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.

18 October 2019

Ferrari Production : 2017/18


After many years of capped production, Ferrari deserted that policy and has since gradually increased it. As the super car market was growing, it made sense to lift the number of cars made. As can be observed by the 10% and 5% growth of the past two years, it's cautious and no doubt sustainable, barring a downturn in the market.

The mid-engined 488 sports car is the main model, although its share of the total went down from 58% to 48%. The Portofino, 812 GTC4 range of grand tourers complete the range with a greater share of the pie. An SUV will inevitably be added to the range in due course.

Passenger Cars
15 16 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 Share +/-
1 1 488/458 4,503 47.8% -13% 5,171 57.7% 21%
2 2 Portifino/California 2,255 23.9% 84% 1,225 13.7% -44%
4 3 812/F12 1,495 15.9% 36% 1,101 12.3% 4%
3 4 GTC4 1,139 12.1% -14% 1,326 14.8% 158%
5 5 Roadster 21 0.2% -84% 131 1.5% 64%


Others 3 2


Total 9,416
5% 8,956
10%

16 October 2019

Maserati Production : 2017/18


In 2012, Maserati only made 6,000 cars but things have moved on since then. The Ghibli was released in 2013 and during 2016 along came the first SUV the Levante. It quickly took over half the production volume. The Ghibli accounts for about 30%.

The downside to this upsurge in production has been the downturn in 2018. After a 23% increase in 2017, 2018 was hit with a 35% fall. It was to be expected, but maybe not the the full degree it happened. Still, the range has a more rounded out feel to it now.

Passenger Cars
15 16 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 Share +/-
- 1 Levante 18,768 54.7% -37% 29,694 55.9% 66%
1 2 Ghibli 11,360 33.1% -26% 15,446 29.1% -10%
2 3 Quarttroporte 2,715 7.9% -51% 5,577 10.5% -12%
3 4 Gran 1,469 4.3% -39% 2,408 4.5% 25%

Total 34,312
-35% 53,125
23%

14 October 2019

Japanese Production (UK) : 2017/18

Finally the new Juke

Japanese car makers have long been export oriented, pushing into all parts of the globe. One market they have not been as successful is Europe. They did better when they first arrived and showed innovative spirit. However, success led to a more conservative product and in Europe it didn't go down well.

The first plants built in Europe were in the UK, and they are still there. The EU's going to zero tariffs with Japan and the difficulty in being profitable in the region has caused these car makers to reconsider their position. Let's look at each of them.

Nissan: Sales are falling and the sizable operation in Sunderland needs volume to make it worthwhile. I have no idea what the company's plans are and I suspect they haven't decided either. A slight drop of 2% in 2017 have been followed up with an 11% decrease in 2018. The Qashqai could do with a hybrid option and the popular Juke is finally being replaced. The Leaf went well in 2018 but the Infinti Q30/QX30 has been axed.

Nissan
17 18 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 % +/-
1 1 Qashqai 303,742 85.7% -12% 346,771 87.7% 12%
2 2 Juke 79,101 22.3% -25% 104,770 26.5% -5%
4 3 Leaf 46,989 13.3% 180% 16,767 4.2% -4%
3 4 Q/QX30 12,422 3.5% -54% 26,898 6.8% -17%

Total 442,254
-11% 495,206
-2%

Honda: Europe is a challenge for the company as they resist chasing sales with lean margins. They have decided that is more cost effective to move production to other plants that are closer to where they sell more cars. It makes sense but it's not a decision I thought they would make. The Civic became a global export model for Honda UK but too few were sold in Europe. 

Honda
17 18 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 % +/-
1 1 Civic 147,301 41.6% 20% 122,885 31.1% 62%
2 2 CR-V 13,375 3.8% -68% 41,275 10.4% -29%

Total 160,676
-2% 164,160
22%

Toyota: The Auris (now Corolla again) is the mainstay of the operation. The hybrid version is consistently made at about 85,000 units per year and that constitutes the majority of the output. Toyota has recently spent good money upgrading the plant to manufacture the new Corolla. The Avensis is all but dead and late in 2020 Toyota will start making hybrid cars for Suzuki at the plant.  

Toyota
17 18 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 % +/-
1 1 Auris 115,889 32.7% -3% 119,020 30.1% -18%
2 2 Avensis 13,181 3.7% -47% 25,057 6.3% -30%

Total 115,889
-3% 119,020
-34%

10 October 2019

Alfa Romeo Production : 2017/18


Alfa production is only in Italy, so the figures below provide a complete picture. 2017 was 147,000 (+71%) but in 2018 it was 110,000 (-25%). That's quite a turn around but shouldn't be totally unexpected. Besides, back a few years in 2015, production was barely 60,000 so gains have been made.

When a smaller brand enters (or reenters) a new segment, pent up demand pushes up sales and then they go down. The Giulia and Stelvio did just that in 2017 but the big dip followed. That will continue in 2019 as the end of the fall occurs and as sales soften generally. Former FCA Sergio Marchionne had high hopes for Alfa but they were optimistic.

Passenger Cars
15 16 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 Share +/-
1 1 Stelvio 41,582 37.9% -25% 55,703 37.8% n/a
3 2 Giulietta 30,867 28.1% -2% 31,374 21.3% -32%
2 3 Giulia 28,538 26.0% -41% 48,521 33.0% 107%
4 4 MiTo 8,274 7.5% -24% 10,906 7.4% -26%
5 5 4C Coupè 553 0.5% -25% 741 0.5% -62%

Total 109,814
-25% 147,245
71%

08 October 2019

Land Rover Production (UK) : 2017/18


LR's UK production has held up pretty well considering offshore facilities have been opening up. The Evoque and Discovery Sport are made in Brazil to a modest degree. The facility in China - making the same models - is somewhat larger. Now a new plant in Slovakia has started assembling the Discovery.

Despite the above, volume was +6% in 2017 and -10% in 2018. The new Velar helped offset the now being replaced Evoque and likewise now being updated Discovery Sport. So for 2018, the Range Rover Sport, Velar and Range Rover all increased in numbers made here.

Passenger Cars
17 18 Model 2018 % +/- 2017 % +/-
2 1 RR Sport 81,537 23.0% 3% 78,882 19.9% -13%
6 2 Velar 60,722 17.1% 24% 48,845 12.4% n/a
1 3 Evoque 57,982 16.4% -31% 84,017 21.2% -13%
3 4 Discov Sport 57,006 16.1% -25% 75,516 19.1% -15%
4 5 Range Rover 56,672 16.0% 1% 55,844 14.1% 2%
5 6 Discovery 40,506 11.4% -22% 52,257 13.2% 31%

Total 354,425
-10% 395,451
6%