18 November 2019

NZ Premium Brand Comparison : 2017-19 (2019 Jan -Oct)

Commuting to work, NZ style. Just kidding

NZ's premium marques aren't doing too badly, almost up on 2018 with two months of trading to go in 2019! The overall market is down as well. So what's been happening in 2019?

Despite Mini's good showing, the BMW Group has slipped in its share. Mercedes is the largest brand for this segment but has fallen much more than BMW. JLR passed Audi and is already quite well ahead of 2018. Tesla has had fluctuating sales as they tend to do so hard to read much into their sales.

The data will be updated in about two months but for now something to look over and digest.

Years Brand 2019 2019 2017
17 18 19 Total 9,071 -3.4 9,386 -6.1 9,992 9.2
1 1 1 BMW Group 2,107 23.2 2,260 24.1 2,627 26.3

BMW 1,455 16.0 1,651 17.6 1,957 19.6
Mini 652 7.2 609 6.5 670 6.7
2 2 2 Mercedes 1,829 20.2 2,251 24.0 2,541 25.4
4 4 3 JLR 1,562 17.2 1,477 15.7 1,536 15.4

Land Rover 1,094 12.1 1,069 11.4 1,182 11.8
Jaguar 468 5.2 408 4.3 354 3.5
3 3 4 Audi 1,409 15.5 1,813 19.3 2,062 20.6
5 5 5 Lexus 748 8.2 808 8.6 712 7.1
8 8 6 Tesla 629 6.9 254 2.7 244 2.4
6 6 7 Volvo 527 5.8 639 6.8 540 5.4
7 7 8 Porsche 374 4.1 348 3.7 355 3.6
10 9 9 Alfa Romeo 110 1.2 153 1.6 123 1.2
- 11 10 Infiniti 48 0.5 35 0.4
9 10 11 Maserati 43 0.5 92 1.0 132 1.3
- - 12 Cadillac 3 0.0

14 November 2019

Bentley Motors : 100 Years Old

The company was founded by W.O. Bentley in 1919, who had been through an apprenticeship in the railways. When it went into liquidation in 1931, it was acquired by Rolls Royce. Bentley was eventually sold by then owner Vickers to VW in 1998 while RR then went to BMW.

Bentley cars conjure up in me thoughts of sporty, luxurious cars cruising along the Côte d'Azur or down a boulevard in sunny Los Angeles. The company's racing heritage no doubt has something to do with that. They are made at Crewe, Cheshire in England not too far from where I entered this world.

Today the four models made by the firm are the Continental grand tourer and Flying Spur 4-door variant, Mulsanne saloon and Bentayga SUV.  I have to say I'm not won over by design of the SUV but I have never seen one ion the metal so that opinion could change.

VW would like Bentley to be making the company more money, but then Bentley didn't need dieselgate. It seems to have cost Bentley the Korean market, where the marque was quite popular. As to why that should be makes no sense but Korea does seem to need little prompting to show its import averse leanings.

For Bentley's 2007-18 production details, simply click here.
Sales by nation in 2017 can be found here.
Production by model from 1998 to 2014 is available here.

12 November 2019

Citroën : 100 Years Old

The Traction Avant model

André-Gustave Citroën started making cars in 1919. He took advantage of mass production pioneerd by Henry Ford to become a volume producer of cars. Citroën developed a reputation for being innovative too. However, it was sometimes under financial pressure and eventually filed for bankruptcy at the end of 1934. Michelin became the majority shareholder.

After World War II, the 2CV was introduced and quickly became a very popular model. Then in 1955 the technically advanced DS was released to much acclaim. Despite successes, the early 1970's were problematic for the company and it again went into bankruptcy.

To protect jobs, the French Government arranged talks that eventually led to PSA (Peugeot) taking control of Citroën. Synergies were achieved between the car brands but in doing that, Citroën's uniqueness and innovation were sacrificed.

Today Citroën moves along in a crowded mainstream car market, doing well enough but not outstandingly. It's recently lost ground in China and the DS premium brand (from 2010) has been not very popular. Had Citroën been moved upmarket after 1974, maybe now it would be accepted as a premium marque in its own right. The problem was jobs would have been lost in the process, something the French government would not have tolerated.

Citroën has started releasing crossover cars which have been well received. It has a loyal following, mainly in Europe where 85% of its vehicles are currently sold. For more on the brand, simply click on the links below for past articles I have written.

Citroën production by model 1945-59
Citroën production by model 1960-69
Citroën production by model 1970-79
Citroën production by model 1980-89
Citroën production by model 1990-99
Citroën production by model 2000-09
Citroën sales by model January - June 2019
DS sales by model January - June 2019

01 November 2019


Could it sell in the US?

The Renault Nissan alliance had added Mitsubishi to its portfolio when it also attempted to get into bed with FCA. It seemed poorly timed at best, at worst an unwieldy conglomeration of brands. The French government then waded in with its demands, enough to put off any rational person having anything to do with it. FCA sensibly ran.

Now PSA and FCA have agreed to join forces in a 50/50 arrangement. It seems a much better partnership too. Fiat and PSA have worked together with LCVs and one could see much potential in other areas. Chrysler in the US is successful with light trucks but a mess when it comes to cars. If they think cars and especially SUVs still have a place in their range, surely Peugeot or Opel models could be of use. LCVs could also feature.

