30 December 2010

Car Sales Hungary: 2009

Sales fell in Hungary from 155,000 in '08 to 60,000 in '09, a drop of 62%! Ouch. Another big fall is occurring in 2010 but not to the same degree. However, it must be hurting dealers. Figures vary depending how they are compiled but this is one way:

08 09 Make Sales Share
3 1 Ford 7300 12.1
1 2 Suzuki 6900 11.4
2 3 Opel 6800 11.3
4 4 VW 4700 7.8
8 5 Renault 3700 6.2
6 6 Toyota 3600 6.1
5 7 Skoda 2900 4.8
10 8 Fiat 2250 3.7
12 9 Honda 2150 3.6
17 10 BMW 2100 3.5

Suzuki usually is first as it makes cars in the country but even that could not keep them top. They are overachieving to be anywhere near the top. Hungary isn't a strong market for Japanese makes anyway. Ford has battled its way up the sales chart all decade and slipped past perennial #2 GM Opel. BMW had a massive jump from 17th to 10th over 2008.

The bottom line: Hungary is the worst performing market in Europe.

Regional Car Sales Within A Country

Car sales are published as a total for a country but do not show the variances within. Some of those differences can be marked. For instance, I read that in the USA, Jaguar cars make a third of their sales in just three states, NY, California and Miami. In England, regional differences are striking as the examples below show:

Nissan have double the sales in the North East as the national average. No surprises as Nissan have a factory there.

BMW is the best selling brand in Yorkshire/Humberside. I thought that they had more nous than that!

In the East Midlands, they like Jaguars and Land Rovers, while avoiding BMWs.

Meanwhile, in the West Midlands, GM Vauxhall is king, selling almost at double the England average.

Ford sells massively in East England, although I'm not exactly sure why that would be.(One reader has since emailed me to say Ford's large engine plant is within this area so that would contribute quite a lot of sales to the brand).

Londoners like Porsches, Mercs, Lexus and smarts. A mixtures of the self indulgent and greenies it seems.

What that brief list shows is that for various reasons, cars sell quite variably even within a country. It could depend on affluence, lifestyle and how strong the dealers are in an area.

What it means to me: An interesting exercise, but one that depends on knowing a country before it can make much sense.

Source: www.dft.gov.uk

26 December 2010

The Winners And Losers of 2010

Every year some win while others lose. 2009 had mainly losers due to the overall economic picture but 2010 saw an improvement in most countries. Despite the vagaries of the financial world, a list of winners and losers can always be compiled, even if the up or down is relative to the overall market place. So here are my picks of the winning and losing nameplates of 2010

The Winners:

Volkswagen. They have a good range of vehicles and engines. They don’t seem to have dud models around, whilst the engines are technologically good. Sales of the brand have reflected these factors.

Hyundai/Kia. Admittedly they have a home market virtually gifted to them via protectionism, but the latest cars they are making are very competitive both in quality and value.

Jaguar/Land Rover. With a strong range of vehicles within both marques, sales have been good and profitability excellent. Ford struggled to make money with the brands, but new owner Tata seems to be doing very nicely thank you.

GM/Ford: I classified these together as they have both had a good year after some really bad ones. Ford & GM have reduced the number of brands and they regained much respect in their home market. Most importantly, profits are back for both of them.

The Losers:

Daihatsu. Has done alright in Asia, but elsewhere has spent 2010 retreating alarmingly. It’s a shame as the cars are well made. The reliance on small vehicles that are dynamically challenged means they may end up being an Asian exclusive brand.

Toyota. The world’s largest car maker has had poor press from safety issues and recalls. Sales have been hurt and profits have suffered too. There is nothing exciting on the product range either and especially in Europe people have been giving the brand a big thumbs down.

Ssangyong. A company with a poor last few years is still well and truly in the woods. Recently bought by Indian company Mahindra, it still struggles with a range of ugly vehicles that sold poorly in 2010.

Seat. The Spanish brand within the VW Group has sold OK but still seems to sit awkwardly within the company. It struggles to make any money and has little sales penetration outside of Europe.

Saab. Nearly closed down by GM but sold to Dutch company Spyker. Sales have been poor for 2010 but starting to recover now. The new owner has yet to prove if they can save the marque so the sale left me with little optimism. The cars themselves are also off the pace compared to the competition.

