29 March 2018

Toyota NZ Courts Private Buyers


Toyota NZ is the leading brand in NZ and by some margin. With tourist numbers at record numbers, many renting cars, Toyota pretty much monopolises that area of the market, as indeed the fleet market in general.

One area it struggles to lead in is private sales. Perhaps with late model fleet cars readily available and what I see as over inflated new car prices, why would you buy a new Toyota from a dealership? Toyota NZ want to fix that. How? Pull away from fleet sales?

The second question first. Fleet buyers will be classified into tiers depending on how many they buy and the discount based on the tier level. The more bought, the lower the price. So they will still be catered for.

Now on how to entice the private buyer. The old system of an unrealistic retail price dropped during haggling to give the impression of value isn't cutting it anymore. In April 2018 comes the Drive Happy Project. It will introduce no haggle pricing and the dealerships will become stores. The staff  will promote the product than be salespeople chasing commissions.

Its designed to make the process more relaxed and pricing both transparent and consistent. The customer will probably end up paying the same price they did after extensive haggling but with without the stress that can bring.

Many research vehicles online before a trip to a dealership, so Toyota will improve its website to allow greater configuration of models so customers can sort out details in advance and in the comfort of their home. Arriving at the dealerships, potential buyers will not see cars ready to buy a carpark with just demonstrators to enable the customer to see and drive the exact car they want.

Good  'product promotion' staff (must get the name right) will be rewarded by creating happy Toyota customers, measured by customer satisfaction surveys. Short test drives with a salesperson in the car with you will be replaced with longer evaluation options including 24 hour loans.

So will it work? It sounds good and depending how long it takes to catch on will be interesting. I personally like the initiative as pushy sales people are not to my liking. I also don't like the present smoke and mirrors pricing structure but want to know up front what I'm likely to pay. Presume haggling will still happen regarding trade in pricing.

For the official introduction, you could click here, but it is a bit underwhelming in the way its presented.

23 March 2018

Taiwan Vehicle Production - Brand : 2016-17

77,000 Corolla cars were made in Taiwan during 2017

Australia had a car manufacturing industry but protection was gradually dismantled and it recently folded. Taiwan, like so many Asian nations, persist with the tariffs and retain their industry. Which is correct? There is no doubt protection works but in smaller markets like Taiwan, this limits genuine choice for the average car buyer as the price is always an important factor. China continues with trade barriers when it clearly is no longer required other than to help create a huge trade surplus.

In Taiwan's case, without imports being restricted, domestic car making would end. The numbers are too low for vehicle manufacturing to be sustainable in an open market. So the Taiwanese people are paying more for cars to preserve the industry.

Overview: Numerically this is the third consecutive decrease but it's hard to know if that is a trend that will continue. Historically the numbers have gone through this sort of thing before, then bounced back. Going below 300,000 as happened in 2017 is someway below the average for the past few decades, but it may come back.

Car: Toyota had over 50% of the total in 2016 but fell below that in 2017. Toyota exported 38,000 cars out of the 118,000 total but that number has dropped from a high in 2014, hence the recent decreases for that brand. Mazda cars were made by Ford but that arrangement has now finished. Hyundai and Kia share production.

15 16 17 Brand 2017 % +/-
2016 % +/-
1 1 1 Toyota 117,793 46.2% -17%
142,555 52.5% -22%
2 2 2 Nissan 39,176 15.4% -5%
41,303 15.2% 2%
3 3 3 Honda 31,692 12.4% 30%
24,372 9.0% -3%
6 4 4 Mitsubishi 20,425 8.0% 10%
18,561 6.8% 3%
5 6 5 Ford 17,719 7.0% 9%
16,270 6.0% -17%
4 5 6 Luxgen 15,699 6.2% -5%
16,507 6.1% 9%
7 7 7 Hyundai 10,225 4.0% 3%
9,924 3.7% -17%
9 9 8 Kia 2,020 0.8% 120%
917 0.3% -52%
8 8 - Mazda -


1,121 0.4% -68%

Total 254,749
-6%
271,530
-15%

Commercial:
 This area is holding up better than cars. It was down slightly in 2017 but apart from 2016, was the best year since 2008. The total is still small and well short of what was being manufactured some years back.

15 16 17 Brand 2017 % +/-
2016 % +/-
1 1 1 Mitsubishi 23,080 62.7% -8%
25,130 66.1% 25%
3 3 2 Fuso 5,783 15.7% 13%
5,112 13.5% -2%
2 2 3 Toyota 5,625 15.3% 3%
5,440 14.3% -5%
4 4 4 Hyundai 1,083 2.9% 12%
966 2.5% 1%
5 5 5 DAF 885 2.4% -3%
914 2.4% 14%
6 6 6 CMC 358 1.0% -17%
433 1.1% -18%
7 7 - UD Trucks -


6 0.0% -85%

Total 36,814
-3%
38,001
14%












Grand Total 291,563
-6%
309,531
-12%

Data source: TVMA.

