28 July 2011

So Who Will Be The Biggest In 2011?

Historically, GM has for so long been the biggest vehicle maker worldwide.

Toyota took that mantle from them three years ago. Since then, GM has stabilised and Toyota has been losing its strength, not helped by the earthquake and Tsunami. VW Group has stated it made over 4 million vehicles (up 14%) for the first six months of 2011. That sort of production level has put it into the picture.

So who will be the largest vehicle maker by the end of this year? The three brands I have mentioned are not making any predictions, possibly as it is too close to call anyway. I feel sure that VW will pass Toyota, but less sure where GM fits in.

Of course it is more important to be profitable and making good cars than winning a numbers war. However, the prestige from being the world's largest producer makes it something each of these car makers would like to achieve.

My prediction:
GM 1st
VW Group 2nd
Toyota 3rd.

What do you think?

25 July 2011

Britain's Car Production - Top Model 1991 - 2010

British car production is relatively fluid. For example, in Germany it is probably the VW Golf that is the most produced car year after year. The UK however varies much more, so looking back over 20 years shows some interesting variance:

1991 Ford Fiesta 154,000
1992 Ford Fiesta 212,000
1993 Nissan Micra 153,000
1994 Rover 200 140,000
1995 Ford Fiesta 137,000
1996 Ford Fiesta 182,000
1997 Ford Fiesta 192,000
1998 Ford Fiesta 194,000
1999 Peugeot 206 163,000
2000 Peugeot 206 186,000
2001 Peugeot 206 186,000
2002 Peugeot 206 198,000
2003 Peugeot 206 207,000
2004 BMW MINI 189,000
2005 BMW MINI 200,000
2006 BMW MINI 185,000
2007 BMW MINI 238,000
2008 BMW MINI 234,000
2009 BMW MINI 214,000
2010 Nissan Qashqai 271,000

Nissan are now top for total cars and by model, while BMW cannot be happy being bumped by the Qashqai. Expect the very popular Nissan model to stay top for 2011 too.

22 July 2011

Britain's Car Production - By Brand 1991 & 2010

Things have changed over the last twenty years with British car production. Back in 1991, things were very different from today for UK car making. Rover (LR too), Ford (Jaguar also) and Vauxhall accounted for 82% of production. Rover was the largest producer, and remained so until 1999. Below are production figures for '91:


Rover 360,000 29%
Ford 339,000 27%
Vauxhall 259,000 21%
Nissan 125,000 10%
Peugeot 88,000 7%
Land Rover 36,000 3%
Jaguar 23,000 2%
Others 7,400
Total 1,237,000

Moving to 2010, I won't go on about what BMW did to Rover but only the MINI continues under its control. Ford moved from making cars to engines exclusively. It seems to me that GM wants to get out of car making in the UK altogether, but the market is too important so token Astra production makes up the much reduced output. Peugeot opened production in lower wage Eastern Europe, then shut down their UK plant. Nice one.

Sounds gloomy then. Well, not quite. Nissan got really serious about the UK, while both Toyota and Honda moved in. TATA are doing well with JLR too and BMW have certainly succeeded with the MINI. 2010 figures below show the striking change:


Nissan 423,000 33%
MINI 216,000 17%
Land Rover 183,000 14%
Honda 139,000 11%
Toyota 137,000 11%
Vauxhall 103,000 8%
Jaguar 56,000 4%
Others 16,500
Total 1,275,000

In summary: Without Japanese investment, it would look very poor indeed.

20 July 2011

Strategic Vision Awards For Jaguar & LR

In the USA, they have the Total Quality Index (TQI). The latest TQI award was based on 2011 models purchased for the last three months of 2010 and and ascertains how punters feel about their car's ownership experience overall. They are asked to reveal things such as buying, reliability, and performance opinions of their vehicles. 37,000 were questioned in this year's survey. For JLR, the Land Rover LR4 (Discovery) won the Near-Luxury SUV segment and the Jaguar XJ won the Luxury Car section. Both Ford and VW faired well also.

I think this kind of survey is good, because it doesn't just focus one thing, such as reliability. The overall ownership experience decides whether someone is happy with their purchase. I would assume it could tell something about the likelihood of repurchasing the same brand.

In summary: Well done JLR for an improved effort in pleasing customers with fine products.

15 July 2011

Japan: Post War Car Production: 1950-2010

Japanese car manufacturing was nil in 1946, and amounted to a mere 100 cars in '47. The production took time to grow but accelerated as the years passed:

1950 1,600
1955 20,200
1960 165,000
1965 695,000
1970 3,180,000
1975 4,570,000
1980 7,040,000
1985 7,645,000
1990 9,950,000
1995 7,610,000
2000 8,365,000
2005 9,015,000
2010 8,310,000

It is an amazing success story, built around an undervalued Yen and commitment to keeping production at home. Recent events are conspiring against that strategy. Car manufacturing will be steadily moved offshore to make it more profitable.

