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.

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.

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