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China new models December 2023: BYD Song L, AvatR 12, Zeekr 007 launch

BYD Song L

It is now time to study the newcomers in the Chinese wholesales charts. This month, we have 9 new models hitting dealerships, all of them Chinese. Once again this shows that foreign manufacturers simply can’t keep up with the launch frequency of their Chinese counterparts and are overwhelmed by the speed at which domestic models are released to market. All launches are New Energy vehicles (EV or PHEV). To fully understand the scope of the Chinese market, make sure you consult our Exclusive Guide to all 202 active Chinese Brands.

1. BYD Song L (4,988 sales)

The most successful launch this month is the eagerly anticipated BYD Song L, a BEV mid-size crossover/fastback. Its naming follows the dynasty series but it fails to secure a nameplate of its own, with BYD preferring to continue on the Song nomenclature. It is 4.84m long with a 2.93m wheelbase. The exterior design conforms with previous BYD models with the dragon face design at the front. It also features the now mandatory hidden door handles. Its low roof and fastback silhouette help the vehicle offer an excellent 0.255 coefficient drag. The Song L is available in either single motor front wheel drive or dual motor all wheel drive. Its CLTC range varies from 550 km to 662 km.

The interior features a 15.6-inch rotating central console screen, a 10.25-inch instrument panel and a 50-inch AR head up display. It is priced from 189,800 to 249,800 yuan (24,400-32,100€ or US$26,400-34,800). Note the final starting price is around 30,000 yuan (3,850€ or US4,200) less than the pre-sales price, with BYD still very aggressive in the price war against Tesla. To this point, the Song L is set to compete with the more expensive Tesla Model Y (258,900-363,900 yuan) and Zeekr 001 (300,000-769,000 yuan). We’d want it to reach at least 20,000 monthly sales to be a success and push BYD volumes further up.

Bar for success: 20,000 monthly sales

2. Kaiyi Shiyue (3,079 sales)

Kaiyi used to be called Cowin and belong to Chery but the latter now only owns 18%. Kaiyi comes late into the mini EV battle with this Shiyue at 3.36m long and 2.16m wheelbase. It has fallen victim to the now ubiquitous hidden door handles, and also offers keyless entry and start. The maximum speed is limited to 100 km/h which means it is only supposed to be used for city driving. Its CLTC range is 155 km, 210 km or 301 km depending on the variant.

Mainly targeting young female drivers, the Shiyue colours are pastel both outside and inside on the dashboard. The interior is clean with a small digital instrument panel and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen. The Shiyue is priced from 53,900 to 99,800 yuan (6,900-12,800€ or US$7,500-13,900) and will compete with the likes of the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV (32,800-99,900 yuan), Chery Little Ant (59,900-74,900 yuan), Geely Panda (29,900-56,900 yuan) and Changan Lumin (49,900-69,900 yuan).

Bar for success: 5,000 sales

3. AvatR 12 (1,820 sales)

AvatR, originally a Changan-Nio joint venture but now owned at 39% by Changan and 24% by battery maker CATL, has been a reasonably successful launch in China, with over 25,000 wholesales in 2023. The brand was until now only available with the 11, a midsize 4WD SUV, the 12 is its second model and first sedan. Its shape is more of a fastback actually, and AvatR calls it a gran coupe. It was shown to European audiences at the IAA Mobility Auto Show in Munich in September 2023, hinting at a worldwide career. It is 5.02m long with a 3.02m wheelbase. Its design resembles the 11, adapted to a fastback silhouette. Its front features double lighting with a “C” motif while the back has narrow strips of rear lamps.

Of course we have hidden door handles while the traditional side mirrors can be replaced with cameras on each side of the dashboard. There are two available powertrains: Rear wheel drive with 313 hp and 4WD with 578 hp. Inside, the central console has a 15.6-inch digital screen while instead of an instrument panel we have a 35.4-inch digital strip running across the entire width of the cockpit. The 12 is priced from 300,800 to 400,800 yuan (38,600-51,500€ or US$41,900-55,800) and mainly competes with the Zeekr 001 (300,000-769,000 yuan) and Nio ET7 (428,000-506,000 yuan). The 11 peaked at 2,825 sales last October so we’d want at least that to call the 12 a success that enables the AvatR brand to survive.

Bar for success: 2,500 monthly sales

4. iCar 03 (1,445 sales)

iCar is an EV brand by Chery launched in April 2023 and targeted at younger customers. The logo features a stylised i that is also used to shape the headlights of the brand’s cars. The first model unveiled was a sports car called GT but the first vehicle produced is this 03 small SUV. It is 4.41m long and has a 2.715m wheelbase. With its boxy shape that is all the rage with Chinese SUV makers, it can be described as hardcore with an approach angle of 26 degrees and a departure angle of 29 degrees.

Its powertrain offers either a single electric motor for 185hp or dual motors for 220hp. It has electronically controlled all-wheel drive and a CATL battery. Its maximum speed limit is fixed at 150 km/h and the range is 500 km (310 mi). The range can be improved thanks to solar panels mounted on the roof. The interior features a 15.4-inch central infotainment screen. The i03 is price very competitively from 129,800 to 185,800 yuan (16,700-23,900€ or US$18,000-25,900) and competes in a crowded segment including the Jetour Traveler (138,899-219,900 yuan), Chery eQ7 (129,900-172,900 yuan), BYD Yuan Plus (135,800-167,800) and BYD Song Plus (154,800-219,900 yuan).

