This month there’s been lots of talk about car sales within the industry – with both carmakers struggling to repo sales figures in a difficult 2009. February’s numbers were an impressive increase on last year, and March this year looks set to be even better, with new car registrations set to be purchased in record numbers.
The idea of losing customers to other brands – especially more low cost Japanese cars – doesn’t panic car salesmen at the moment, thanks to attractive deals on high street purchasing. For example, Ford at one stage offered to guarantee the value of a new Ford car for 72 months – a very good deal by all accounts.
In part two, we’ll look at how the credit crunch has impacted on the motor industry and how car manufacturers are managing to get sales figures back on track.
In January there was some concern about the prices of fuel being too high, leading some to link this to the price of the Ford cars sales. The MPC (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) was revised down in January and they have kept it down from their stores. The changes in the retail prices were due to the stabilisation of petrol prices as the cost of production fell, and the subsequent pass through to consumers.
This trend has continued since then, and if the current trend continues, it is expected to continue. There is a positive Bryan’s spokesperson to say that fuel prices are expected to fall again in August.
2) The End Of Cash For Clunkers?
On 15th July the government announced that they would be funding the scrappage scheme in a review of the economy – maintaining the positive trend for sales. This announcement was quickly followed by the news that the government had received funds to fund the scrappage scheme in line with the budget, potentially increasing the offer. It’s possible that the outlook for sales will improve before Christmas, although it’s business as usual at the moment.
3) ‘Next Generation’ Models Boost Sales
Car manufacturers are conducting research and exploring new ideas to re-establish sales.
Honda, for example, have been tapping into their parts bin to come up with a new load bearing version of their Accord spread over four years. They’ve branded this new Accord Aspire the ‘Next Generation’ – a name taken from the original Aspire and not related to the Hitachi etc. This is designed to have a low production ramp and be more of a mid-cycle refresh than a 2007 model.
The new Aspire will be available to buy from mid-2008 and should be giving the smaller used car market a run for its money. They will also be starting delivery of the new Aspire in the UK in mid-2008, so these cars will be available well before the Suzuki Swift becomes available in the US later in the year.
Mazda are putting their faith in the forecast, and reports suggest that sales will be down overall in January – but the controversy has meant that they’ll have been able to account for 83% of the market by the end of the year.
The scrappage scheme will continue on a reduced basis in 2009 as the outlook appears to be dim. However, by March 2010 there should be a much better outlook, and the upswing since the introduction of the scheme in May has ensured that sales are still likely to be quite strong.
The future will see lower oil prices, rising fuel economy, eco friendly cars on the road, and new car registrations in 2009, but it will also be very interesting to see how the public reacts to these changes.
It is possible that car manufacturers will encourage diesel engines by making greater use of bio-diesel. Unfortunately, the introduction of bio-diesel means that there will no longer be bio petrol available – these fuels must be derived from plant and forest materials, which is a less optimal source of the bio-fficient alternative, and so the ECFSAs might well remain in place. It is likely that an alternative source will have to be found, and early talk is indicating that solar shipped air conditioning will replace both diesel and petrol fuelled cooling. Construction of solar air conditioning panels is underway, so the panels should be ready for deployment shortly. The advantage of using solar power to de-ice engine block space is obvious, but the panels would need to be installed and maintained in a very different way to power and fuel a diesel engine, so additional cooling facilities could be required on site. The cost of this fuel is likely to be a major consideration in any re-conception of how future vehicle fuel systems are designed, and it is worth considering how the commercial space might change in the next decade or so.
Objects in Space
An interesting idiom is that objects in space are still moving. That is, they are moving towards you at the speed of light.