30 June 2016

SAIC's UK



I find the China car giant SAIC's UK operation interesting, based at Longbridge, Birmingham, UK. They have a design centre there, which you can learn more about by clicking here. The interesting part is how they make cars there also (click here for an earlier article).

It started in 2008 when MG TF production restarted but only 900 cars were made over nearly three years. Then the MG 6 GT 5-door hatchback was introduced, soon followed by the 4-door (Magnette). The MG 3 super mini began in 2012, and by 2014 there were some 400 people working there, up from about 200 when production recommenced. Now the new MG GS SUV is being launched about now (I wrote about it here), which should broaden the brand's appeal. It will be imported fully built up from China.

Dealerships have been added steadily and now a sizable number have come on board. A list of those can be seen by clicking here. It's taken a while to establish a network but more models and a determination to see this through by SAIC will have helped dealers to make the decision to join.

I expected them to lose heart and disappear after a few years of losses. However, the whole process has been handled with patience and steady progress has been the result. The car assembly is from kits, so tooling costs haven't been a huge cost. Labour is probably the major UK component.

It amazes me that in the 21st century, where everything is hurried and has to be of enormous scale, this small assembly operation exists at all. Yet it is working and is growing. No attempt has been made to reach outside the UK for sales but with so much to do within Britain, I guess that is not yet a priority. As a cheese advertisement in New Zealand says "Good things take time".

The sales data below is about as good as I can ascertain. If anyone can add or clarify the data, please do so with a comment or on rdc1234@gmail.com.


Year MGTF MG 6 MG 3 Total

2009 374 374

2010 285 285

2011 247 115 362

2012
774 13 787

2013
291 209 500

2014
698 1,628 2,326

2015
549 2,603 3,152

2016
140 1,124 1,264

Total 906 2,567 5,577 9,050

Ford UK Sales By Model : 2005-15

The Kuga is selling well in the UK

In the final in the series, Ford has stopped the slide in market share (now 13%). This revolves around the Fiesta, which in 2015 accounted for 40% of all Ford cars sold in the UK. 84,000 to 133,000 were sold in 2015. The Focus fell from 36 to 25% of total Ford cars and 124,000 to 84,000 sales. The mirror image between these in change of fortunes is remarkably close.

The Kuga now has established itself as a popular model in the range. The Mondeo has fallen from 17 to 6% of Ford cars, quite a drop. Ford sell eleven models categorised as passenger cars so the 'Others' figure has increased. In 1965, sales were based on four models. We want more variety and many more segments exist today.

Ford seems likely to reain the best selling brand in the UK for the foreseeable future. It doesn't take the same market share as it once did and no brand ever will, again. Those days are over. Much more choice will guarantee that.

Yr Fiesta Focus Kuga Mondeo C-Max Other Total
05 84 24 124 36

58 17 21 6 61 18 348 14
06 104 30 119 35

48 14 19 5 55 16 344 15
07 103 29 118 34

48 14 20 6 60 17 349 15
08 95 29 102 31 4 1 44 14 22 7 56 17 323 15
09 117 37 94 30 10 3 34 11 9 3 52 16 316 16
10 103 37 78 28 12 4 30 11 8 3 50 18 280 14
11 96 36 82 31 11 4 20 8 19 7 38 14 266 14
12 109 39 83 29 11 4 22 8 17 7 41 15 282 14
13 122 39 87 28 14 4 16 5 20 6 51 16 311 14
14 131 40 85 26 24 7 14 4 18 6 53 16 327 13
15 133 40 84 25 33 10 20 6 16 5 48 14 335 13

Data source: SMMT.

For the first in the series: 1965-74.

Ford UK Sales By Model : 1995-2004

The Ford Ka was reasonably successful in the UK

Ford was losing it's vice like grip on the UK market. One source said it was due to pulling back on less profitable sales and fleet buyers being less likely to buy from a few models, with a more liberal attitude to choice becoming the norm. Whatever the reasons, Ford was shedding market share at a consistent rate.

Below sales are in thousands, so add three zeros. The smaller number to the right of each model column is share of the Ford total. The one exception is under 'Total', where the figure shows the share of total UK sales. Ford went down between 1995 to 1994 from 21% to 14%.

The Focus, Fiesta and Mondeo were dropping while new models such as the Ka and C-Max were not selling in sufficient volumes to make up the difference. Consumers were widening in their tastes and premium marques were growing. However, the only other brand near Ford was GM Vauxhall which was managing to hold on to its share of the market.

Yr Escort Fiesta Mondeo Ka C-Max Other Total

Focus




95 130 32 138 34 118 29



25 6 411 21
96 129 32 140 35 101 25



28 7 397 20
97 114 29 119 30 107 27 29 7

27 7 396 18
98 114 28 116 29 100 25 37 9

38 9 404 18
99 135 35 100 26 77 20 43 11

33 9 388 18
00 127 38 92 25 69 19 47 13

24 6 374 17
01 140 35 98 24 87 21 54 13

26 6 404 16
02 151 38 94 23 72 18 63 16 3 1 21 5 401 16
03 132 35 96 25 60 16 58 15 23 6 10 3 379 15
04 110 30 89 24 60 16 52 14 31 8 9 3 367 14

Data source: SMMT.

For the following article: 2005-15.
For the first in the series: 1965-74.