Bar for success: 3,500 monthly sales

5. Zeekr 007 (857 sales)

Geely EV brand Zeekr has enjoyed tremendous success with almost 120,000 sales over the Full Year 2023. This has been achieved with the 001 shooting brake, 009 minivan and X crossover. This 007, a compact sedan, is therefore the 4th model of the brand. It is 4.865m long and has a 2.93m wheelbase. Interesting features of the 007 include a 90-inch LCD screen at the front that can show messages and a loudspeaker that allows the driver to talk to pedestrians. The 007 offers a choice between a 415 hp RWD single motor that achieves 0-100 km/h in 5.4 seconds and 636 hp 4WD dual motors eclipsing the 0-100 km/h in just 2.84 seconds.

CLTC ranges go from 616 to 870 km. The main marketing point of the 007 is that it can charge 610 km in just 15 minutes, the fastest of any mass-produced EVs, thanks to a high-voltage 800V platform. The interior features a rotating 15-inch central screen and 35.5-inch AR head up display. The 007 is priced very competitively from 209,900 to 299,900 yuan (27,000-38,500€ or US$29,200-41,800). That’s a 20,000-yuan lower starting price as originally announced. It is set to compete mainly with the Tesla Model 3 (254,900-285,900 yuan). The 007 received 5,000 orders in 30 minutes and a whopping 51,569 orders in 40 days, so sales expectations are high. The more expensive Zeekr 001 peaked at 11,337 wholesales in December 2022, and we’d want to reach 8,000 sales for the 007 to take the brand to the next level.

Bar for success: 8,000 monthly sales

6. Jiyue 01 (774 sales)

The Jiyue brand is a cooperation between Geely (65%) and Baidu (35%) originally called Jidu. Its first model is this 01, a mid-size electric SUV at 4.85m long and with a 3m wheelbase. The most surprising feature of the 01 is the total absence of door handles. Instead, motion sensors and voice control are used to open the doors. Note the front doors swing up and the rear doors open “against the wind”. The 01 is equiped wit 31 external sensors, 12 HD cameras, two LiDAR environmental monitoring and an artificial intelligence system.

There are two versions of the 01: a 272hp single motor coupled with a 71.4 lithium ion phosphate battery pack and a 536hp dual motor coupled with a 100 kWh ternary lithium battery pack. 0-100 km/h acceleration is 7.2 seconds and 3.9 seconds respectively. CLTC ranges are 550 and 660 km respectively. Inside, there is a very impressive 35.6-inch screen combining the instrument panel and infotainment screen. The 01 is priced from 219,900 to 309,900 yuan (28,200-39,800€ or US$30,600-43,200) and competes with such models as the Tesla Model Y (258,900-363,900 yuan) and the IM LS6 (229,900-291,900 yuan). This is a new brand and the 01 is quite a premium vehicle so sales estimates are difficult but we’d want around 4,000 monthly units to make it successful.

Bar for success: 4,000 monthly sales

7. Exeed Exlantix (Sterra) ES (740 sales)

Exeed is a premium brand by Chery. It sold 58,631 units in 2023, up 150.1%. The ES inaugurates a new Series under the Exeed brand: Exlantix. This is the international name, while in China it is Sterra. The ES was presented at the “Geneva” Motor Show in Doha last October when it was also unveiled that the Exlantix will sell as a separate brand (like Omoda and Jaecoo) in the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia. The ES is 4.945m long with a 3m long wheelbase. It has three powertrain options: RWD 251hp, RWD 313hp and 4WD 480hp.

The CLTC cruising ranges vary from 550 to 905 km. The interior features a 15.6-inch central infotainment screen and a sound system with 23 speakers. The ES is priced from 198,800 to 339,800 yuan (25,500-43,700€ or US$27,700-47,300). Its main competitors are the Zeekr 007 (209,900-299,900 yuan), Geely Galaxy E8 (175,800-228,800 yuan), Deepal S7 (249,800-349,800 yuan) and BYD Han (189,800-321,800 yuan).

Bar for success: 3,000 monthly units.

8. Qiyuan Q05 (338 sales)

Qiyuan is a brand by Changan dedicated to mid-level new energy vehicles. It was unveiled in August with very ambitious sales targets (1.5m vehicles by 2030) and so far it has walked the talk with no less than four models launched in the space of four months: the A07 sedan in September, A05 sedan in October, A06 sedan in October also and now this Q05 SUV. It fits in the compact category with a 4.54m length and 2.66m long wheelbase. It is based on the Changan CS55 Plus II.

The Q05 is a PHEV powered by a 101hp 1.5L engine. It offers 60 or 125km of pure electric range and 1,150 or 1,250 km comprehensive range. The interior features a 10.25-inch instrument panel and a 12.3-inch central control screen, on the smaller side of current Chinese vehicles. The Q05 is priced from 119,900 to 149,900 yuan (15,400-19,250€ or US$16,700-20,900) vs. 92,900-125,900 yuan for the Changan CS55 Plus. It competes with the likes of the BYD Song Pro (129,800-165,800 yuan), COS Z6 (155,800-175,800 yuan). In terms of sales prospects, the A07 is still gearing up at 3,802 units in December but the A05 and A06 are struggling. We’d definitely want to get to the A07 to deem the Q05 a success.

Bar for success: 3,000 monthly sales

9. Maxus Dajia 6 or Mifa 6 (5 sales)

In December the Maxus Mifa 6 also launched, with limited information available. It is offered in a choice of 163hp 1.3T engine PHEV and 160hp EV. The Mifa 6 is priced from 189,800 to 229,800 yuan (24,400-29,500€ or US$26,400-32,000) which pits it against the BYD Tang (209,800-342,800 yuan), the BYD Corvette 07 (202,800-319,800 yuan) and Exeed VX (193,900-238,900 yuan).

Bar for success: 2,500 monthly sales

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