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China May 2013: Focus on the all-new models

Beijing Senova D China May 2013The Beijing Senova D is based on the Saab 9-5.

* See the Top 304 All-models ranking by clicking on the title! *

Today I inaugurate a new series on BSCB. With the Chinese new car market growing and evolving at breakneck speed and displaying more and more models, I figured it could be a good idea to focus on the models that enter the ranking each month. This way we are all aware of the latest newcomers in this fascinating market. Note these will always be models manufactured in China as import stats are still a little wobbly for China. You can also check out the general China May 2013 article here.

VW Gran Lavida China May 2013VW Gran Lavida

In May we welcome 5 all-new models in the Chinese ranking. The most popular is the VW Gran Lavida, which is none other than a compact station wagon version of 2013’s best-seller. I may decide in the next few months to count its sales along with the Lavida but given it has been baptised with a slightly different nameplate let’s consider it as an all-new model for now. Borrowing its rear from the Audi A3 sportback, the Gran Lavida sells 2,021 units for its first month in market to rank at #157. It will be interesting to follow the career of the Gran Lavida as China does not have a history of strong station wagon sales…

The next best-selling newcomer in China in May is the Beijing Senova D. Now there is an interesting story behind this model. The Senova D is produced by Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (or BAIC) which I abbreviated as Beijing, and under its bonnet is the platform and engine technology of feu the Saab 9-5, the rights for which BAIC bought from General Motors in 2009. After being unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show, the Senova D was launched on May 13 in China with a big budget 90 second commercial featuring American actor Nicolas Cage (see video above) and a decidedly sporty positioning… The Senova D enters the Chinese ranking at #225 with 517 sales.

Dongfeng Fengguang China May 2013Dongfeng Fengguang

At #242 with a still shy 308 units we find the Dongfeng Fengguang, a mini MPV with the front of a VW Touran. Dongfeng has been very successful at home in the MPV segment with its 3 best-sellers being MPVs. It even improved its scores in 2013 with the Future up to #37 and #2 best-selling MPV in the country year-to-date vs. #60 in 2012, the Joyear at #72 YTD and the Shuai at #117 this month vs. #140 YTD. The Fengguang is smaller so may follow a different trajectory but this first month of sales is a little weak for it to hope to shake the ranking this year.

BAW Beijing 007 China May 2013. Picture courtesy of auto.163.comBAW (Beijing) 007

The BAW (Beijing) 007 makes its first appearance in the Chinese ranking this month at #253 with 219 sales and even though it borrows its name from James Bond (I wonder how BAW managed that feat), it has nothing slick about it and looks like it could have been launched 15 years ago. That could be because it was originally unveiled at the Beijing Motor Show in… April 2010, but somehow hasn’t shown up in the sales charts since. The 007 could potentially work in the Chinese Far West where buyers are less concerned with brand image and need a robust (?) SUV to tackle rough roads.

FAW Hongqi H7 China May 2013FAW Hongqi H7

Finally the last new entrant in the Chinese new car market in May is the FAW Hongqi H7 at #270 with just 76 sales. Now this is a fascinating one. Hongqi (“Red flag” in Chinese) is a luxury marque now owned by FAW but Hongqi cars were the first domestically produced Chinese passenger vehicles in 1958! They were only for high-ranking party elite who now prefer Audis… Within the FAW stable of brands, Hongqi actually competes with Besturn and as a result showrooms for both brands were merged in 2008. There had only been 4 Hongqi models produced since 1958, successively based on the 1955 Chrysler, Audi 100, Lincoln Town Car and Toyota Crown Majesta. The Hongqi H7 is therefore only the brand’s 5th model in 55 years! Note the grille based on the traditional design of a Chinese fan which has been a distinctive feature on all Hongqis since 1958.

Previous post: China May 2013: VW Lavida leads, Ford Ecosport up

Previous month: China April 2013: Honda CR-V up to #4, Nissan Teana takes off

One year ago: China May 2012: Chevrolet Sail leads the way, Ford Focus #2

See more info on these models and the May 2013 Top 304 All-models below.

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Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) 1958-1980: Historical Info now available!

The Renault 4 was the most successful model in Rhodesia over the period

* See the Top 25 most produced models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Frank *

Today the Africa Project is getting its first historical contribution, thanks to Frank Stevens. Frank was born and grew up in what was used to be Rhodesia up until 1980 when it became Zimbabwe, one of the most tumultuous times the country has known. During that period, up to 17 car manufacturers assembled models in a country plagued with United Nations trade sanctions, and thanks to Frank who also worked at the National Vehicle Registration Department there in the seventies, I am able to share with you the best-selling models in Rhodesia from the late fifties to the early eighties. Fascinating info if you ask me!

