22 February 2010

The Problem With Electric


The idea of an electrically powered car appeals to me. No more smelly, polluting petrol. Instant torque from standstill would give even acceleration. Cheap fuel too. But...There is always a but and with cars powered by electric, many buts. Here are some of them.

Range. Unless you only do short trips, they are basically useless. As a second or third car that would be acceptable as you could take another car for longer trips. We are a one car family though.

Refueling. It takes a few minutes to fuel a petrol or diesel car at a conveniently located station. There are no refueling points for electric and it takes much longer for a short charge and ridiculous time to fully charge.

Pedestrians. They don't hear electric cars coming and so more pedestrians will get hit by them. Seriously.

Purchase price. They are expensive to buy, thanks to battery cost. Then disposing of batteries is pricey too.

There are ideas about to minimise some of the above problems, such as on longer journeys swapping batteries at centres set up to do so. A real nusance. Or how about a hybrid maybe. Unfortunately very expensive to have two power systems in one car and still very polluting when using the petrol motor lugging all that weight around.

If electric cars are going to become popular to the masses, vast improvements in the above mentioned issues must be found. We have been thoroughly spoiled by petroleum products. So going backwards to much less practical options such as electric is something people will not embrace readily unless solutions materialise or we simply have no option but to change.

The bottom line. A small engined petrol or diesel car, perhaps turbo boosted, offers more at present.

20 February 2010

Car Sales 2009: Ukraine


The Ukranine had an impressive 625,000 car sales in 2008, but then the economic downturn bit hard. Very hard. In '09, sales slumped to 162,000, a fall of 74%. It's hard to imagine what that does to car making and dealers but it must hurt. (400,000 cars were made here in '08, 260,000 of which were Daewoos). The domestic sales for cars were as follows:

09/08
1 1 Lada 32,500 20%
2 2 Hyundai/Kia 21,200 13%
3 8 Zaz 9,400 6%
4 4 Chevrolet 9,400 6%
5 6 Toyota 8,600 5.3%
6 9 Chery 8,500 5.2%
7 5 Mitsubishi 7,400 4.6%
8 7 Skoda 6,700 4.1%
9 10 Nissan 5,900 3.6%
10 12 Honda 5,000 3.1%
11 3 Daewoo 4,800 3%
12 16 Geely 4,700 2.9%
13 11 Volkswagen 4,700 2.9%
14 21 Renault 3,500 2.2%
15 15 Ford 3,350 2.1%
16 17 3,300 2.1%
17 13 Dacia 3,000 1.9%
18 18 Suzuki 2,900 1.8%
19 14 Opel 2,350 1.4%
20 19 Subaru 1,950 1.2%

Getting sales figures for the country isn't easy. There doesn't seem to be an agency that releases data to the public. A shame as it is a sizable market and deserves more exposure.

The bottom line: 2010 will no doubt be a tough year for car sales as the Ukraine struggles to revive its economy.

12 February 2010

Car Sales 2009: Russia


In 2008, Germany's car market was 3 million cars and falling. The Russian market, on the other hand, had reached 2.9 million and climbing quickly. It wasn't rocket science to work out that 2009 would see Russia become Europe's largest new car market. Well in 2009, the economic downturn was met by incentives in Germany and the market rebounded to 3.8 million, while the Russian market slumped to less that 1.5 million. What a turn around!

So which brands sold best in Russia for 2009? (AEB source):

09/08
1 1 Lada 350,000 24%
2 2 Chevolet 104,000 7.1%
3 5 Ford 82,000 5.6%
4 3 Hyundai 75,000 5.1%
5 9 Renault 72,000 4.9%
6 13 Kia 70,000 4.8%
7 4 Toyota 69,000 4.7%
8 6 Nissan 64,000 4.4%
9 7 GAZ 58,000 4%
10 11 Daewoo 51,500 3.5%
11 15 VW 45,000
12 8 Mitsubishi 41,500
13 16 UAZ 34,500
14 10 Opel 34,000
15 17 Skoda 33,000
16 14 Mazda 30,500
17 18 Peugeot 30,000
18 19 Suzuki 25,500
19 12 Honda 23,000
20 20 Fiat 18,000

