29 January 2010

Land Rover Sales: 2009

Seeing as Land Rover's PR department modelled its transparency on the KGB, I have compiled figures found elsewhere.
Total LR sales for 2009 were 144,000 (-23%). A late rally of sales with revamped models made up for a shocking start to the year. The two main markets for the marque went up from 35.6% to 41.2% share of all sales although a few years ago it was over 50%. Sales by country and share of total sales as follows:

1 1 UK 33,000 22.9%
2 2 USA 26,300 18.3%
5 3 China 10,800 6.7%
4 4 Italy 10,500 7.3%
3 5 Russia 9,300 6.4%
6 6 Germany 5,300 3.7%
7 7 Spain 4,250 2.9%
9 8 South Africa 4,000 2.8%
12 9 Australia 3,800 2.6%
10 10 France 3,500 2.4%
11 11 Brazil 3,160 2.2%
8 12 UAE 2,700 1.9%
14 13 Turkey 2,650 2.5%
13 14 Belgium 2,200 1.5%
15 15 Canada 2,000 1.4%
18 16 Switzerland 1,275 0.9%
20 17 Austria 1,060 0.7%
19 18 Pakistan 960 0.7%
17 19 Netherlands 710 0.5%
26 20 Korea 700 0.5%
21 21 Japan 580
24 22 Ukraine 270
25 23 Mexico 430
23 24 Romania 380
30 25 Sweden 290

Land Rover is a strong brand and 2010 will start better than '09. It needs to downsize and get more fuel efficient and it knows it. The new small LRX model due in 2011 and future models will surely shed some weight. Of course they must be strong off road and be robust to handle that. It will be an engineering challenge.

The bottom line: Sales should go up slightly in 2010 but costs need to be reduced in order to be profitable.

PS. Figures have been updated

Car Production UK: 2009

With the worldwide economic downturn, 2009 was a bad year for car production in most countries and especially the UK. This was because not many small cars are made there and '09 saw small cars do well with the schemes in place in Europe to encourage downsizing. UK car manufacturing slumped from 1,450,00 to 999,000.

There are more cars models made in the UK than many realise, and those that are made there are not usually what people think either. Nissan has been the main producer since the year 2000. It made 27% of all cars in 2008 (387,000) and 34% (338,000) in '09. Other makers were:


2(2) Mini 214,000 21%
3(4) Toyota 127,000 13%
4(5) Land Rover 115,000 11%
5(6) GM Vauxhall 77,000 8%
6(3) Honda 76,000 7.6%
7(7) Jaguar 42,000 4%

Most UK car makers started disastrously in 2009, but rallied somewhat by years end. Honda was the biggest loser, especially with the CR-V. The European Honda Jazz (Fit), previously sourced from China, has just started being made in the UK. This will help for 2010 Honda UK production numbers and bring to three the models made there. Nissan also has a new model (Juke) coming soon as does Jaguar with the XJ. Until it arrives, Jag will be down to just two models so it will be most welcome.

Overall, a solid industry but it needs to move rapidly to alternative fuel vehicles. Nissan are well placed in this area. Electric car batteries will start to be made at Nissan Sunderland this year while Electric car production may or may not follow. The Juke will replace the Micra at the plant also. Toyota will commence production of an Auris hybrid for this UK summer.

The bottom line: Despite the poor 2009 year, a glimmer of hope for 2010.

25 January 2010

Car Sales 2009: US Premium Volume Sellers

The premium segment around the world is predicted to grow faster than the overall market in the next few years. So it's a area worth watching. Even with a -20% for this sector in the USA was still better than the total market's -21.3%

Among the volume sellers in the US premium market, not much on the surface changed in 2009, although some subtle trends emerged. Lexus has bucked a world trend and held its own against the German premium brands. It increased it's share from 19.7% to 20.4% in doing so. The other Japanese brands, Acura and Infiniti did poorly however. Land Rover did very well with facelifts late in the year and Jaguar came good also seeing as it is currently relying on two models, the XF sedan and XK sports car. The new XJ sedan will really help as the US is its biggest market. The new Panamera spared Porsche blushes somewhat and Saab's neglect by GM over the years is now coming home to roost. I don't know if the smart car really belongs here, but its price is premium within its segment. The honeymoon for it seems over though.

