31 October 2021

Serbia Sales: 2021

Registrations for September were +11% and +18% YTD so a strong performance is maintained. The '+/-' column below is comparing market share variance for nine months of 2021 with a full 2020. 

Škoda is well in front and extending its lead. That was probably helped by Renault pulling back, which it is doing elsewhere and Ford is of the same mind. Fiat is well placed at second and Toyota moved up three places with a  27% gain in share. As for the rest, there's plenty of shuffling going on.

24 October 2021

Opel & Ford Germany : 1977-2021

Opel and Ford were brands that invested heavily in Germany and both sold well there. For many years they were second and third best selling brands behind VW. Occasionally Mercedes got past Ford into third but would fall back again. In the UK Ford always outsold Vauxhall (Opel) but in Germany, it was the other way around. 

The chart immediately below shows market share and goes up to 20%. The graph covers from 1977 to 1999 and Opel (red) was consistently in the ascendency compared to Ford (blue). What you can't see below is that Mercedes passed Ford again in 1998 and apart from one lapse in 2009, stayed ahead of Ford until today. 

In fact, we can see that toward the end of the graph both Opel and Ford were declining in market share in the country which raises the question as to whether that slide was to be arrested.

Below we see from 2000 to 2021 on a larger scale of 12% share so don't compare the two graphs by physical size but by the percentage numbers on the sides. 

Ford leveled off from 2000 and held its share consistently. Opel's decline continued to 2012 when there was a slight uplift. By 2012 they had both been pushed back by Mercedes, BMW and Audi to fifth and sixth. Apart from a brief moment for Ford in 2019, neither have since matched the three marques that had passed them.

Ford overtook Opel in 2017 and in that same year, Opel was acquired by PSA. Ford then had a mini surge to 2019 then suddenly a change of policy has sent Ford plunging to seventh place by 2021. Opel was seventh in 2020 but is back up to fifth for 2021 in a possible revival of fortunes. 

So what do we learn from all of this? That mainstream manufacturers in have a lot of competition and they have to carefully guard their reputation by offering a strong, consistent product range. 

Opel lost its reputation as a top notch mainstream brand and ended up chasing volume to keep factories busy, but in the process became unprofitable. PSA is working hard to turn that around, focusing on product. That is showing signs of success but it's not a quick fix. 

Ford has done better in regard to maintaining a competitive range but is now following a global strategy of moving away from passenger cars, which will impact on the number of units sold. It needs a strong SUV / crossover range if that is all its passenger car range will be comprised of. 

Much is resting on models such as this for Ford

22 October 2021

EV Registrations NZ : 2016-21

There is a push for greener cars in NZ. Electric cars already get a rebate but there is to be a feebate scheme introduced in April 2022 where low emission vehicles (-146gms) get a rebate, those in a middle band (146-192gms) nothing, and higher emitting ones ( +192gms) a fee. Vehicles over $80,000 can be charged a fee but not earn a rebate. Used imports are included too but not to the same degree.

It will be interesting to see how this works. Will sales of high emitting vehicles boom just prior and low emitting ones (not electric, which already are incentivised) go quiet as that date approaches? One would think so but that would be a one off scenario. For now, let's look at electric car / LCV sales for the past five years and nine months. I've only focused on pure electric and hydrogen, not the other variants which collectively sell in larger numbers. Heavy vehicles are also not included.

Registrations for electric cars and light commercials have grown from 87 to 4,266 (the latter nine months) in quick time. Tesla had a huge September 2021 but will it continue for the remainder of the year? Either way, 2021 is already 178% up on 2020. 

Hydrogen is shown below and that hasn't exactly been a rip roaring success. Refueling infrastructure is an issue for now but maybe the feebate scheme will help. I have always felt there is more potential for fuel cell rather than electric but for now electric well ahead due in no small part to fuel accessibility. 

Electric propulsion for cars is still small in NZ but is moving rapidly forward. More brands are getting in on the act but the pie is growing quickly enough for all to get a decent slice of it. Hydrogen fuel cell is not an option for the time being. 

