26 December 2022


Yes, I'm 'back' and fitting as the title would confirm. I was watching a television series about car manufacturers and one was about a company I had never heard of. It was BAC, a tiny niche sports car manufacturer in Liverpool, England. The cars are carefully customised for the purchaser. State of the art techniques and materials are used in their manufacture.

The two brothers who own BAC started out doing work for various car manufacturers but the decision was made to make their own extreme road legal, single seater sports car. The Mono was born and production commenced in 2011. Refinements have been made along the way as one would expect.

In 2019 came the Mono R (picture above), a 555kg (1229lb) lightweight limited to a thirty unit production run. They were all sold very quickly and twenty nine have now been made. It's lighter, more powerful and more advanced than the standard Mono, which in this rarefied air of high performance is a relative comparison. 

For the Mono and Mono R, nearly 150 units have now been made and if my memory of the television programme is good, the factory has a maximum capacity of twenty five cars per year. They are available in 46 countries around the world, with new markets being added. 

Of course, the thorny issue of petrol engined cars soon being banned in many countries is a hurdle to be overcome. BAC has made light weight a high priority, using materials such as graphene to achieve that objective. Batteries are an obvious obstacle to that. Hydrogen fuel cell is a lighter option and components can be integrated into the current design so that is the direction the company is taking.  

The new Mono

I admire the initiative and focus of the Briggs brothers in what they have achieved. The technologies applied to their cars within the time frame of their existence is exceptional. Of course, I'm never going to own one but I certainly don't begrudge those that can do so. For the few that do, happy motoring. 

20 December 2022

UK's 2022 Best Seller British!!!

In a country with a car industry, it has an unusual situation where imports typically account for 90% of registrations. Nissan designs and builds cars in the UK so as British of anything around. This goes over the head of many in the UK but for whatever reason, the local Qashqai is now top of the pops and comfortably so.

This is the first time since 1998 a UK assembled car has held that position. In that case it was the Ford Fiesta model made at the Dagenham facility. Ford later pulled out car production in the UK, although design work and engine building remained. With MG Rover being destroyed by BMW, it seemed there was never going to be a local product that could hold the top spot again.

                                                                            Nissan stepped up to the plate with the ground breaking Qashqai entering the scene in 2007. It has taken a while for it to establish itself as the list to the left reveals. From 35th place in its debut year, it reached the Top 10 in 2010. From there, progress was steady and by 2017 was in 4th spot.

At that point, it stuttered as production seemed to be stifled until early 2022. From then on, it had been a strong rise until its present unassailable top ranking.

To the right is the November 2022 total registrations, colour coded by nation or region. Asian brands have four models on the list. 

08 December 2022

NZ AA Car of the Year Awards : 2022

With the New Zealand government rewarding buyers of lower fossil fuel use vehicles and punishing the higher users, one would expect the award's winners may be swayed by this. Not so. 

While some of the segments for awards reflect a shift of emphasis that way, winners still need to be the best, regardless of their fuel consumption. So without further ado, the categories.

Small SUV: MG ZS 

Medium SUV: Kia Sportage 

Large SUV: Kia Sorento 

Hybrid: Toyota Highlander 

PHEV: Mitsubishi Outlander 

BEV: BYD Atto 3 

Passenger: Honda Jazz 

Sports and performance: Chevrolet Corvette 

Light commercial vehicle: Ford Ranger 

Luxury: BMW iX 

AA Safest: Tesla Model Y 

People’s Choice: Toyota RAV4 

Overall Car of the Year top three: BYD Atto 3, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Outlander 

Overall Car of the Year winner: Ford Ranger

So the overall winner the Ford Ranger pickup truck, a vehicle that costs owners a fee at purchase of between $1,840 and $5,175 due to fuel use, it still is the most popular vehicle and the best new model available here. 

08 September 2022

Russian Car Market New Direction

The Russian car market is protected by import duty so brands with any volume of note had assembly plants. Sanctions came and foreign producers decided to pull out. Lada was owned so by Renault so that was an uncertain situation too. 