09 08 Brand 09 (Share) Inc/Dec 08 (Share)
1 1 Lexus 216000 (20.4) -17% 260000 (19.7)
2 2 BMW 196500 (18.5) -21% 249000 (18.8)
3 3 Mercedes 190500 (18.0) -15% 225000 (17.0)
4 4 Acura 105700 (10.0) -27% 145000 (10.9)
5 6 Audi 82700 (7.8) -6% 87800 (6.6)
6 5 Infiniti 81100 (7.6) -28% 113000 (8.5)
7 7 Volvo 61400 (5.8) -16% 73000 (5.5)
8 8 MINI 45200 (4.3) -16% 54000 (4.1)
9 9 Land Rover 26300 (2.5) -11% 29700 (2.2)
10 10 Porsche 19700 (1.9) -24% 26000 (2.0)
11 11 smart 14600 (1.4) -41% 24600 (1.9)
12 13 Jaguar 12000 (1.1) -19% 14800 (1.1)
13 12 Saab 8700 (0.8) -59% 21400 (1.6)

Total 1060000 -20% 1323000

I expect Lexus, the German and British marques all to do well in 2010. Saab will just about sink without trace and smart will continue to well...smart.

The bottom line: There is still plenty of money out there.

21 January 2010

European #1's: 2009

Which brands snared number one spots in Europe? Listed below are the marques and the countries in which they were top. If there is a number after the country, that represents the place the brand had the previous year. No number means they were top last year too. So without further ado, the top brands in Europe by country:

Toyota (8 top spots)

Bulgaria (2), Estonia,
Finland, Iceland,
Greece, Latvia,
Lithuania (2), Norway (2)

Volkswagen (6 top notches)

Renault (5 top positions)

Belgium (4)
Spain (5)

Ford (4 times top dog)

Denmark (5)
Ireland (2)

Fiat (3 times top of the pops)

Serbia (FAS

Skoda (Thrice top team))

Czech Rep

Lada (Two occasions top)


The rest once at the top:

Dacia - Romania
GM Opel - Croatia
Hyundai - Turkey (2)
Suzuki - Hungary
Volvo - Sweden

Opel only getting one is a come down. Neither Peugeot nor Citroen is a surprise too. On the other side of the coin, both Hyundai and Suzuki are not expected to be there, but they both make cars in the respective countries they came top in. This is because there is so much patriotism and support for locally made in car buying, as the #1's shows up.

The bottom line: How well a brand does in getting to be a number one doesn't always reflect their success in the region overall.

17 January 2010

Car Sales 2009: EU Eastern Europe

The EU countries of Eastern Europe had a big downturn economically. Sales of cars were down 27%, from 1,160,000 in '08 to 850,000 in '09. The Baltic States in paticular have been in freefall. For example Latvia car sales have fallen from 32,500 sales in '07, to 19,000 in '08 and 3,750 in '09!

Skoda is the big cheese in the region. Its sales fell 23% (149k to 115k) but it managed to gain market share from 12 to 13.5%, thanks to the precipitous fall of the market overall. The rest of the top ten and others were:

2(4) Ford 71,400 (-17%)
3(2) Volkswagen 67,000 (-25%)
4(7) Renault 62,000 (-16)
5(6) Toyota 52,100 (-33%)
6(8) Fiat 51,700 (-10)
7(5) GM Opel 48,200 (-43%)
8(3) Dacia 48,200 (-45%)
9(12) Kia 41,600 (-5%)
10(13) Hyundai 38,800 (-5%)

13(10) Suzuki 26,200 (-43%)
18(22) Mitsubishi 13,800 (-4%)

Dacias drop can be attributed to the very poor showing of its home market, Romania (-59%). GM Opel also has been falling heavily in Europe, maybe in part to reducing less profitable sales to try earn more for its parent company.

