31 August 2011

Land Rover's Growth: 1990-2010

Land Rover started out in the late 1940's making what we know now as the Defender. The fact that it is still made today, albeit in lower numbers, is testament to the original design. Defender production initially grew to about 50,000 per annum, where it leveled off.

Things changed in the early 70's with the arrival of the Range Rover. Now there were two models, but production didn't go up because Defender sales reduced after the Rangie's introduction. The Discovery changed that when it appeared in the beginning of the 90's. Then the late 90's lead to the very successful Freelander and the mid 00's the very popular Range Rover Sport. Each model has brought something positive to Land Rover. Production from 1990, the arrival of the Discovery:

90 - 68,500
91 - 54,500
92 - 57,000
93 - 68,000
94 - 94,000
95 - 127,000
96 - 129,500
97 - 143,000
98 - 153,000
99 - 178,500
00 - 175,600
01 - 152,800
02 - 168,250
03 - 160,000
04 - 164,500
(RR Sport)
05 - 188,000
06 - 187,000
07 - 254,600
08 - 208,500
09 - 115,750
10 - 185,000

The 2008-9 economic crash affected production numbers, but LR is on the up again and 2011 will see 200,000 comfortably passed. Profitably too. The Evoque (below) is here now! Like every other new model, it will add much to the fascination with this iconic brand. Then of course the new defender (above, right) in 2015. Things are hot at Land Rover.

29 August 2011

Nissan Worldwide Production By Nation : 2010

The fifth largest brand for car/LCV production is a brand I like, Nissan. I have never actually owned one, but think they are doing things better than most other Japanese brands.

Japanese production of the marque was 39% in 2005, but down to 27% in 2010. That is a smart move as Japanese car making is too expensive now. During the same period Chinese manufactured Nissans have risen for 5% to 24%. Below is the main places they are made:

1 Japan 1,060,000 27.2%
2 China 940,000 24.1%
3 USA 510,000 13.1%
4 Mexico 505,000 13.0%
5 UK 425,000 10.8%
6 Thaïland 185,000 4.7%
7 Spain 105,000 2.7%
8 India 43,000 1.1%
9 South Africa 41,000 1.1%
10 Taïwan 37,000 0.9%
11 Indonesia 33,500 0.9%
Total 3,910,000 +45.6%

Cars such as the GTR, Qashqai and Juke are really exciting, the Note and Maxima (Teana) practical as is the Tiida (Versa) but that particular car is very dull. So the range is varied to say the least.

24 August 2011

Peugeot Production UK

Peugeot took over the Chrysler car making operation in the UK and replaced the production with its own models. Below is the production per year that was achieved:

Model 309:

85 5,500
86 45,000
87 41,200
88 31,000
89 3,900
Total 126,500

Model 405:

87 1,750
88 51,300
89 103,300
90 116,500
91 88,000
92 85,750
93 20,000
Total 466,700

Model 306:

92 90
93 52,900
94 74,400
95 78,400
96 85,100
97 85,000
98 48,200
Total 424,100

Model 206:

98 23,300
99 162,600
00 186,100
01 186,100
02 197,700
03 207,250
04 173,100
05 126,500
06 75,400
Total 1,338,000

You can see that Peugeot did crank quite a few cars out of Ryton, but the truth of it was one model production is difficult to keep profitable throughout its full cycle. Closing the plant was inevitable once new facilities were opened in Central Europe.

Summary: Once you allow overseas ownership of your industry, plant closure is always a possibility. Britain has been outstandingly lax in this area. Thanks to loyal Japanese (and now Indian) companies, Britain has a car industry at all.

22 August 2011

Failed Euro Brands In The USA

Many European brands have entered the USA car market, but they often failed. Usually the reason was poor reliability which the US public place high importance. Below is a wrap up of those embarrassing retreats.

