21 April 2021

VW LCV Global Model Production : 2019-20

Light commercial vehicles are generally profitable and for VW it has been the case also. However, in 2020 production took a tumble, down 28%. So too did profit as it unusually fell into the red. Surely a temporary situation but one that shows in these uncertain times, we can expect the unexpected. 

The Crafter van held up best, with volume down 'just' 20%. The Amarok dropped by almost a half, the impending replacement from Ford will be most welcome. VW moved the small Saveiro pick up from LCVs to passenger cars but I didn't follow suit.

20 April 2021

BMW Plant Manufacturing : 2019-20

The BMW Group has fourteen of its own plants as well as two contract ones and some unspecified partner arrangements. The non-BMW facilities supply 8.4% of total production. For 2020, the total of 2.256 million was -12% compared to the previous 12 months.

The four plants in Germany produce 34.4% of the total (-22%), China's two 26.6% (+12%), USA 16% (-12%) and the UK 8% (-21%) and others 6.6% (+8%). China did well as did Mexico, which has only been operational for two years. 

To take things on a different tangent, sales were 2.325 million, with Asia moving into the top spot with a +6% increase and 42.4% share. That is the first time that it has passed the 40% mark. Europe fell below a 40% slice of the total for the first time so a year of two notable milestones. 

As for electrification, BMW has now released figures for a second year for PHEVs (plug-in hybrids) and BEVs (battery electric vehicles). Both produced improved volume, with the PHEVs doing slightly better. 

19 April 2021

Porsche Global Model Production : 2019-20

With so much upheaval in 2020, it's surprising that Porsche managed to hold its decrease to just 4%. Obviously, the new Taycan helped immensely but just keeping factories running smoothly was difficult. The 718 Boxster/Cayman did very well but the Panamera was the poorest performer. I presume the Taycan may have taken some sales away from the latter. 

Through these challenging times, Porsche also managed to keep its profit per unit at the same as 2020. Of course, maintaining volume helps the bottom line but only if discounting isn't used to prop the volume up. Clearly, Porsche didn't need to resort to that approach. 

18 April 2021

Rolls Royce Global Model Sales : 2019-20

With Bentley managing to limit its production downturn to 14% in 2020, Rolls Royce surprised a little with a 26% drop in sales. In comparison to the industry generally, that wasn't a bad result but my expectations were perhaps half of that. The good news is in the first quarter of 2021, 1,380 sales were made, up 62% on the 2020 equivalent and the best first-quarter figure in the company's history. 

The Cullinan SUV made up nearly 60% of all sales in 2020 so the ultra-premium SUV is a very important segment to be participating in. The Wraith grand tourer and its companion Dawn convertible held up well but the Phantom and Ghost models less so. 

It is said that Henry Royce had an instinctive desire for perfection and wished to take the best that exists and make it better. That certainly is an ethos that still drives the Rolls Royce company today. 

17 April 2021

Škoda Global Model Production : 2019-20

Škoda production was -24% in 2020, more than I expected. The Czech Rep was hit hard by the coronavirus so that may be the reason. SUV penetration was about the same, something I have noticed with quite a few brands. In addition, 30% production for SUVs isn't that large a figure by 2020 standards. 

The Octavia (picture below) and Scala saloon car models do well for the brand. Even the unusual step taken by VW to combine the Kamiq and Karoq SUVs can't get them above third placing. The tiny Citigo is scarcely registering any volume at all but it remains in the range. The new Enaq electric SUV (pictured above) arrived during the year 2020 and achieved 900 units made. 

16 April 2021

SEAT Global Model Production : 2019-20

SEAT hasn't just been sitting around as it pushed into SUVs and with it a move into belated profitability. Its first high rider came in 2016 and by 2019, nearly half of production was going that way. Curiously, SEAT, like other brands, has found the SUV production level off in 2020. A brief lull before another onslaught? 

What was somewhat surprising was the fall of production in 2020 and a return to red ink on the balance sheet after four years in the black. 2021 will surely see a return to better times for the Catalonia based brand.

The León secured over 30% of all production, so this compact car is an important cog in the SEAT system. The Formentor SUV arrived during the year, wearing a Cupra badge in a recently created stand-alone sporting focused brand. There are already three models in the range, a León, Ateca and the Formentor but VW has resisted stating production figures separately. The Formentor is a unique model but the other two are buried in SEAT figures so I have to assume the spin-off is not yet officially fully recognised until it becomes more established. 

