29 April 2011

Car Sales Malaysia: 2010

Two local brands, Peredua (pic below) and Proton (above) dominate proceedings in Malaysia. Proton was the leader until 2006, when its arch nemisis took over. Now Proton is coming back and closing in quickly on Perudua in the early stages of 2011. Proton was started in 1983, and was Malaysia's only car maker until Perodua arrived in 1993. Proton was initially tied up with Mitsubishi, using that company's technology in its cars. Today it also looks to Lotus Engineering UK for assistance, a company it now owns. Perodua mainly produces small cars and does not compete with Proton directly. Its cars are taken from existing Daihatsu designs, Daihatsu being a shareholder.

To sell cars in any numbers in Malaysia, you have to assemble them there to avoid the high import duty otherwise imposed. Sales for 2010 as below:

1 Perodua 188,600 34.7% +13
2 Proton 157,000 28.9% +6
3 Toyota 71,000 13.1% +8
4 Honda 44,500 8.2% +15
5 Nissan 26,300 4.8% +14
6 Kia-Naza 10,300 +1.9% -28
7 Hyundai-Inokom 9,200 1.7% +26
8 Suzuki 6,750 1.2% +35
9 Mercedes 5,000 0.9% +26
10 Mazda 4,125 0.8% +230
11 Mitsubishi 4,050 0.7% +100
12 BMW 4,000 0.7% +12
13 Chery 3,050 0.6% +60
14 VW 2,800 0.5% +220
15 Peugeot 2,550 0.5% +105

Others 4,250 0.8% share
Total 543,600 +12% increase

The Malaysian government has made sure it's two national brands have a price advantage over other makes, even if these overseas brands are assembled there. Perodua and Proton had nearly 90% of the market in 2001, but has steadily fallen since, as more cars are made locally by other brands.

In summary: A somewhat artificial market which is slowly widening out.

Data source: MAA

27 April 2011

JLR To Ramp Up Chinese Sales

I do not give the Chinese car market much attention. Statistics out of that country are variable and usually only include locally built cars. As to why someone does not take charge of it and release consistent, relevant data of all sales by each brand shows how far China has to go to being an open, transparent nation. I saw some figures showing VW sold 1.47 million cars in China in 2010, and GM 1.04 million. I wouldn't put money on it though. In the premium sector Audi delivered 228,000, while BMW sold 158,500 and Mercedes Benz 147,500 , including imported models - as best I can tell.

In comparison, Jaguar / Land Rover have been slow to act in China. They are cautiously looking at local manufacturing but are still yet to commit. Making cars in China avoids very high import duties, a government tactic to reduce imports. China has become such an important market, car makers comply and enter the necessary joint venture deals in order to get much improved sales, and therefore greater profitability.

To see how the Chinese market has grown for cars, I have compiled some figures regarding JLR. In 2004, Land Rover sold only 700 vehicles, by 2007 6,600 and in 2010 23,500. In three months of 2011 so far, nearly 8,000 (+49%). Likewise Jaguar 2004 - 200, 2007 - 1,100 or so, 2010 - 2,650. Three months of 2011 - just over 800 (+39%). That represents solid growth even without local production. China is about to pass the US to become the biggest market outside the UK for LR, while Chinese Jaguar sales have just passed Germany to become the second largest export market.

China is so important to all car makers, and you need strong infrastructure to reach your potential customers over such a large country. In 2009 JLR had only 40 dealers, 2010 60, and by 2011's end close to 100. 40,000 sales for the two marques is the goal for 2011, a 54% increase.

In summary: JLR were tardy in getting into China but they are now playing catch up.

25 April 2011

The Audi Range zzzzzzz

Above are the Audi models A1, 3, 6 and 8. To me these cars are as dull as car design gets. They all look much the same. Of course, a car maker should have a theme that ties the brand together. Audi has that gaping grille, unattractive in its own right. However, to then have them all much the same shape, only different sizes, defies logic. To make matters worse, people are buying them in large numbers.

I must be missing something. I have the photos of the above range stuck to the ceiling of my bedroom, then whenever I am having trouble sleeping I put the light on and look up. Next minute zzzzz. It works a treat.

Audis have nice interiors but surely exterior style counts for something too. Perhaps one day Audi NZ will arrange a drive in one for me to convince me they are worth buying.