The alliance does have issues that will be challenging, yet it also creates opportunities. If PSA CEO Carlos Tavares can use his expertise at cost management and restructuring like he did with Opel, then there is reason for optimism. Of course, taking over a company within Europe as opposed to a merger with a company that has a large US presence is quite a different scenario. It will be interesting to see how it is handled.

This merger will establish the company as the fourth largest manufacturer. More car companies are looking at this or at least getting involved in various co-operative ventures. It saves money to work together with others and avoid costly duplication. It is a costly industry to be in.

Or maybe this?

29 October 2019

Self Driving Cars Reality

Add to this animals, children, cyclists, debris, road
works etc and it's all too much for technology

Regular readers of this blog will know that my take on the hype over autonomous cars has been less than enthusiastic. One article I wrote on the subject can be found here which contains a Part 2 link. Alternatively, click on the 'Safety' label to the right. True self-driving cars in real world conditions always seemed science fiction to me.

Not long back a top Toyota man tasked with this said it now doubted level 5 autonomous was achievable anytime soon, maybe never. Steve Wosniak (co-founder of Apple) was a strong believer and invested in this but now says he's basically given up on level 5. He said roads offer too many unpredictable scenarios for a self-driving car to handle. He went on to say that the public has been misled into believing autonomous driving could match what a human can do.

So why did companies spend billions on something that may never achieve what was promised? Didn't they have smart people advising them? Aren't clever minds beavering away on this to bring it to a successful conclusion? Because the impossible is just that. As for the advice they got, well they should have hired me instead (wry smile).

Why am I so sure about this, as I have no training in this field? I simply took a step back and looked at the whole scenario. First, I decided that while some humans abuse the privilege of driving, when acting responsibly people have remarkable capabilities to anticipate, evaluate and react to unexpected and varying conditions. Can artificial intelligence even get close to that? Secondly, I believe that the human mind was made by a super intelligent designer and that it has amazing qualities man can never recreate.

19 October 2019

Jaguar i-Pace Sales 2019 (by nation - Jan-Aug)

The i-Pace is gathering pace as cars reach their customers around the world. I am unsure of the production ceiling, I have heard 20,000 pa but Jaguar hasn't stated what it is as far as I know. Anyway, here are some nations that are selling them and that I have data for. If anyone can add to the list, please contact me either by a comment or rdc1234@gmail.com. I would like to be a collaborative effort if possible.

I will update the list during the year.The 2018 totals are first, then comes the 2019 total. No, the Netherlands isn't a typo. It really did roar in 2018 but a change of incentives flattened sales. More countries have been added for 2019, bringing the total to 34 nations listed below. Israel may be slightly higher than listed.

Monthly average sales are 1,400 so far. It would appear that battery supply is the main constraint but other factors will also figure. Data is compiled from many sources so it would be nice to compare it with official Jaguar data, if such were possible. In light of that, the figures are indicative only. A full 2018 is compared with the first eight months of 2019. Last updated 19.10.19

# Nation 2018 2019

1 Norway 1,081 2,645

2 UK 841 2,376

3 USA 393 1,842

4 Germany 191 704

5 Belgium 116 379

6 Switzerland 63 365

7 Portugal 23 325

8 France 130 298

9 Canada 41 295

10 Netherlands 3,495 199

11 Austria 64 170

12 Sweden 78 162

13 Spain 66 140

14 Italy 88 134

15 Australia 39 126

16 Russia 16 96

17 Finland 12 83

18 Turkey 38 76

19 Denmark 12 75

20 New Zealand 2 69

21 Brazil 0 59

22 Poland 16 58

23 Iceland 0 43

24 Korea 0 42

25 RSA 4 42

26 Czech Republic 13 39

27 Ireland 3 36

28 Greece 0 22

29 Romania 0 21

29 Israel 0 19

31 Mexico 2 13

32 Singapore 0 13

33 Slovakia 0 7

34 Slovenia 0 5

34 Estonia 1 4

Others 65 1,761

Total 6,893 12,743

Land Rover Global Sales (By Model) : 2019 (Jan-Sep)

For the first nine months of the year, there were 290,000 new owners of Land Rovers worldwide. Rather than get into which models are up or down in sales, the focus of the data below is on which models have improved their contribution and which ones haven't. The 2019 share is for nine months while the 2018 is the full year.

The range Rover has taken the top spot, with the Discovery Sport has slipped into second. The new Evoque is starting to make its presence felt but it's still early days. The Range Rover can be had with some electrical assistance (as also the RR Sport) and that has sparked things along.

17 18 19 Model 2019 % '19 % '18

3 2 1 RR Sport 60,930 21.0% 18.9%

1 1 2 Disco Sport 60,596 20.9% 23.2%

2 3 3 Evoque 57,679 19.9% 18.1%

6 4 4 Velar 46,063 15.9% 16.1%

4 5 5 Range Rover 39,013 13.4% 13.2%

5 6 6 Discovery 26,042 9.0% 10.5%

7 7 7 Defender 2 0.0% 0.0%

Total 290,325

Regionally, North America is the hot spot for LR (74k) with the UK next (61.5k). Europe is next (59k) and China (48k). Europe should pass the UK by year's end now the two silly months of UK sales have passed.

17 18 19 Region 2019 % '19 % '18

3 1 1 Nth America 74,210 25.6% 24.9%

4 3 2 UK 61,592 21.2% 19.2%

2 2 3 Europe 58,864 20.3% 19.3%

1 4 4 China 48,101 16.6% 18.8%

5 5 5 Rest 47,558 16.4% 17.9%

Total 290,325

Data source: Tata Motors