15 April 2021

BMW MINI Global Model Sales : 2019-20

The MINI managed to keep up reasonable production numbers in a challenging 2020. Just under 300,000 were made, down 16%. It's the lowest number since 2011. After that year, various variants were released but were not successful. They were culled in due course and the marque returned to just its four successful models as seen below.

The Hatch (3 and 5 door) provides just over half of the total cars made. The Countryman a quarter and the underrated Clubman and convertible the final 25%. The MINI brand is a very important party of the BMW Group. 

14 April 2021

Jaguar's Future

Is it just me, or is there something very special
about Jaguar cars that touch an emotive nerve?

I wrote an article on Jaguar and before posting it, I scrapped it. The reason is I don't know for certain what is going on. JLR hasn't been too clear on what they are doing. The axeing of the new XJ shortly before its release and a sudden, dramatic downturn of Jaguar sales raises questions. Is the lack of clarity a case of keeping their cards close to their chest or is it just poor public relations? 

Either way, many such as myself have been left wondering what's going on and what is the marque's future likely to be? Sales may have nosedived for Jaguar but not for Land Rover so why the difference? Tthere must be a reason but it's impossible for me to pinpoint. I'll therefore avoid speculating and accept all will become clear in due course. 

Jaguar global sales for January to March in 2021 were slightly less than half compared to the same period in 2020. Ignoring the discontinued XJ, the poorest performing model was the E-Pace. The best was the F-Type. In the same timeframe, China overtook the UK to be the largest market by some distance.  

In these unusual times, things will swing like a pendulum. Whereas manufacturers could once plan well ahead with some assurance, numerous issues confronting them now make planning even a couple of years forward fraught with uncertainty. 

So what is the road ahead for Jaguar going to be? 

13 April 2021

Bentley/Lamborghini Global Model Production : 2019-20

These two marques have little in common except they are both a part of the VW Group. They are both upper premium at least so why they are put together in this instance.  

Bentley: The flagship Mulsanne saloon car is being retired and the new Flying Spur is a replacement of sorts, at least at the top end of its range. However, a more likely replacement is a more upmarket SUV sometime down the line. 

Production was only down 14% so a fine achievement in the circumstances. I assume social distancing is easier to achieve in a low volume assembly operation and not particularly disruptive. The Flying Spur spurred the marque on nicely. 

Lamborghini: It too had a minimal -16% fall in production, with each of the three-model range holding up well. The Urus SUV contributed 60% of the total like it did in 2019. With the Aventador, there was a huge swing from the Coupé to the roadster. 

12 April 2021

Audi Global Model Production : 2019-20

Production volume was -8% in 2020 and -4% in 2019. In these trying times, not a bad result at all, helped greatly by the Asia region which still had buoyant sales. SU's account for 46% of production although the e-tron being included is a bit of a stretch on my part.  

The Q5 took the mantle as the top model for the first time. It's also a first having an SUV at the top although the A6 nearly stopped that happening. The latter was the best performing model in terms of increase.

11 April 2021

BMW Brand Global Model Sales : 2019-20

Total sales were just past the 2 million mark, down 7% on 2019. The SUV percentage held, possibly because Asia was the only region that increased in sales and they still have a strong passenger car following. In fact, that region made the difference between a modest decrease and a sizable one. 

The 3-Series is still the best selling model and cemented that position in 2020. For a company that finds niches that don't need to exist, no all-new models are the exception rather than the rule. The next few years will see a shift in emphasis to electrification so that will be the main focus at this stage. 

10 April 2021

VW Brand Global Model Production : 2019-20

Like most companies, VW had a rough 2020 with the pandemic. In addition, they are still fighting class actions regarding dieselgate. Mind you, if they reached settlements with these outstanding claims as they did in the US, they could then just move on. It's not a good look.

Total production was 4,966,000, -19% on 2019. SUVs now make up 37.5% of the tally, beating the previous year's 31.9%. Back in 2016, it was just under 10% so while late for the SUV party, VW is making up ground with haste. 

I combined some models into categories as the proliferation of similarly sized vehicles can be confusing. China, in particular, is where much of this takes place. Some of the names will be unfamiliar too. That arrangement puts the medium car grouping at the top, from the Tiguan/Tharu SUVs and large cars in third place. 

Further down is JETTA, last year combined with Jetta figures by VW but this year they have separated them. The reason is JETTA is a new China-only brand, with the VA3 car along with the VS5 and VS7 SUVs making up the range. 

