Lifan Autos has announced to officially discontinue most of its gasoline powered vehicles in China. The company will now focus on producing its range of alternate energy vehicles in China, however the conventional gasoline powered cars will continue to be sold in overseas markets.
Lifan isn’t an unfamiliar name in our country since Lifan branded motorcycles were available in the market during the previous decade while Crown-Lifan branded motorcycle spare parts are quite commonly available too. Lifan is actually China’s largest motorcycle manufacturer which also develops a range of automobiles.
Founded in 1992, Chongqing Lifan Holdings Company, Ltd. is a large private enterprise mainly engaged in scientific research & development, manufacturing and marketing (including export) of engines, motorcycles and automobiles, integrated with financial instrument as well as real-estate. By now, Lifan employs more than 13,000 staff and has been listed among China’s Top 500 Enterprises for 10 times.
The first Lifan-brand car, the 520 sedan, rolled off the production line in December 2004. Today Lifan produces a range of vehicles including sedan, hatchback, SUV, MPV and have several assembly plants outside China including Vietnam, Ethiopia, Uruguay, Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Egypt & Iraq. Lifan cars are also exported to 51 countries around the globe.
Lifan in Pakistan
Karakoram Motors, the same people who introduced the Chery QQ in Pakistan are the sole distributors of some of the largest and famous Chinese automobile brands including Chery, Changan and Gonow. In 2008 Karakoram motors were about to launch the Lifan 520 sedan in Pakistan and huge ads in newspapers were being published in those days. A few of Lifan 520 sedans were also spotted on the roads but the actual launch of the said vehicle never occurred. Later those few imported units of the 520 sedans went into the use of their company employees.
Now since more & more Chinese companies are showing interest in setting up their production bases here, thanks to CPEC, perhaps we might be able to see Lifan selling their cars in our country too. So far, there is no official word from the company though. Lifan follows a numeric naming convention for their sedans/ hatchbacks while an alphanumeric naming convention for their SUVs. Following is the brief intro to some of the popular vehicles Lifan produces.
The Lifan 330 is a more up-market variant of the Lifan 320 hatchback, which continues to be sold alongside the new 330 in China. Design of the nose of the 330 is a mix between the Fiat 500L and the Mini, whereas the Lifan 320 is sort of a retarded Mini wanabe.
The only engine on offer is 1.3 liter 4-cylinder petrol unit with 90hp, mated to a 5-speed manual or a CVT. Price starts at 39,800 yuan (PKR 6.12 lac) and ends at 69,800 yuan (PKR 10.74 lac)
The 530 sedan which made its official debut at the 2012 Guangzhou Auto Show is an upgrade from the original 520 which appeared in Pakistan during the previous decade. The new 530 looks heavily inspired from, or more appropriately, imitated a Toyota Belta and is available with a choice of 1.3 & 1.5 liter engines.
The 520 is Lifan’s successful product in various global markets where it is called as the Lifan Breez. Price starts from 51,800 yuan (PKR 7.98 lac) for the 1.3 liter version up to 53,800 yuan (PKR 8.29 lac) for the 1.5 liter version.
The Lifan 620 is a compact sedan having 1.5l & 1.6l engine options. The imported 1.6l engine is the award winning Tritec engine (114bhp) which is said to be the same used in BMW Mini and Chrysler PT Cruiser. This engine was listed among the Ward’s Top Ten engines in year 2003.
The 620 has been Lifan’s successful model in domestic as well as export markets including Brazil, Vietnam, Belarus & Russia. In 2015, with a totally refreshed model the 620 sedan (LF7157) was renamed to 650. However in Russian & Belarusian markets the 620 is continued to be sold as Solano, while the new 650 is called as Solano II. An electric version called the 650EV is also available.
Price starts from 45,900 yuan (PKR 7.0 lac) for the 1.5 liter version up to 65,900 yuan (PKR 10.16 lac) for the 1.6 liter version.
Lifan 720 is a midsize sedan launched at the 2011 Shanghai motor show and released in late 2012. While being a midsize sedan, it shares a platform with the compact 620, which is actually an imitator of the ninth generation Toyota Corolla.
Lifan 720 is available with 1.5 (109hp) as well as 1.8 liter (133hp) engine with 5-speed manual and CVT gearbox. Price ranges between 59,800 yuan (PKR 9.22 lac) and 80,400 yuan (PKR 12.39 lac).
The Lifan 820 sedan is the flagship model in the Lifan lineup available with two 4-cylinder petrol engines: a 1.8 liter with 133hp and 168nm, and a 2.4 liter with 167hp and 226nm, both mated to a six-speed manual & six-speed automatic transmission. A 2.0 turbo will also be added to the line-up and will be positioned above the 2.4 liter version.
The 1.8 and 2.0 turbo engines are developed by Lifan in close cooperation with Ricardo, a large British automotive engineering firm. The 2.4 however, is sourced from Mitsubishi. Price starts from 81,800 yuan (PKR 12.59 lac) and ends at 119,800 yuan (PKR 18.44 lac).
In November 2014 Lifan launched their X50 SUV in a highly competitive small SUV segment in China. The Lifan X50 is based on the same platform as the Lifan 530 sedan. Power comes from a 93hp 1.3 or a 102hp 1.5 liter engine, both mated to a five-speed manual or a CVT transmission. Price starts at 59,800 yuan (PKR 9.22 lac) and ends at 82,800 yuan (PKR 12.76 lac).
The X60 SUV is positioned above the X50 and comes with a single engine which is a 1.8 liter DVVT petrol unit mated to a 5-speed manual as well as automatic transmission. Price starts from 74,500 yuan (PKR 11.58 lac) up to 90,900 yuan (14.01 lac PKR)
China is the world’s largest automobile market with more than 140 car manufacturers operating in the country. (We have 3..??) Together they sell more than 950 different cars (excluding trucks/ vans/ commercial vehicles) & if we combine the trims/ variants & engine configuration in which each model is available then the number of available options may exceed 5000!
We can’t even imagine the likes of cars that are available there & what may be coming our way. But looking at the recent developments in the automobile sector, we expect a lot of Chinese cars to be offered in our country in near future.