1958 Pontiac Strato Chief

In the fifties Rhodesia, being part of the Commonwealth, truly benefitted from the American and European export drives. The most popular models in the country at that time included the Chevrolet Impala, Dodge Polara, Pontiac Strato Chief, Ford Galaxie 500, Plymouth Fury and Mercedes 220 fintail, sharing the roads with the Austin 1100, Wolseley 6/110, Skoda Octavia, Borgward Isabella, Taunus 17M, Ford Zodiac and Anglia, Jaguar S type, Opel Rekord, Vauxhall Victor, Volvo Amazon, Holdens and even the odd Datsun…

1963 Isuzu Bellett

In 1958 BMC opened an assembly plant in Umtali (now Mutare), and Ford did the same in 1960 at Willowvale in Salisbury (now Harare) with the two brands likely dominating sales in Rhodesia in the early sixties. However the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain in 1965 triggered UN trade sanctions against Rhodesia from 1966 until the creation of Zimbabwe in 1980. As a result BMC and Ford stopped supplying CKD kits and by 1967 there were very few new cars available, except save for the occasional Isuzu Bellett and Daihatsu Compagno.

Peugeot 404

From 1968 onwards, the composition of the Rhodesian new car market changed drastically as sanctions busters found new sources of CKD kits and new brands made their appearance on the streets. Thanks to Frank’s meticulous observation and note-taking when working at the Vehicle Registration Department at the time, I am able to share with you the most produced (and therefore best-selling) models in Rhodesia from 1966 to 1980.

Datsun 120Y

Interestingly, the Frenchies dominate the ranking with 4 models in the Top 5… The Renault 4 is likely to be the best-seller over the period ahead of the Peugeot 404 in all its formats (sedan, station-wagon, pick-up) with the Datsun 1200/120Y/140Y rounding up the podium. The Renault 12 and 10 follow while the Datsun 1500 pick-up ranks #6.

The BMW Cheetah/2000 SA was a rebadged Glas 1700 assembled in Rhodesia

The Alfa Romeo Giulia ranks #7, the Mazda B1600 pick-up is #8, the BMW Cheetah #9 and the Peugeot 304 #10. Other interesting entries include the Citroen DS at #11, the Alfasud at #14, the Toyota Corolla Mk2 at #18, the Peugeot 504 at #22 and the VW 1300/1600 bush buggy at #24.

Previous Zimbabwe post: Toyota Corolla sovereign, info needed

Info on Rhodesia assembled BMWs, the Rhodesian Bush-War and Full 1966-1980 Top 25 Ranking Table below.

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Historical Data available for 67 countries: see if you can help!

Was the Cadillac Fleetwood the best-selling car in the US in 1958? You tell me!

* See All Historical Data for 67 countries by clicking on the title! *

With so many new readers coming on the site every day I thought a quick heads-up about Historical Data would be useful. 66 countries are now available on the site! Highlights are Germany for each year since 1946France for each year since 1949the UK for each year since 1965Brazil since 1954 and Norway since 1956. Given all my posts are ordered chronologically, the older the data, the further down the list it appears. I am working on an easier way to get to Historical Data here but for now the simplest way for you to check it out is either to:

– Click on the title of this post, scroll down below the fold and click on the country link to access all Historical Data for that country.

– Click on the country you want on the right hand side of the page, scroll down, click on ‘older entries’ and enjoy!

– Scroll down until you find dates on the right hand side of the page, click on the year you want and enjoy!

I am still updating the site as I receive more Historical Data and the next batch will cover France thanks to the amazing work of STAC!

The Lada 2101-3 was #1 car in USSR in the seventies, but how much did it sell? You tell me!

In the meantime, there are still a lot of patchy Historical Data areas and this is where you come in! Have a look below the jump at all missing periods and see whether you can help by sharing data you have that is not yet on the site… The most blatant needs are for the USA between 1928 and 1973 and 1987-1991, France for 1950-1957 and 1971-1978, Australia before 1996, Russia+China+India before 2002 and Japan before 1998…

If you can help, just comment on here and I will contact you via email.

Many of you have helped in this long-term process by sharing your own data so I want to thank you all very much for it!  In particular I would like to thank Florian for German data since 1946, UK data since 1965 and the Interautonews tip, Bruno for Argentina data since 1965, Adam+DC for 70s/80s US data, myk for Philippines data since 1995, STAC for France data since 1949, Marcelo for the tip to Brazil data since 1962, Ryan P for UK data since 1974, Andrea+Cristiana for Italy data since 1956, Bill for Greece info since 1970 and Vavon+Andrea for the tip to Netherlands data since 1982. Please forgive me if I have forgotten you.

See how you can help by clicking on ‘Read more’ below.

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East Germany 1958-1990: Trabant and Wartburg omnipresent

1973 Trabant 601

The East German car market was unique and totally different from West Germany. The most popular model by far and one of the most famous cars in the world, reaching iconic status after the Berlin Wall Fall in 1989, the Trabant dominated the East German car landscape during the period.

The original model, the P50, introduced in 1957, was replaced by the 601 in 1963 and this model stayed practically unchanged up to its production end in 1991. In total, over 3.7 million Trabants were produced between 1958 and 1991.

