Motor industry news: January 2013

Vauxhall_Duncan_Aldred26 January

HONDA wants to sell 6 million cars a year by 2017. It currently sells 4 million a year. 1.5 million units of the growth will come from small cars, including a new 2014 Jazz and a small SUV.

The French minister of industrial recovery has asked RENAULT-NISSAN boss Carlos Ghosn to take a pay cut. He’s estimated to have earned €13.3m last year. The French government owns 15% of Renault.

VAUXHALL chairman and MD Duncan Aldred has taken over as acting sales boss for Vauxhall/Opel after Alfred Rieck unexpectedly resigned six months into the job.

FORD will launch the Focus Electric in the UK in Q4 2013. It will be built alongside other Focus at Ford’s German Saarlouis plant.

RENAULT is expected to build Nissan’s new family hatchback at one of its facilities in France. 80,000 units a year are expected to be built – if workers accept a new labour deal. The car was to be built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant but that slot will now be taken by Infiniti’s new compact hatch.

19 January

SKODA currently sells 30% of Octavia to fleets: that’s 9500 sales. It wants to sell 60% of the new model to fleet within four years – that’s 19,000 cars.

GERMANY produced 5.5 million cars in 2012. Italy produced less than 500,000.

CHRYSLER will launch a 9-speed auto this year: in the new Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart. It plans to sell 200k in 2012.

E70 BMW X5 production ends in July: the US plant will start building the 2014 F15 from August. It will be based on a new platform called ‘X for All’ that will underpin all future X models (including a future Mercedes GL-rivalling 7st X7).

EUROPEAN car production capacity is 3m units in excess of demand.

VW will not be cutting production capacity in Europe.

FORD’S Genk factory, which builds Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy, has not produced a car since October 24.

The efficiency gap between petrol and diesel is narrowing but diesel still has a lead, of around 5-10%.

The US is going the way of Australia and embracing diesel for luxury cars.

TOYOTA is targeting design to help lift it above South Korean rivals Kia and Hyundai. 1990s Toyota Previa designer Tokuo Fukuichi was brought back to the firm to help achieve this: turning boring Toyotas into cool cars with character (another Akio Toyoda initiative). It’s leading to the end of design by committee and Kaisen in car design.

18 January

80.9 million cars were SOLD GLOBALLY in 2012: that’s up 5.2%. The US was up 13.5%, China up 6.2%, Japan up 27.3%… and Europe down 8.6%. LMC Automotive’s estimates for 2013 are of 2-3% global growth.

RENAULT wants to cut 7500 jobs (14% of staff) in France by 2016; losses will come through ‘natural reduction’s rather than redundancies or plant closures. Renault had 128k global employees at the end of 2011.

MINI Plant Oxford is at capacity: production outside the UK is essential to meet demand. Some capacity will be moved to the Nedcar facility in Holland later in 2013.

MINI sells more cars in America than in the UK. The US is MINI’s no. 1 market, with 66,123 vehicles sold. One in four US MINIs goes to California.

SUZUKI grew 24% in the UK last year, to just under 25k cars. It’s small cars that are doing the business, with Swift Sport selling 104% of target and both Alto and Splash selling 128% of what Suzuki hoped. All part of the firm’s plans to hit 30k in the medium term, or 1.5% market share. It’s even set up a new vehicle import centre, in Grimsby, to help achieve this – it can accept two sailings a week from Zeebrugge, instead of Portbury in Bristol’s one a week.

NISSAN has 6% of the global auto market and makes 6% on cars sold. It wants to boost this to 8% share and 8% bargain by 2016, as part of Power 88. It’s Power 66 at the moment, quipped Carlos Ghosn at the Detroit show… he aid said lower Nissan LEAF prices should help EV sales rise 20%.

13 January

Looks like there VW won’t craft another version of the Mercedes Sprinter: the takeover of MAN means it’ll be building its own future van when the deal expires in 2016. Unless the JV with the Renault-Nissan Alliance could be extended..?

How big is the CANADIAN new car market? 1.68 million units, a 5.7% increase last year that was the second-highest on record. The best-selling vehicle is the Ford F-Series, which shifted more than 100k units (remember, the Fiesta was the only UK car to more more than 100k – compare and contrast!).

EUROPE will be ‘lucky’ to see a recovery before 2015, reckons Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller. ‘The situation is as critical as ever’, he told Automotive News.

US car sales are expected to rise 4-5% this year, better than the predicted global average boost of 2.6%. Europe will shrink by 1.7% to 17.8 million units: the US should grow to 15.1 million.

CHINA is expected to grow more than 10% this year – but 1.5 million units of additional home capacity also comes on stream this year, meaning the opportunity for importers may be limited.