Electric Vans

Electric vans that travel within a confined area, doing a daily mileage not too demanding are an ideal fit for electric propulsion. I'm surprised more haven't gone that way but the initial cost of purchase is probably a major factor in that. If a van requires a heavy payload, then fossil fuel vans again are the better bet. So what are some of the benefits of an electric van? 

Rebates. Depending on the country, there are incentives to entice buyers.

Running costs. Fewer moving parts should mean a lower maintenance cost and more reliable. Electric is cheaper than fossil fuel.

Image. Being able to claim a clean fleet of vehicles is a big plus.

Charging. It can be done at the end of the day at the place where the van sits while not in use. 

Workplace environment. For a driver spending all day in a van, it's a more serene place to be so less stressful. 

Ease of use. They have instant torque so nippy in traffic and with no gears, it's simpler to drive as well. Just accelerate or brake.

Future proofing. Depends on where you live but if restrictions are put in place to disadvantage vehicles based on emissions, then that one is already sorted. 

Summary. They are not the ideal solution for all van operators but for those doing work suited to such a van then they are a serious alternative to be considered.

23 September 2021

Jaguar - Alfa Romeo Comparison : 2016-20

If you haven't read the previous one in the series, it would pay to first. It can be accessed by clicking here. 

Moving to the next phase of the comparison, we find that fortunes and direction were to swing quite drastically. Both Jaguar and Alfa Romeo were similarly sized in terms of sales but that was about to change.

Jaguar sales nearly doubled in 2016 as the company was pushing hard to move volumes upward. The new medium sized F-Pace SUV was the main reason for the sales surge but the new XE was not too far behind. The XF was holding up well too. 

The compact crossover E-Pace added impetus to the growth spurt along with the electric i-Pace crossover / hatchback. Things looked promising but it was being achieved at the expense of profit so a new CEO arrived and a new direction was decided upon.

The about to be released XJ replacement was surprisingly stopped and the marque was to become electric only by 2025. That's a tight schedule. Jaguar is to become a niche brand although talk of it ending SUVs is something I believe has since been denied. Things are moving swiftly in the car industry. 

While Jaguar was a hive of activity before a sudden directional change, what was going on at Alfa Romeo? In came the 159 replacing Giulia medium car, followed shortly after by the Stelvio mediumish SUV. It sits between the E-pace and F-Pace but much closer to the latter. 

Numbers took an upward turn as expected but not for long as they too realised the wisdom of focusing on profit rather than simply shifting metal. A second SUV like the E-Pace would have been helpful but not forthcoming neither from within Alfa Romeo nor from Jaguar (joke). 

So what's the future for Alfa Romeo with sales falling and it's now being part of the Stellantis Group? The expensive platform developed for the Giulia and Stelvio as well as a host of other models was not future proofed for electrification. With all future Alfas being electrified in some way, they will now tap into the Stellantis Group for platforms to make the transition possible. 

So in summary, the two charts show little commonality between Jaguar and Alfa Romeo. Colour coding shows the XE was matched by the Giulia, the F-Pace and Stelvio and the tenuous link between the sports cars. That's all there was. They haven't been as alike I had subconsciously thought and working together was not much of an option. With Stellantis offering much to Alfa Romeo, the marque may finally have a direction to move forward with.

Jaguar can share with Land Rover to a point but its future is also mapped out with clarity. Working with other companies seems out of the question so the marque can at least define itself without compromise.

Jaguar - Alfa Romeo Comparison : 2011-15

When a car company has many brands, they share a great deal to reduce costs and to gain benefit from other efficiencies. When dealing with separate companies, it's not so easy. The uniqueness that makes them what they are is often compromised, not to mention the challenges for engineers working with each other.

I think of Jaguar and Alfa Romeo being two brands that share a similar ethos. Both are small in volume so bringing new products to market must be difficult to justify cost-wise. So is there an opportunity being missed here to save costs and make available to the customer a reasonable range of products? 

I went back to 2011 and compared the ranges of the two. Both I must say make good very looking cars. The Alfa data is for total production and Jaguar's for total sales. Not ideal but over a series of years they will provide a clear and accurate picture.  

Back in 2011 Alfa Romeo production was 136,000 units. The MiTo mini 3-door hatchback was selling quite well but I would have thought the numbers needed to be higher to make money. The small Giulietta 5-door hatchback was selling well for the size of the brand. Strangely the medium sized 4/5-door 159 was being phased out but no replacement. 