Trabant painting on the Berlin Wall

Since it could take years for a Trabant to be delivered from the time it was ordered, people who finally got one were very careful with it and usually became skillful in maintaining and repairing it, and as a result the lifespan of an average Trabant was 28 years. Used Trabants would often fetch a higher price than new ones, as the former were available immediately… More on the Trabant here.

2009 Trabant nT

In 2007, Bavarian miniature vehicles manufacturer Herpa announced the project of introducing the Trabant nT, a new, all-electric version of the model. Production was planned to start in 2012 but has been put on hold since. More about this here.

1966 Wartburg 353

Another symbol of the East German car industry is the Wartburg, with the 353 produced between 1966 and 1985, then replaced by the 1.3 from 1985 to 1991.

Source: Wikipedia


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

Assembly of the Toyota Corona in Australia started in January 1966

* Click on the title for many more vintage pictures! *

When Japanese car manufacturers were ready to explore the world, their first choice for export destination wasn’t in Asia. It was Australia. As early as August 1958, the first Japanese light car to reach Australian shores since World War 2 was a Datsun. By 1968, a dozen Japanese brands were established in the country.

Some of Wheels covers featuring Japanese models 1958-1968 (click on image to enlarge)

Between June 1965 and August 1967, the cover of Wheels magazine would feature a Japanese model no less than 9 times! The first model to have that honour was the Daihatsu Berlina in June ’65, followed by the Hino Contessa, Toyota 2000GT, Toyota Corona, Datsun Cedric, Mazda 1000, Mazda 1500, Toyota Corolla, Datsun 1600 SSS and the tiny Honda Scamp in July 1968.

1958 Datsun, the first Japanese car to land in Australia after World War 2

Japanese manufacturers used Australia as a trial export market before spreading to the US and Europe, and it worked very well for them. In those ten years they managed a perfect landing in Australia, a very significant event in a market that was then dominated by US and English brands. It was the start of a complete reshuffle of the Australian car landscape that would result, 50 years later, in Toyota leading the way by far among many other very successful brands.

1967 Toyota Corolla 

Very quickly after exporting their first models to Australia, some Japanese manufacturers switched to local assembly. Toyota was the first one, with the Corona being assembled in Melbourne as early as January 1966, followed by the Crown that same year and the Corolla in 1968, only one year after its Japanese launch. This makes Australia the first overseas country to ever assemble the Corolla!  

1961 Datsun Cedric

The other manufacturer to opt for local assembly very fast is Datsun with the 1600 in 1967 and the 1000 in 1968. If the very first ‘Toyopet”, Datsun and Daihatsus didn’t impress with their quality, by the mid-sixties most Japanese cars were rather well rated by the press, with the bigger models like the Toyota Crown accepted as true threats for the class-leading Holdens and Ford Falcons…

1966 Isuzu Bellett

To understand the importance of Australia in Japan and Toyota’s export strategy, a few figures are telling: in 1965, Toyota sold 17,300 vehicles in Australia, up 52% on 1964 and by far its strongest export market. This is to be compared with 8,900 units in the USA (+141%), 6,600 in South Africa (+16%), 3,700 in Thailand (+140%) and 3,000 in Canada where it was Toyota’s first year. In Europe, Denmark, Finland (2,800 each) and the Netherlands (1,500) are Toyota’s strongest markets in 1965.

1965 Hino Contessa

Most Japanese manufacturers were busy creating vehicles in all categories at that time and it’s interesting to notice Isuzu doing very well in the passenger car segment (one that it has all but abandoned these days) with the Bellett and Florian. Similarly, Hino, now a heavy truck specialist, had the Contessa, loosely based on the Renault 8.

See the general article about Australia 1960-1968 here

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 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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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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Norway 1957-1958: Volvo 444/544 takes the lead

Volvo PV444

* See the Top 10 best-selling models by clicking on the title! Many thanks to Rene *

The Norwegian car market is in strong progression over the period, up 58% in 1957 to 16,989 registrations and a further 10% in 1958 to 18,619 units. Surprise in both years: the VW Beetle is not #1, it is the Volvo 444/445/544 instead, delivering an outstanding 3,219 sales in 1957 for a huge 18.9% market share and 3,232 units in 1958 at 17.4%. As far as I know the Volvo managed to rank #1 in Norway while in its native Sweden at the same time the VW Beetle was still #1…

In third position in both years the Opel Olympia/Rekord sells 1,223 units in 1957 at 7.2% of the market and 1,411 in 1957 at 7.6%. Moskvich resists in 1957 at #4 but falls to #9 in 1958 while the Skoda climbs 4 spots to #4 in 1958. The Opel Kapitan ranks #5 in 1957 and is replaced by the Ford Taurus 17M in 1958.

Previous post: Norway 1956: VW Beetle and Pobeda dominate

Next post: Norway 1959-1960: VW Beetle reclaims #1 spot, hits 22.4% share

Full Year 1957 and 1958 Top 10 Ranking Tables below.

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