My opinion: Audis are soooo sterile in design.

22 April 2011

Car Sales 2010: Scotland

The Scottish car market slipped slightly in 2011. Ford lost share by nearly 3% with a 23% drop in sales. Renault and Nissan strengthened their respective positions, while Toyota didn't fare so well. Both BMW and Audi gained four places without increasing sales because brands above them stumbled badly.

1 Vauxhall 27,100 15.3% -6
2 Ford 20,400 11.5% -23
3 Volkswagen 12,900 7.3% -2
4 Renault 12,800 7.2% +35
5 Nissan 9,800 5.5% +21
6 BMW 7,100 4.0% -1
7 Audi 7,000 3.9% +1
8 Toyota 7,000 3.9% -17
9 Peugeot 6,800 3.9% -14
10 Honda 6,700 3.8% -12
11 Fiat 6,400 3.6% -14
12 Kia 6,200 3.5% +9
13 Mazda 6,100 3.4% -9
14 Citroen 6,000 3.4% +12
15 Hyundai 4,400 2.5% -11
16 Mercedes 4,300 2.4% -3
17 MINI 3,800 2.2% +8
18 Skoda 3,700 2.1% -5
19 Volvo 3,100 1.7% +13
20 Land Rover 3,000 1.7% +28
Total 75,300 -4

In summary: Vauxhall bucks the UK national trend with top spot.

For other Scotland sales posts just click on the years: 2009201120122013 2014 & 2015.

Source: www.dft.gov.uk

20 April 2011

Car Sales 2010: Wales

Wales is part of the UK, and car sales in that country come under the UK total. I have separated Welsh car sales for this analogy. Premium brands do not do as well here as the UK as Britain's wealth is centred around south east England. Overall, Wales saw a slight downturn in sales for 2010. Renault climbed three places while Toyota dropped three. Kia rose by four and Audi five places. Fiat, Honda and Suzuki all fell three places. Nissan gained well in market share as did Land Rover (who just missed the cut with 1,250 sales)

1 Ford 15,000 20.0% -12
2 Vauxhall 7,850 10.4% -6
3 Volkswagen 5,650 7.5% +6
4 Renault 4,250 5.7% +35
5 Citroen 4,050 5.4% +12
6 Peugeot 3,400 4.5% -4
7 Toyota 3,250 4.3% -22
8 Nissan 3,150 4.2% +16
9 Kia 2,450 3.2% +11
10 BMW 2,400 3.2% +4
11 Hyundai 2,300 3.0% -16
12 Audi 2,100 2.8% +14
13 Fiat 2,100 2.8% -19
14 Honda 2,050 2.7% -18
15 Mazda 1,900 2.5% -8
16 Mercedes 1,750 2.3% -7
17 Skoda 1,700 2.2% +7
18 Suzuki 1,550 2.1% -21
19 Volvo 1,400 1.8% -8
20 MINI 1,350 1.8% +5
Total 75,350 -4

Ford lost 1.9 percentage points on 2008, but still has a strong hold in the Principality. It is a massive 6.2 percentage points higher than Ford's UK total. On the other hand, second placed Vauxhall is lower than the UK total, by 1.8% share.

As I see it: Ford being a large employer in Wales (engine factory) may help the 'Blue Oval's' popularity.

Source: www.dft.gov.uk

For other years, please click on the year: 200920112012201320142015,

18 April 2011

Car Production Germany: 2010

Despite the vagaries of world car sales of late, German car sales have held up fairly well. VW has always been the main producer, but things below have moved around. Mercedes fell from 2nd in 2007 to 4th in '09, coming bacik to third last year. BMW was 2nd in 2008, but now is 4th. Audi were 5th in 2005 but is now 2nd. Of course, this doesn't represent total production, but rather domestic. Some car brands make more outside of Germany than others. Ironically, the world sales rankings of BMW, Merc and Audi are reversed for production at home.
As for German production figures by make:

VW 1,300,000 23.7% +7
Audi 1,000,000 18.0% +17
Merc 980,000 17.8% +29
BMW 940,000 17.1% +14
Ford 730,000 13.3% -1
Opel 470,0000 8.6% +12%
Porsche 90,000 1.6% +37
Total 5,510,000 +13

German car brands are aggressively marketed and highly regarded around the world. Personally, while they have a solidness about them and made with good materials, I think that they are not well styled, are over priced, nor as reliable as perceived by many. If however you can establish and maintain a positive image, that is what really makes the difference.

