28 November 2016

Musings

A few things came across my mind recently.

1) The car industry seems to have been pressing those that release vehicle production data not to do so. All my sources for such have recently - and rather suddenly - dried up. 2014 seems to have been the last year statistics in depth could be found by those not connected to the industry ie. you and me. So one of the points of difference with this site  - production data - would have been greatly limited in future. Makes you wonder why it's so sensitive.

2) Many car companies are reticent to release any sales or production data. One exception is Renault who give more out than anyone else. Well done Reggie.

3) One benefit of ending blog articles is the several copycat versions have lost a source. By chance I noticed that one website plagiarising whole articles that I wrote ceased existence at the end of November, two months after I finished. The one that puts a copyright warning at the bottom of its articles now has no stolen articles to claim copyright for. What a shame.

4) While buying a new car a is nice feeling, it is a massive drain on financial resources. The biggest hit is depreciation. A house is the biggest financial commitment, but it is in most places an appreciating asset. In NZ a tax free one at that. However, a car is a liability as its value slumps. Over out lifetime, it would be our biggest financial drain. Something to think about when one considers updating.

I bought a new car eleven years ago. It has been well maintained, is so reliable and depreciation is negligible. The mileage is only 80,000 kms so plenty of life in it. Whenever I think of trading it in, I wonder if new cars today - with all their technological wizardry - will prove as durable. Simple answer is no. I'm also saving our family so much in depreciation (cheesy grin).

5) Views by nation since stats were available: Total 460,500. USA 112,100 (24%) UK 55,200 (12%) Russia 33,300 (7%) France 24,600 (5%) Germany 19,000 (4%).

6) I thought I may miss writing car articles but I don't. I certainly won't miss this tediously inefficient blog site provided by Google. What I am glad about is that so many enjoyed what I did provide.

Adieu.

19 November 2016

Industry Snippets - November 2016

VW has done a deal with its workers to reduce its global workforce by 30,000, or nearly 5%. Most of those will be in Germany. The reduction will be achieved by not replacing workers who leave the company. It is to save money associated with the diesel scandal that is costing billions of dollars to fix. As a compensation to the German workforce, two new electric cars will be built in Germany.

My take: This is what VW has wanted for years, less workers in Germany. The unions wouldn't agree to reduced numbers. This crisis means it now has to happen. Obviously VW didn't plan all of this, but let's say that the diesel scandal has become a cloud with a silver lining.

                                                   *****************


Jaguar is to produce an i-Pace electric crossover vehicle, to be released in 2018. The manufacturing will be done in Austria, at Magna Steyr in Graz. This is one of two models JLR have stated they will have assembled at this plant, though what the second one will be hasn't been revealed. Approximately 13,000 units per annum are expected to be made of the I-Pace

My take: JLR has capacity restraints in the UK. They already have assembly facilities - with varying local content - in China, Brazil and India. Slovakia will soon join that list as will Austria. As JLR grows, it is becoming more multinational.

                                                   *****************

GM Europe has been losing money for some time. At the beginning of 2014, Morgan Stanley estimated 2015 would be profitable. However, no one could have predicted the slump in Russia and Opel's decision to leave the market and close its assembly plant there. 2016 was then heralded as the time for black ink. However, GM Europe has now said it's doubtful.

My take: The UK is a huge European market for GM, with too little investment there from the giant car maker. The drop in the value of the pound will therefore be a factor. However, there are many reasons. Sales should be product driven, not price driven. The product has to be good enough and factory capacity needs to reflect demand.

I'm sure GM Europe is working hard to improve the product, hurt by years of under-investment while GM US was struggling. It will take time to win back customers it has lost over the years...providing the product is now good enough.

15 November 2016

DS (Posh Citroën) Car Production By Model : 2015

The DS5 model

PSA have a desire to tap into the more lucrative premium segment with the DS range, which is for now at least a posh range of Citroën models. Initial reaction is muted, as can be expected in what is a conservative area of car buying. Brand cachet is everything and it will take years for DS to reach bona fide premium status.

DS commenced in 2010 and became a stand alone brand in 2014. Production peaked in 2012 with 129,000 units made but for 2015 just 103,000, that despite the range going from three to four models*. PSA will have to be patient as they strive to build the brand perception to the level of genuine premium vehicles.

*The fourth model -  the DS6 SUV - is a China only model.


14 15 Model 2015 % +/-

1 1 DS3 48,392 46.8% -13%

2 2 DS5 20,299 19.6% -43%

3 3 DS4 19,387 18.8% -5%

4 4 DS6 15,264 14.8% 239%



Total 103,342
-11%

Picture source: Netcarshow.
Data source: CCFA.

Citroën Car Production By Model : 2015

The Berlingo MPV.

Citroën production fell 3% during the year, not huge but not ideal either. The mainstay of the brand, the C4 range fell 5% and that loss was the majority of the reduction in production. Add the C3 variants to the C4 models and there you have 70% of total volume. The latter had a sizable production hike. Meanwhile the Berlingo also did well with a 10% improvement.

