at 18,011 in September 2020. The Q7 and Q8 have minimal sales. We’ll stay on the side of caution though for its bar for success.
Bar for success: 4,000 monthly sales
7. Honda ZR-V (35 sales)
Unveiled for China in May 2022 (April 2022 for the US and July 2022 for Japan), the Honda ZR-V sits between the XR-V and the CR-V in China. It is produced by the Guangqi Honda joint-venture and a twin by the Dongfeng-Honda joint-venture will soon launch and be confusingly named HR-V. Indeed HR-V is also the name of this car in North America, distinct from the global HR-V. Even more confusingly, the Japanese ZR-V has replaced the CR-V there. The name ZR-V means generation Z Runabout Vehicle, in a clear indication of its target market. The ZR-V is offered in a single engine, a 1.5T CVT delivering 182 hp.
The interior features a relatively small touch screen and a digital driver panel with the air vent design running on the width of the passenger space. The gearshift is old fashioned and there are manual commands for the air conditioning. All-in-all, the quality of the dashboard seems average. It is priced from 159,900 to 195,900 yuan (23,200-28,400€ or US$22,300-27,400), very close to the CR-V (169,800-276,800 yuan) and logically higher than the XR-V (127,900-175,900 yuan). Both the CR-V (#10 in August) and XR-V/Vezel are very strong sellers, so the potential is high for this model.
Bar for success: 6,000 monthly units.
8. JMEV EV2 (15 sales)
Not much is known yet about this micro 4-door BEV hatchback, not even its price. It’s also impossible to find pictures of its interior design. The EV2 should compete with the Changan Benben e-star (69,800-74,800 yuan). As a reference the larger JMEV EV3 is priced from 79,800 to 84,800 yuan. In terms of sales potential, using the EV3 as guide, it peaked at 2,546 sales during its launch period in May 2019, but passed the 1,000 mark only three time since then including last March. We’ll set the bar for success at 1,000 sales but this will be difficult to achieve.
Bar for success: 1,000 monthly sales
9. Hongqi LS7 (2 sales)
Making a very discreet appearance in the charts, the LS7 is the long-awaited new flagship of the only Chinese true luxury brand, Hongqi. It was originally unveiled in October 2021 and took a bit of time to hit the market. The LS7 is 5.70m long (making it the largest SUV built in China) and powered by a 4.0T 360 hp engine mated with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. It It is 4WD.
As it is the case for most Hongqi models, the exterior design is striking to say the least, with an extra-large chrome grille and thick sides. Chrome is everywhere on the car, a feature that super-rich customers appreciate. Notice also the new red bar logo going from the grille onto the hood. This car’s only purpose is to show off and it manages to do so. The interior design also has chrome and features a large unified block that includes the instrument panel and infotainment large screens.
Priced between 1,365,800 and 1,465,800 yuan (197,800-212,300€ or US$190,800-204,800), the LS7 is the second most expensive Chinese model below the Hongqi L5 (5m yuan). The LS7 only has one domestic competitor: the smaller Beijing BJ90 (988,000-1,288,000 yuan). It instead competes with the Range Rover (1,428,000-3,328,000 yuan) and is more expensive than the Mercedes GLS (1,068,000-1,329,000 yuan) and starts much higher than the Lincoln Navigator (1,098,000-142,800 yuan). Due to its sales potential is logically limited.
Bar for success: 150 monthly sales