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World: How the Chinese are setting themselves up for success (Part 5: Mature markets)

April 20th, 2014 12 comments

Qoros 3 The Qoros 3 was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show last April.

* This is Part 5 of 5 in my series on Chinese carmakers abroad. See also Part 1 (Africa)Part 2 (Latin America)Part 3 (Eastern Europe) and Part 4 (Asia) *

The first 4 Parts in this series have shown Chinese manufacturers securing the less developed markets in each region as springboards to expand further. Less developed means smaller and less sophisticated but also less regulated as far as pollution and security are concerned. These last two aspects have been the main barrier to the Chinese carmakers’ entrance in mature markets to date, and specific strategies have had to be developed to address this. This is why I am grouping all ‘mature markets’ in one article, independent of their geographic location.

Brilliance BS6 Crash Test 2007. Picture courtesy of autozeitung.deBrilliance BS6. This 2007 crash test put a dent into Chinese carmakers’ plans in Western Europe.

Chinese manufacturers have learnt this the hard way back in 2007 when disastrous crash tests for the Brilliance BS6 and Landwind SUV meant these two carmakers and all other Chinese manufacturers that were seriously thinking about setting shop in these regions had to postpone their plans. 7 years later, manufacturing quality has improved and there are a few mature markets where the Chinese have started to make their mark, among them Australia, Italy and the UK. The launch of the new Qoros brand by Chery at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show is another important milestone even though European sales of the brand will remain limited.

Great Wall V200 Australia October 2012The Great Wall V-Series is the first Chinese model to break into the Australian Top 50

The main success story so far for a Chinese manufacturer in a mature market is Great Wall in Australia. You can see the full details in my article Australia: An interview with Daniel Cotterill from Great Wall and hear the experience of a very happy Great Wall customer met in Bourke last week here. Great Wall launched in Australia in 2009 and finished 2012 as #17 brand with sales up 27% to 11,006 units and 1% share, totaling over 30,000 to-date. Even though these figures seem small, they are based on only two models and as a result it is actually one of the most successful car brand launches in the country in the past decade, as the market is already completely saturated with over 50 brands present, way more than in the US which is 14 times bigger…

The Great Wall V-Series pick-up (aka Steed) is the first Chinese model to break into the Australian Top 50, finishing 2012 at #49 with 7,490 sales, up 35%, and the Great Wall Australian range has only one other model, the Hover SUV.

Even if 2013 and 2014 year-to-date figures have been disappointing, one of the key factors in Great Wall’s success in Australia has been to embrace the brand’s provenance rather than hide it. Both their slogan ‘The Great cars of China’ and strong positioning on price are unapologetic. The main element to remember here is that by focusing on a sturdy workhorse (the Steed pick-up truck), Great Wall is building itself a solid reputation of reliability under the harsh Australian climate which is at polar opposites with the likes of Hyundai when they first launched there, as evidenced by the healthy amount of repeat business the brand is already experiencing. Chery, Geely and Foton are also present in Australia but not successful at this stage.

DR1 Europe April 2011The Riich M1 is assembled and sold in Italy as the DR1

Italy is the only mature market to assemble Chinese models. Chery cars are assembled by the DR Motor Company since 2007 in Macchia d’Isternia, North of Naples. The range is composed of the DR1 (Riich M1), DR2 (Chery Kimo) and DR5 (Chery Tiggo) however sales dropped from 2,938 in 2011 to just 710 in 2012 and 435 in 2013.

The Great Wall Hover ranked #32 in Italy in December 2011. More of a freak event though.

Great Wall also imports in Italy which became the first Western European country to welcome a Chinese model within its monthly Top 50 in December 2011 when the Great Wall Hover ranked #32. This was a freak event though as it seems Great Wall sold all their stock that month to dealerships but continued to sell to consumers all through 2012 even though official sales figures were down from 1,675 in 2011 to just 10 (!) in 2012, before going back up to a still extremely shy 235 in 2013.

The MG6 has disappointed in the UK so far.

The UK is the third mature market where the Chinese are gaining valuable experience. MG, now owned by SAIC, was reintroduced there in 2011 with the MG6 albeit with disappointing results: the model ranked only #203 with 772 sales for its first full year in 2012 and was down 82% over the first Quarter of 2013. Inspired by its Australian success, Great Wall soft-launched there in 2012 with the Steed pick-up and finished the year as #15 LCV brand with 476 sales and 0.2% share. Very small numbers still but the footprint is there.