Renault gave away its ownership, leaving the national car maker to find its own way. With Lada, some Chinese assembly and a few local light commercial companies, it didn't look too flash. Of course, there are plenty of cars for Russians to drive around in so it wasn't a big deal for now but in time an issue of growing concern.

A quick overview of domestic registrations shows August '22 they were -62% and -64 YTD so were understandably well down and August was par for the YTD figure. Where can new stock be obtained? 

After a pause, Lada first started production of the Granta but without ABS, airbags, belt tensioners or an immobilizer. It now features two front airbags so that's an improvement. Shortly thereafter, the Niva Legend also recommenced but the Vesta, Largus and X-Ray are not being made and Lada has had problems bringing them back into production. 

The other source to tap into is China, not large suppliers of cars at present with import duty on anything imported impacting on the price unless large scale assembly is embarked on. Currency fluctuations and reputations affected by dealing with Russia will also be issues to consider. 

Below are sales for August and already we can see Lada and Chinese brands taking over as others sell off existing stock. All the brands doing best are local and Chinese (yellow shading). Lada's sales increased 75% on July while market share has gone up from 18% to 43% compared to August '21. However, with sales well down, volume was actually down too, albeit only to a slight degree. 

Data source: AEB.

27 August 2022

The Big Truck Market Down Under

Anyone that regularly follows this blog will know that in this neck of the woods the pickup is very popular. It suits an outdoor lifestyle, with enough space to maneuver and park them as well. The size of the vehicles is large but not by North American standards.

Until now. There is a market opening up for the larger pickup that is common on Stateside driveways. The problem is in the US they drive on the wrong side of the road. To get around that, there is an industry that has recently sprung up in Australia where large pickups are being converted to right hand drive. 

The Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 are already sold in NZ. The Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra are also coming down under, as manufacturers cash in on the small but increasing desire for such large pickups to compliment the 'smaller' ones that already sell well here. 

All sorted then. Well, not quite. Ford NZ is still yet to confirm the F-150 and it seems Toyota NZ may have ruled out the Tundra. In the case of the latter, the company has committed to reducing carbon emissions across its fleet of new vehicles. The Tundra would negatively impact that. 

It surprised me that the interest in this sort of super sized transport even has potential here. Its days are numbered anyway unless it eventually moves to electric propulsion, something diehard pickup owners are not too keen on. The car industry is having to change as many governments put incentives in place to encourage the take up of low or no emission vehicles. Perhaps it's a case of getting them (fossil fuel trucks) while you can.

26 August 2022

The New Range Rover Sport

A design director at Mazda was recently asked if he liked what others were doing in vehicle design. He said he wasn't and talked about an identity crisis for other manufacturers. Well, he needs to get out more. 

I do agree that some car brands do have an issue with defining their style and others could make their vehicles more attractive. However, to speak dismissively of all other design languages is over the top, perhaps a tad conceited. I'm not a fan of cars with overly elongated bonnets so design opinions are subjective.

Take the new Range Rover Sport for example. I wondered what they would do with the new model as it was always going to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. I think they hit the sweet spot with super clean surfaces that look fresh and yet retain the traditional Range Rover Sport look. I haven't seen it in the metal but would imagine it will look even more impressive. 

Now it's not to say I don't have issues with the new model. For one, it would barely fit in my garage. I could manage but I'd have to move it back slightly to work at my garage bench. In addition, it's not really in my price bracket nor for that matter suited to my modest lifestyle. 

That doesn't stop me from admiring the design and I'm happy that others will enjoy owning it. I'm sure they will also admire its lines as they approach it each morning. I think that's important. I know a Mazda wouldn't have that effect on me, no offense intended Jo. 

19 August 2022

A Chinese Invasion?

In New Zealand, a few attempts have been made by Chinese manufacturers to enter the market. Initial efforts were not successful. here is a brand summary for passenger car sales.

