19 May 2023

Nissan Sunderland's New Battery Plant

Stellantis has come out and said that its commitment to electric vehicles made in the UK is under threat due to an EU edict. It is that all cars exported from the UK to the EU must eventually have 65% UK/EU content or face 10% duties. I won't even bother to talk about why such a rule was insisted upon by the EU. Politics I detest. 

What is of interest is that Nissan is pressing ahead with electric vehicle production in Sunderland, UK despite the machinations of politicians. How is Nissan achieving this? Through a battery plant built adjacent to the car assembly facility. Make no mistake, this is a substantial commitment by Nissan and its project partners. 

Nissan has made the Leaf model in the UK since late 2012 and making batteries for it at its Sunderland plant. This new initiative will take battery production capacity to another level. A new crossover electric model is to be produced at the plant with up to 100,000 units to be made per annum. 

It all comes down to the scale of production that allows for such investment. Stellantis' production in the UK isn't large and importing batteries is the way for them. JLR has been courted by Spain to acquire batteries from there but a plant to be located in Summerset, UK may now be the more likely outcome. Perhaps Stellantis could be involved with that. 

As for the Leaf, over 250,000 have now been built in the UK. The chart shows annual production volume and one would think that the push for electric cars in the UK and Europe would ensure continued healthy production for the Leaf as well as the future crossover model. Battery plants are needed and Nissan Sunderland has that box ticked.

18 May 2023

Australia Model PU Sales : 2021-22

Australia used to make large cars and they were popular there. Gradually the public started switching to pickup trucks, mostly sourced from Thailand. A trade deal was struck for vehicles between the two countries. In came pickups but it was all one way traffic and soon the Australian car industry was gone.

Today pickup models are among the best selling in Australia. The majority are Japanese brands with the Toyota Hilux leading the way. Five of the best selling brands in this segment are from Japan. Ford does well with the Ranger at second and then China chirps in with the GWM ute. 

The RAM pickup range is next, thanks to a thriving right hand drive conversion industry. The Chevrolet Silverado also gets the same treatment and the Ford F-150 will be next. I'm surprised at the demand for these large trucks, especially as the conversion cost is not insignificant. 

The European originated LDV brand (now Chinese owned - picture above the eT60) and the VW Amarok are solid sellers and the last two of note come from Korea and the US of A (Jeep Gladiator below).

17 May 2023

China Sales : 2022

Registrations for 2022 were +8.5% as best as I could ascertain. I tried to minimise figure distortion by including imported cars for premium marques. Local brands are unaffected but foreign ones can be. Luxury sales are excluded. 

Increases or decreases below refer to market share change.VW has been falling for a few years now but for 2022 largely arrested the decline. BYD came from well down to the second spot very quickly. It seems Toyota sales listed elsewhere include Lexus but I've separated them here. 

The Chinese market still has a feel of the wild west, with brands suddenly coming from nowhere and others just as quickly disappearing into nowhere. I thought it may have matured enough to settle down by now but not as yet. The transition into electric cars hasn't helped in that regard. 

15 May 2023

China Premium Sales vs Imports Comparison : 2020-22

One of the reasons I don't get too excited about the Chinese car market is that all sales are for locally made only. Due to high import duty, most sales are only for domestically manufactured cars. I would like to see real figures released with imports included but if they are sourced from a manufacturing association, I guess that isn't going to happen. 

For mainstream brands, the percentage imported would be negligible but what about premium brands where margins are higher and duty can be better absorbed? I needed to do some digging so I decided to check out what sales were for local versus imported premium cars.

Using BMW/MINI as an example, in 2022 665,000 sales were officially sold according to local reports, but BMW said they sold 792,000. That means for the year 16% of BMW and MINI sales were for imported cars and 84% would be of cars made in China. That's down from just over 20% for 2020 and 2021.

Mercedes is almost identical but Audi is a good half lower for imported volume. Volvo is very similar to Audi. Land Rover isn't as heavily involved with Chinese manufacture and about half of Land Rovers are imported. That makes local sales figures for LR look much poorer than they are.

Jaguar's figures are strange. They were around 20% imported but in 2022 importing cars seemed to end. The -2% figure would indicate that the local figure is slightly wrong as I'm sure Jaguar would know how many they sold. 