Summary: Is manufacturing at this level worth protecting? Taiwan is wealthy enough to manage without a small industry like this but that isn't the Asian way.

22 March 2018

The 'Superior' Autonomous Vehicle

A woman pushing a bike across a road is tragically killed by an Uber autonomous vehicle. It didn't seem to see here, despite the fact that she had nearly got across the path of the vehicle when the collision occured. The driver was momentarily distracted, which is an irrelevant point as I shall explain.

I was on vacation in Australia driving a large MPV. Approaching me was a person pushing a bike on the shoulder of the road, which was quite wide enough to do so. Just as I was nearly up to the person, they suddenly turned their bike onto the road in front of me. In a flash I did a frantic S movement away from the pedestrian/bike and missed them.

I looked back in the rear view mirror to see that the young man had pulled back off the road and was standing still. He looked disoriented as he took in the near miss scenario. The point is would an autonomous car have reacted a quickly as I did? In the case of the Uber vehicle, it had more reaction time. If the car I was driving was in autonomous mode and it didn't react, could I have intervened and avoided the impact? No! A human is at their sharpest while fully in control of their vehicle.

So what of Uber's autonomous vehicles? Here is a quote: Uber's self-driving vehicles are equipped not only with cameras, but with radar and lidar, which works like radar but uses lasers to detect objects on and off the roadway. 

Uber and other companies working to develop self-driving cars tout the safety of their systems not only because the vehicles won't lose focus on the road, like human drivers, but because they have superior sensing capabilities. 

Last fall, Uber officials showing off their vehicles in Tempe said their radar and lidar were able to detect objects, including jaywalkers, as far as 100 yards away and avoid collisions.

Source of quote: USA Today.

I question that these vehicles have superior sensing capabilities after seeing the photographic evidence. I cannot understand their jaywalker claim either, after this incident. One cannot expect new technology to be perfected without real world testing. The sad reality is people have, and will continue to die while this testing continues.

I would prefer it if they weren't overselling the current capabilities of the technology. I guess if they were candid about the present state of things, then they may not get real world testing permits. However, putting these vehicles out while not ready is dangerous. It seems to me the whole process is being rushed and unnecessary deaths are occurring as a result.

My condolences to the Herzberg family and friends of the family.

17 March 2018

U.S. Light Truck Production : 2016-17


Light truck production was about the same as 2016, with a tiny slip in the total. It was down mainly because of Jeep switching production of the Compass model to Mexico. Other than that is was steady as she goes. Ford is by far the main contributor with a quarter of the total figure. The F-Series is huge both in size and popularity.

Rk Brand 2017 % +/-
2016 % +/-
1 Ford Tot 2,078,256 26.0% 2%
2,034,837 25.2% 5%

Ford 2,012,463 25.2% 2%
1,981,494 24.5% 5%
Lincoln 65,793 0.8% 23%
53,343 0.7% 2%
2 GM 1,562,447 19.5% 1%
1,545,916 19.1% 11%

Chevrolet 891,122 11.1% -3%
915,016 11.3% 6%
GMC 479,796 6.0% 3%
466,383 5.8% 12%
Cadillac 141,805 1.8% 41%
100,342 1.2% 114%
Buick 49,724 0.6% -23%
64,175 0.8% 3%
3 Chrysler Tot 1,150,049 14.4% -20%
1,442,946 17.8% -8%

Jeep 726,583 9.1% -29%
1,019,155 12.6% -11%
Ram 341,782 4.3% 0%
341,830 4.2% -1%
Dodge 81,684 1.0% 0%
81,961 1.0% 3%
4 Honda Tot 685,314 8.6% 14%
603,674 7.5% 3%

Honda 569,243 7.1% 21%
471,902 5.8% 3%
Acura 116,071 1.5% -12%
131,772 1.6% 4%
5 Toyota 679,161 8.5% 2%
663,505 8.2% 9%
6 Nissan Tot 590,032 7.4% -1%
595,172 7.4% 10%

Nissan 531,642 6.6% -2%
542,602 6.7% 11%
Infiniti 58,390 0.7% 11%
52,570 0.6% 4%
7 BMW 371,284 4.6% -10%
411,171 5.1% 3%
8 Hyundai Tot 314,203 3.9% 6%
296,190 3.7% 15%

Kia 152,125 1.9% -2%
154,954 1.9% 8%
Hyundai 162,078 2.0% 15%
141,236 1.7% 23%
9 Mercedes 270,302 3.4% 4%
259,172 3.2% 15%
10 Subaru 204,930 2.6% -2%
208,815 2.6% 28%
11 VW 56,955 0.7% n/a
205 0.0% n/a
12 Tesla 34,504 0.4% 32%
26,225 0.3% n/a

Total 7,997,437
-1%
8,087,828
5%

Data source: Automotive News.