Geely came here in 2010 and after two years of poor annual sales at around the 60 unit mark, wound things down and left. Total sales: 130.  

Chery arrived in 2011 and a peak of 370 registrations was reached in 2013. The importer decided a couple of years later to pull the plug and they left in 2016. Total sales: 1,398.

SAIC MG then decided to give it a go in 2012 but was for some time selling cars in small numbers. By the end of 2018, only 128 sales had been made, and it seemed to be going nowhere. Then in 2019, registrations took off and for the first seven months of 2022, just over 3,000 sales and 4.8% of the market. Total sales: 9,073.

Great Wall Motors turned up in 2017 and immediately made an impact. All its passenger cars (SUVs to be precise) go under the name Haval. The pickup truck model sells as a Great Wall and is classed as a commercial vehicle so not counted here. 

It took 2.1% of registrations in 2021 and is doing the same in 2022 so far. It perhaps needs more models to progress from here. Total sales: 5,804.

LDV arrived in 2017 in the passenger car arena, having already established itself in the commercial vehicle side of things. The V in LDV stands for vans in case you're wondering. Its current car range is based around an SUV model so sales will only go so far with that. Total sales: 777.

BYD has now arrived and has opened four dealerships already with another four by September. It plans yet another four in the first part of 2023 and for a country the size of NZ, a dozen dealers will cover most of the country. 

Its first model is the Atto 3, an electric crossover (pictured above). With government incentives to encourage the take up of BEVs, it should sell quite well although it's too early to tell with just one month of sales to gauge it by. Total sales 20.

Summary: Initial efforts in NZ by Chinese brands were poor but over the last few years have started to make their mark. They are usually priced below comparable cars from elsewhere but are well specified with features so offering value for money. It's not an invasion but they are here to stay this time.

21 July 2022

Wales Sales: 2021

The data below is provided by the DTI UK. The top 30 brands across the UK as a whole are listed and the registrations for those brands are listed by region. That means there may be a brand or two that misses out here and with 860 others, maybe so. 

Wales' sales amounted to 58,000 in 2021, down 4%. Last year total sales fell 25% but Vauxhall defied gravity and went up 2%. Well, gravity caught up with it and down to fifth it went. Ford returned to its usual spot. Kia was the big mover near the top of the list. 

Scotland Sales: 2021

The data below is provided by the DTI UK. The top 30 brands across the UK as a whole are listed and the registrations for those brands are listed by region. That means there may be some brands that miss out here and with 2,000 others, definitely. 

Scotland's sales amounted to 138,500 in 2021, up 8%. I'd have to say that Vauxhall's long history of being the top brand suddenly ending two years ago and rebounding back in 2021 was quite a comeback. A 28% drop in sales during 2020 shook things up and now things have stabilised. Toyota added a full percentage point to its share so may have a role to play in the leadership rankings.   

20 July 2022

Northern Ireland Sales: 2021

The data below is provided by the DTI UK. The top 30 brands across the UK as a whole are listed and the registrations for those brands are listed by region. That means there may be a brand or two that misses out here but with only 540 others, maybe not. 

Northern Island's sales amounted to 37,000 in 2021, up 3%. VW dethroned Ford which has been a long standing leader barring the odd year it missed. Maybe this will be for one year as well. Or as they both lost share while the pack made up ground, they may both be out of luck in 2022. 

Lada Brand Model Sales : 2021-22 (Jan-Apr)

With domestic sales down 78% in April, it led to a -46% YTD so things aren't going well for Lada. Along with all the other problems in the industry, Lada has another with a war going on and the fallout from that. If that wasn't enough, owner Renault divested itself of the company. 

The last report Renault released of sales data is below, from January to April. Mind you, data for the rest of the year wouldn't change much as Lada all but grinds to a halt for the time being at least. The loss of Reanult's expertise will hurt Lada unless a Chinese firm steps in to take over that role. 

I coloured the chart to show which models increased their share of sales. It was the two 4wd models that lifted along with the utility Largus. (This will be the last of the Lada data).