24 December 2010

Honda North American Production 1982-2009

Honda started making cars in North America in 1982, when 1,000 units were manufactured in Marysville, Ohio. The following year was the first full year and 55,000 Accord cars rolled off the production line. The Civic joined it in 1986 and by the end of that year, Accords started to be made in Ontario, Canada. All up, 240,000 cars were made in North America for that year. From there other notable dates:

1989: Ontario switched to Civic production, and the East Liberty Plant, Ohio was opened in the US for mainly Civic manufacture.
1990: The 500,000 mark was passed in production with 330,000 Accords and 210,000 Civics.
1996: Acura production commenced in East Liberty and Canada. Modest manufacturing volume of the Accord also started in El Salto, Mexico.
1998: Acura manufacture starts to switch from East Liberty to Maysville, Ohio and the Oddessy production is up and running in Ontario.
2000: One million cars are produced in North America for the first time.
2007: More models are added in the 21st century, as are new factories and production reaches a peak of 1,430,000 units.
2009: The year finished just over the million mark with the recession biting hard.

It’s amazing how things moved so quickly with production volumes for Honda Nth America. All Japanese brands have gone down the same road to avoid a consumer backlash against too many imported cars. Most of the 21 million cars that have been made up to now by Honda North America have been for their domestic markets, with exports amounting to only a few percent of that total.

What it means to me: The Japanese car manufacturing invasion was only possible due to the complacency of the ‘Big Three’ US car makers.

21 December 2010

Car Sales 2009: Wales

We'll keep a welcome in the hillside.
We'll keep a welcome in the Vale
This land you knew will still be singing
When you come home again to Wales.

The Principality of Wales, known for fine singing, had 78,000 passenger vehicles sold within it for 2009. Quite good considering the population of just 3 million. The list below is of the rank, brands (top 10), sales, Welsh market share and the figure in brackets is the total UK market share as a comparison:

1 Ford 17,100 21.9% (15.9%)
2 GM Vauxhall 8,400 10.7% (11.9%)
3 Volkswagen 5,300 6.8% (8.1%)
4 Toyota 4.200 5.3% (5.1%)
5 Citroen 3.600 4.6% (3.6%)
6 Peugeot 3.600 4.5% (5.1%)
7 Renault 3.200 4.0% (3.2%)
8 Nissan 2.700 3.5% (3.9%)
9 Hyundai 2.700 3.5% (2.8%)
10 Fiat 2.600 3.3% (3.1%)

Ford is clearly very dominant, over double the sales of Vauxhall. Ford also has 6% more market share in Wales than the UK as a whole. The country does have a huge Ford engine plant and the workers there probably all buy the brand for a start. You may also have noticed luxury marques are absent from the list. It is very much a working class country and everyday cars are the most popular.

What it means to me: It is good to see that Wales rewards a company such as Ford for its investment in the Principality.

Source: www.dft.gov.uk

For other years, please click on the year: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015,

Car Sales 2009: Scotland

The population of Scotland is about 5.2 million and nearly 190,000 passenger cars were sold there in '09. Currently no cars are made in the country although Hillmans were from 1963 until 1981. The list below is of the rank, brands (top 10), sales, Scottish market share and the figure in brackets is the total UK market share as a comparison:

1 GM Vauxhall 28,900 15.5% (11.9%)
2 Ford 26,500 14.3% (15.9%)
3 Volkswagen 13,200 7.1 % (8.1%)
4 Renault 9.500 5.1% (3.2%)
5 Toyota 8,400 4.5% (5.1%)
6 Nissan 8.100 4.4 % (3.9%)
7 Peugeot 8.000 4.3% (5.1%)
8 Honda 7.600 4.1% (3.8%)
9 Fiat 7.500 4.0% (3.1%)
10 BMW 7.100 3.8% (4.9%)

Vauxhall is the top car brand and has 3.6% more share in Scotland than the UK as a whole (Ford is the best seller in the UK overall). Renault does well north of the border too, as does Nissan. One premium brand just made the list but generally not a market big on expensive vehicles. Land Rovers sell quite well for pricier vehicles, about 2,400 for the year and at 22nd place. The smart car is not at all popular with the canny Scots.

What you should know: Getting sales data for Scotland isn't easy.

For other Scotland sales posts just click on the years: 2010201120122013 2014 & 2015.

Source: www.dft.gov.uk

18 December 2010

Ariel Ltd

The Ariel car company was originally started in 1991 and called Solocrest Limited. It became Ariel Ltd in 2001 and can be found in the English county of Somerset. It is a very small car firm and makes less than 100 cars per year.

