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Full-sized vehicle segment is on the rise

By Li Fusheng | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-01 10:18
Models stand next to a Volkswagen Teramont, a full-sized SUV made by the German carmaker's joint venture SAIC Volkswagen, at an auto fair in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Sept 12. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Large SUVs and MPVs, despite their small volume in China, are gradually gaining popularity in the country, attracting foreign and domestic carmakers to enrich their lineups with such models.

The full-sized SUV segment is on the rise, as the vehicles serve the needs of Chinese customers who want more room and a commanding seating position, said Volkswagen China Passenger Cars Brand.

One example is Volkswagen's Teramont, a full-sized SUV made by the German carmaker's joint venture SAIC Volkswagen. More than 60,000 were delivered in the first eight months of 2018, one of the biggest success stories for the Volkswagen brand in China.

Confident in the Chinese market, Volkswagen is expanding its SUV portfolio to more than 10 models by 2020.

"We will expand in all SUV types, including the full-sized models. On top of that, we may also have an idea or two for more MPV-like body styles," said the company in an e-mail to China Daily.

Volkswagen is also observing a fast rise in its MPV sales in the country. Its Touran sales grew more than 30 percent from January to August, totaling 27,000 units. Its Sharan, which is available as a six and seven seater, now sees China as a main market globally.

"There is a substantial customer group for MPVs. These customers are even more orientated toward practicality. For that reason the MPV also has more commercial users," the company said.

Other foreign carmakers including GM and Honda have also been successful in the high-end MPV market.

Sales of the Buick GL8 from January to August went up 7.5 percent year-on-year to 98,875 units, and Honda's Odyssey saw its sales up 26.3 percent year-on-year to 28,690 units for the same period, according to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association.

With its Buick GL8 being one of the most popular business choices, GM is offering the smaller GL6 that is designed to meet family use.

Bao Ye, a Buick sales chief, said 40 percent of Chinese grandparents take care of their grandchildren, but more often than not they will be absent from family trips because of limited seat space.

"Our six-seat Buick GL6 is targeted at such families, enabling them to travel together," said Bao when the MPV was unveiled last year.

Chinese carmakers are revving up their efforts as well. BYD's Song Max, which was launched in late 2017, has proved successful, seizing a top three spot on the list of MPV sales in August. Geely is expected to introduce its first MPV in the fourth quarter this year.

The China Passenger Car Association expects MPV sales to reach 3.5 million units by 2020 from 2.4 million units in 2016.

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