Now for the two US brands. Cadillac doesn't import cars according to the data below but a 21,000 unit discrepancy in 2022 presumably shows the local figure is too high. Lincoln started manufacturing in 2020 so that would account for the drop of imported cars. 

If you are wondering where Porsche is, they import 100%  so they will not appear on local sales charts. That also applies to luxury marques too of course. Lexus sales seem to be included with Toyota in Chinese sales releases. Acura has recently left and I didn't find Infiniti import sales for 2022. 

In summary, I expected more imported volume for Audi, Cadillac and Lincoln. For the most part, however, local sales releases aren't too far off the mark for most premium brands, with Land Rover and Porsche the exceptions. 

14 May 2023

Morocco Passenger Car Sales : 2023 (Jan-Apr)

In April, the market increased by 1% and for the four months so far this year, it's down 6%. In the early 2000's Peugeot was top but was replaced by Renault. The in 2014, Dacia took over and has been the most popular brand since. 

Dacia's share has dropped since 2020 but is still an impressive 23%. Renualt has been gaining of late so the Renault Group is doing OK. The Grioup is a local assembler for Dacia as it is also of Renault so that helps. Peugeot also makes cars here.

A few of the lesser brands are not listed here but all those of any volume are. The pictures are from Dacia Facebook. I don't know what the script in the pictre above means and the driver below wants to know where he can find a good car wash machine. 

13 May 2023

Mexico PU Truck Sales : 2020-22

Mexico doesn't have a protected market for pickup trucks so have more variety than its northern neighbours. On average they are not as large either. Brand preferences are quite different too. Due to these factors, the makeup of the pickup market is quite different. 

Top of the pops is the Nissan Frontier/Navara model and by some margin. Then again, Nissan is the biggest brand here so not really a surprise. The Toyota Hilux is increasing consistently which looks ominous. The top US model is the Ram PU and it also is improving consistently. The Mitsubishi L200 isn't sold in either Canada or the US but is a solid performer here. 

European and Chinese offerings can be observed further down the list below, another unique feature in North America. It also means that the 90 to 95% share enjoyed by US brands up north is much lower in Mexico, just over a third of total sales. The JAC Frison is a model making great strides (picture below). 

12 May 2023

Mauritius Passenger Car Sales : 2023 (Jan-Mar)

A small island nation it may be but one that releases car sales data so well done for that. I wish more were as open. The data is presented in a way consistent with a government agency, efficient but not entirely easy to understand some of the categorising. I did write for a clarification but they didn't respond. 

So here the statistics are presented as passenger cars only. Suzuki is the best selling and pulling a head dramatically. Kia was the best selling a few years ago but was unable to go with them. A couple of Aston Martin registrations appeared in March, not the sort of brand one might expect here. There have been the odd sales for some years now so maybe not a surprise after all.  

In summary, registrations were up 13% in March and up 15% YTD. I believe it's a nice place to visit though I've never been. Daniel says it's the best place.......

Data source: NLTA.

To the right are pickup sales, led by Mazda. A surprise there but one suspects the list will move around as the year progresses. 

For the three months so far, pickup registrations are down slightly on 2022. 

11 May 2023

Canada PU Truck Sales : 2020-22

Canada is very similar to the US in many ways and vehicle purchasing is very much one of them. The differences with pickup trucks are some models switch places, GMC is more popular (not in volume of course) and US brands run at 95% share, rather than 90% in the US. That last point of difference did surprise me.  

Overall, pickup truck sales account for 11% of the US market and 14% of Canada's. I can't say that surprised me simply because I didn't know enough to have an opinion. If anyone wants to enlighten me more on the subject, please leave a comment. You don't have to register to do so but they don't appear immediately nor will they appear at all if being used to advertise something.

10 May 2023

Honda & Mitusbishi European Market Share : 2006-2023

The European car market is competitive and crowded with many brands. Japanese brands arrived many years ago and had reasonable success but it seemed to plateau. Now there are challenges regarding the  accelerated move to electric cars, something Japanese brands initially embraced then stalled on. Chinese brands are now entering Europe with electric cars as their forte.  

Where does all this leave Japanese brands now and in the near future? Some like Toyota and Nissan have manufacturing facilities there and are committed. Smaller players like Honda and Mitsubishi have manufactured in Europe but no longer. 