Shanghai Englon TX4 Shanghai Englon TX4

Another angle Chinese manufacturers are starting to pursue is the delivery of electric public transport to big metropolitan cities. BYD is set to deliver 50 of its electric hatchback e6 to operate as London taxis while the first batch of 45 e6 has now arrived in Hong Kong, and will start manufacturing electric buses in California later this year. But the biggest development in that area happened last February when Geely acquired iconic London Taxi maker Manganese Bronze. Geely was already manufacturing and selling the London Taxi in China as the Shanghai Englon TX4 and is now looking into developing an electric version.

Qoros logo. Picture by theglobeandmail.com

The last element of the puzzle of Chinese carmakers in mature market is a rather puzzling one indeed. The new company Qoros is a joint-venture between Chery and Israel Corporation which was created in 2007 and has put together a European team of motoring executives and experts with extensive experience from mainstream brands to lead it. Gerd Volker Hildebrand, creator of the modern Mini design, came up with the first Qoros model, the Qoros 3, which was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show along with two concept cars announcing the future of the brand.

Qoros sales are only now starting in China – very slowly for now with just a few hundred units so far in 2014. However, far from announcing the long-dreaded large scale invasion of Europe by Chinese manufacturers, Qoros say their main target is… the Chinese market, where consumers like buying European products but don’t like diesel. As a result, no diesel motorisation is planned in any of the future models, which considerably reduces their appeal in Western Europe, and Qoros predicts that only 10% of its sales will actually be in Europe. Its price point between 16,000 and 20,000 euros place it well above the budget brands currently selling like hotcakes there, but could be an interesting test to see whether European consumers are ready to buy ‘expensive’ Chinese cars. More details on Qoros’ launch plans in Eastern and Western Europe here.

Last bit of information, all Qoros cars will be made in Changshu in China, in a new factory that will initially have a 150,000 cars/year capacity, with the possibility to extend to 450,000/year. Not a single Qoros will be made in Europe. So in other words, Qoros is a Chinese brand that wants to sell European-designed models made in China to Chinese consumers thinking they are buying a European car. Tricky.

This concludes our series about Chinese carmakers abroad. I hope you enjoyed it!

Categories: China, STRATEGY, World

California (USA) Full Year 2013: Toyota Prius remains on top

February 14th, 2014 1 comment

Toyota Prius California 2013. Picture courtesy of Motortrend.comToyota Prius

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

The Californian new light vehicle market easily outperforms the US overall, with sales up a huge 12% on 2012 to 1,711,563 registrations. This means if California was a country, it would rank #11 in the world just below France (1.79 million) and Canada (1.74 million) and well above South Korea (1.49 million) and Italy (1.31 million)! Very impressive indeed and it gives you an idea of how important a market California actually is. This year the Toyota Prius family remains the most popular ‘model’ in the State with 69,728 sales and 4.1% share, however this figure includes the Prius C and V as CNCDA does not split Prius sales.

Ford F-Series California 2013. Picture courtesy of caranddriver.comFord F-Series sales are up 64% year-on-year in California in 2013.

So it is fair to say that the Honda Civic is actually the best-selling single model in California thanks to 66,982 units sold for a 3.9% market share. The Honda Accord is up 28% and one spot on 2012 to land on the podium at #3 with 63,194 sales, kicking the Toyota Camry down to #4. Another excellent gain for the Toyota Corolla up 37% but remaining 5th while the Ford F-Series, strikingly less popular here than in the rest of the USA, is catching up (kind of) at +64% to #6 with 41,671 units. Notice also the Nissan Altima up 31%, the Toyota Tacoma up 28% to 9 (making it 8 Japanese vehicles in the Top 9!), BMW 3 Series up 43% to break into the Top 10, the Ford Fusion up to #11, Chevrolet Silverado up 42%, Toyota RAV4 up 55%, Nissan Versa up 40% and Ford Escape up 61%. Finally, notice the Tesla Model S selling 8,347 units, almost half of its overall US score!

Previous post: California (USA) Q4 2013: Honda Civic leads, Mercedes CLA a hit

One year ago: California (USA) Full Year 2012: Toyota Prius new leader

Full Year 2013 Top 20 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)

California (USA) Q4 2013: Honda Civic leads, Mercedes CLA a hit

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Honda Civic California December 2013. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comHonda Civic

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

New car sales in California are up a fantastic 9% year-on-year over the last Quarter of 2013 to 422,513 registrations, bringing the Full Year 2013 total to 1,711,563 units, up an impressive 12% on 2012 vs. ‘just’ 7% in the USA as a whole. The big event over the period is the pole position of the Honda Civic with 16,402 sales and 3.9% share, passing the perennial leader the Toyota Prius family at 15,665 units and 3.7%, however the Prius keeps the lead over the Full Year. In third place and less than 500 sales below the Prius we find the Honda Accord at 15,177 sales and 3.6%.