In summary: Expect a reduction of Japanese car making from now on, unless the Yen weakens.

12 July 2011

USA: Post War Car Production: 1950-2010

The USA made only 70,000 cars in 1945 but it took off quickly after that. The next year of '46 saw 2,150,000 cars produced! That is an amazing increase. See below for what happened thereafter:

1950 6,670,000
1955 7,920,000
1960 6,675,000
1965 9,300,000
1970 6,550,000
1975 6,720,000
1980 6,375,000
1985 8,185,000
1990 6,075,000
1995 6,325,000
2000 5,470,000
2005 4,265,000
2010 2,730,000

I must say that the production inconsistency surprised me, it particularly fell away in the 21st century. Part of the tapering off is due to Americans turning away from cars to what they call trucks. For example, just under 3.5 million trucks were made in the US in 1985, but 5 million were manufactured in 2010. That does not make up for the car making drop, but goes someway to explaining it away. Still, US car production is lower than most would expect as many are imported, especially from Canada, Mexico and Asia.

So which manufacturer made the most cars in the US in 2010? (answer below)

In summary: Does car making have much of a future in The US of A? Of course, but not in the numbers you may have thought.

Answer: GM 600,000.

10 July 2011

France: Post War Car Production: 1950-2010

Europe was decimated in the 1940's (can't think why) and by 1945 only 1,600 cars were made in France. Like the rest of Europe, production was soon on the up and up. We can see this below:

1950 257,000
1955 561,000
1960 1,175,000
1965 1,423,000
1970 2,458,000
1975 2,952,000
1980 3,406,000
1985 2,817,000
1990 3,294,815
1995 3,050,929
2000 2,879,810
2005 3,112,956
2010 1,914,029

1979 was the best year (depending on source for the data) with 3,730,000 cars made. I am not an expert on the French car industry, but I put the subsequent drop to the following: 1) Strong competition from more reliable Japanese brands, especially in former French territories. 2) French cars falling away in innovation and to a point design. In other words, what is attractive about French cars is not sufficient to offset the deficiencies. 3) The French government seems too interfering and protective, which has bred a certain amount of complacency.

In summary: I believe French car manufacturing will continue to meander.

07 July 2011

Britain: Post War Car Production: 1950-2010

In Britain only 2,000 cars cars were made in 1940 and by 1945, it was 17,000 units. The latter figure was more than I thought (due to 'you know what' was going on). By 1946, 219,000 cars were made and things moved quickly thereafter, as can be seen below:

1950 412,000
1955 898,000
1960 1,353,000
1965 1,722,000
1970 1,640,000
1975 1,268,000
1980 924,000
1985 1,048,000
1990 1,296,000
1995 1.532,000
2000 1,641,000
2005 1,596,000
2010 1,270,000

British production peaked in 1972, with 1,921,000. Then, poor management and worker unrest derailed the industry. Within ten years, production dropped to 888,000 or less than half! What a disaster. Things improved when Rover teamed up with Honda and the Japanese found British workers to their liking and invested in plants. Even BMW's monumental stuff up of previously profitable MGR could not stop the UK car making industry from prospering. Unfortunately, the recent world economic slow down hurt UK production rather badly. It is now coming back again in 2011, but the 2010 figure was disappointing.

As I see it: A classic case of could have been, but isn't. Still, it could be much worse...like no car industry.

04 July 2011

Germany: Post War Car Production: 1950-2010

In 1946, car production in Germany was only 10,000 units, hardly surprising considering the war (I won't mention it again). What did surprise me was the speed production took off after that. Below are production figures since then:

1950 219,000
1955 762,000
1960 1,817,000
1965 2,734,000
1970 3,528,000
1975 2,908,000
1980 3,521,000
1985 4,167,000
1990 4,661,000
1995 4,360,000
2000 5,132,000
2005 5,350,000
2010 5,552,000

The growth has been strong with only occasional drops. Building cars in a high wage country is costly and  makes the success all the more surprising. Why Ford makes the small Fiesta there when it would be so much more profitable in a lower wage country surprises me. Opel makes too many cars there, and if GM are serious about Opel being a long term profitable unit, surely they need to move some production elsewhere.

VW is in a similar situation in being heavily committed to German production. I suppose being tied to the weak Euro helps manufacturing in the country, as its own currency would be much higher in value. This, along with high wages, would add to the pressure of being profitable.

Summary: This data shows that car production in Germany is in good health.