29 December 2013

Subaru Worldwide Production By Nation : 2012

The BRZ sports car - jointly developed with Toyota

Subaru is an everyday brand that isn't big enough to go it alone. Therefore in 1968, Nissan acquired a 20% share of Subaru at the direction of the Japanese government. Then in 1999, when Renault and Nissan got together, the Nissan stake was sold to GM. In 2005, Toyota bought into Fuji Heavy Industries (who own Subaru) and GM sold its share of the car maker. Currently Toyota own close to a fifth of FHI.

If that wasn't all to confusing, it says much about how things are done in Japan, competition and cooperation finely balanced. Subaru only makes cars in two plants in Japan and one in the USA. Japanese production rose 36% and the US was up 14%, for a combined increase of 30%. Subaru's not manufacturing in China will surely change in the not too distant future.

Subaru appeal to some is its being different. The boxer engine configuration and 4wd give the brand uniqueness, something smaller brands need to be to survive. It is 22nd on the worldwide ranking of car/LCV makers.

2011 Shr 2012 Shr

Japan 418,545 72.1% 568,537 75.5%

USA 161,716 27.9% 184,783 24.5%

Total 580,261 0.8% 753,320 0.9%

Data source: Thanks to OICA.

The Forester model

10 December 2013

Do New Cars Cost Too Much?

How many cars will you buy in your lifetime? That's a lot of depreciation.

I say yes, with a qualification. The fact is that what you get for in a car and how much it costs mean they are better value than ever before. Still I say yes, they are too expensive. How does that work?

Models sell in larger numbers, are built in larger factories and much of a car is made by machinery such as robots. So cars should be much cheaper. So what holds the price back from dropping?

Extra safety does, but we don't want to compromise on that. The other thing is there are too many car makers duplicating costly car design over too many models. Car makers realise this and are trying to save in this area. Car platforms are increasingly shared within a company, and new ways of making them more usable across different sized models are being used. Yet there is much duplication within the industry.

The answer is greater cooperation between brands. As an example PSA and Mitsubishi have done some sharing of models, but limited. Why not have PSA design all cars and small vans while Mitsubishi does SUVs, a large van, pick up truck and electric car. They make them for each other, with body variances to look different. That is an obvious one. VW bought a stake in Suzuki but little or nothing has been done to share anything that I can see. So what is the problem?

Probably working together takes compromises on each side and it doesn't work out. Professional pride. Also losing brand uniqueness may be a fear too.

The reason I write this is the new car I bought eight years ago is getting near to replacement. Low kms means an OK trade in price, but I don't want to spend a large amount on what is simply personal transport. The price, depreciation, insurance, road license not to mention fuel and maintenance makes mobility expensive. I'm not a big earner and have better things to do with my hard earned money.

Over to you car makers....

08 December 2013

Land Rover Exports By Nation: 1964

Are you sure this is the right way Chaps?

Back in 1964, Land Rover made just one model, what is now known as the Defender. It was a very popular vehicle in many nations, especially in the British Commonwealth. It's a shame manufactures don't release old data like this, as it cannot be commercially sensitive anymore.

In the list below, colour coding is according to region. Yellow: Asia/Pacific, Gold: Africa, Blue: Europe, Grey: Americas, Green: Middle East. The percentage at the end is based on my estimate of 42,500 vehicles produced that year. The list has about 20,400 cars, another 22,000 others went elsewhere. Britain was a obviously a major market, but many more went to numerous other nations.

Some of the names are unusual, such as 'French West and Equatorial Africa' and 'Port West Africa', which I assume is Angola today. An amazing glimpse into a distant time, and quite a different world.

1 Australia 4,160 9.8%

2 South Africa 1,840 4.3%

3 French Eq Africa 1,160 2.7%

4 East Africa 1,120 2.6%

5 Switzerland 1,010 2.4%

6 USA 950 2.2%

7 NZ 920 2.2%

8 Port West Africa 890 2.1%

9 Malaysia 860 2.0%

10 Persian Gulf 720 1.7%

10 Indonesia 720 1.7%

12 Thailand 695 1.6%

13 Chile 670 1.6%

14 Rhodesia 655 1.5%

15 Nigeria 655 1.5%

16 Libya 600 1.4%

17 Saudi Arabia 525 1.2%

18 Algeria 520 1.2%

19 Iran 475 1.1%

19 Ghana 475 1.1%

21 Yemen (Aden) 430 1.0%

22 Lebanon 375 0.9%