31 May 2015

Four Questions About Car Buying

Questions:

1) Why buy a fast car? In many nations there are relatively low speed limits. New Zealand has a speed limit of 100kph (or 62mph) so what is the point of a car than exceed that with ease? They generally handle well but are just cruising along at 100kph.


2) Why buy an off-road SUV? There are those who purchase such a vehicle with the sole purpose of suburban driving. Is it a feeling of safety or the driving height for anticipating what is ahead? It adds to the cost to engineer serious off-road ability.

3) Why be concerned about where a car is made? For some this is an important point when buying a new car. Supporting a local brand may be a reason, or one made in your country. For others they are buying an imported car and yet still wish it made in a particular country. Will it make a difference to the car?

4) Why buy a 4-door car? They have four or five seats and a boot (trunk). That's it. A hatchback, crossover or SUV has what the 4-door car has, but can also become a wagon too, as well as other useful capabilities.

Analysis:

I ask the above questions because the fact is people do make the above decisions - despite logical reasons not to - which shows that buying a car isn't just a rational choice. The emotions and image are important too. Some say a car will soon be like buying an appliance, such as a computer. Car brands will soon be irrelevant.

For that to happen, the car would have to become merely functional. If cars were 100% self drive, that would take driving pleasure away and a reason to buy a brand in particular. However, as long as owning and driving has an emotional connection, then the car would never become just another appliance.

Answers: 

1) Owning and driving a sports car makes you feel good and (for some) look good.

2) A vehicle with off-road capability makes people feel their SUV is the real deal, and not some pretender. They also like to know they could go bush if they wanted to.

3) Where a car is made is unlikely to affect the quality.* However, would someone want their Rolls Royce made anywhere but England?  There is an emotional side that would limit how far car makers can go in this area before they start losing sales.

4) I must say the last question is one I cannot answer. If you have three or more cars, having a 4-door among them is fine. However, a one or even two car owner must surely find the versatility of other types of vehicle too compelling to ignore.

Summary:

Car buying can be a practical, emotional or aspirational decision. It can also be all three to varying degrees. Purchasing a car is still a long way off from simply choosing a domestic household appliance.

*Of course buying a brand with a poor reputation should put you off. The purchasing decision spoken of  here is based on the assumption that the brand is one with a good reputation.

30 May 2015

UK Car Engine Production By Maker : 1999-2014

BMW Engine Assembly at Hams Hall c. Birmingham, UK

Whilst car making gets the headlines, there is more to the car industry. R&D is a big contributor too, with JLR, Ford and Nissan for example taking advantage of UK expertise in that area. Engine making doesn't have the value that cars do but still add much to the economy.

The UK is a popular location to make engines, especially for Ford, They have two large plants in England and Wales. In 2014, 64% of all car engines were made by Ford. Nissan made 12%, while Toyota and BMW 9% each. Honda made the most of the rest with 5% of the total. I must say I find the volatility of recent BMW production hard to fathom.

Less car manufacturers make engines in the UK than they did a decade ago, but the numbers have held up well, due to increase production for those that do. True, numbers fell away during the economic problems a few years back but have since made most of that up since then. Nearly 40 million car engines have been made in the UK in the last 15 years. The figures below are in thousands.

Year Ford Nissan Toyota BMW Honda VW MGR L Rov GM Total
1999 1,051 275 100 - 108 - 240 200 75 2,049
2000 1,155 316 133 - 63 - 230 200 75 2,172
2001 1,163 301 160 70 109 - 219 210 75 2,307
2002 1,191 256 351 154 160 - 204 220 138 2,674
2003 1,214 281 420 125 180 - 200 250 100 2,770
2004 1,303 272 580 146 188 8 114 47 12 2,670
2005 1,157 282 427 181 146 10 30 17 - 2,250
2006 1,355 212 438 217 191 9 - - - 2,422
2007 1,659 119 345 367 248 10 - - - 2,748
2008 1,752 113 297 371 204 8 - - - 2,745
2009 1,430 109 89 362 60 4 - - - 2,054
2010 1,640 106 114 385 137 5 - - - 2,387
2011 1,702 136 128 434 97 8 - - - 2,505
2012 1,555 268 124 385 154 9 - - - 2,495
2013 1,528 266 200 408 140 10 - - - 2,552
2014 1,533 279 227 226 119 11 - - - 2,395
Tot 22,388 3,591 4,133 3,831 2,304 92 1,237 1,144 475 39,195

Data source: SMMT.

In the fifteen years listed here, nearly 40,000,000 engines have been made*.  JLR has just opened its own plant but as the engines were from Ford, that will not change total volume, just shift it around. 

*It excludes truck engines, which I have incomplete figures for.

29 May 2015

Top 40 (Most of) Car Sales By Model UK : 2014

When you deal with the car industry, you soon realise how much better many could do in PR. Publicising sales and or production data is at times woefully inadequate. Renault is very open about global sales, perhaps more than any other car maker. It's partner Nissan is quite poor with international data in comparison. BMW and VW Group are quite good but Mercedes Benz is very much the opposite. British companies have always been slack in releasing dat,a but under Tata, JLR is better.

One could argue that commercially sensitive data has to be protected. However, unless it is extremely detailed it won't be giving anything away. What it will provide is public awareness and brand promotion if handled with skill.