For next year, maybe sales will level off or increase as Eastern Europe hasn't gone the scrappage scheme route of Western Europe. So I assume the pain has been faced in 2009 and now a little gain.

The bottom line: One assumes EU Eastern Europe can only get better.

13 January 2010

Car Sales 2009: USA

The US Car market was down 21% in 2009, to 10,430,000 and losing about 2.8 million sales in a year. This on top of an 18% fall the year before. The 17 million sales a few years earlier seem a distant memory. China has now the most unit sales although the total value of the vehicles would make the US still larger I would wager.
GM is the biggest by company but Toyota is the largest seller if nameplates are assessed, the way I will do it here. Toyota cars sold to the tune of 1.496 million, down 19%. This is the second year Toyota has led the market in nameplate sales as it was usually a fight between Ford and Chevrolet for the decade past.

The rest of the top ten and others were (in 000):

2(3) Ford 1,446 (-14%)
3(2) Chevrolet 1,345 (-25%)
4(4) Honda 1,045 (-19%)
5(5) Nissan 689 (-18)
6(6) Dodge 523 (-33%)
7(7) Hyundai 435 (+8)
8(11) Kia 300 (+10)
9(10) Jeep 232 (-31%)
10(8) GMC 260 (-31%)

13(19) Subaru 217 (+15%)

Of the US nameplates, only Ford did much good, gaining market share if not growth. The Korean brands, using their protected home market as a springboard, did well. I must say with all the difficulty of selling large SUVs these days, Land Rover was one of the best performing brands in the US, with a modest 11% fall. Of the 46 nameplates, it was 6th best performing. Well done LR US.

I don't see 2010 being any better than last year with maybe premium brands doing best.

The bottom line: Another tough year for GM and Chrysler coming up.

12 January 2010

Car Sales 2009: New Zealand

The NZ passenger car market plunged 26% in 2009, to 54,400 sales (-19,000). There were no government incentives, which I think is good as the market will find its own level. Most NZ cars are sourced from Japan and the Yen has moved strongly upward against the Kiwi $ since the financial turmoil, causing many car prices to hike and scare off buyers, especially private punters.

Toyota took top spot in 2002 and has kept it since. It currently has about 20% of the market or 10,700 sales. The rest of the top ten and others were:

2(2) Ford 6,250 (-26%)
3(3) GM Holden 5,250 (-24%)
4(4) Mazda 4,725 (-19%)
5(7) Hyundai 4,650 (+6%)
6(6) Suzuki 3,600 (-34%)
7(5) Honda 2,800 (-52%)
8(9) Nissan 2,700 (-13%)
9(11) Kia 2,100 (+15%)
10(8) Mitsubishi 2,000 (-52%)

14(16) BMW 1,000 (+7)
15(17) Mercedes 860 (+6)
19(13) Daihatsu 370 (-75%)

Honda, a traditionally strong marque, took a hit as did Mitsubishi. No one could ever dethrone Toyota with its reputation for dull, yet reliable cars. Including commercial vehicles, Toyota is even stronger, with 22% of the total market's 70,000 sales (-30%)

The bottom line: The Koreans are coming.

Car Sales 2009: Canada

The Canadian passenger car market fell 10.7% in 2009 to 1,460,000, down 175,000 sales. Not good but better than south of the border. As for brand sales, GM has always been top in Canada for the 21st century. It had 30% market share in 2002 (520,000) but has lost a whopping 13% share since! It now has only 17% (250,000) and faces the possibility of surrendering top spot. GM's Canadian sales dropped 29% last year, or by over 100,000 units.