Data source: Renault Group.

10 July 2022

Aston Martin Regional Sales : 2021

Aston Martin has been revitalised. From wholesale sales of 3,394 in 2020 to 6,178 in 2021. That's an 82% increase, with all regions playing their part. They are also the only manufacturer of cars in Wales as an aside. 

Americas: It is the largest region for the brand, with sales close to 2,000. Volume was up 115% and that region currently represents 30% of the total. 

Asia / Pacific: Close behind the Americas, this region mirrored the above in all facets. 

EMEA: Europe, Middle East and Africa contributed almost 1,300 sales and close to 20% of the total. 

UK: It is its own unique region and it only had a 28% increase. 

I don't have a breakdown by model but assume the Welsh made DBX was a major contributor to the increase. There is now a 707 version, the first example pictured above getting plenty of TLC. 

Aston Martin went through a tough patch but the business looks well and truly back on track. Talking of track, they are also into racing too but that's another subject.

28 June 2022

Hyundai India Model Sales : 2015-2018

Hyundai had now become an established brand with  a sizable following. Market share was for the most part in excess of 16%, quite an achievement in a brand conservative country. They were doing something right.

2015: The Santro mini hatchback was withdrawn in 2014 and in came the Creta compact crossover (picture above). It obviously wasn't like for like but the new car helped keep sales ticking over.

: Hyundai reached an impressive milestone when it passed the 500,000 mark for the first time. The range had a broad spread of models selling well too, which avoids the 'too many eggs in one basket' scenario with its risk.

2018: The Santro nameplate returned (picture just above), replacing the Eon mini hatchback model. Sales passed 550,000 units and were nudging 17% of all sales. Could it get any better than this?

The series final can be seen by clicking here.

26 June 2022

Hyundai India Model Sales : 2010-2014

Hyundai started selling cars here in 1998 so got in relatively early. They almost immediately went past the 10% mark of total sales and reached 16% by 2009. So how did they go from there?

2011: 2010 started a slight slide despite the Eon mini 5-door hatchback (right) arriving in '11 and soon selling well. It seemed to take sales from the i10.  

2012/13: The Elantra's turning up did little, being the small selling model it became. A new model i10 in 2013 helped in pushing market share back up again after declining.

2014: The Xcent (left) arrived, which was an i10 with a boot which to be consistent I should have combined. The numbers were high for both of them high so I decided not to. Regardless, the Xcent's arrival lifted penetration and took Hyundai to a market share all time high in 2014. Roll on 2015.

The next in the series is seen by clicking here.

25 June 2022

Mahindra India Model Sales : 2020-2022

Mahindra started out in the late 1940's and has grown into a large vehicle manufacturer, including passenger cars, pick ups, light and heavy commercial vehicles as well as buses. We won't get into the CV side of things. 

While car sales data from India always has that slight uncertainty about it, it's a bit more with Mahindra, perhaps because their diverse range can be tabulated in differing ways. For whatever reason, the historical data for Mahindra is too uncertain to be used. Therefore, we take it up from 2020.

The XUV700 medium sized SUV (picture above) replaced the 500 but otherwise it was business as usual. What was noticeable was the increase in share, from 5.6 to 8.1% so far in 2022. The XUV700 is leading the charge but generally the big guns are firing. The biggest selling model is the Bolero large SUV (picture below), surprisingly popular in a country where small vehicles dominate.

24 June 2022

Toyota India Model Sales : 2009-2013

We have seen from previous posts about the Indian car market that it's a difficult market to exist in despite many who entered that it was going to be some sort of El Dorado. Few, if any, have found it so. But surely Toyota would make a big splash here, it's the strongest brand in Asia by far. Let's see.

Toyota hit the ground in 2000 and within four to five years was around the 4.5% mark which was a very positive result. It did start to slip back from there and by 2009, help just 3% share. What could be done to arrest the slide?