VOLKSWAGEN GROUP employs 550,000 people – 70% (or 225k) more than 2007. It’s created 100k jobs in that time, too; the other 125k in the rise comes from companies integrated into VAG. There are 16k apprentices amongst them.

CADILLAC says a small crossover is ‘beyond consideration’ stage. Could the AUdi A3 rival be the model to successfully launch the brand into Europe?

LAND ROVER is also considering a new crossover below the Range Rover Evoque. Inspired by the DC100, it is likely to be branded Land Rover, not Range Rover, so supporting the Freelander and Discovery (and allowing them to push upmarket). Look out for an indicative motor show concept – Land Rover is said to be keen on the approach that turned Land Rover LRX, virtually unchanged, into Range Rover Evoque…

6 January

FLEET car sales are boosting the car industry in Europe. Company car sales in Germany have grown from 27% in 2010 to 32% last year. The fleet sector seems all a bit new to many there, despite 71% of Porsche sales being to corporates (and 85% of high-end cars overall).

In the USless than 20% of sales are to companies. In the UK, of course, around half the market is to fleet.

The Japanese yen is softening and the SOUTH KOREAN won is strengthening, which could erode the pricing power of Korean brands. Interesting, Thomson Reuters says Hyundai and Kia were the worst-performing stocks of the top 5 car brands last year. Hyundai shares grew 2.6%, Kia fell 15.3%; the average market gain was 9.4%.

BMW nailed the US luxury no. 1 slot in 2012, with a 14% sales boost (it was up 39% in December, and 5 Series was up 72%!). Mercedes grew 9.5% in December, Lexus was up 21%. Overall, BMW sold 7326 more cars than Mercedes in the US (281k).

NISSAN is learning from the Dacia ‘cash cow’ in making a successful budget car: the range will launch 2014 in Russia, India and Indonesia. VW is also planning a €5000 car but, if it does press ahead, it won’t be badged Volkswagen. The brand is looking at ‘what can be done away with’ and learning about decontenting to improve price competitiveness.

5 January

This year, more cars will be made in CHINA than Europe for the first time. China will grow to 19.6m cars, Europe will decline to 18.3m. In 2012, it was 18.9m Europe, 17.8m China…

In 2013, EUROPE will make 20% of the world’s cars. In 2001, it made 35% of them (and in 1970, it made half). China will make 24% of them; in 2000, it made 3.5%.

Some good news for PSA: its JV with Dongfeng saw a record 440k cars sold in 2012: 223k Citroen, 216k Peugeot. That’s growth of 8.2%.

2 January

In 2010, 30% of PEUGEOT sales were outside Western Europe. This rose to 42% in 2011 (thanks to the Chinese Dongfeng JV): the target is 50% by 2015 and 60% by 2020.

In Western Europe, 2% of C-sector cars are saloons. In Eastern Europe and Africa, it’s 50%, in Asia it’s 64% and in the Middle East it’s 74%.

Five CHINESE car companies to watch in 2013? Chang’an, Great Wall, BYD, Geely and Guangzhou Auto/Beijing Auto, reckons China Car Times.

JAPAN’S new PM Shinzo Abe is weakening the yen, by 10% in 2012 – but not quickly enough for Carlos Ghosn. He wants 100 yen to the dollar and it’s a long way from that (it jumped 40% between 2007-2011).

NISSAN’S Ghosn also reckons 2013 will be another record year for global new car sales: they’ll grow 3-4% to 82m-83m vehicles. China, the US, Russia, Brazil, the Middle East and Asia will lead growth: the European decline will hasten and Japan may decline too.

HYUNDAI MOTOR CO is predicting 2013 growth of half the 8% it saw in 2012. However, analysts point it its targets are traditionally conservative so it may not be quite so down, despite the South Korean currency appreciating faster than any other in Asia.

1 January

The used car market is quickly developing in INDIA - and it shows some similarities with other markets. One year old cars cost, for example, around 30% less than new ones…

Love the sound of this – a LINCOLN coupe based on the future Ford Mustang platform. Whether it happens depends on how successful the 2013 MKZ and 2014 MKD are.

The next FERRARI California may get a turbo V8: the engine is already on sale in twin-turbo form in the new Maserati Quattroporte.

It’s definitely no discounts for DACIA in the UK – and margins have been geared to reflect this. No cars will be kept in stock, meaning lead times of 3-6 months. Dacia wants a 1% market share in 2013 – that’s 20k sales. It already has 1700 orders for the Duster.

Neat graphic shows INDIA’S best selling cars in 2012. The Suzuki Alto remains no. 1 despite the Maruti Suzuki riots (that’s led to a near-10% decline, mind). Big winners are the Suzuki Swift (+51%) and the Suzuki DZire (+56%). The Tata Nano also enters the top 10, at last, with a 17% sales boost. Now Tata’s repositioning it (taking it upmarket), is the corner being turned there?