The rest of the top ten and others were:

2(3) Ford 225,000 (+7%)
3(4) Toyota 189,000 (-9%)
4(2) Chrysler 162,000 (-27%)
5(5) Honda 123,000 (-19%)
6(7) Hyundai 103,000 (+28%)
7(6) Mazda 73,500 (-13%)
8(8) Nissan 72,000 (-4%)
9(10) Kia 46,000 (+23%)
10(9) VW 40,000 (-)

12(12) Mercedes 24,000 (+19%)
18(18) Audi 11,300 (+22%)
26(25) Saab 800 (-50%)

In this very dull and predictable market, GM and Chysler plummeted while the Korean brands and German again did well, the latter by constantly entering new market segments. Ford may be top next year and Toyota will be trying to get there too.

The bottom line: Could the Canadian market be interesting two years running? Funny times indeed.

10 January 2010

Car Sales 2009: Australia

The overall vehicle market in Australia contracted to the tune of 7.4%. Sales fell from 1 million to 937,000 units (this figure includes all vehicles).
In 2003, Toyota became king in the "Lucky Country" and has consolidated its position since. It now has 21.5% of the market (200,000 sales), losing 2% share from last year. This meant sales were down 16% (-38,000).

The rest of the top ten and others were:

2(2) Holden 120,000 (-8%)
3(3) Ford 96,500 (-8%)
4(4) Mazda 78,000 (-2.6%)
5(8) Hyundai 63,000 (+39%)
6(5) Mitsubishi 57,000 (-6%)
7(6) Nissan 53,000 (-11%)
8(7) Honda 41,500 (-21%)
9(9) Subaru 36,500 (-5%)
10(10) VW 30,000 (+1%)

15(16) Audi 11,300 (+20%)
19(18) Peugeot 5,750 (-21%)
25(24) Renault 2,400 (-25%)
30(25)Citroen 1,600 (-41%)

Korean and German marques did best, while French did not. Jaguar rallied late in the year, with the X-Type doing well as a run out model. Sales finished at 1,000, up 13.5%.
Next year seems like it will be a solid year for sales in Australia. It's not a market that changes dramatically as Aussies are a fairly conservative lot.

The bottom line: Not much change for 2010.

Cars Today Are Borrrring

The car of today is based around trying to climb the JD Power customer reliability ranking. So nothing too risky, nothing exciting; dull and reliable is the way to go. Let's face it, Toyota has built an empire based on that solitary quality. Reliability. Dull, yes. Boring, yes. Unimaginative, yes. Bullet proof, absolutely.

I recently drove a Honda car which I wrote about here. It was well built. I sensed you would get miles of trouble free motoring. But I nearly fell asleep driving it. I bought a new Japanese car a few years ago and when I asked the salesman how reliable they were, he said he would only see me for routine servicing. They just don't break down. The car handles on the open road with all the panache of a brick on wheels. But it gets me there and back. For many, this is what they want and that's fine. I didn't buy it for dull reliability but it was a bargain price, and that got me into a new car so hey, who was I to complain?

Some months ago, the Top Gear NZ car magazine test drove the Jaguar XF. This is a classy car. It looks good, handles superbly and is different. It has a gear selector that rises out of the console when turned on.

The ventilation caps swivel open at the same time. In other words Jaguar dared to be different. All the daft tester could really focus on was how reliable the gear selector might be. He then was largely dismissive of the whole car, based on this, it seemed. I fired off an email of course, but what an attitude! I don't know how reliable the selector might be any more than her does. What I do know is if I was buying a car in that sector, I would want want something different.

If I was in the market for a premium car, would I want a Audi 'fridge'? A Mercedes "washing machine'? Or a Lexus 'vacuum cleaner'? Reliable maybe, but borrrring? I know so. I'd take the XF any day. It looks better, has more exciting handling and features to delight. Who knows, the gear selector system could outlast everything else on the car. I don't know and I don't care. Well done Jaguar for being different.