The vehicle it makes is the Ariel Atom, lightweight with blistering performance. The one sold in the UK uses a Honda Civic Type-R engine/gearbox for propulsion, while the US version is powered by a supercharged GM Ecotec engine. The Atom is a road car with no body panelling at all, not even a roof to keep you dry. In England's wet weather, a real problem at times I would imagine. The body therefore simply consists of tubular framing, the obvious advantage being lightness. This is a car that works within Lotus' founder Colin Chapman's mantra of speed achieved through light weight. It tips the scales at less than 500 kg (1,100 lb), so its power-to-weight ratio is impressive. The Ariel website describes it as: "Uniquely designed, beautifully made, astonishing performance. The essence of the Atom is no compromise, total driver involvement."

Ariel is about to embark on a V8 car, the Atom 500, to be made in a limited run of 25 units. I cannot see the point, but for some enough is never enough.

What it means to me: I would love to drive one, either on a race track or down a twisting back road. Oh well, dreams are free.

15 December 2010

The Audi A1: A Flop?

Audi has been on a golden run. It has been closing the gap steadily between itself and the two main foes, BMW and Mercedes. It makes more profit per car than either of those two and plans to soon be outselling both of them numerically. Audi's success is based around the cost savings it makes by putting plush interiors inside VWs and Skodas. I'm not saying that cynically, but because it is true and it has worked.

However, Audi's decision to take on BMW's MINI brand may be about to backfire. MINI started off with a target of 100,000 but has since over doubled that figure. Audi has capacity to make 100,000 units per year of the comparable A1 model, but in the five months of 2010 it has been on sale, will only sell 30,000. Bearing in mind cars sell best when first released, this car has flop stamped all over it. Why?

Some say it is over priced. Others that it doesn't have the iconic status of the MINI. Still others say it is not up to the competition. After reviewing it The Telgraph call it "a wasted opportunity. The A1 is beautifully made and its cabin is the apogee of automotive design and assembly, but you would never consider driving this car for joy alone and the design is instantly forgettable. This is a supermini for bloodless accountants and one that you would buy with head rather than heart".
No wonder it's not selling that well.

The bottom line: The Audi A1 has taken on the BMW MINI, but not executed it nearly as well.

PS. Telegraph quote http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/carreviews/7838583/Audi-A1-review.html

14 December 2010

UK Market: 1984 to 2010 Comparison

Back in 1984, things were different in the UK car market. The cars bought for example, comparing the top 10 from 1984 on the left and 2010 on the right (2010 est. – based on SMMT data):

1 Ford Escort 157350 - Ford Fiesta 105000
2 Vaux Cavalier 132150 - Vauxhall Astra 80000
3 Ford Fiesta 125850 - Vauxhall Corsa 79000
4 Aust/MG Metro 117450 - Ford Focus 77000
5 Ford Sierra 113000 - VW Golf 59000
6 Aust/MG Maestro 83000 - VW Polo 46000
7 Vauxhall Astra 56500 - Peugeot 207 44000
8 Vauxhall Nova 55450 - BMW 3 Series 43000
9 Ford Orion 51000 - BMW MINI 40000
10 340 Volvo 35000 - Nissan Qashqai 39500

Most of the 1984 cars were UK built, now only Astra, MINI and Qashqai (Fiesta and Focus have UK engines, as do some 3 Series). Another point of difference is that the top 10 in ’84 had 53% of the total market, whereas the 2010 top 10 has fewer than 30%. Why this has happened I can only speculate. One reason may be that in 1984, the company you worked for chose company cars, now the worker does the choosing. Also, there is more variety to select from and the public seem to be taking advantage of that. Brand loyalty may not be so strong either.

Whatever the reasons, in 1984 five models exceeded 100,000 sales out of a 1,750,000 total. This year total sales will exceed 2m but only one model will squeak in over the 100k figure. Ford and Vauxhall still dominate but the Austin Rover Group of ’84 now exists only as Jaguar/Land Rover.

What it means to me: It's a shame Austins are not still around.

10 December 2010

The Cypriot Vehicle Market

Cyprus is the an island in the Mediterranean Sea with people of Greek and Turkish origins. In 1974, the island was divided when a separate Turkish Cypriot area was established in the north.

