25 July 2017

Where There's Smoke...

Where there's smoke, there's fire an old saying goes. With corruption sometimes the guilty are exposed. Then there are cases where there is a strong evidence of wrongdoing but proving it is quite another thing. Regarding the latter, it's a situation of smoke being seen but the cause of the fire wasn't proven.

Of course, corruption and dodgy dealing is part and parcel of business. However, when people do get caught, an inbuilt sense of justice is stirred within most of us. Yet the frequency and severity of the offending does vary. Why?

Well, each country has a culture that tends to squeeze its citzens into a certain mould. It influences us more than would we would often like to admit. I was brought up in the very British idea that playing by the rules was more important than winning. As to whether it is still a strong ideology in the UK, I'm not too sure. No doubt it still exists and influences people there. Fair play comes before winning.

The German culture regarding winning - I have come to believe - is win honestly, but if you can't do it that way you must still win. Winning comes before fair play. When I was young, there was a scandal regarding a deal done between an Auckland Regional Authority representative and a German company where personal gain was involved in a less than competitive transaction over buses. I was angry.

Recently VW was trying to beat its competitors with genuine technology but ended up doing so in a devious way. It couldn't win honestly but was determined to win. That was the culture inside a company but reflective of a broader attitude.

Now a claim has been made that the German car brands colluded for decades in an anti-competitive way. They may have set prices, agreed on suppliers, and used other forms of cooperation to gain an unfair advantage.This may have led to prices of cars being higher than they should have been. Another accusation states that in an attempt to stay ahead of foreign rivals, VW, BMW and Mercedes met regularly to discuss technology.

The companies involved deny the allegations or have not replied to them. I do see and irony in that at this very time Daimler is recalling 3 million diesel vehicles in Europe for a free emissions-system alteration. Audi has followed suit, with a similar offer to "improve" emissions behavior. Regardless, whether anything comes of these allegations we will have to wait and see. However, where there's smoke....

Europe Car Sales Jan-Jun 2017


Total sales for EU and EFTA markets were up 3.1% in June and +1.1% YTD. Of the larger nations, Italy is going the best (+13% and +9%). Overall not much happening in terms of growth but that was expected. Compared to last decade, sales are down but not by that much.

 VW took over the top spot from Renault in 2005 and never been challenged since. In 2012 VW was nearly running at a heady 13% share but has this years slipped below 11%, the first time since 2008. Renault's fall was only as low as fourth position and is comfortably second.

The chart below shows a % symbol that represents market share. The +/- column is increase or decrease based on the first six month's market share of 2017 against the full 2016 year. That lessens the movement so VW's 5% decline in market share is substantial at these volumes. Fiat has gone well with a +12% for that brand and a +25% for Alfa Romeo. New models have certainly helped. Toyota is doing well with a +9%.

13 14 15 16 17 Brand 2017 % +/-
2016 %
1 1 1 1 1 VW 912,132 10.8 -5%
1,720,829 11.4
4 4 3 2 2 Renault 627,846 7.4 2%
1,100,880 7.3
2 2 2 3 3 Ford 580,840 6.9 0%
1,043,295 6.9
3 3 4 4 4 Opel 527,787 6.2 -5%
993,494 6.6
5 5 5 5 5 Peugeot 500,041 5.9 3%
865,374 5.7
8 8 8 6 6 Mercedes 466,062 5.5 -1%
839,779 5.5
9 9 9 9 7 Fiat 465,847 5.5 12%
746,126 4.9
6 6 6 7 8 Audi 440,788 5.2 -5%
830,956 5.5
7 7 7 8 9 BMW 434,266 5.1 -5%
821,525 5.4
11 10 10 10 10 Škoda 370,285 4.4 0%
663,230 4.4
10 11 11 11 11 Toyota 368,982 4.4 9%
606,301 4.0
12 12 13 13 12 Citroën 323,194 3.8 7%
541,896 3.6
14 13 12 12 13 Nissan 316,688 3.7 3%
550,412 3.6
13 14 14 14 14 Hyundai 270,921 3.2 -4%
505,396 3.3
15 16 15 15 15 Kia 251,472 3.0 3%
435,316 2.9
16 15 16 16 16 Dacia 247,709 2.9 5%
421,749 2.8
17 17 17 17 17 Seat 212,720 2.5 9%
350,287 2.3
18 18 18 18 18 Volvo 160,836 1.9 -1%
290,227 1.9
20 20 21 21 19 Suzuki 127,385 1.5 12%
202,785 1.3
21 19 19 19 20 Mazda 120,171 1.4 -9%
237,202 1.6
19 21 20 20 21 MINI 110,404 1.3 -6%
209,209 1.4
25 23 22 23 22 Land Rover 83,338 1.0 -3%
153,071 1.0
23 22 24 22 23 Honda 77,070 0.9 -13%
159,126 1.1
26 24 23 24 24 Mitsubishi 62,126 0.7 -5%
117,216 0.8
33 30 26 26 25 Chrysler 53,948 0.6 -9%
105,598 0.7
28 28 25 25 26 smart 52,525 0.6 -11%
105,295 0.7
29 27 30 30 27 Alfa Romeo 46,150 0.5 25%
66,172 0.4
30 29 28 27 28 Porsche 40,476 0.5 2%
71,149 0.5
32 34 31 28 29 Jaguar 40,137 0.5 4%
68,687 0.5
27 26 29 29 30 Lancia 37,460 0.4 0%
67,225 0.4
24 25 27 31 31 DS 25,117 0.3 -32%
65,657 0.4
34 33 32 32 32 Lexus 22,781 0.3 -9%
44,898 0.3
31 32 33 33 33 Subaru 18,855 0.2 -13%
38,864 0.3

Others 65,117 0.8
92,493 0.6
Total 8,461,476
15,131,719

Data source: ACEA.