As time passed sales dropped with only the arrival of the small 4C sports car which was very much a narrowly focused product. In five years, production numbers dropped by over half. The owners didn't seem to know what to do with the marque.

Jaguar was a mirror opposite to Alfa Romeo. In 2011 sales were just 50,000 with three models. The medium XF doing most of the volume. The large XJ was solid but that sort of car was going out of vogue. Finally, the small volume impressively styled XK grand tourer sports car. 

Over the next few years, the F-Type indirectly replaced the XK and the compact XE saloon car took over from the X-Type after a brief hiatus in that segment. The good news was that numbers were going the right way for Jaguar, 83,500 by 2015. The contrast with Alfa Romeo was stark. 

So the only commonality between the two was the 4C and F-Type yet they really were different in focus. So could they could have worked together in a complementary way? Alfa was making smaller cars and Jaguar larger. 

That could have worked but I can see why it didn't happen. It could have ended up a failed arrangement for Jaguar in particular who surely didn't need to go down the small car road. Alfa Romeo may have liked the XF but the model cycle wouldn't have worked. Would there be a chance of colaboration in the future? The next in the series can be accessed by clicking here.

22 September 2021

Poland - Toyota vs Škoda vs VW : 2010-20

Three brands each with a different emphasis yet when it comes to sales, not poles apart. It covers just over a decade and in that time, things changed quite dramatically. The obvious thing of note is the increase in registrations. In 2020, 20,000 was the benchmark for the top-selling make but that's no longer the case.

They were close in 2010, but a year later and Škoda took a decisive lead and retained it through to 2019. That left the other two battling it out for second place. Then in 2019, a sudden change. While the two VW Group marques slumped, Toyota continued its ascent. 

Extrapolating the sales figures in 2021 from January - August through to December, and Toyota is so far ahead! Of course, supply issues could change all of this by the end of the year but even so, it looks like Toyota will leave the two VW brands in its wake. 

20 September 2021

Finland - Toyota vs VW : 2005-2021


The two car makers mentioned have been locked in a duel for the top spot for decades. The graph below charts its progress, the numbers on the side representing thousands. It started in earnest at the beginning of the century with Toyota ahead quite comfortably. 

VW suddenly attacked and by 2011, was a clear leader. Toyota caught up and a stalemate ensued for a few years before Toyota pulled away. If 2021 continues at the same rate as it has for the first eight months then it's back to a clear lead to Toyota, not something it managed for over a decade.

The picture above shows Finland's popular pastime of rallying. Toyota takes this very seriously with the Gazoo Racing Team as we see one of its cars slide around a bend in icy conditions. As they say in Finland, win on Sunday and sell on Monday. Well, I think they say that.

18 September 2021

Pictures Explained (3)

This young man is gingerly testing autonomous braking. He doesn't seem to realise there needs to be a driver and forward motion. 

This car has active cruise control. I had to look this up as I couldn't understand the Danish caption. I think the 'Recharge Yourself' banner refers to the electric propulsion, not the cabbage and bean combo. 

I don't know if this car is brave or foolhardy but it has been warned. 

When it comes to popularity, some models run hot and cold. This one has certainly been through both. I presume the owner will be gutted though. 

The last person to remove his hand wins the car. It's down to the last two hardly souls. The adjudicator is on 'hand' to make sure the rules are being adhered to. 

For the others in the series, simply click the links below:

UK Production : 2019-20 (By Brand)

After some years of very good increases in production volume in the UK, several factors came together to scupper the gains being made. Apart from the almost total apathy from their fellow citizens for supporting UK workers (which has been ongoing for some time), the following are some obvious reasons.

JLR moving all the latest models it has recently introduced offshore was a major reason. Nissan pulling back on volume over the past couple of years as it gave up chasing sales in Europe was another. Opel / Vauxhall repositioning itself as a smaller producer yet another.

Looking to the future, Honda has now closed its operation which will take another 8% out of the picture. Vauxhall will soon become a 100% van producer, which will push it exclusively into the commercial vehicle chart. That will be slightly better than the current car production at Ellesmere Port but not when compared to a few years back. 