Of the two, Honda was the bigger player in Europe, but its market share has been falling fairly consistently since 2007. Honda's position in Europe is now marginal and apart from simply retaining a presence it's hard to know why the company would stay in the region. Time will tell where Honda will go from here. 

Mitsubishi has been more even but recently having noticeably fallen with few models on offer and leaving some markets entirely. Mitsubishi may leverage some of Renault's vehicles and production facilities to reinvigorate its European operation. Again, we will see.

Please note: The 2023 percentage figures are for the first three months.

09 May 2023

USA PU Truck Sales : 2020-22

The US truck industry is a protected one so they are either made locally or they are not here. They also need to be big as the market for more compact pickup trucks is fairly modest. The market is dominated by US brands with their collective share currently sitting at 90%. The Japanese dominate pickup markets elsewhere, they have struggled here.

The Ford F-Series is the most popular model but the gap to second has been narrowing. Chevrolet, Ram and GMC follow some way ahead of Toyota at fifth. Then more compact trucks start to make their appearance. Rivian is the new kid in town with plenty to do.

I do feel such vehicles far larger than needed yet buyers seem to love them like that. If you want oodles of cabin space, can afford the costs involved, need the towing ability, live in a big country, and enjoy comfortable cruising then it would be on the top of your shopping list. The picture above is the Ford F-150 interior. 

08 May 2023

Thailand PU Truck Sales : 2021-22

Thailand is a country in love with the pickup truck. Maybe they are ideally suited to the country or the versatility they offer is the attraction. They are also made locally and with stiff import duty, are no doubt benefitted by avoiding it.

Two brands dominate, the Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux. The Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton are trying hard but the rest feed on the crumbs dropping from the table. Due to protection, the number of models available is limited, unless some importers are not reporting sales.

07 May 2023

Global Premium Brand Sales : 2022-23

I put together a list of premium marques, rounded to the nearest thousand. It excludes those I'd consider luxury although at times there is overlap between them. Many of the figures come from the manufacturer while some others are based on sales I do know with the balance estimated.  

BMW is the largest of all the brands and with MINI added clearly the leading marque. Tesla has achieved fourth place for two years now and not that far away from improving on that. The semiconductor shortage hit many brands, especially JLR, but Tesla didn't seem to suffer in that regard. 

The most interesting part for me was further down, with long standing names rubbing shoulders - or about to - with upstart start ups. One of the newbies in terms of volume has been around since 1958. Any guesses? 

Hongqi (top picture) made its first car in 1958 although it hasn't been continuously produced since then. It reminded me of the now defunct Zil marque from Russia. It was large and premium but made for local consumption and for officials. How many were made I can't say but nothing like the numbers being produced now. 

Neither Acura (the red car above) nor Infiniti had a strong 2022 but early signs for 2023 paint a rosier picture. It's been a tough road for Rivian and Lucid and 2023 will be important for both of them. Alfa Romeo  (picture to the right) will do much better with the new Tonale. With a lessening of the chip shortage, manufacturers will be hoping for improved sales for 2023. 

06 May 2023


You may not have heard of the Nio car brand but it's a Chinese electric car manufacturer. It uses battery swapping in booths that take less than five minutes to replace a depleted battery with a fully charged one. It started making cars in 2018 and has progressed quickly. 

There were six models up and running by the end of 2022, a crossover, three SUVs and two passenger cars. An exclusive sports car has also been made (the EP9) but they are not road legal so not registered and less than a hundred have been made as I understand it. 

Exports are still in their infancy but the company is now entering new markets at an accelerated pace. I did find the data below confusing. The Nio Annual Report lists the data as deliveries which I assumed are global figures. Yet a Chinese website lists the same number of sales as domestic ones. There have been some exports, albeit on a limited scale. 

05 May 2023

Renault / Dacia Euro Market Share Graph

Dacia started out making older model Renaults as a value brand. Eventually, Renault took control and continued with that value strategy but with its own models rather than older Renault cars. Has it worked?

Renault has yielded market share to position itself at a sustainable level rather than chase volume for the prestige often associated with higher market penetration. Dacia is in a very different position, in an area of the market that has been ignored by other car makers. Dacia's progress has been done in a profitable way too.

After three months of 2023, the brands are almost equal in terms of sales. Renault has an abundance of competition whereas Dacia doesn't so that shouldn't be surprising. I like what Dacia offers, no frills motoring. That appeals to me. 

