China: How local brands may finally find their mojo at home

Chery E5 China June 2012The Chery E5 could be just what the Chinese needed after all…

* See the Full article by clicking on the title! *

It’s no secret that apart from in the LCV segment, Chinese brands have been struggling at home for a while (see China February 2012: When will Chinese cars rule at home?). Granted, last November in the midst of China-Japan tensions, the penetration rate of Chinese passenger cars shot up to 35%, its highest in 20 years. But it’s still incredibly low compared to Japan and South Korea, two Asian car manufacturing powerhouses that have built their success overseas on a quasi-monopoly at home. A very interesting article on French website autoactu.com claims however that the Chinese woes at home may be about to ease a little.

ChangAn Eado 2012The ChangAn Eado’s potential lies in export markets and the Chinese Far West

But first let’s backtrack a few years. The bulk of the explosive Chinese car market growth – from a mere 1.5 million annual units in 2002 (including LCVs) to a whopping 19.6 million 10 years later – has been for the most part absorbed by well-off urbanites from the East coast. Their culture and buying power have biased their car choices towards more expensive and non-Chinese models. When the government put in place limitations on the obtention of licence plates to curb congestion and pollution in very large cities like Shanghai and Beijing in 2011, this trend accelerated.

Lifan 720 China January 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comLifan 720. Arguably, Lifan is currently more successful in Russia than in China…

Nowadays Shanghai licence plates alone can set you back as much as $15,000. For this price, only the (very) well-off can afford a new car, and their choice is not Chinese, which represent only 9% of new car sales in Shanghai and 10% in Beijing, down from 20% before the licence plate restrictions. If these measures are extended to Tier 2-3 cities, you would assume the situation could become truly dramatic for Chinese manufacturers. Not so, according to Autoactu. Most local brands have recognised that their opportunity now lies in secondary markets deeper inside the ‘Chinese Far-West’…

BYD F3 Surui China February 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comThe BYD F3 could get back to pole position at home when the country’s West develops.

These areas are currently considerably under-motorised and given the evolution of the market in the last decade, no foreign manufacturer has spent too much time thinking about a truly affordable, no frills offering. This is where local models come in…

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Italy: 1960-1978 more detailed data thanks to the UNRAE team!

From left to right: Benedetta, Marta, Santino, Federica & Cristiana from UNRAE in Roma, Italy. 

* Click on ‘Read more’ at end of post for the direct links to these 7 revised posts! *

UNRAE is the Unione Nazionale Rappresentanti Autoveicoli Esteri and provides us every month with all the Italian car sales figures. Last month I was in Roma, Italy and had the privilege to meet the UNRAE team who have very kindly opened up their archives for me. So I would like to say ‘Grazie mille’ to the whole team for their availability and especially Cristiana for organising everything.

Thanks to the UNRAE team I can now share with you more detail about the Italian market between 1960 and 1978.

The Fiat 128 was the most produced car in Italy in 1972 and 1973

Car sales grew exponentially in Italy during the period, going from 381,385 units in 1960 to 1,470,394 in 1972… You can now access a Top 20 brands ranking from 1960 to 1978. Notice Fiat starting at 76.3% share in 1960 and finishing at 46% in 1978… Alfa Romeo became the first non-Fiat brand to sell 100,000+ units in a year: 123,503 sales in 1973, and Renault was the only foreign brand to approach that level, reaching 97,004 units and 8% share in 1977.

You can also check out the yearly Top 20 most produced models in Italy between 1972 and 1978, a ranking dominated by the Fiat 128 in 1972 and 1973, and the Fiat 127 from 1974 to 1978.

Direct links to these 7 revised posts below.

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World: 1960-2008 Historical Info now available

VW Beetle

1980 Toyota Corolla

Historical Info on the best selling cars around the globe since 1960 has now been posted.

Pretty straight forward really, with the VW Beetle in the lead all through the sixties and into the mid-seventies, then losing its top spot when production dropped due to the arrival of the VW Golf. The Toyota Corolla then took the relay. It never looked back and still is the world’s best selling car today.

Click on ‘Read more’ below to check out these 7 new posts.

Note world models ranking are very rare to come across so if you have any official information relating to this from anytime before 2009 please make sure to get in touch on here by writing a comment. Thanks!

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Australia: 1948-1995 Historical Data now available

1960 Ford Falcon XK

We are now looking back further in the past, with 4 new posts giving you a broad idea of what the Australian market looked like during the second half of the 20th Century.

Holden had a head start, launching the first car fully manufatured in Australia in 1948, whereas Ford unveiled the first Falcon in 1960. The whole period is a constant, ferocious battle between the two brands, with the Holden Kingswood nameplate becoming a household name before the Commodore launched in 1978, and the Falcon’s figures improving throughout the years.

Click on ‘Read more’ below for the direct links to the 4 new posts.

1988 Holden Commodore VN

1948 Holden

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World 1960-1973: VW Beetle conquers the planet

1966 VW Beetle

First presented in 1938 but produced from 1945 onwards, the VW Type 1, or ‘Beetle’ is the most recognised car in the world. Its total production took 10 years to reach the first million (in 1955), but then its sales boomed, helped by clever advertising and iconic status among the hippie crowd.

In 1965 alone, 1 million Beetles came out of the Wolfsburg factory in Germany, and in 1971 1.3 million units were produced around the world, the highest yearly figure of its career. This means the VW Beetle should be the best selling car in the world between around 1960 and 1973 when production dropped in advance of the launch of the VW Golf.

Total Beetle production reached 15 million in 1972 to beat the Ford Model T as the most successful model in history. By 1992 it had passed 21 million, with the final figure reaching 21,529,464 when production stopped for good in Mexico in 2003.