The brand does well in China, but despite that isn't that big in terms of volume. PSA is working hard to turn things around in a profitable way. How it all pans out for the double chevron brand remains to be seen.

14 15 Model 2015 % +/-
1 1 C4/C4 Picasso 406,744 42.0% -5%
2 2 C3/C3 Picasso 271,859 28.1% 17%
3 3 C-Elysee 117,432 12.1% -5%
5 4 Berlingo 66,241 6.8% 10%
4 5 C1 60,628 6.3% -6%
6 6 C5 35,395 3.7% -35%
8 7 Nemo 7,922 0.8% 64%
10 8 C-Zero 1,554 0.2% 285%
- 9 Spacetourer 108 0.0% n/a
7 10 ZX 3 0.0% -100%


Total 967,886
-3%

Picture source: Netcarshow.
Data source: CCFA.

14 November 2016

Peugeot Car Production By Model : 2015

The 308 model

I had some data about Peugeot production I decided to share. It shows that brand production grew 6% in 2015.

The 308 model provided much of that increase, about 70% of the total.The 308 and 208 contribute nearly 45% of all production. For a company with this many models, Peugeot would prefer a more diverse spread than that. Much hinges on thir success. Still, the increase in volume was achieved despite improving profitability as well and that is not easy.


14 15 Model 2015 % +/-

1 1 308 350,805 23.5% 21%

2 2 208 305,431 20.4% 6%

3 3 2008 231,192 15.5% 11%

4 4 3008 139,922 9.4% -9%

6 5 408 115,197 7.7% 56%

5 6 301 98,434 6.6% -8%

7 7 508 68,051 4.6% -8%

9 8 108 67,201 4.5% 46%

8 9 Partner 58,135 3.9% 10%

10 10 5008 33,500 2.2% -2%

11 11 206 7,075 0.5% -66%

16 12 Bipper 6,677 0.4% 34%

14 13 4008 5,824 0.4% -17%

15 14 RCZ 4,187 0.3% -37%

19 15 Ion 1,804 0.1% 133%

13 16 207 778 0.1% -94%

- 17 Traveller 105 0.0% n/a



Total 1,494,318
6%

Picture source: Netcatshow.
Data source: CCFA.

10 November 2016

Reality Check

Reality checks come in various ways. I haven't written an article here for over a month and yet viewer numbers have not gone down, in fact they are up! I really didn't see that coming and perhaps a reminder I did some things worth reading. Or perhaps I say it best when I say nothing at all.

The other reality check is there are people out there who do know what they are talking about. The obvious reality is few of them - if any - work in the media. Another given is that businesses are self serving and jump at any opportunity to make a dollar or save face when their substandard management is exposed. My last piece expressed that quite clearly. I resisted getting into government meddling in industry, but we all know the disastrous consequences of that anyway.

I digress. The point was there are people who know their onions so to speak, but are rarely sought out by the media (I guess ignorance is bliss). When finally their comments see the light of day, reality is reestablished.

I've commented about the unfounded hysteria of those who berated Brexit and the irrational claims of doom for civilisation as we know it. Well someone decided to interview Professor Garel Rhys, who seems to know more than most.

I didn't comment initially as I am apolitical, and Brexit is very much a political issue, but I see the social side and that is my focus. So what were his comments?

1) That UK car manufacturing isn't going anywhere because of Brexit.

2) The UK's car manufactuing is the most efficient in Europe. It is 6% more efficient than Germany, 25% above France and Italy, and 40% better than Poland. So a 9.7% 'worst case scenario' duty will be offset by that efficiency level.

3) As to whether car makers depart the UK would be due to factors other than Brexit. The French government pressuring Renault to move some Nissan production to France for example.

4) The fall of Sterling is helpful to exporters, especially those who have higher local content. Those who import many components may need to revisit sourcing more parts within Britain.

5) A quote from the professor: “Workers, unions, suppliers and politicians must be alert to the temptation for failing businesses blaming everything on Brexit."

Summary: So there is a more balanced way of looking at a subject than the hysteria and misinformation bandied about. The world constantly changes. Some are ready for that and embrace it.

01 October 2016

British Car Industry - Enough

I see the greedy, self serving commercial system is well and truly well reflected in the car industry. Mr Ghosn who runs Renault/Nissan wants the UK tax payer to stump up for any loss of sales to the EU due to tariffs. What unbelievable arrogance. How could one quantify a sales loss anyway? Nissan sales have been falling heavily in Europe all through 2016 and that's just because less people want his cars. Is he trying to put the blame elsewhere? Change is part of business so deal with it Carlos.

I also see UK journalism's 'smoke & mirrors' tactics at work on the subject. A headline at The Guardian website said "some EU customers are boycotting UK cars". The article then almost straight away said "Jaguar Land Rover has said some customers in Europe may be boycotting British cars following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union". Sensationalist rubbish! I hope when you read headlines, note if the article backs up the bold title. I call it willful deception.