Below the numbers on each side of the graph represents the percentage market share in Europe. 

04 May 2023

Tesla's Amazing Feat

I recall reading opinions a few years back when some thought Elon Musk didn't know how to run a car company. Car making is a complicated and expensive undertaking and he was underestimating its difficulty. 

I admit I was wondering the same things myself but wasn't emphatic as I didn't have enough knowledge to be such. I did think he was overconfident but that may have been his way of assuring investors. Others' efforts to turn ideas and dreams into reality have struggled to deliver. It takes a lot of money to go from zero to hero in the car industry. 

Yet, it seems Tesla is making it. They got the funds needed. They charge heavily for add ons that are not very costly to implement. Production plants are tailored to making electric cars, therefore more efficient than mainstream competitors. The range is not excessive and complicated so materials and componentry are bought in volume and at competitive prices. 

All this leads to an important end product. Profit. I have read that profit margins are the highest in the industry. If so, talk of price realignments out of desperation is well wide of the mark. Factories running at full capacity are the best way to go, provided all the fundamentals mentioned above are in place. 

I must say the cybertruck looks hideous (futuristic amateurism) and a rush job. See the picture below if you doubt my opinion on aesthetics. It has been delayed to get issues sorted. Attractive design it is not but otherwise it has to be a well executed vehicle to succeed in a challenging but profitable segment of the industry. 

Tesla is surviving and by many accounts doing very nicely thank you. Mistakes have been made but they are not ignored and that has kept the reputation of Tesla cars intact. Elon doesn't make friends with everyone but that won't stop people from buying his cars. Nor his solar roofs (see picture above). 

03 May 2023


Chinese car brands struggled to make much headway globally with ICE vehicles and even at home played second fiddle to foreign brands. Then the decision was made to focus on electric and hybrid cars to succeed. That seems to have worked with their winning market share locally and improved acceptance in export markets.

BYD is part of that drive, using Blade Battery technology as a strong selling point. Pros are said to be having higher energy density, safer in an accident and longer life. Cons are poor cold weather performance and manufacturing cost. That's a light weight summary from one source.

As for sales figures, I found getting information on the New Energy side (BYD's term for electric / hybrid) easier with many websites specifically dedicated to this subject. 

New Energy: Sales volume increased steadily from 2015 to 2018, then slipped back for a couple of years. The Blade Battery was released in 2020 and that was a game changer. Sales skyrocketed to over 1.8 million or a tenfold increase in two years! For the first quarter of 2023, sales are up nearly 100% on the corresponding period of 2022.

Oil Fueled: That's ICE cars elsewhere. They hung around the quarter million mark for a few years, then were phased out quickly. 

It will be interesting to see how BYD will fare over the rest of the year and beyond. BYD passenger car sales in China were just short of 524,000 so exports must have been just above 28,000. I'm sure they will try to reduce dependence on the domestic market. 

Data source: BYD.

02 May 2023

UK Vehicle Production : 2023 (Jan-Mar)

UK vehicle manufacturing is currently steady. Manufacturers have exited and no new ones have replaced them for some time now. Most vehicles are exported which keeps the plants viable. More local support would help but a concerted will to do so simply isn't there.

Car: Q1 production for domestic consumption is 45,300 (+4.1%) and exports increased to 174,600 (+6.6%). The total figure was 219,900, an increase of 6.0%. Only 9.2% of UK sales were met with locally made vehicles, the lowest since 1946 when my records start. Presumably, the lowest since UK car manufacturing began. 

Of the 219,900 cars made, Nissan's contribution was 80,800 and Toyota's 23,900. Those figures are generously provided by the manufacturers themselves and it's just short of half of the total. Nissan makes the Qashqai, Juke and Leaf. Toyota the Corolla hatch and wagon. Toyota needs another model to better utilise the factory. 

Data source: SMMT.

Commercial Vehicle:
Q1 production for the local market was close to 11,000 units (-0.8%), exports were 14,600 (+2.6%) and combined 25,600 (+1.1%). After hitting a low point in 2020, CV production lifted and I assume Ellesmere Port van production will give it a further boost. 

Combined: Domestic production was 3% up to 56,300 while export was +6% to 189,300. In total, 245,400 vehicles were made (+5.5%). It could and should be better.