In summary: German car production is strong and has a confident future.

15 April 2011

Buying A Used Car From A Supermarket

In the UK, Tesco supermarket chain has started to sell used cars online. A potential purchaser goes to the website where pictures and a brief video are available to view. The RAC mechanically inspect the car and it comes with a one month RAC warranty. By buying directly from Tesco, the costs are reduced from source to consumer. Most cars will come from the fleet sector, have one previous owner, and a full service history. The price is no haggle, which will certainly please those not adept at that aspect of purchasing.

The choice of cars will is broader than any dealer by far, obviously. You cannot see the vehicle before buying, but the detailed photographs and RAC check should negate any problems there. Finance is available through Tesco. If you have to car to trade in and don't want to sell it yourself, you would have to go to a car dealer. If you live near Birmingham, you can pick the car up, but to have it delivered anywhere in the UK costs £149. Yet another reason to live circa the Midlands UK.

Will it take off? I would certainly consider buying a car this way. Fleet vehicles are serviced and modern cars are well made. With the volume of cars they will sell, you would expect value for money. If anyone in the UK does buy this way, or anyone has thoughts on it that I have not mentioned, please leave a comment. You do not have to be registered to do so.

The bottom line: If I was a car dealers, I would be concerned. This could change the way many people buy used cars.

13 April 2011

Vehicle Production GM Europe: 2010

GM European production saw the bowing out of the Antwerp, Belgium plant in 2010. The other four nations will continue producing vehicles for "The General" in 2011. GM Europe vehicle production by model and country as below:

Zaragoza (Spa) 223,500
Eisenach (Ger) 136,500
Total Corsa: 360,000

Gilwice (Pol) 141,500
Ellesmere Port (UK) 108,000
Bochum (Ger) 71,500
Antwerp (Bel) 44,500
Total Astra: 365,500

Zaragoza (Spa) 119,000
Total Meriva: 119,000

Bochum (Ger) 55,500
Gilwice (Pol) 17,500
Total Zafira: 73,000

Rüsselsheim (Ger) 126,000
Total Insignia: 126,000

Zaragoza (Spa) 36,000
Total Combo: 36,000

Luton (UK) 39,000
Total Vivaro: 39,000

Germany 390,000
Spain 379,000
Poland 159,000
Britain 146,500
Belgium 44,500
Total GM Europe: 1,119,000

There will be a slight increase in vehicle production for GM Europe in 2011. For those making the Astra, a bonus as Antwerp's production is reallocated to those factories. Spain may drop slightly, however.

My take: GM Europe is organising itself for profitability.

Pics: Corsa and Insignia

10 April 2011

UK Car Production: Top 15 Models In 2010

Nissan has been the top car manufacturer in the UK since the year 2000, however it hasn't had the top model before...Until 2010 that is, when they finally did get the 'most made' model to go with largest manufacturer tag. The six years previous it had been the BMW MINI, but the Qashqai went past the MINI with consummate ease in 2010. It looks as if the Qashqai could now stay there for a while as well.
The top 15 list as follows:

Make/Model/Production/% of total
1 Nissan Qashqai 271,000 21.3
2 BMW Mini 216,000 17.0
3 GM Astra 103,000 8.1
4 Toyota Auris 69,000 5.4
5 Toyota Avensis 68,000 5.4

6 L Rover Freelander 56,000 4.4
7 Honda Civic 55,000 4.3
8 Nissan Micra 54,500 4.3
9 Nissan Note 53,000 4.1
10 Honda CRV 51,000 4.0

11 L Rover RR Sport 47000 3.7
12 Nissan Juke 44,500 3.5
13 L Rover Discovery 39,000 3.1
14 Jaguar XF 34,000 2.7
15 Honda Jazz 33,000 2.6

Other Models 79,000 6.2

Total Production 1,275,000

The Nissan Juke production is only a partial year, so that will climb in 2011. The Qashqai/Dualis is a staggeringly successful model that surely exceeded all expectations. Mine certainly. The Micra will disappear next year as it will be sourced elsewhere.

Honda introduced the Jazz to make it three models from that company made in the UK now.

One could expect the Astra production to rise to perhaps 150,000 units.

