31 August 2015

Blog Poll Results

Am I prepared to pay more for fossil fuel 
to subsidies alternative fuel options?

Absolutely. The sooner the better: 1 vote. 

Yes, but reluctantly so: 4 votes. 

No way do I want to subsidise this: 1 vote.

Clearly few found this question of interest. That the majority would accept paying something to assist alternative fuels is a good thing. However the reluctant voting would indicate that they don't want to be hit too hard financially over it.

Rate this blog

Excellent: 10 votes.

Good: 2 vote.

Fair: 0 votes.

Poor: 0 votes.

A few more got into this one and overwhelmingly the blog is liked by readers. I guess that's why you come. The more telling point is ten people felt inclined to express appreciation, and I thank you for that.

Suzuki-VW Divorce To Proceed

Relationships are based on trust. What sort of trust depends on the relationship but it has to be there for it to succeed. It seems that the relationship between VW and Suzuki - while good in theory - never worked in reality. It ended up in court and the international court has just ruled on the relationship that started in 2010 with VW taking a 19.9% holding in Suzuki. In 2011, Suzuki wanted out but VW didn't want it.

I get the idea that from early on there were issues. Getting two companies with different cultures plus existing design and engineering teams to work together is a challenge. To compromise, there must be trust that the other side will share as well. If that trust breaks down, then there cannot be a satisfactory ending. It seems mutual trust hardly got off the ground in this instance.

This seemed a good tie up. VW wants access to Asia and low cost car production techniques while Suzuki could gain from fuel efficient technologies and help in growing in mature markets. However, both sides had to 'play ball' to gain trust. Also, how to deal with differences in a way that smooths over - rather than agitates - was essential. It didn't happen.

So finally the international court decided that VW must sell its share in Suzuki, while they must compensate VW for a breach of agreement. Both sides will be happy to have it out of the way and be able to move forward. Suzuki will now be free to pursue co-operation with other car makers which it needs to do.

Japanese Premium Marques


Honda decided to launch a premium marque in 1986 - Acura - basically for the North American market. It has been sold in a few other nations but in a limited way. It doesn't even sell in Japan, although there was a plan to do so in 2008 but not carried out. Vehicles are made in Japan, the US and Canada.


Toyota followed with the Lexus brand and a similar objective. However, it became an international marque sold in over 70 countries. It was introduced into Japan in 2005, while before that Lexus cars were sold under the Toyota brand. Vehicles are made in Japan and Canada.


Nissan was last to join the action with its Infiniti. It aimed at North America and some other lands, but the latter with not much gusto. It is not offered in Japan but models are sold as Nissan cars instead. Recently the focus has shifted to expanding Infiniti, with production in China and the UK in the beginning and end of 2015 respectively, in addition to existing production in Japan and the US.

Below are the three marque's sales in the USA from selected years.


Year Lexus % Acura % Infiniti % Total

Start 1989 1986 1990 Sales

1990 63,534 28 138,384 61 23,960 11 225,878

2000 206,037 48 142,681 33 78,351 18 427,069

2010 229,329 49 133,606 29 103,411 22 466,346

2014 311,389 52 167,843 28 117,330 20 596,562

Chart summary: Acura was first in during 1986 and had most of the sales early on as you would expect, but it's share has reduced since. Lexus soon went past Acura and has stayed well in front. Infiniti has always been the smallest of the three and in 2014 still only had 20% of the Japanese premium sales in the US. 

Progress. None of the brands here have gone the way of more models in every niche conceivable. There has been a cautious approach to any global aspirations too. I associate the Japanese car industry as proactive in marketing but in the premium area a lack of that has been shown. 

Brand Summary:

I see Lexus slowly increasing it's model range and markets it sells in. Slow and steady. 

Infiniti will be much more active in expanding, as it is clearly an under-utilised asset for Nissan and management want to change that. It will be a challenge to take market share in the premium arena but can be done if handled well. 

Acura wants to make more exciting cars but otherwise seems happy with the status quo. Will Infiniti inspire a change of thought?

PS. In a brief pool taken on the site had four people preferring Infiniti, two Lexus and none Acura. A small sampling but I was surprised the smallest of the three won. Perhaps the push by the owners of Infiniti is lifting its profile.

