X concept from AutoChina 2018 believed to be a preview of a large SUV

X concept from AutoChina 2018 believed to be a preview of a large SUV

Dongfeng Motor and Nissan Motor's Venucia, a brand which concentrates on low-price vehicles for the Chinese market, is having a cracker of a 2018. And this after high levels of year-on-year expansion since its inception in 2010. Time to look at what the partners have planned for this increasingly important division.

In February last year, Venucia was shifted out of the Dongfeng Nissan JV and became a stand-alone company. While it still mostly benefits from using sometimes outdated architectures from the R-N Alliance, Venucia is steadily becoming a seller of cars with up to date technology. This it has been forced to do, as buyers, especially those in big cities, now refuse to accept second best tech and are incentivised by the state to buy EVs and PHEVs.

For the year to the end of April, Venucia deliveries surged by 31 per cent to 56,307 units. That number puts it ahead of the rebounding Citroen as well as strong brands such as FAW, Jeep, Mitsubishi and even Wey.

Four-model line-up

The D60, which is the brand's best seller, is also the newest Venucia. This 4.76m long sedan became available last November. It is based upon the Nissan Sylphy. 

There should be a facelift for the D60 in 2021 and replacement in 2024. The follow-up model will not use the current car's Alliance P3 platform. Instead, the by then no longer state of the art Alliance CMF C/D architecture will be employed.

The M50V isn't too much older than the D60, having been released in China just a year ago. This 4.5m long MPV/minivan premiered at April 2017's Shanghai motor show. Sales commenced immediately.

Prior to the arrival of the M50V, all Venucia models used Renault-Nissan Alliance architectures. This vehicle, however, is based on one of Dongfeng Motor's own platforms as it is a modified Dongfeng Fengguang 330/360 Glory. Expect a facelift in the third quarter of 2020 and a replacement in 2024.

Underlining how strict Dongfeng and Nissan are in using only low-cost platforms for Venucia, the T70, which is the brand's oldest model, is a new body on the 2007-2015 Nissan X-Trail. This SUV's premiere was at November 2014's Guangzhou motor show though this was a prototype: its doors were locked and the windows blacked out. The T70 went on sale in China in January 2015. Lowering costs even further for Dongfeng, the Chinese firm also sells the MX6 under its namesake brand and this closely resembles the T70.

Venucia has been careful not to let the T70 become stale. It added the T70X, a slightly modified variant in 2015. This has raised suspension and some extra plastic around its wheelarches. The successor model will likely be released in 2022 and be based on CMF C/D. There will almost certainly be a PHEV or EV variant, if not a model in its own right based on the T70 replacement.

'T' in Venucia's naming system means SUV or crossover. So it is that the brand's largest vehicle is the T90. This big crossover shares certain styling elements with the VOW ('Venucia Over Wonder') concept from April 2015's Shanghai motor show. Based upon the Nissan Murano, the T90 premiered at the Beijing motor show in April 2016. The sales release took place eight months later. For no apparent reason, a facelifted model, which Nissan told the media was "newly redesigned", was revealed at the Beijing motor show in April. A second facelift should take place in 2020.

The next generation T90, due out in 2023, will no longer be based on the by-then outdated Nissan D platform; instead it will be another Venucia to use CMF C/D.

The core model range might comprise of these four vehicles but one other remains listed on the Venucia website. The e30, also known as the Morning Wind, is the first generation Nissan Leaf with new badging. It was not very successful and is out of production.

Two additional future models

The first of two known extra vehicles for Venucia is due to appear by year-end and will be based upon the Renault Fluence Z.E. The model name could be e30, e40 or e50. It will be assembled at Renault's Wuhan plant from kits supplied by Renault Samsung's Busan plant in South Korea. Venucia needs this vehicle so as to be in compliance with China's strict quotas for New Energy Vehicles. NEVs are defined as EVs or PHEVs and by 2019, brands must make sure that a minimum of 10 per cent of their sales are such vehicles. This rises to 12 per cent in 2020.

The other extra model will be not dissimilar to the concept pictured above. Likely to be called T100, this large SUV could be based upon the new Nissan Terra, which would mean a ladder-frame chassis. The T100 should have its public premiere at the next AutoChina. This bienniel motor show is due to take place in China's capital in April 2020. A further concept might be displayed at AutoShanghai in 2019.

Venucia was the seventh brand to be looked at as part of a series which explores the current and future models of Groupe Renault and Nissan Motor's brands. The first two were Alpine and Renault itself, followed by Dacia, Lada, Renault Samsung Motors and Datsun. The remaining divisions are Nissan, Infiniti and Mitsubishi. 

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as code names, production plants and expected annual build, are available in PLDB from QUBE.

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