However, VW didn't break down production numbers by model for JETTA. As they still have a listing for the Jetta model along with the Sagitar, I found this a grey area. Is there still some Jetta car production under the VW brand and also under the JETTA logo until the separation is completed? Either way, having a car in the JETTA range will slightly inflate the SUV figure I have at the bottom of the chart.  

What has been confirmed is that VW is heavily reliant on the Chinese market. A profitable situation no doubt but the old saying of too many eggs in one basket is something VW will be only too well aware of.  

09 April 2021

Renault Model Production : 2016-20

In the last instalment of the Renault production series, all Renault, Dacia and Samsung models are listed below. In addition, MOB's or models for other brands are listed at the bottom. They are included in the total. Clearly, 2020 was a trying twelve months and the next twelve may be just as trying. The 2.6 million units were -27% compared to 2019. 

The Clio is the most popular model, with 400,000 manufactured. That represented 16% of the total or nearly one in six. It was 9% lower than the year before. The Sandero and Duster followed but lost ground to the Clio.

08 April 2021

Renault Production Partner Plants : 2016-20

Partner plants are an excellent way of getting around import duties. Here are a host of them below which will briefly touch on each one. Nissan Mexico makes a few Alaskan pickup trucks but not worth a chart, just a mention. 

India: The factory is a joint Renault-Nissan plant in Chennai. The Renault side of the business centred mainly around two models in 2020, the Triber and Kwid. The compact Kiger model (above) will play an important role too as volume is increased.   

China: The Shengyang LCVs and Nanching (electric cars) will continue to be made but all Renault models are being withdrawn from China completely. 

Russia: These two models are made at the huge Lada Togliatti facility. 

07 April 2021

Lada Production : 2016-20

The models in the chart below are made at two facilities, one at Izhevsk making the Vesta and the rest sourced from Togliatti. Two models based on Ladas and made for Nissan are also made at Togliatti but are being phased out. In addition, two Renault models are also made there but not counted here. They appear in the Renault partner plant post. 

Few Ladas make it beyond Russia and the Dacia brand is similar in target audience so there seems no point in both going head to head for the same customers. So Lada may remain a brand destined largely for local consumption. 

06 April 2021

The Beauty of Simplicity

Picture source: https://driving.ca

I had a wristwatch that on each occasion I needed to change the time, it required my getting out the instruction book. I then had to press or hold various buttons until I got through several sub-menus and could actually change the time. That's a basic function needed whenever daylight saving comes around, yet whoever designed the watch didn't seem to think that feature should be easily accessible! I now have a watch with a crown that is pulled out and the hands are turned to the desired position. The beauty of simplicity.

Unfortunately, the car industry doesn't offer simplicity as an option. I recently took my car in for a warrant of fitness and it passed yet again. I mentioned to the technician my car has never failed a warrant over many years. He replied that it was a simple car. He said one man comes in with a late model Mercedes and it is constantly having to be returned for issues around the electronics of the car. 

Why can't I buy a simple car? I don't want an iPad stuck to the dashboard with endless sub-menus that need to be traversed in order to do a simple task. I can presently action required functions with a nonchalant push of a button or an effortless twist of a knob. 

This move to compting power within a car was presumably in preparation for the switch to autonomous driving. That noble yet laughable goal is now seen as a lifetime away, if ever achievable. Now we don't need to have an iPad on the dashboard anymore, can we please return to the saner button and knob arrangement? If car manufacturers by chance read this blog, I challenge you to convince me that any of your current crop of technologically complicated vehicles is worth my exchanging an older, simple car for. 

Manufacturers are scrambling to get enough microchips. Car prices are going up. Simplicity isn't only more reliable and user friendly, but cheaper too. It is time for a return to what many people surely want, reliable and uncomplicated driving. It's called the beauty of simplicity.  

05 April 2021

Renault Production Asia : 2016-20

The only Renault plant in this region is in Busan, Korea. The country always seems to be looking for ways to limit imports so theoretically a facility here would be ideal. The problem is the local brand Samsung isn't that popular, dwarfed by both Hyundai and Kia. 

What helped immensely was Nissan supplying the Rogue to North America from the Busan facility but that deal has ended. That meant the total number of cars made in 2020 was just over 100,000. As the workers have been somewhat militant, it's not a low-cost labour force and the current volume low, something needs to be done to make the plant a more attractive proposition. 

As things stand, it posted a sizable loss last year. Exports of the Arkana model (picture above) has been actioned for some European markets and later to the Middle East and Pacific regions. However, it still remains a challenge to making it profitable.