30 August 2015

My Favourite National/Regional Car Marques

We all have preferred brands. It may be based on reputation, personal preference or even some sort of bias. Whatever our reasons, companies jealously protect and strive to enhance the reputation of their products. The car make counts! So where do marques stand in relation to my august opinion?

The Qashqai has been phenomenally successful in Europe

Japan: Nissan. I like what Nissan are doing. For a large car maker they are not as conservative as Toyota or Honda for example. Their range is a mix of conservative (Pulsar), trend setting (Qashqai) and even radical (Juke). Perhaps the Renault connection has helped too.

Asia others: Kia. Nothing from China could remotely interest me, which leaves Korea. I think Kia is practical, sensible and reasonably well priced. Hyundai looks like it's trying too hard to be special and it isn't working for me.

Not a bad effort, first up

USA: Tesla. I have to say I was sceptical that Tesla could come up with a quality product first time up and survive for more than a few years. It has done both and even had to fight what I would describe as self interest paraded under the guise of consumer protection in some US states. The USA has long since lost its way when it comes to promoting private enterprise and initiative.

UK: Land Rover. Every car looks fabulous, and they have the presence too. All models they have ever made have been successful. They have to watch over their shoulder as a fast improving Jaguar brand is one to look out for.

Régie captured in the wild 

France: Renault. Régie has come a long way in the last few years. It's range is improving and it's connections with Nissan and Dacia have helped, adding up to a brand going places. The PSA brands were left behind and are now playing catch up.

Germany: BMW. I can follow the proliferation of models (just), the emphasis on driving pleasure and the general direction of the marque is all good. Mercedes' range confuses me and is at times the design is plain ugly, while all Audis look the same. Porsche are poor value and VW is ordinary with some models.

"The long & winding road"...showing my age in music choice.
The California model

Italy: Ferrari. A nation known for fine design has lost its way in the auto industry, except the 'Prancing Horse' brand. It keeps on delivering.

Other Europe: Volvo. styling is better than ever (not hard admittedly) and are a car company that does things sensibly well. They also believe safety goes beyond getting five stars. Škoda are improving and ran Volvo close.

Summary. I am sure you all have an opinion of your own and there is no right and wrong about an individuals choice. If anyone wants to add a personal favourite, just leave a comment.

Hyundai Global Production Car/LCV By Nation : 2011-14

The Czech factory in Nošovice

For a car producer with claims to be a major international brand, it has a limited reach with car plants. 60% of all Hyundai cars are made in just two nations. Korea and China are major markets for them and so production is well placed to service them. Surely future expansion will be offshore.

Each of their facilities has fairly good production numbers, as can be seen by the chart below. A second US location is to be set up I believe, not Mexico as I would have thought. India has become an export hub and a sizable producer of Hyundai cars.

With global production share increasing form 5.4% in 2013 to 5.8% in 2014, things are on the up for the Korean nameplate. It has been promoting an image of quality in New Zealand, as Hyundai aims to seem as a car brand equal to anything Japan has to offer.


11 12 13 14 Nation 2011 2012 2013 2014 %

1 1 1 1 Korea 1,829,660 1,846,831 1,626,281 1,806,831 37%

2 2 2 2 China 743,888 855,307 1,054,691 1,140,404 23%

3 3 3 3 India 619,785 638,775 633,006 610,650 13%

4 4 4 4 USA 338,127 361,348 399,500 398,851 8%

5 5 5 5 Czech Rep 251,146 303,035 303,460 307,450 6%

6 6 6 6 Russia 138,987 224,420 229,400 237,000 5%

7 7 8 8 Turkey 90,231 87,008 102,020 203,157 4%

- 8 7 7 Brazil - 27,424 167,346 179,480 4%





Total 4,011,824 4,344,148 4,515,704 4,883,823 6%

Data source: OICA.

The ix35 

29 August 2015

Peugeot Car Production By Model : 1970-79

In 1976, Citroën was acquired - creating the PSA Group - which was a financial success from that year to 1979. As for Peugeot, the 504 was the most popular model for the lion marque from 1972 to 1978. Production amazingly increased each year through that time. The model range looked strong and expanding. For the new models added for this decade, see below the production chart.