Some manufacturers may feel a poor year is bad publicity, but it doesn't have to be. For example if sales are down, put a spin on it. I remember when BMW had to release a poor sales performance during the worldwide downturn, it said the decrease was in line with expectations. If the problem is because of a lull in new model releases, say so. If it due to pulling back on discounting, why not say?

Nissan is a very open UK car brand
when it comes to UK sales, and why not?
As for UK car sales by model, the SMMT do release some but they make a living selling data so understandably won't give out too much. Few manufacturers release anything and I assume there is nothing to stop them except for laziness or paranoia. Nissan and Toyota are the best I can find and Kia are OK. The rest are missing out.

Here are some I have for 2014. It isn't all the models, but the ones I could find with over 10,000 sales. There is a colour code to group models into a region or nation. The top ten sales and their combined percentage are at the bottom of the list.


Rk Make/Model Sales

1 Ford Fiesta 131,254

2 Ford Focus 85,140

3 Vauxhall Corsa 81,783

4 VW Golf 73,880

5 Vauxhall Astra 59,689

6 Nissan Qashqai 49,909

7 VW Polo 48,004

8 Audi A3 45,581

9 Fiat 500 44,005

10 Nissan Juke 39,263

11 BMW 3 Series 38,649

12 Mercedes C-Class 31,525

13 Vauxhall Insignia 31,313

14 Toyota Yaris 31,160

15 Vauxhall Zafira Tour 31,092

16 Mercedes E 28,707

17 Hyundai i10 25,030

18 Ford Kuga 24,353

19 Nissan Note 23,309

20 Audi A4 22,728

21 VW Up! 22,461

22 Kia Sportage 21,575

23 BMW 5 Series 21,511

24 Skoda Octavia 20,984

25 Toyota Aygo 20,620

26 VW Passat 19,658

27 Citroen C4 Picasso 19,164

28 Toyota Auris 19,109

29 R Rover Evoque 18,723

30 Ford C-MAX 18,350

31 VW Tiguan 16,954

32 Hyundai ix35 16,890

33 Kia Picanto 15,385

34 Audi A6 15,055

35 Nissan Micra 15,010

36 Suzuki Alto 14,330

37 Ford B-MAX 13,691

38 Jaguar XF 13,646

39 Kia C'eed 13,189

40 Kia Rio 12,231


Top 10 658,508


% of Total 27.3


Total 2,476,435

The Toyota Auris, here in Tourer guise

Data source for the above list: SMMT, Nissan, Toyota and Kia.


Food for thought:
Success is based on good product so letting the public have some data isn't going to change that.

23 May 2015

Sweden Car Sales By Brand : 1995-99

The Volvo S40 was released in 1995... 

After the virtual collapse of car sales of the early 90's, things then climbed strongly through this period. People are only willing to spend when there is economic confidence and the confidence returned. When things move quickly as they did here when sales rebounded, changes are more pronounced too. Here are a few examples.

Volvo had 28.9% of the market in 1995, but down to 21.7% in 1999. Ford went from 12.2% to 6.5% in '99. VW got to second spot in 1996, up from 5th to 1990. Renault started the decade at 13th and was 5th by the end of it. Škoda shot up in sales very quickly, as did many smaller brands. Both MGR and Land Rover really took off for example.


Brand 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

Volvo 48,982 43,221 51,441 53,598 64,104

VW 15,545 20,635 23,454 32,284 33,204

Saab 18,423 15,528 16,783 19,556 26,303

Ford 17,541 19,064 22,413 18,719 19,269

Renault 6,513 8,400 11,478 13,404 16,248

Toyota 8,222 9,467 12,216 13,865 15,836

Opel 11,291 11,355 13,199 12,778 15,353

Škoda 427 2,629 6,763 10,678 14,049

Audi 7,800 9,161 11,989 12,135 11,897

Mitsubishi 3,673 4,769 5,983 6,739 8,959

Seat 1,808 2,124 3,698 6,711 8,427

Mercedes 4,165 4,033 4,626 6,459 7,136

Nissan 4,049 4,035 7,467 8,015 7,049

Hyundai 2,289 3,736 4,621 5,132 6,476

BMW 2,480 3,314 3,990 4,811 6,091

Peugeot 3,461 3,790 4,127 3,314 5,836

Mazda 2,492 2,632 4,348 5,479 5,348

Chrysler 2,368 2,869 3,447 3,036 3,210

Citroën 3,037 2,986 3,408 3,315 3,170

Honda 2,070 2,654 2,902 2,799 3,000

Suzuki 509 812 1,849 2,227 2,547

Fiat 353 416 1,303 2,012 2,077

GM US 579 620 401 1,403 1,903

Subaru 488 636 1,039 1,036 1,678

MG Rover 148 321 815 1,084 1,622

Land Rover 86 107 260 663 1,061

Kia

309 832 1,044

Alfa Romeo 150 151 86 566 769

Daewoo

8 286 579

Lexus 22 9 7 41 319

Jaguar 104 75 123 140 311

Daihatsu 9
14 91 168

Lada 478 436 495 21 33

Others 194 196 201 201 173

Total 169,756 180,181 225,263 253,430 295,249

Data source: ABStatistik.

All other articles in the series: 1950-541955-591960-641965-691970-74,
1975-791980-841985-891990-942000-042005-09, and 2010-14.

...and the Volvo C70 in 1997 (both photos from Volvo)