Renault: The marque has a long history in the US. In 1959, 90,000 cars were sold, so quite a popular brand back then. Sales slipped from that high and meandered along until a sales spike when they briefly colaborated with AMC in the late 70's. However, by the mid 80's Renault had gone from the market. They haven't been back since.

Peugeot: Arrived in the mid 60's but never cracked even 20,000 sales in a year. The marque pulled the plug in the mid 80's and hasn't returned.

Fiat: A car brand with a long association with the US. In 1990, just over 100,000 cars were sold but that wasn't sustained. By the mid 90's, it was over. Fiat has just returned with the 500 model to begin with, but that has had a slow sales run so far.

BLMC: British sports cars were popular after the war and that initially accounted for much of what became BLMC's sales. The big push came in the late 60's, peaking in the mid 70's with 70,000 sales. From there it was downhill until the early 80's. An attempt to get back in the late 80's under the Stirling brand also failed, with 15,000 sales the best managed. MG may be back one day, but from China (See pic on left).

Yugo: In the mid 80's, this Serbian brand entered the US and 50,000 cars found a home in 1987. By the early 90's it was all over though. I'm surprised they sold at all!

Japanese brands replaced these Euro ones, mainly because they were reliable. The lesson learned about taking on the US market is simple. It is quite an exercise to get established there, so don't mess it up with unreliable vehicles.

18 August 2011

The Mclaren MP4-12C

I am not a fan of super cars such as Ferrari or Lamborghini. Certainly they have a style about them that turns heads and are a fabulous drive on a suitable road. The problem is that is all they're good at.

There is a new super car on the block, the McLaren MP4-12C. So how does it compare with the opposition? If it was simply to be driven around a race track, many would say the Ferrari would edge past it for fun factor, but it is apparently a stunning car in that environment nevertheless.
In everyday use, the MP4-12C wins easily for riding beautifully over uneven surfaces (something it is outstanding on), quiet at low speeds, not too wide for real world town driving, it actually has storage capabilities, and by setting the car up for what you need, safe and easy to drive.

Super cars are toys for rich boys to play with and perhaps to catch a gold digging trophy blonde. The McLaren is different. It isn't so ostentatious in style and all the better for it; a car of beauty in my eyes. It is amazing when driven hard and very good just toodling around if needed. So someone has finally made a super car that is practical. I still wouldn't buy one, but if I was in the market for this sort of car, it would be the only one on my shopping list. Well done McLaren.

17 August 2011

Worldwide Production 2010: Ford

Ford was for so long the number two car maker behind GM. While not quite there now, it still has a strong presence in many areas of the world. In Asia and developing nations Ford has been a weak area, something it is currently trying to change. It would be stupid not to, as this is where future growth will be seen. China is a case in point; there but not that strongly. Below production by nation is listed, followed by the percentage of the Ford total:

1 USA 1,660,000 33.8%
2 Germany 740,000 15.1%
3 China 410,000 8.3%
4 Mexico 390,000 7.9%
5 Brazil 320,000 6.5%
6 Canada 320,000 6.5%
7 Spain 255,000 5.2%
8 Turkey 240,000 4.8%
9 Belgium 185,000 3.8%
10 Argentina 95,000 2.0%
11 India 95,000 1.9%
12 Poland 80,000 1.7%
13 Australia 55,000 1.1%
Total 4,900,000 +16%

Source: OICA

15 August 2011

Worldwide Production 2010: VW

The following figures as shown below are of VW brand production only. The brand has aspirations of global leadership, but nearly 50% of all car making taking place in two countries, it has a way to go yet. With a few exceptions, VW is mainly a European and Chinese brand, with some strength in certain Latin American markets. The figures below are for production, and percentage of total VW manufacturing:

1 China 1,490,000 29.8%
2 Germany 1,390,000 27.8%
3 Brazil 825,000 16.5%
4 Mexico 430,000 8.5%
5 Spain 335,000 6.7%
6 Poland 150,000 3.0%
7 South Africa 120,000 2.4%
8 Portugal 100,000 2.0%
9 Argentina 85,000 1.7%

Total 5,000,000 +17%

Source: OICA

14 August 2011

Would You Like A Ride On This Bus?