Mercedes CLA California December 2013. Picture courtesy of www.motortrend.comThe Mercedes CLA is already a hit in California.

The we have the Toyota Camry, the Toyota Corolla and the first US model in 6th place: the Ford F-Series. The BMW 3 Series ranks at an amazing 9th place like over Q3, followed by the Ford Fusion up from outside the Top 15 in Q3 to #10. Notice also the Mercedes E-Class up to a beautiful 12th place thanks to 6,661 sales and the Mercedes CLA shooting up to an excellent 2,966 sales and 0.7% share over the period.

Previous post: California (USA) Q3 2013: Toyota Prius and Honda Civic shine

One year ago: California (USA) Q4 2012: BMW 3 Series and Mercedes E-Class up

Full Q4 2013 Top 20 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)

California (USA) Q3 2013: Toyota Prius & Honda Civic shine

January 2nd, 2014 1 comment

Toyota Prius California September 2013. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comToyota Prius

* See the Top 15 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

Better late than never! Finally I can share with you data for new light vehicle sales in California over the third Quarter of 2013. The market is up 12% year-on-year over the period to 447,054 registrations vs. a 8% growth in the US market overall. Year-to-date gains for both California and the US are exactly the same, with Californian sales adding up to 850,712 units, almost 100,000 more than at the same stage last year. It is fascinating to observe the market shares of different nationalities in California vs. the US as a whole: Japanese brands account for a staggering 48% of sales here vs. 37% in the US, domestic brands are at a paltry 29% vs. 46% in the US and Europeans at 15.6% vs. 9.1%.

BMW 3 Series California September 2013. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe BMW 3 Series is the 9th best-selling vehicle in California over the period.

Model-wise, the Toyota Prius continues to lead the way and even improves its market share during Q3 to 4.6% thanks to 20,076 sales, adding up to 54,063 and 4.2% year-to-date. Keep in mind though that this figure includes the Prius C and V models. In fact the entire Top 8 best-sellers over Q3 is identical to the year-to-date ranking, with the Honda Civic also shining at #2 with 18,782 units and 4.3% vs. 3.9% year-to-date. The Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Corolla follow, while the BMW 3 Series is up one spot to #9, the VW Jetta back up to #11, Toyota RAV4 at #14 vs. #16 year-to-date and the Kia Optima up to #15. Notice also the Mercedes E-Class at 1% share and 4,241 sales, the Tesla Model S selling 1,840 units and the Mercedes CLA at 422 sales.

Previous post: California (USA) Q2 2013: Toyota Prius and Honda Civic on top

Full Q3 2013 Top 15 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)

Monaco August 2013: Millions on display – Photo report

August 30th, 2013 3 comments

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Monaco August 2013Good old me with a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta in Monaco – picture by my dear dad.

After Italy yesterday and while we feverishly await for the First Half 2013 sales figures for the Principality, I have the pleasure to share with you today my Photo report of Monaco, or more precisely the “Place du Casino” I had the privilege to visit yesterday, arguably the location with the biggest concentration of prestige and supercars in the world…

Ferrari California Rolls Royce Phantom Monaco August 2013bFerrari California and Rolls-Royce Phantom in Monaco, August 2013.

And in that area I wasn’t disappointed! Still very rare in the sales rankings, two Ferrari F12 Berlinetta were on display only metres from each other, gently accompanied by a Ferrari California and a Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider. And that’s only the ones parked as many more were doing the rounds while my dad and I were busy taking pictures…

Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Rolls Royce Corniche Monaco August 2013Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and Rolls-Royce Corniche in Monaco, August 2013.

Rolls-Royce is also very well represented, both with current models (Ghost and Phantom) but also older ones: there were two Corniche driving around and showing off while I was there…

Bentley and Casino Monaco August 2013The Casino reflects into the bonnet of a Bentley Continental GTC, Monaco August 2013.

If you are a regular reader of BSCB you will know the love story that exists between the Principality of Monaco and Bentley. If not, one figure is enough to understand this phenomenon: the Bentley Continental is the 9th best-selling model in Monaco in 2012 with 1.9% market share! It’s as if Bentleys are the default car in the place. For lack of imagination, choose a Bentley!

Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider Monaco August 2013Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider in Monaco, August 2013. Picture by my dear dad.

BMW Z8 Monaco August 2013bMove along Pierce Brosnan, this BMW Z8 is mine! (I wish) Picture by my dear dad.