The bottom line: I'll have my XF in....just dreaming.

08 January 2010

Car Sales UK: 2009

In 2009 car sales in the UK were (according to SMMT) 2 million units, down 6% or 137,000 fewer sales. Ouch! It would have been worse but for a late flurry in the latter months of the year. Various incentives enticed buyers into showrooms. The finishing of the scrappage scheme early in 2010 will slow sales of smaller cars. In fact this new year will have the pain '09 should have had.

Ford has been at the top of the UK car sales charts for decades and increased its lead in 2009. 316,000 new cars with little blue ovals were sold (-2%), an 80,000 sales lead over the next brand and trebling the gap of 2008. Ford now has 16% of the market, its best share since 2001. The rest of the top ten and others were:

2(2) Vauxhall 238,000 (-20%)
3(3) Volkswagen 161,000 (-10%)
4(6) Toyota 102,500 (-3%)
5(4) Peugeot 101,500 (-14%)
6(5) BMW 98,500 (-13%)
7(7) Audi 91,000 (-10%)
8(12) Nissan 78,000 (+17%)
9(9) Honda 75,000 (-11%)
10(10) Citroen 72,500 (-11%)

12(8) Renault 63,000 (-30%)
14(21) Hyundai 56,500 (+102%)
15(19) Kia 50,500 (+62%)

Nissan was the only maker in the top ten that increased it's sales, a fine effort for a company that designs and makes cars in the UK. The British built trio of the Qashqai (26,000 units), Micra (19,000) and Note (18,000) made up 80% of Nissan's UK sales. The French and German brands all lost market share, though Korean car makers made big gains. Land Rover sales were up 93 per cent in the final quarter of 2009, with facelifted Discovery 4 and Range Rover Sport models selling very well.

Jaguar was all smiles too. In December '09, 980 Jaguar XF models were sold, compared to 431 in December 2008 (+127%). The XK model was up 61.5% with 84 sold in December and X-Type sales were up 17.7 per cent with 425 sold, as people rushed to buy the last X-Types as they are no longer made.

The bottom line: 2010 looks bleak for small car makers but not so bad further up the market.

06 January 2010

Car Sales Belgium: 2009

In 2009 car sales in Belgium were (according to FEBIAC) 476,000 units, down 11% or 60,000 fewer sales. It sounds a big drop but we are in a recession after all!
Between 2001 and 2009, the lead changed five times, spread between three makes. Renault had top spot in '01,'04 and now '09. Peugeot were at the summit '02,'03 and '05, Whilst VW were top dog between '06 to '08. As no one make has a clear lead, expect the merry go round at the top to continue.
In 2009, Renault sold nearly 46,800 cars, for a 9.8% market share (down 4.5%). Renault went up from 4th to number 1 in '09. The rest of the top ten and others were:

2(2) Peugeot 44,700 (9.4%, -15.6%)
3(3) Citroen 43,500 (9.1%, -11.4%)
4(1) Volkswagen 42,500 (8.9, -20.1%)
5(5) GM Opel 4,800 (8.6%, -9.6%)
6(6) Ford 37,700 (7.9%, -4.5%)
7(8) Audi 26,900 (5.6%, -2%)
8(7) BMW 25,800 (5.4% -17%)
9(9) Toyota 20,350 (4.3% -14%)
10(10) Mercedes 18,700 (3.9% -20%)

13(14) Nissan 12,500 (+12%)
18(19) Suzuki 7,750 (+25%)
30(28) Saab 1,250 (-51%)

Few sales gains were to be had in 2009 for the car makers and this was the lowest total sales volume in Belgium since 2003. It seems a country in love with the car, because with only 10.5 million people, they certainly buy a fair few new cars. Ford, Volvo, GM and VW all have car plants here too.

The bottom line: 2010 sales may stabilise but are unlikely to grow.