On reason that people do not like bus transport is the time it takes to get from A to B. Well if that A to B is a long trip, this could be a swift, comfortable way to do it. It is an electric-powered bus, come stretched limousine that can move at up to 250 kph. The 530 hp carbon-fibre vehicle carries 23 passengers and is powered by lithium iron phosphate batteries.


12 August 2011

Worldwide Production 2010: Toyota

Toyota's worldwide production of cars/LCVs in 2010 didn't show much change when comparing where they were built. A shame as 42% in Japan is too many when they could be built elsewhere and make more profit. Sometimes loyalty can cost too much. As for where they were maninly built and the percentage of total Toyota production:

1 Japan 3,200,000 42.3%
2 USA 950,000 12.6%
3 China 770,000 10.2%
4 Thaïland 630,000 8.4%
5 Canada 460,000 6.1%
6 Indonesia 265,000 6.1%
7 France 160,000 2.1%
8 UK 135,000 1.8%
9 South Africa 125,000 1.6%
10 Australia 120,000 1.6%
11 Taïwan 120,000 1.6%

Total 7,500,000 +20%

To be a leader globally, China needs to figure larger than that. Unfortunately, 2011 isn't looking good so pain is ahead for the former darling of car making.

Source: OICA

10 August 2011

UK Sales - Top 20 Models: 1976

In 1976, the car market in the UK was quite different than it is now. BLMC makes are all gone, as the Chrysler/Hillman. Ford is still dominant, but with different model names. GM Vauxhall is stronger now, as are German marques. The figures below are as accurate as I can assertain:

1 Ford Escort 134,000
2 Ford Cortina 126,300
3 BL Mini 81,100
4 Morris Marina 71,300
5 Austin Allegro 55,200
6 Vauxhall Chevette 43,800
7 Ford Capri 36,100
8 Vauxhall Viva 33,900
9 Austin Maxi 33,500
10 Austin Princess 31,700
11 Chrysler Avenger 31,450
12 Datsun Sunny 30,450
13 Vauxhall Cavalier 29,750
14 Ford Granada 28,100
15 Datsun Cherry 21,200
16 Chrysler Hunter 20,200
17 Triumph Dolomite 19,700
18 Chrysler Alpine 16,150
19 Renault 5 15,700
20 VW Golf 15,500

Top 10 646,850
% of Total 50.31
Total 1,285,600

Of those cars, our family had an Australian built Marina (2.6 litre) and an Austin Maxi. I had a NZ assembled Hillman Avenger and my brother a Hillman Hunter company car. When I met my wife to be, she had a Vauxhall Viva. I remember hiring a Vauxhall Chevette rental car for an extended drive around the UK. My dream car in my youth was the Dolomite Sprint but it stayed a dream.

Cars today are better made, safer, technically more advanced, better value for money and bigger. They just do not have as much character. Would I want to go back to cars in 1976? No. I like looking back at those times though. It's a pity such data isn't more available as it cannot have market value now, just historical interest.

PS. Don't you think for the age of the design, the Hillman Hunter is still a fine looking car?

07 August 2011

Profitable MGR Before BMW

BMW often made statements about how unprofitable MGR was under its ownership and comments made about it were very derogatory. I wondered why BMW bought a company which was losing money, one that apparently in no way could be made a viable business. Didn't they carry out due diligence?

Well I found two sources that showed MGR's balance sheet prior to and immediately after its sale to BMW. In 1986 and before, MGR was a mainly loss making company. However, for the seven years prior to its sale to BMW (1987-1993), things improved. One source I found showed MGR made a total of £181m profit, or £26m p.a for that period (another was just under half that figure). Then in 1993 - the year of the sale to BMW - MGR made £82m profit and a £91m surplus the year after. Wow!