Yr 305 504 104 505 404

1970 - 130,432 - - 134,685

1971 - 172,045 - - 124,013

1972 - 201,394 16,779 - 118,286

1973 - 222,871 101,957 - 112,630

1974 - 239,345 137,983 - 121,661

1975 - 249,812 114,534 - 73,168

1976 - 274,000 155,600 - 72,500

1977 10,100 293,200 190,400 - 73,700

1978 169,500 298,600 184,900 - 79,900

1979 245,700 238,400 143,500 93,600 56,000








Yr 304 604 204 403 Total

1970 126,255 - 164,197 3,714 559,283

1971 129,065 - 172,275 2,024 599,422

1972 144,596 - 164,275 1,260 646,590

1973 169,254 - 127,916 - 734,628

1974 96,161 - 103,640 - 698,790

1975 93,286 10,284 96,189 - 637,273

1976 137,100 36,000 50,400 - 725,600

1977 160,100 24,800 - - 752,300

1978 71,000 26,000 - - 829,900

1979 31,400 25,800 - - 834,400

Data source: Freyssenet.com


104: This super mini came in 3,4 and 5 door options. It was released in 1972 just as a 4 door and that hampered sales in 'hatch back preferred' Europe. The 3 door came in 1974 and the 5 door two years later. 



604: French executive cars don't sell well and the 604 was no exception. Due to the poor reception it got it didn't have an immediate successor. Due to shared costs with the 504 it was at least profitable. 



305: It replaced the 304 and proved more popular if production numbers are any indicator. With good  handling and ride, coupled with eager yet frugal motors it was a successful model.



505: The large car 504 replacement had big shoes to fill. It's ability to drive over rough roads with aplomb helped its popularity in less developed countries. 

Summary: Peugeot production increased 77% from 1969 to 1979. With production volumes looking healthy, a range of nicely driving cars, things were well placed moving forward.

For the next article in the series (1980-89), click here.
Foe the first article in the series (1945-59), click here.

26 August 2015

Nissan Global Production Car/LCV By Nation : 2011-14

The Nissan X-Trail/Rogue going well

Nissan is the 5th largest car brand with 6% of global sales. They are growing nicely and profit is up as well. In 2011 China accounted for 27% of production but is down to 23%, a good sign as too much dependence on China - or indeed any market - is fraught with risk. Within the same time frame the US has increased its contribution to production from just over 12% to nearly 19%. The home market of Nissan has dropped from 23 to 17% of the total cars/LCVs made.

Mexico and the UK are two countries that Nissan sells well in and both have substantial manufacturing numbers. Korean production is due to exporting the Nissan Rogue model, built at the Renault Samsung plant there to improve factory utilisation.

11 12 13 14 Nation 2011 2012 2013 2014 %
1 1 1 1 China 1,237,468 1,161,144 1,247,249 1,175,575 23%
4 4 3 2 USA 562,754 644,695 792,135 947,558 19%
2 2 2 3 Japan 1,061,184 1,112,814 941,630 859,137 17%
3 3 4 4 Mexico 607,087 683,661 680,278 805,967 16%
5 5 5 5 UK 480,517 510,572 501,745 500,238 10%
8 7 6 6 India 126,759 181,764 225,749 223,321 4%
7 8 8 7 Spain 154,752 143,165 131,862 141,102 3%
- 15 12 8 Russia
24 36,370 105,841 2%
6 6 7 9 Thailand 184,503 224,151 187,242 99,833 2%
11 9 9 10 Indonesia 42,462 63,249 53,634 52,639 1%
10 11 11 11 Taiwan 43,304 36,358 40,203 43,411 1%
9 10 10 12 RSA 46,181 52,649 48,258 43,165 1%
12 12 13 13 Brazil 32,367 32,136 27,258 34,088 1%
- - - 14 Korea


26,349 1%
- 13 14 15 Egypt 7,031 13,102 16,568 0%
13 14 15 16 Philippines 524 515 1,293 1,230 0%




Total 4,579,862 4,853,928 4,928,008 5,076,022 6%

Data source: OICA.

Nissan know how to have fun, as you see with the Juke