If there is anti UK sentiment affecting car sales in Europe, then European car brands can rest easy that there won't be retaliation. The British don't have a national sense of purpose or loyalty anyway. With something like only 14% of UK car sales for locally made products - despite several car producers - confirms that. Many UK car buyers proudly buy European brands and loudly proclaim that. Which begs the question does Britain deserve a car industry?

Nissan have threatened not to invest in future models in the UK. That will hurt factory profitability and Nissan. Duh. JLR would “realign its thinking” on investment after Brexit and possible compensation to Nissan would have to be for all car makers. JLR has already moved away from Britain, with factories to be used in Austria and Slovakia for future models. JLR's investment in the UK was going to be limited in future anyway.

Summary: The media circus revs up the whole situation and car makers feed it with their appalling comments. Talk privately to those who need to know but going public with inflammatory statements is pathetic. It also seems that some car makers are queuing up for tax payer handouts. I don't want any part of this nonsense. I now feel bad writing about and promoting an industry like this. Time to move on.

29 September 2016

Ferrari Production (Model) : 2015

The 488 doing what it does best

The marque known for its prancing horse logo is doing just fine. 2015 production was close to 8,000 cars, which would be a record. There has been a policy of not chasing too many sales to retain exclusivity but at what point a luxury car takes volume too far is open to debate.

458/488: Currently the 488 mid-engine sports car is replacing the 458 model. Between them they account for 48% of total Ferrari production. An exceptional supercar.

California: The 2-door, 2+2 coupé cabriolet is a popular addition to the range with the updated T model released in 2014 adding to that. A 43% increase in production was registered. Great long distance cruiser.

F12: It's a grand tourer model that's a smaller than the FF. more focused and less practical as a result. Powerful, yet usable.

FF: This 4-seater, 4wd model is a grand tourer model with shooting brake versatility. Production has fallen to 300 from a high of 1,000 in 2012. A supercar for the family (a well heeled one).

LaFerrari: Lastly the 2-door hybrid sports car which can be also had as a soft top too. Very quick and very expensive.

Summary: How far can and should Ferrari go with production volume? Not diluting exclusivity would be a good place to start. This is a limited market so it's a fine line to walk. Plus there is some quality competition out there too but Ferrari does have unique attributes and a very loyal patronage.


Model 2015 % +/-

458/488 3,754 47.7% 5%

458 2,423

488 1,331


California 2,629 33.4% 43%

F12 903 11.5% -29%

FF 311 4.0% -21%

LaFerrari 276 3.5% n/a

Total 7,873
6%

Data source: ANFIA.

28 September 2016

Maserati Production (Model) : 2015


The trident marque made 6,200 cars in 2012. That was quite a high figure historically. However, things changed in 2013, for the better. The 6th generation Quattroporte large car arrived and on top of that the 3rd Ghibli mid-sized model was also introduced, different from the grand tourer that bore that name in the 1990's. It went from being a 2-door coupé to a 4-door car, widening the vehicle's versatility and appeal.

So for 2013, the production numbers were up to 19,000 and 40,000 by 2014. Obviously the lower priced Ghibli was mainly responsible for the higher volumes. The initial surge was followed by a dip in 2015 to 29,500 units made. The new Levante SUV is coming out now and 30,000 sales are anticipated in 2017, so that will give production another spike. It would surely take some sales off the other models but overall a solid increase can be anticipated.


Model 2015 % +/-

Ghibli 20,986 71.3% -18%

Quarttroporte 5,631 19.1% -44%

Gran Turismo 2,820 9.6% -34%

Total 29,437
-26%

To see historical production, simply click here for 1994-2014.
Data source: ANFIA.
Picture source: Maserati.

27 September 2016

Tesla Production History: 2008-15

Is Tesla on a slippery slope or a gold medal winner? 

Some companies are different. Everything about Tesla seems different. The way it markets its cars for one. Some people are attracted to different and they are the people that are keeping Tesla going. What it has done taking on car manufacturing was outrageous in scope but so far so good. I must confess I thought the whole approach was too risky and unlikely to succeed. However, as long as investors keep the faith, anything is possible.

Being a car manufacturer isn't easy. You have to watch for trends that may lead to where you need to be several years away. Jump into something that doesn't take off and that's costly. So is missing a trend or being very late to the party. Tesla has created something that is different and working. Will it ultimately succeed? Time will tell.

For now production hasn't been as large numerically as hoped but from nothing to now is a huge leap for the company. As they move into more volume and lower priced cars, maintaining quality and ensuring reliability will be so important.

I have put together some figures which I think are about right. If anyone can add clarification, please do so. It starts with the roadster model from Lotus, a steep learning curve. When that finished it was on to its own cars. The company doesn't release data so what is below is gleaned as best I can.


Year USA Netherl UK/US Total

2008 - - 200 200

2009 - - 600 600

2010 - - 900 900

2011 - - 650 650

2012 3,100 - - 3,100

2013 24,300 - - 24,300

2014 35,100 4,300 - 39,400

2015 50,700 6,300 - 57,000

Total 113,200 10,600 2,350 126,150

Picture source: Tesla.