So what can we learn? The fact that the MGR balance sheet was improving. BMW sent over a group to carefully look over the books prior to the purchase and obviously liked what they saw. It clearly wasn't a lost cause.

What killed MGR was the way things were handled thereafter, but I won't go into that as I have previously. However, this data confirmed what I thought. Making out that MGR was a hopeless case may have appeared to save face for BMW. However, that would have meant they were idiots for buying it. No, MGR had potential but BMW mismanaged it appallingly. Enough humility to admit that would have shown strength of character. Silence would have been dignified. The mocking attitude that ensued was ... well I'll let you decide.

To read more about this subject,  click here 

Car Production Czech/Slovak: 2010

Czechoslovakia existed from 1918 until 1992. On 1 January 1993 it peacefully formed into two independent countries, the Czech and Slovak Republics. They both have grown as car makers of late so let us see how they are doing.

First the Czech part. Skoda was the only car marque being made in the Czech Rep for many years. It is the national brand, now part of the VW Group. The association is working quite well for this Central European car maker. Skoda production was around the 450,000 units per annum in the early part of of the new century, before peaking at 620,000 in 2007. Then in 2005 a joint venture factory between Peugeot, Citroen and Toyota started producing vehicles. This was followed by a new Hyundai plant in 2008. These new brands have more than made up for Skoda's modest production decline since '07. 2010 production figures are below:

1 Skoda 575,000
2 Hyundai 200,000
3 Peugeot 110,000
4 Citroen 100,000
5 Toyota 85,000

Total 1,070,000

Now for Slovakia. For such a small country, it has a wide variety of brands making up car manufacturing industry. VW was the only company in 2001, when 90,000 cars rolled off the assembly lines that year. VW production peaked in 2005 with 170,000 cars, but declined since. No matter as new arrivals came in 2006 in the form of Peugeot, Kia and Audi (Citroen also started in 2009). For the current situation for 2010:

1 Kia 230,000
2 Peugeot 100,000
3 Citroen 75,000
4 VW 57,500
5 Audi 47,500
6 Skoda 40,000

Total 550,000

In summary: Both countries are doing well enticing investment from auto makers. Lower wages are a big factor, as is their close proximity to major markets in Europe.

05 August 2011

Worldwide Production 2010: GM

If you count cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) only, and don't count Daihatsu or Hino with Toyota, then GM has always been the biggest manufacturer worldwide. That is how I do the statistics and as the say, 'lies, damned lies..' Anyway, GM car/LCV sales increased 32% in 2010, and worldwide share improvement from 9.7% to 11.5%. Below is: rank, country, production, share of GM production and increase/decrease on 2009. Italics means decrease.

1 China 2,266,000 26.8 +28%
2 USA 1,720,000 20.3 +42%
3 S Korea 735,000 8.7 +40%
4 Brazil 650,000 7.7 +9%
5 Mexico 560,000 6.6 +60%
6 Canada 530,000 6.3 +63%
7 Germany 465,000 5.5 +19%
8 Spain 380,000 4.5 +12%
9 Poland 204,000 2.4 +33%
10 Russia 163,000 1.9 +7%
11 UK 145,000 1.7 +33%
12 Uzbek' 145,000 1.7 -27%
13 Argentina 135,000 1.6 +44%
14 India 110,000 1.3 +68%
15 Thailand 74,000 0.9 +96%
16 Australia 64,000 0.8 -4%
17 Belgium 52,000 0.6 -57%
18 RSA 45,000 0.5 n/a
19 France 22,000 0.3 +52%
Total 8,465,000 +32%

China was 8th in 2005 and has now been the largest manufacturer for 'The General' for the last two years. In the main, things things have not changed that much from 2009. Perhaps the biggest change is the improved economic conditions and a healthy increase as a result.

Source: OICA

In summary: GM has pulled out of financial disaster rather well.