The variety of makes and models certainly make the list an interesting read, not to mention a valuable employer for thousands of workers.

In summary: A surprisingly robust industry despite a lack of indigenous brands.

07 April 2011

Holden Car Manufacturing

Holden is GM's name down under in Australasia. Holden's car making in Australia is based around the large Commodore model. The problem is large cars sales are on the decline in this area. For example, in 2001 132,000 Holdens were made in Australia, in 2009 (the last year I have data for) only 54,000. That was a bad year all round but you get the idea. The numbers are shrinking.

Big Holdens are exported mainly to NZ (Holden), the Middle East (Chev) and recently to North America as Pontiacs (see pic above). The Pontiac brand went belly up so GM Australia must have hurt over that, putting future car making in Australia under pressure. Recently adding the Cruze model will keep the factories ticking over, but doesn't help the Commodores business case.

It has now been leaked that GM plans to re-launch Aussie made Commodores in the North American market sometime in 2013 under General Motors' Chevrolet brand. With former Holden bosses holding senior positions at GM US, this could have helped. Holden has friends in high places who understand the unique situation car making and Holden has in Australia. Holden needs help to keep making cars.

In summary: The Commodore model and car manufacturing in Australia has been given a boost if this comes to fruition.

05 April 2011

Luxury Cars Are So Unreliable

When you part with your money to buy an expensive car, you expect it to be reliable. That monetary outlay should translate to it staying on the road. Well, whether buying a BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover or - as in the picture - a Lamborghini, expect plenty of repairs. Almost certainly the faults will be to do with the 'high tech' elements of these cars. I assume many buyers put up with these annoying gremlins because in many cases, they bought them as a status symbol anyway. They are also very pleasant to drive when they are running.

I bought a basic new car five years ago. It is very roomy, cheap to run and I think quite a nice shape. I asked the salesman as I bought it how reliable they are. He said, with unflinching confidence, that they would only see me for routine services. He added this model just does not break down. Now in its sixth year, nothing has gone wrong with it. I sometimes think of buying something else, but I'm so happy with it. I have such confidence in its longer term reliability too.

Which makes me wonder about premium cars. I paid less for my car that many premium cars depreciate in a year. Mine doesn't break down, they too often do. I'm happy, some of these luxury car owners want to take to their car with a hammer. Motoring journalists usually praise all the electronic accoutrements (bells and whistles) as if they are 'must have' items on this class of car. Maybe these motoring scribes need to meet the stranded and frustrated motorists to seek their opinion.

My Solution: Forget premium brands that are too technically advanced to be reliable. Buy a simple, reliable car. No snob value, but who cares. Then maybe, premium car makers will make sure their technical wizardry is sorted before foisting them on a gullible public.

01 April 2011

Luton Van Plant Goes On

In 1905, Vauxhall Motors opened the largest car plant in the United Kingdom in Luton. Over the years cars and commercial vehicles poured out of the facility. However, production reduced as British industry declined. Today, only vans are made at the Luton plant, which currently employs around 1,170 staff and has a capacity of approximately 100,000 units. It now operates as GMM Luton, and produces the Vauxhall/Opel Vivaro, Renault Trafic and Nissan Primastar. This van is a joint venture between GM and Renault.

Uncertainty over Luton's future hung over the worker's heads as it does too often in many factories today. Most workers it seems were resigned to soon losing their jobs as the current van ends its production cycle. Then out of the blue, GM decided to build the new van at the plant. From what I read, maybe the Renault Trafic model will be built in France but the Vivaro will go ahead at Luton.

Up to £130million will be invested in new equipment at the factory and up to £15million at suppliers. The plant is expected to build about 50,000 of the new models a year, with 80% being exported. On a personal note, workers can now plan their lives around having a stable financial future and the Luton factory lives on.

Recent Luton production figures are listed below from 2001 to 2010 (in ,000s). Italicised means estimates. The figures are as accurate as possible but I found they do vary slightly from different sources. Nissan Primastar may be included in latter Renault Trafic figures:

Model 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Vivaro 32 36 37 52 58 61 68 63 29 38
Trafic 18 43 37 37 32 28 27 24 25 33
Total 50 79 74 89 90 89 95 87 54 71

My take on it: The joint venture has meant that it is cost effective to make and therefore GM Luton continues making vehicles.