I was amazed to see a very rare BMW Z8 discreetly parked, it even looked exactly like the one Pierce Brosnan was driving in the 1999 James Bond movie “The world is not enough”. How I dreamt of that car…

Dacia Sandero Monaco August 2013Wait – is that a Dacia Sandero among all the Bentleys? Yes, Sir! Picture by my dear dad.

A few surprises too, some of which won’t be if you are familiar with the 2012 best-sellers in the Principality: lots and lots of Smart Fortwo, a couple of Renault Twizy, the French completely under-represented apart from a Dacia Sandero looking a little out of place!

Rolls Royce logo Monaco August 2013Rolls-Royce Phantom in Monaco, August 2013.

Previous post: Monaco Full Year 2012: Porsche Cayenne & Bentley Continental in Top 10!

The Full Photo report is below!

Read more…

Categories: Monaco

California (USA) Q2 2013: Toyota Prius and Honda Civic on top

August 17th, 2013 12 comments

Toyota Prius C California June 2013. Picture courtesy of www.motortrend.comThe Toyota Prius is one of 3 Toyotas in the Californian Top 5 over the period.

* See the Top 15 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

New car sales in California continue to outpace the US market overall, up a fantastic 12% year-on-year (vs. +8% overall in the US) both over the 2nd Quarter of 2013 at 447,054 registrations and year-to-date at 850,712 units. Like in the country as a whole, Californian sales are pulled up by light pick-up trucks (+17%) while domestic brands (+21%) fare better than the Japanese (+10%). The Passenger Car market share in California is 63% vs. 51% overall in the US, domestic brands account for just 29% of sales vs. 46% in the US and Japanese brands are at 48% in California vs. 37% overall. The Toyota Prius remains the best-selling ‘model’ in the state at 18,326 sales and 4.1% over Q2 and 33,987 year-to-date, however this figure include both Prius C and Prius V which skews the results.

BMW 3 Series California June 2013. Picture courtesy of www.motortrend.comThe BMW 3 Series is among the Top 10 most popular cars in California.

The most popular ‘single’ model is in fact the Honda Civic at 16,880 sales in Q2 and 31,798 year-to-date, passing the Honda Accord at 16,207 and 31,576. The Toyota Camry ranks 4th at 15,007 units, ahead of the Toyota Corolla at 12,334. Notice also the BMW 3 Series up from outside the Top 15 over Q1 to #10 with 7,430 sales, the Hyundai Elantra up to #12 with an estimated 6,800 units, the Toyota RAV4 up to #14 and the Mercedes C-Class up to #15.

Previous post: California (US) Q1 2013: Honda Accord best-selling unique model

Previous year: California (USA) Full Year 2012: Toyota Prius new leader

Full Q2 Top 15 Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)

World: The new Toyota Corolla sedan is here

June 7th, 2013 8 comments

Next year's European-style Corolla sedan. Overseas model shown.2014 Toyota Corolla (European version)

Ford claims it’s the Focus, but BestSellingCarsBlog worldwide sales figures place the Toyota Corolla as the best-selling car in the world in 2012. You can see more about this debate in my article: World Full Year 2012: Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla crowned? In any case, we are talking about over 1 million units sold worldwide each year and 40 million since the Corolla nameplate was launched in 1966, making it the most successful nameplate in the history of automobile.

Toyota Corolla World June 20132014 Toyota Corolla (US version)

So the redesign of Toyota’s compact sedan is very important for the Japanese automaker. If there is one model they need to get right, it’s this one: it will be built in 16 locations and sold in more than 150 countries. The last generation Corolla (#10) was launched way back in 2008 which means Toyota has been waiting a little too long to update it, when you know that Hyundai tends to launch a new model in this category every 3 years. The Corolla has been sliding down the US and Chinese rankings over the last year or so and the launch of the 11th generation will be a breath of fresh air for Toyota.

What does this mean for our worldwide rankings? Click on ‘Read more’ below to find out.

Full article below.

Read more…

Categories: World

California (USA) Q1 2013: Honda Accord best-selling unique model

May 24th, 2013 2 comments

Honda Accord California March 2013. Picture courtesy of autos.sympatico.caHonda Accord

* See the Top 15 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

California is the largest new car market in the USA and over the first Quarter of 2013 it is up a massive 13% year-on-year to 403,658 registrations, to be compared with +7% in the USA overall. Toyota doesn’t separate sales of different Prius models so as a result the Prius family is once again the best-selling ‘model’ in the State with 15,661 sales and 3.9% share. However the Honda Accord can be considered the most popular unique model here thanks to 15,369 units sold and 3.8% share, passing the Toyota Camry (now #5) and Honda Civic (now #3) that were both above it both over the Full Year 2012 and Q4 2012.