Lada is still the darling of the market but is in financial trouble. Renault-Nissan has taken a stake in the brand, and its expertise should be of great help.
Second placed Chevrolet is a joint venture between GM and AvtoVAZ which makes Chevrolet Niva SUVs especially for the Russian market.
Renault is a strong fifth, but sales are almost exclusively Dacias made in Russia and sold as Renaults.
Tenth placed Daewoo makes and sells cars from GM Korea, sold elsewhere in Europe as Chevrolets. Complicated isn't it? But that's Russia. At least the Russians are more open about their car market than the Chinese are. Trust Chinese sales figures at your peril.
2010 is already showing that things are still grim on the car sales front. From March, the Russian government plans to offer US$1,700 vouchers to people to scrap cars that are 10 years old to buy locally made or assembled vehicles. Many feel that the measures are too small to do much and will be hindered by bureaucracy. Sales will be about the same as last years 1.5 million.

The bottom line: Brrr, another long winter for Russian car salesman.

08 February 2010

Car Sales MINI: 2009


One thing BMW could teach other car makers a thing or two about is how to use the press to trumpet your sales figures. Even when they are down, BMW puts a positive spin on it. As MINI is part of the BMW Group, that openness benefits those that look at statistics. Does this desire to let the world know how cars are selling hurt BMW? I think the sales data answers that clearly.
Total MINI sales for 2009 were 216,500 and I don't have to estimate that. It was down 7% on 2008, a good effort considering the economic climate. Hey, I'm starting to sound like a BMW press release. The two main markets accounted for just under 40% of all sales, which is a fairly consistent amount. Sales by country and share of total sales as follows:

09/08
1 1 USA 45200 20.9%
2 2 UK 40000 18.4%
3 3 Germany 33500 15.5%
4 4 France 17800 8.2%
5 5 Italy 17500 8.1%
6 6 Japan 11000 5.1%
7 7 Spain 8350 3.9%
8 8 Belgium 5450 2.5%
9 12 China 4375 2.0%
10 9 Canada 4250 2.0%
11 10 Switzerland 3650 1.7%
12 11 Netherlands 2650 1.2%
13 13 Australia 2050
14 14 Mexico 1800
15 15 South Africa 1500
16 17 Austria 1500
17 19 Korea 1400
18 16 Greece 1250
19 18 Portugal 1200
20 40 Brazil 950

One can expect a better 2010 for MINI as the new Countryman (see pic below) hits showrooms. This is the first of the BMW MINIs to be built outside of the UK. (It will be made at Magna Steyr's Graz plant in Austria). Other variants will follow but what they will be is speculative.
MINI has been so well managed that it has exceeded all expectations, so the BMW press machine tells us anyway.

The bottom line: It looks good for the MINI brand in 2010.

Jaguar Sales: 2009


So how did Jaguar go for 2009? Well it finished X-Type production at the end of the year. Since sales to many markets had already ceased, it was only a matter of time. The XJ has also been running out too as the new less traditional model arrives to various markets during the middle and latter part of 2010. So sales volume was always going to be a challenge in 2009. Jaguar is now also targeting profit over simply moving cars to reach sales goals, which is the only way to go for the marque. In future Jaguar will be a leaner brand, with variations on a few basic models. And making money.
Total Jaguar sales for 2009 were by my estimate 52,500 (-20%). Not a bad effort considering the depressed economy and reasons already mentioned. The two main markets for the marque went up from 53.9% to 57.6% share of all sales although a few years ago it was around 70%. Sales by country and share of total sales as follows:

08/09
1 1 UK 18250 34.8%
2 2 USA 12000 22.8%
3 3 Germany 2900 5.5%
10 4 China 1800 3.4%
4 5 Italy 1800 3.4%
5 6 Japan 1250 2.4%
8 7 France 1175 2.2%
6 8 Spain 1150 2.2%
9 9 Belgium 1100 2.1%
14 10 Australia 1000 1.9%
7 11 Russia 900 1.8%
12 12 Canada 800 1.5%
11 13 Switzerland 750 1.4%
13 14 South Africa 625 1.2%
16 15 Korea 560 1.1%
17 16 Austria 400 0.8%
15 17 Netherlands 300 0.6%
21 18 Turkey 260 0.5%
27 19 Singapore 220
18 20= Ireland 200
19 20= Portugal 200
24 22 Lebanon 195
22 23 Sweden 195
26 24 Mexico 160
23 25 Poland 160

Jaguar sales for the Middle East are impossible for me to get. If you can help, please contact me (my email address is under 'view my complete profile').
Apparently Tata didn't want to buy Jaguar but it had to if it wanted Land Rover. I think they are glad they bought it now because as a well managed brand, it has much potential. It was poorly run by Ford but Tata has a more hands off approach and this will invigourate the people of Jaguar to greater things I'm sure. Jaguar just need to be more media savvy by being open with sales figures and that how they are achieving their goals as a marque.

The bottom line: A solid future under Tata beckons.



Last update 7.02.12

02 February 2010

Car Sales 2009: Japan


The Japanese car market can be divided into three sections. First, there is the 'Big Five', then the 'Middle Three' (all Japanese) and finally the rest, mainly foreign brands that feed on the crumbs. The fact that the top eight are all indigenous brands shows that it is unpatriotic for Japanese to buy imported cars, especially mainstream brands.

This way of thinking is shown by the government when they stimulated sales through a scrappage scheme in 2009 which was carefully designed to maximise the benefit to local brands and minimise any help for foreign marques. That is the Japanese way. Outwardly talk of fairness, yet inwardly doing all you can to promote self centred aims. It works. The US got upset at how the scrappage scheme was totally useless in assisting American brands. After all such schemes are primarily economic, not ecological. However, others have gone down the same road of self promotion, for example France and China come to mind. Still, it just proves the world is still blighted by self interest.

Anyway, the overall market was down 7.2% to 3,925,000 sales of passenger cars. As for sales chart by make for 2009:

1 Toyota 1,240,000 31.6% (-4%)
2 Honda 600,000 15.5% (+1%)
3 Nissan 520,000 13.3% (-10%)
4 Suzuki 490,000 12.4% (-9%)
5 Daihatsu 470,000 12.1% (-7%)

6 Mazda 175,000 4.5% (-15%)
7 Subaru 120,000 3.1% (-17%)
8 Mitsubishi 120,000 3% (-17%)

9 Volkswagen 38,000 1% (-17%)
10 BMW 29,000 0.7% (-19%)

Brands from 5th to 10th all achieved their worst market share for the last decade. The 'Big Five' seem to be getting bigger collectively, increasing their market share from 82.9% to 84.5% in the last 12 months. Imports on the other hand, keep getting less crumbs from the table.

The bottom line: The Japanese car market is all about local brands.

Japanese Car Production: 2009



So what of Japanese car production? It fell from 9,900,000 in '08 to 6,860,000 in '09 (-31%). As a side point, CV production was off 35% to 1,070,000.

As for car sales by brand, all lost out as the economic downturn bit. Maker of small cars Daihatsu coped best while Mitsubishi was badly mauled. Production in Japan by brand listed below:

Toyota 2,545,000 -30%
Honda 810,000 -34%
Nissan 780,000 -29%
Suzuki 760,000 -28%
Mazda 695,000 -33%
Daihatsu 550,000 -14%
Mitsubishi 365,000 -53%
Subaru 360,000 -22%

Japanese production was down less than it could have been due to a scrappage scheme in Japan that ran most of 2009 and will continue into 2010. It was aimed at smaller, fuel efficient cars (mentioned in the article above) which mainly assisted Daihatsu although all the Japanese brands got something out of it.
Next year production should start to climb but not by much as the world is still suffering economically.

The bottom line: Such drops in production must be hurting the bottom line.