Is there any good news? For 2020 MINI, Toyota, Bentley and Lotus were comparatively successful in maintaining volume. Suzuki sourcing the Swace model from the UK was the best news, albeit a minor contribution. That is the sort of co-operation the industry lacks, although more differentiation between it and the Corolla wouldn't go amiss. 

Commercial vehicle production was more robust with a -16% result. The numbers aren't big but better than nothing. Stellantis make Opel / Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroën vans at Luton and that total comes in one dollop. it accounted for 75% of the total and will rise when the aforementioned switch at Ellesmere Port eventuates. 

Leyland DAF trucks and LEVC electric taxis didn't fare too well but Dennis Eagle is soaring. Optare opted to switch to the Switch name for its electric bus operation at Leeds. Wrigthbus in Northern Ireland disappeared off the chart but I'm sure it still operates. 

17 September 2021

Italy Production : 2019-20 (By Brand)

Overall production was down 15%, a good result in view of the turmoil the year threw up. Passenger car production was off 17% with Fiat leading the way. Both the Panda and 500X suffered but the arrival of the 500e softened the blow slightly. The Jeep Compass starting production offset a reduction for the Renegade.

As for commercial vehicles, the Ducato is the main contributor but the Boxer / Jumper combo from PSA is more than useful in adding volume.

16 September 2021

Turkey Production : 2019-20 (By Brand)

Turkey has a reasonably sized car industry that benefits from some protection. 855,000 passenger cars were assembled for a 13% drop in volume. Not a bad result considering the year but Turkey did have stronger registrations than most so that would have helped.

Renault accounts for over a third of PCs made. The Clio makes up over 80% of that with the Mégane making up the rest. Toyota makes the Corolla sedan and C-HR SUV. The Tipo (Egea) is Fiat's contrtibution.

As for commercial vehicles nearly 1.3 million in total, down 7%. The Transit van is a huge contributor and mainstay of that sector of the vehicle industry. Combining both car and cv, the fall was 11%. 

15 September 2021

UK Net Importer : 2020

The UK is a net importer of cars and has been since I have been doing this assessment going back to 1981!

To show how it works, Nissan made 246,000 cars and sold 72,000 in the UK. That makes Nissan a net exporter of 174,000. In total 921,000 cars left factories in the UK and 1.6 million were registered in the country. 

So the UK is a net importer of 710,000 units, domestic production is 43.5% less than imports. If that sounds poor, take comfort in knowing the locals aren't concerned at all.

NZ SUV / Pick Up / Car Graph : 2012-21

It comes as no surprise to know that globally the car is on the way out, being replaced by the SUV /  crossover and in some cases pick-up trucks as well. I do feel that some crossover vehicles are slightly raised hatchbacks but the industry defines them as more SUV than passenger car.

Notwithstanding, the traditional passenger car has taken a beating. It may include the 2/4 door, hatchback and wagon but that versatility hasn't been enough. People seem to want something a bit further off the ground. In most cases, SUVs make entering and exiting a little easier, give a more commanding view and generally create more space within the vehicle. They usually provide better margins for the manufacturer as well. 

Of course it's not all win-win. Cars have a lower centre of gravity so handle better. Hatches and wagons also have the versatility to meet the needs of many most adequately. The cost of purchase is a bit less too. Pick-up trucks have their large tray along with reasonable room inside but their size and cost will limit how many people go that way. The levelling off of market share gain seems to confirm that.  

At the end of the day, how people spend their 'hard earned' determines the winner, and the chart below shows where that is going in NZ. It would be a typical representation of the global trend. The numbers on each side of the graph show the percentage share of the total market including all vehicles.   

Data source: MIA NZ.

13 September 2021

Russia - Lada vs Korea : 2010-21

The battle for control of the Russian car market has been quietly fought over the past dozen years. Since being acquired by Renault, the local brand went from an inefficient company to a much leaner one. Sales fell and the possibility was it would continue a downward trajectory. 

Two Korean brands had been making their way up the sales charts and since 2015, these have been consistently the top three selling marques. From 2011 to 2014, Lada was losing sales while the two pretenders were gaining them. After that, the gap between them was maintained and in 2021 seems to be widening. I have added sales to what a full year may look like in 2021 assuming what was sold until the end of August continues at the same rate. 