2011 Toyota Corolla S, prototypeToyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla also registers a very impressive gain, up to #4 with 14,188 sales and 3.5% vs. 2.2% over Q4. This means the 5 most popular cars in California over the period are all Japanese. In fact, Japanese brands represent 48% of the Californian car market vs. 37% in the US as a whole, while US brands account for 28% of sales vs. 45% and European marques are at 16% vs. 9%… The Ford F-Series remains the best-selling domestic model, up one spot on 2012 to #6 at 8,806 units and 2.2%.

Tesla Model S California March 2013Tesla Model S

In fact Ford brings two additional models in the Californian Top 15 this year: the Focus is up to #10 with 6,637 sales and the Fusion is up to #12 at 6,507 units. With the Chevrolet Silverado at #14 this makes 4 US models in the Top 15 vs. just two last year. Would American brands be starting to reclaim Los Angeles streets? Notice also the Nissan Altima up to #7 and the Tesla Model S selling 2,406 units or roughly half of all its total US sales over the period!

Previous post: California (USA) Full Year 2012: Toyota Prius new leader

Previous Quarter: California (USA) Q4 2012: BMW 3 Series and Mercedes E-Class up

Full Q1 2013 Top 15 Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)

California (USA) Full Year 2012: Toyota Prius new leader

January 31st, 2013 7 comments

Toyota Prius C 

* See the Top 15 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

We are focusing today on the USA’s biggest market, California, up a fantastic 25% year-on-year in 2012 to 1,617,103 registrations, to be compared to +13% in the USA overall. This means that if California was a country, it would be the 10th biggest new car market worldwide, behind Canada (1.68m) and passing South Korea (1.5m) and Italy (1.4m) in the process. 2012 will remain a very important year for the Californian new car market: the year a hybrid car topped the models ranking for the first time. Toyota doesn’t separate sales of the different models in the Prius family in California and as a result the Prius is now the most popular car in the State, up a gargantuan 78% on 2011 to 60,688 sales for an excellent 3.8% market share.

Last year’s leader, the Honda Civic, is down to #2 even though it gains a huge 52% year-on-year to 57,124 units and 3.5%. The Toyota Camry rounds up the podium again with 50,250 sales and 3.1%, up 38% on 2011, while the Honda Accord is down 2 spots to #4 in spite of sales up a very respectable 35% year-on-year to 49,420. Below the Toyota Corolla at #5, the Honda CR-V is up 33% and one rank to #6, meaning the entire Top 6 is composed of Toyotas and Hondas

In fact, domestic brands only represent 29.7% of overall sales in California vs. 44.5% in the USA overall… There are only two domestic models in the Californian Top 15 this year: the Ford F-Series at #7 with 25,434 units and 1.6% share and the Chevrolet Silverado at #15 with 17,804 units and 1.1%. Notice also the Nissan Altima up 26% to #8 and the Hyundai Sonata up 30% to #9.

Previous post: California (USA) Q4 2012: BMW 3 Series and Mercedes E-Class up

Previous quarter: California (USA) 9 months 2012: 3 Toyotas and 3 Hondas in Top 6!

The Toyota Prius is one of the most popular cars for California college students and businessmen.

Full Year 2012 Top 15 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)

California (USA) Q4 2012: BMW 3 Series & Mercedes E-Class up

January 31st, 2013 No comments

BMW 3 Series

* See the Top 20 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

Every quarter we now have our rendezvous with Californian new car sales, being the biggest market in the USA. Over the last quarter of 2012, the Californian new car market is up a whopping 22% year-on-year to 371,403 registrations vs. 10% growth in the USA as a whole, bringing the Full Year 2012 total to 1,617,103 units, up 13% on 2011. The Toyota Prius family confirms it is now the most popular model in the State, improving its market share to 3.9% thanks to 14,308 sales. The Honda Civic follows at 13,981 units and 3.8% while the Toyota Camry jumps onto the podium at #3 with 12,362 sales and 3.3%.

Mercedes E-Class

In fact, the entire Top 7 best-sellers over Q4 2012 are identical to the Full Year 2012 ranking, but it’s below that things get interesting, with both BMW and Mercedes models making waves. The BMW 3 Series is up to a fantastic 10th spot over the period at 5,159 units and 1.4%, whereas Mercedes manages to place two models within the Californian Top 15! The C-Class is up to #12 with 5,124 sales while the E-Class is up to #14 at 5,028 units, only 135 sales away from the 9th spot…

Previous post: California (USA) 9 months 2012: 3 Toyotas and 3 Hondas in Top 6!

Full Q4 2012 Top 20 Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: California (USA)