26 March 2017

Vested Interest

It's understandable that what affects you is important. That could include something that will raise challenges to your business or cost you financially. However, painting a picture that is misleading or false to achieve what is desired is dishonest. Yet that is the modus operandi of many today and the media are part of the misinformation propaganda.

Take the UK. When the Commonwealth was losing its common wealth benefit, the UK feared being isolated. It had been barred entry to Europe in the 1960's but did entered successfully in the 1970's. Now it's future was secure in a union that was of mutual benefit.

Erm, not quite. The UK is increasing its borrowing as an over inflated currency hampers exports. Excessive borrowing to prop up a lifestyle is not sustainable but few notice or care. Few worried about Greece either..... Anyway, the UK imports about half of the food it consumes and Germany supplies far more cars to the UK than the UK makes for its own market. Bonkers! I just found this article (the link is at the bottom of the page) that shows what's been going on.

Between 1998 and 2014, vehicle imports from the EU to the UK jumped from £14.3 billion to £31.3 billion. Components took the total to £43 billion. Meanwhile exports from the the UK to the EU crept up from £8 billion to £11.9 billion, components taking it to £14.6 billion. Increasingly the trade is one way.

So any dire warnings that a trade barrier will hurt the UK and no mention of the EU being affected is inaccurate. Ironically the threats of a trade tariff are issued from the EU side and yet many will hold the UK responsible if it is implemented. Wouldn't it be hilarious if the EU imposed the 10% duty it threatens and the UK responded "We'll match your 10% and raise you 10%.

Hang on you say, aren't UK vehicle exports to the EU strong? Just over half go there and the rest elsewhere. Still, half the exports is still a lot. True, but don't forget EU imports? The pound is already well down since the decision to leave the EU so adding a tariff will affect imports from the EU, helping local UK manufacturers. Trade deals elsewhere would also assist with exports.

On that note from 1998 to 2014, UK exports outside the EU rocketed from £2.9 billion to £17.9 billion, zooming past the EU in value. That says one thing, the EU isn't working for the UK car industry but the rest of the world is. In reality, the EU is at present the vehicle trade winner with the UK, especially Germany.

So vested interests and the media generally paint a false impression of the likely outcome of a tariff between the UK and the EU. The lower pound is already working but the UK trade deficit is still far too high. If the locals were more aware and supportive of domestic manufacturing and production then that would be a huge help. The problem is UK ignorance and apathy, so the trade deficit conundrum remains. All I want is a clear picture of what is going on in the world. Unfortunately the world isn't honest enough to expect that.

To read more about the subject by someone more knowledgeable than I am, simply click here. The article is "Great British Cars: Getting Nowhere in Europe".

PS. Human machinations whether politics, commerce or the media - to name a few - I find abhorrent, so writing about it isn't easy for me.

21 March 2017

LDV New Zealand


LDV commercial vehicles has a colourful history. They were part of BL many moons ago, hence the (L)eyland. Later it was owned by (D)AF, therefore the LDV name. In 1993 it became an independent operation and eventually became owned by SAIC in China in 2010 after some turbulent times leading up to that final acquisition. Production was moved from the UK to China.

Things now seem to be on the up with LDV. In New Zealand it is going exceptionally well, the brand name remembered for its association with the NZ ambulance service some years ago. Popular vans  by Toyota, Ford and Hyundai may not have seen LDV as a huge threat but they will be now. NZ has the highest percentage CV penetration for the brand anywhere in the world

They arrived in NZ late 2013 with 45 sold. In 2014 nearly 400 and 2015 close to 500. Over 1,000 were registered in 2016. There are 17 dealers which also sell the SsangYong brand, which is a nice fit with their range. The range consists of four vans, a cab chassis, two mini buses and a large MPV. A range of pick up trucks will be added mid-year and as this is a very popular vehicle in NZ, it will do well.

When China started building vehicles, I expected cheap cars to flood in. A few dipped their toes in the water but they didn't succeed. Light commercial vehicles seem to have much more potential. I don't recommend Chinese brand cars due to their crash safety ratings but the CVs seem to be much more sorted than the cars.

Picture source: LDV NZ.
Text source: RayCee.

14 March 2017

Takata


One song says love changes everything, and so does money. Corruption is rife in the world today and money is so often the motivation. Even human life can be a secondary consideration in the quest to gain or protect money.



Cars are convenient but also dangerous. Safety features are important to consumers and modern cars are full of  such life saving features. I find some such as lane departure warning as quite laughable but most are welcome additions. I must say as one who has always used seat belts I thought airbags were for Americans too lazy to buckle up (no offense intended). However, they do add to occupant safety so I've been won over.

Which leads to the point of the article. Japanese firm Takata changed the main ingredient for its airbags from tetrazole to ammonium nitrate in 2001. Ammonium nitrate provides more bang in a smaller volume than other propellants, which allows the company to offer a more compact device to manufacturers. It was also cheaper to make. However, they have in a few cases caused death by exploding and sending pieces of the device into the car's occupants.

Employee emails show that there were “dire warnings about safety and quality lapses years before Takata Corp would fully acknowledge the threat posed by its defective airbags,” according to a report by the Senate Commerce Committee. Senator Bill Nelson, a Floridan Democrat, says it now appears that Takata was aware of “serious safety and quality control lapses” in its factories as early as 2001.

Company officials debated the data regarding the product and testing of the inflator was manipulated to cover the issues. Nissan, BMW of North America and Ford have accused their airbag supplier Takata of fraud in a lawsuit to cover losses they incur because of its faulty inflators that have been linked to at least 17 deaths worldwide. Court documents filed in United States claim five automakers were aware of potential defects but continued using Takata’s airbags because they were less expensive. The allegations involve Ford, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and BMW.

All in all a sad tale of a business trying to get a competitive edge but getting it wrong and trying to cover it over. Did they really think they would get away with it? The cost of owning up would have been huge. It got worse by not coming clean. Money changes everything.