Next post: World 1974: Toyota Corolla takes command

Figures: Wikipedia

USA 1960-1970: Chevrolet Impala breaks records

1965 Chevrolet Impala

I only have patchy data for this period in the US so if you have access to detailed figures please make sure to get in touch!

From 1960 to 1970, one model dominated car sales in America: the Chevrolet Impala. In 1965 the Impala sold 1,074,925 units, still to this date the highest annual sales volume ever achieved by a single model in the US (Ford Model T figures were production not sales). In fact no other model has managed to sell over 1 million units in a year, and the Impala did it twice, passing the million benchmark again in 1966.

1966 Ford Mustang

Other very successful models of the period include the Ford Mustang, peaking at 550,000 sales in 1966…

VW Beetle USA 1968VW Beetle

…and the VW Beetle reaching almost 300,000 units in 1960 and peaking at 423,008 in 1968. A total of 5.5 million Beetles were sold in the US over 60 years.

Please get in touch if you have more info!

Previous post: USA 1927-1932: Ford Model A sells 4.8 million units in 4 years!

Next post: USA 1972: Chevrolet Vega threatens VW Beetle

Australia 1960-1968: Ford unveils Falcon to challenge Holden

1960 Holden and Ford Falcon

After allowing Holden to be the only ‘true’ Australian car for 12 long years, Ford launched the Falcon in November 1960 and proposed an Australian-built alternative to the Holden sold in the country since 1948. The Falcon nameplate will end up being by far Ford’s most popular in Australia.

Unfortunately for Ford, the first generations of Falcon had reliability issues, and as a result, Holden keeps the lead by far in the Australian market with over 10,000 units sold per month throughout the sixties. In 1961, Holden holds 50% of the total market, with Ford #2 at 17% and Volkswagen (thanks to the Beetle) and BMC (thanks to the Mini) both at 8%.

VW Beetle and BMC Mini Cooper

In July 1963, the strongest ever month for the Australia market so far at 29,644 registrations, Holden is still the runaway leader with 46.9% of the market, ahead of Ford at 14.9% (including 10.6% for the Falcon), BMC boosted by the Mini at 12.2%, VW weaker due to the ageing Beetle at 7.1% and Chrysler revitalised by the Valiant at 6.2%.

1961 Chrysler Valiant

1963 Ford Fairlane

1962 Holden 

Holden reacts in 1962 with the EJ then the EH in 1963 which would achieve the highest production rates in Holden’s history: 13,524 per month. Both Holden and Ford Falcon opt for more rectangular fronts in the second half of the decade…

1966 Holden

The Falcon sees its monthly production go from 3,920 for the 1964 XM to 6,223 for the 1969 XW. Holden is still far ahead however, between 11,000 and 12.000 monthly units were produced during that period.

1968 Ford Falcon

This period is also the time Japanese brands landed (successfully) in Australia. See the article about this change here:

Australia 1958-1968: Toyota and Japan’s first export market

Previous post: Australia 1949-1959: Holden ‘Australia’s own’ launches

Next post: Australia 1969-1976: Ford catches up on Holden, a Datsun on the podium

MANY more vintage pictures, sales data and Holden/Falcon production figures below.

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Germany 1958-1961: VW Beetle and Opel Rekord dominate

VW Beetle

* See ‘Read more’ for the 1958 Top 10 best-selling models! Thanks to Florian for the data *

In 1958 the VW Beetle stays comfortably on top of the ranking with 186,014 sales and 24.1% share, ahead of the Opel Rekord at 92,410 units and 12%, and the Mercedes W120 and Lloyd Alexander both at 4.6% share. The Fiat 600 and Goggomobil follow.

Opel Rekord

In 1959 the VW Beetle passes the 200,000 sales mark for the first time with 228,234 units sold while the Opel Rekord improves its share to 14.8% thanks to 135,530 sales. Then in 1960 the German market is above 1 million units for the first time at 1,071,000 registrations, with the VW Beetle delivering 297,668 sales for a 27.8% market share…

Finally in 1961, in a market up 2% at 1,095,127 units, the VW Beetle hits what will remain its highest year-end volume at 348,929 sales for a record 31.9% market share.

Full Year 1958 Top 10 Ranking Table and 1959-1961 information below.

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Sweden 1960: VW Beetle and Volvo PV dominate

Volvo PV544

* See the Top 4 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rene *

In 1960 the VW Beetle is still the best-selling model in Sweden with a huge 18.6% market share and it is followed by the Volvo PV 444/544 at a very imposing 14.7%. On the third step of the podium, the Opel Rekord is also very successful at 10.9% share. The Volvo Amazon is #4.

Full Year 1960 Top 4 Ranking Table below.

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France 1957-1960: Renault Dauphine reigns

Renault Dauphine

* See the Top 5 most produced models by clicking on the title! *

Launched in 1956, the Renault Dauphine is an instant hit and becomes the best-selling car in France as early as for its first full year of sales in 1957. Production figures are immediately very high: 280,000 units in 1958, 395,000 in 1959 (a record at the time) and 382,000 in 1960.

Peugeot 403

The Peugeot 403 is also a real success over the period, peaking at 182,000 units in 1958. Following up on its title of best-seller in 1956, the Simca Aronde stays on the podium over the period, peaking at #2 and 205,000 units in 1959.

Citroen 2CV

This is also the time the Citroen 2CV became a (sort of) blockbuster, more than 10 years after its original launch: from #4 at 125,000 units produced in 1958, it went up to #3 both in 1959 with 146,000 units and in 1960 at 152,000. Notice the Citroen DS/ID at #5 in 1960 with 78,000 units.

Full 1958, 1959 and 1960 Top 5 Ranking Tables below.

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