When the new Jeep Compass made its debut it was immediately clear it was a handsome little beast. It design managed to successfully shrink the best design cues from its larger brother, the Grand Cherokee, (aggressive and instantly-recognizable front, squared-off wheel-arches, elegant proportions), while at the same time incorporating a little extra “something” with its optional “floating roof” and the chrome strip that delineates it. But it was the bottom line of the side windows that caught my eye – I was sure I had seen it somewhere before!
Car production in the UK has had its fair share of changing fortunes over the years. The demise of British Leyland in the 1980s and ’90s was offset by investments in car plants by Japanese automakers Nissan (Sunderland, 1984), Honda (Swindon, 1985) and Toyota (Burnaston, 1989). Even with all surviving British brands currently in foreign ownership UK manufacturing has thrived, as for the past three years more cars were produced in the UK than in France. UK car production is expected to reach a record 1,95 million cars next year, beating the previous high from 1972.
Jaguar-Land Rover has overtaken Nissan to become the biggest producer of vehicles in the UK, after the new Indian owner Tata invested over £ 11 billion in UK manufacturing since 2009. In six years time, production the two luxury brands has more than tripled from 158.000 units when it was on the brink of bankruptcy to almost 490.000 units in 2015, 81,5% of which is exported. During that period, J-LR’s UK payroll has increased more than five-fold to 35.000 employees.
Earlier this week Aston Martin gave UK car manufacturing another boost, when it decided to invest £ 200 million in its second UK factory in Wales instead of opting for Eastern Europe, Alabama, USA or any of the 18 other places it had considered. This will create another 4.000 jobs in the UK and comes right at the time when the UK manufacturing industry may be threatened by the upcoming referendum in June on a British exit from the European Union. [Read more…]
Sales of Exotic cars have all but come to a halt in the last quarter of 2015. Sales were up 5% in the first half of the year, but then the fortunes changed: -13% in Q3 and a worrying -44% in Q4, leading to a full year total of 18,277 sales, down 16.6% on 2014. The pain in the last quarter is shared by all brands, but even for the full year there’s only one brand that shows volume growth, plus one limited edition sports car. Perhaps the slowdown is due to the fact that the two best selling brands in the exotic car segment are introducing their first SUV in 2016. [Read more…]
Sales in the Exotic segment fell by 13% in the third quarter of the year, on the surface a dramatic reversal of fortunes for a segment in which sales were up 5% in the first half of the year. However, upon clearer inspection this fall is driven mostly by a 17% drop in sales for the Maserati brand, whose models account for well over half of sales in the segment. [Read more…]
James Bond’s latest episode Spectre is currently breaking all box office records, and besides Daniel Craig and Bond-girls Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux, one of the stars of the movie is the specially developed Aston Martin DB10. The factory has produced only 10 of these Special Editions, of which 7 have been destroyed during the making of the movie. Of the 3 surviving models, one is making a promotional Tour of Europe, and I got to see it in real life when it visited on of the Aston Martin dealerships in The Netherlands. Check out the photo gallery below: [Read more…]
The Exotics segment grew by 5% compared to the first half of 2014, roughly in line with the whole industry. The problem with the headline figure is that it encompasses the whole of the Maserati brand, none of which are arguably exotic, but end up here because Maserati is the largest brand that does not break out their sales in the US.
So, excluding Maserati, the largest Exotic brand remains Bentley with over 1,200 sales in H1 2015 – even the 8% fall year-on-year was not bad for what is arguably a rather aged line-up by now. Still, it is reasonable to expect the sales figure to shoot up like crazy in a year or so when the Beluga… sorry, Bentayga goes on sale. For now, though, the brand was almost caught in sales terms by Ferrari, which is on course to go even better than its 2014 record of over 2,000 units sold in one year. The prancing horse is certainly doing better in the US than its main rival Lamborghini, who recorded less than half as many sales and lies in 5th despite a healthy 11% growth following the introduction of the Huracan. [Read more…]
The recent acquisition of Italy’s tire manufacturer Pirelli by the Chinese state-owned chemical company ChemChina is the latest in a string of Chinese and Indian investments in worldwide known European brands, not limited to the automotive industry. Do European countries and consumers have to worry about this phenomenon? Does this spell danger for our crown jewels and will the manufacturing jobs be moved to China or India, where labor is much cheaper? History proves us we should embrace the Asians as excellent caretakers of “our” brands, better than the Americans have been in the last few decades.
The Asians understand the value of a brand, because in their domestic markets there’s a huge difference in perception between local brands, which are considered low-value and can only compete on price, and foreign import brands, which are considered high-end and therefore are able to demand higher transaction prices, resulting in high profits.
The American way
As a result, when an Asian company takes over a Western brand, it will do anything to preserve the brand image, because that is what makes a brand valuable and leads to those higher profit margins. This view is contrasting with the way American companies used to handle their takeovers of European brands in the relatively near past. [Read more…]
#5: Koenigsegg Regera
Why is it here? Because it has more than 1,500hp from its hybrid drivetrain, because it can reach 400km/h almost 3 seconds faster than the Porsche 918 reaches 300km/h, and because it comes from a small swedish company whose name means “knife’s edge”
The exotic car segment is up an encouraging 8% after the first nine months of 2014, thanks to an excellent third quarter, as total segment sales were down after the first half. This recovery is entirely due to the incredibly successful launch of the BMW i8, BMW’s new electric sports car with gasoline range extender. I had already predicted that the i8 would lead the segment in 2015, but in fact it already was the best selling exotic car on the market in the third quarter of this year, enabling it to shoot up into third place year-to-date. What a remarkable performance of such a groundbreaking new vehicle!
The Bentley Continental GT has overtaken the Ferrari 458 Italia to take back its leadership of the segment in the third quarter. These two models combined account for almost half of all exotic car sales in Europe, making you think whether they still classify as exotics. [Read more…]
The European limousine segment continues its strong growth curve which is fueled by model changes of a few major players in the segment. The newly one-year old Mercedes-Benz S-Class accounts for 85% of the growth of the segment all by itself, and almost all of the growth when combined with the segment’s number two, the Audi A8.
As a result, the S-Class commands a whopping 42% share of the segment, two-and-a-half times as much as its nearest competitor. The rest of the ranking is completely stable in the third quarter, with the recently refreshed Audi A8 in second place and the Porsche Panamera completing the podium, as it did last year. Until the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz S500 plug-in hybrid, Porsche will be the only brand in this segment to offer a plug-in hybrid model.
The BMW 7-series is stuck in fourth place, where it’s likely to finish the year. That would make 2014 the first year ever that the 7-series is not in the top-3 of the limousine segment. The big Beemer is likely to shoot back up to the top of the ranking in 2016 when the new generation hits the market. [Read more…]