The Innova medium MPV (picture at top) came in circa 2005 and was the main selling model. It received modest support from the Corolla, which debuted around 2004. However, this was Toyota Lite and more was needed to bolster the range. That was soon addressed as we shall now see.

2011: The Fortuner medium-large SUV (just above) was the start of the brand's hoped for renaissance. Mind you, that's too big to have the impact Toyota needed. 

2012: The Etios compact 4-door car and 5-door hatchback (Liva) was more what was needed to get the volume to a more respectable level and it complimented the extremely popular Innova nicely. Between then, they were the main reason the brand passed the 6% mark. 

Could Toyota keep the momentum going? We shall see in the next installment. (Hint: Click here)

23 June 2022

Nissan India Model Sales : 2009-2013

Nissan decided to enter the Indian car market and in 2010, it arrived in earnest. The Micra mini hatchback was initially the main focus and that was soon backed up by the Sunny saloon car. Then came the Terrano (left), a Renault Duster SUV being the donor car. 

It looked like a balanced range of vehicles but the 2012 peak of 1.6% of the market wasn't improved or even maintained. The NV200 Evalia MPV (right) was introduced in 2012 but didn't stay for  long. 

Like many others, Nissan was finding the going tough beyond being a marginal player.

To continue the story with part two, please click here.

Honda India Model Sales : 2014-2018

Honda had been gaining market share for a few years now and it was a case of whether it would maintain or expand on that.

2014: A new City was released and sales took off really well. Along with the popular Amaze, sales exceeded 140,000 units. Add to that the arrival of the small MPV Mobilo and its share jumped to 7%. 

2015: The Jazz was back with a splash and that more than compensated for a couple of models with reduced volume. &.3% was impressive. 

2016: The BR-V small to medium sized SUV (pic left) arrived and for a market not known for larger cars did alright.

The model onslaught continued with the compact WR-V crossover (pic on the right) added to the lineup. The Mobilo's short stay ended and despite the new models, sales had fallen below the record 200,000 of 2015. 

2018: A new Amaze helped to retain the sales volume but it was increasingly clear the success of 2013 wasn't going to return anytime soon. Where would Honda go from here? The last article in the series reveals all (just click here).

22 June 2022

Honda India Model Sales : 2009-2013

Honda started manufacturing cars here in 1997 so the brand is fairly well established here. In 2004 it hit its straps and reached 3.4% share after taking time to establish itself. Percentage penetration reached a new high of 4.3% in 2006 when the Civic was introduced. It drifted back to 3.4% in 2009. 

2009: The Jazz hit the market in this year but not with a huge splash. The heavy hitting was being done by the compact City model (picture left), all the others featured in relatively minor supporting roles.

2012: This was a big year when the Jazz and Civic models were retired and the Brio took off. The Brio was a compact 5-door hatchback that slotted below the Jazz in size. 

2013: The subcompact Amaze 4-door saloon car arrived (picture on right) which was under the 4 metre (157.5 in) length which puts it in a lower duty bracket. It slotted under the City saloon car. The brand was back to 4.3% share, equalling its record back in 2006. 

To read the second installment, please click here.

21 June 2022

Škoda India Model Sales : 2010-2014

Škoda has been selling cars in India since 2003 and gradually climbed to reach a 1% market share by 2008. Not a large amount by any stretch but it's also not a brand that sells the sort of cars that are common in India. Did things get any better in the years that have followed? We take up the story from 2010.

To add to the medium sized Octavia, the large Superb and the compact Fabia hatchback (picture right) came the small Yeti 5-door SUV model. Market share remained the same as in 2009 at 0.8%. 

2012: The small-medium sized Rapid sedan came along late in 2011 and by 2012 sales had climbed rapidly. It accounted for two thirds of Škoda sales but other models weren't exactly pulling their weight. 

1.2% share was reached but was down to 0.6% in 2014. Škoda was never going to be a huge selling brand but they had hoped a model like the Fabia would have been better received. It was discontinued in 2014 due to poor sales. 

The other article in the series is: 2015-22.