Car sales details are hard to come by and difficult to tabulate. By my method, vehicle sales were about 17,000 in 2001, slipping to the low teens before jumping to 23,000 in 2004. After remaining fairly level for two further years, they suddenly increased again to 30,000 for 07-08 years. They then slipped back to 19,000 in 2009 and should be similar in 2010.

Between the years of 2001 to 2004, Peugeot and Toyota battled for top spot, with sales of about 2,000 vehicles each. Ford took #1 in 2006, a place it has held since. Nissan has held second since 2008. Sales for 2009 were as follows:

1 Ford 2,600 13.3%
2 Nissan 2,400 12.3%
3 Toyota 1,600 8.3%
4 VW 1,400 7.3%
5 BMW 1,175 6%
6 Mercedes 1,050 5.4%
7 Audi 1,000 5.2%
8 Honda 1,000 5.2%
9 Mitsubishi 825 4.3%
10 Opel 725 3.7%

As you can see, premium brands are strong in Cyprus and French marques that were once strong are nowhere to be seen either. The latter hardly surprising. 2010 so far is much the same.

What it means to me: Despite its political upheavals, the car market looks healthy.

07 December 2010

The Best 4 x 4 In NZ For 2010

New Zealand 4WD magazine’s 4WD of the Year award has gone to the Land Rover Discovery, due to its all round abilities. In NZ, it comes with either a 3 litre turbo diesel V6 engine or five litre V8 petrol motor, both connected to a six speed automatic.

NZ 4WD editor, John Oxley said it was “a vehicle that we could shop with, take the kids to school in, tow with and even go to the theatre in. But most of all it had to be able to take us to the most extreme parts of New Zealand and in as comfortable a manner as possible.” Mr Oxley said the Discovery 4 combined all the attributes the magazine was looking for. “It’s stylish, comfy, has a great engine and gearbox, superb 4WD system and enough ground clearance to drive a bus under when the air suspension is all wound up.”

I think it is a deserved award as the LR Discovery 4 is simply better than its competitors due to its all round abilities. It also looks fabulous too as a bonus.

What it means to me. The LR4 (Discovery) is an outstanding vehicle with broad talents.

04 December 2010

Number Ones Americas: 2009

A bit slow off the mark on this one, but better late than never. Of the countries that I know car sales of in the Americas, most are led by one of two brands, GM or Toyota. GM is the main brand on the continent but it will need to work hard to maintain that. It lost Mexico and Paraguay in 2009 and will lose at least another in 2010.

GM (7)

Toyota (4)
Dominican Rep
Puerto Rico





Surprisingly Ford doesn't feature on the list but they will for 2010.

What it means to me: GM still has a strong following in the Americas.

Jeeps To Be Made In Italy

When Fiat took control of Chysler, they saw potential synergies between them. One of them it transpires involves plans to build a Jeep SUV at a plant in Turin, Italy. This will be of great benefit to Fiat as it has under utilised plants at home, although I cannot see any gain for Chrysler USA in this one. Fiat said it would produce a Maserati-brand SUV in Detroit, using the underpinnings of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. So the co operation cuts both ways.

As Fiat sales fall away badly in Europe and with plants they cannot close, getting a Jeep model will be a relief for the bottom line. Cost savings within the car industry - awash with so many brands - will be necessary for survival.

What it means to me: Jeeps made in Italy? It's a new world folks.

01 December 2010

German Brands Talk It Up

They say that it is all about perception. It is certainly true when it comes to the masses, who are prone to manipulation. Once people perceive that a car brand is respected, has status and not outrageously priced, then it will sell well. No one seems to understand this better than German car makers. Especially in the premium sector, they realise the need to nurture a marque, to promote it, to convince people that it is desired and sought after.

Take as an example India. German premium brands had this small but growing market all to themselves. Then an Indian car maker Tata bought Jaguar and Land Rover. Now Land Rovers were to sell above the trickle they had been and Jaguar was introduced into the market. The German premium trio must be concerned, but show it they do not. They go on the offensive instead. They have just released to the press their sales progress in India. Apparently BMW is planning to sell 5,000 units this year (2010), while Mercedes-Benz expect nearly that amount. How many sales have JLR achieved so far in 2010? Nothing has been said that I know of. I believe about 300 units were sold in in total for '09.

Therefore, if sales are good for JLR in 2010, why not tell the world? If they are steady, say it is a period of consolidation before an acceleration next year. JLR could learn much from watching how German car makers promote their achievements. Because, let's face it, it is all about perception.

What it means to me. It's time for JLR to stand tall.