The Lada fightback has been impressive, the rationalisation proving its worth. In addition, Lada will from now on work closely with Dacia. Both are at the budget end of the market so surely will benefit from synergies achieved through this collaboration. 

27 August 2021

UK Ford / VW Brand Comparison : 2009-2021

The Ford Puma crossover is selling well

Ford has always been a firm favourite in the UK and the best selling nameplate for decades. Is that about to end? it appears so as Ford registrations fall not only in the UK but across Europe. I call it a repositioning of the company, moving away from low margin cars to SUVs and light commercial vehicles. In doing so, volume has to be affected. The graph below shows that as recently as 2015, Ford was selling strongly but since then a marked slide in units sold occurred. 

So who will take over the mantle of best selling brand? It pains me to say VW, a brand that fought against any compensation for duped owners in the UK. The fact the UK government was too indifferent to act is not the point. VW paid US owners without a legal fight but must have (understandably) thought the UK legal system was a soft touch like the government. 

VW claimed after being caught they were changing the culture of the company. After its appeal in the UK against paying any compensation was rejected, the judge called VW's defence "highly flawed" and "absurd". It told me that any talk of contrition from VW was insincere. 

The business world may be infested with greed and corruption but should we become apathetic to it, accepting because at the same time it gives us a comfortable way of life? Someone has to take over the top spot but it's a shame it has to be VW. What VW did was criminal and crime shouldn't pay. There should be consequences to such behaviour. Even when they eventually pay up, VW will have got off very lightly. I'm all for forgiving genuine remorse but I'm not seeing any here. 

There are alternatives such as Nissan, a company investing
heavily in the UK. Does that matter? You would think so. 

26 August 2021

France Renault / Peugeot Comparison : 2009-2021

The Renault Captur could do with more help

Renault has been the best selling car in France for so long. It's also managed to be the top selling brand in its main market Europe at certain times too. Today is a long way from there as it slides down the rankings in Europe and facing being bumped out of its perennial leadership back home.  

In 2009, it had a sizable advantage over Peugeot but that lessened as the years have since passed. Regarding traditional cars Renault does well but as for SUVs and especially crossover vehicles, Peugeot seems to have made a better fist of that. 

By 2020, the difference in registrations had become negligible and for 2021 Peugeot has pulled clear of its rival. If the year continues as it has been, then a notable change will have occurred in the French car market. Even if Renault was in some way able to regain the lead, it would surely only be a temporary reprieve.

The question now is does it really matter which brand is the top selling one? Yes and no. If the top spot is secured through discounting then of course not. If it can be done in a profitable way, it proves the product is right. In the SUV and crossover area, I think Peugeot is doing that better and that's why it's now at the top in France. 

It's Peugeot's impressive crossover lineup

23 August 2021

USA Ford / Toyota Comparison : 2009-2021

Models like the Mach-E SUV(?) are the future for Ford. 

Ford has a policy of moving away from car sales, instead just focusing on SUVs and light trucks. Good for the bottom line but not good for retaining market share. When the process is completed and time has passed to allow an equal comparison, it will provide a basis to see how the new policy is faring. It's the way forward. 

I think for the time being it's premature as there are still many people who want to buy a traditional car. If other companies still see value in persisting with them for the time being, why can't Ford? To me, it comes across as a company with a shortcut mentality rather than one that has a strong culture of cost efficiencies. 

Now on to the graph and sales figures. Going back to 2008, Toyota had become the best selling nameplate as it was in 2009 but the lead was soon lost in 2010 when Ford made a strong comeback, led by the F-Series. The margin between them was maintained but then it started narrowing in 2017. By 2020, things had got very cosy between the two makes. Ford ending the Focus model was a major factor in that.

The main problem with any predictions for 2021 is what effect supply is having on sales. For 2021, Toyota has opened a sizable lead and extrapolating sales for a full year will see Toyota end the annum well ahead. The plug has been pulled in the Fusion model while the Camry is going well for Toyota. For that reason and others like it, I see this as a swing in fortune that won't be arrested any time soon. 

Toyota can make a business case for retaining the Camry in its range