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.