Euro Auto Trends

Mazda2 Stops at Valencia

Posted in Market Trends by jonas on the December 4th, 2006

Japan’s Mazda Motor Corp. said on Friday it would stop making the Mazda2 subcompact at Ford Motor Co.’s factory in Spain when it launches a new B-segment car next year, and instead consolidate production in Japan.

Mazda, held one-third by Ford, built 36,000 units of the Mazda2/Demio car at the Valencia plant in 2005, accounting for 9 percent of the 400,000-unit-a-year factory.

Ford of Europe spokesman Todd Nissen said the auto maker would ramp up production of existing models to make up the difference, adding that Mazda’s output had fallen to about 7 percent of the total this year.

Mazda said the relocation to its Ujina plant in Hiroshima was aimed at maximising efficiencies through economies of scale by lumping together production of its B-segment subcompact cars.

The yen’s current weakness against the euro would also help boost profits, although analysts say Mazda, which exports most of its cars it sells overseas from Japan, needs to eventually reduce its currency exposure by building more vehicles abroad.

The Ujina plant is now working at 87 percent of its capacity of 504,000 units a year, leaving room for roughly 65,000 units. Last year, the factory built 72,000 Mazda2 cars.

Production of the Mazda2 at the Valencia site, which also makes the Ford Focus, Fiesta and Ka models, began in 2003.

With global sales volume growing rapidly, Mazda is looking for ways to boost output capacity from the current 1.45 million units a year. Mazda has said it would outline such steps as part of a new mid-term business plan to be announced next spring.

By Reuters

Mazda UK to break year sales record in 2006

Posted in Market Trends by jonas on the November 30th, 2006

Mazda UK is about to hit new highs in this year with record sales. This success comes on the back of the new Mazda MX-5, the new Mazda5, Mazda6 and continued buyers’ enthusiasm for the Mazda RX-8.

Mazda has built a reputation for manufacturing cars that stand out from the crowd with outstanding driving dynamics, and it is these attributes that are attracting ever more customers to the Mazda brand. Three models stand out for Mazda, all sports and performance cars and with Mazda taking 40% of the non-premium S-segment (sports cars) the Japanese marque really is Britain’s best loved sports car manufacturer.

The Mazda6 was the car that started the Mazda revolution, and last year it received a number of enhancements to the standard model. In January this year the high performance Mazda6 MPS was introduced, a subtle mixture of turbocharged 260ps MZR engine, four-wheel drive and Mazda design language that makes a welcome change to the overt styling of other Japanese performance cars.

FIAT go Chineese

Posted in New & Coming Models, Market Trends by jonas on the November 22nd, 2006

Italian carmaker Fiat Auto and China’s Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. announced Tuesday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to supply gasoline engines for Fiat cars produced both in and out of China.The two companies said they expect an annual supply exceeding 100,000 1.6 and 1.8 liter gasoline engines. Fiat SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne said the cooperation could be extended to powertrains and other automotive sectors.

“The agreement with Chery will give us the opportunity to further increase the competitiveness of our product range on the international markets,” Marchionne said in a statement. “Chery is a young and modern company with a solid technical background and I am glad to welcome this further step in our strategy of targeted alliances.”

By Associated Press

Fiat and Toyota: European car sales on the rise

Posted in Market Trends by jonas on the November 22nd, 2006

New car sales in Europe rose 3.6 per cent in October, the first advance in five months, as Fiat and Toyota continued to post double-digit gains, industry data showed.

Japan’s Nissan also snapped a slide this year with a month of solid sales, while premium carmakers DaimlerChrysler and BMW saw sales slip in a market swept up in a price war.

The fact that last month had one more working day in most markets contributed to the rise in new car registrations to 1.21 million vehicles, bringing market growth in the first 10 months to just 0.4 per cent.

“This year’s result, although positively influenced by one extra working day with respect to October 2005 across the whole region, is a sign of recovery after four consecutive months of decline,” Brussels-based carmakers group ACEA said.

High fuel prices and rising interest rates in some countries have cooled demand of late for new cars, which piles pressure on manufacturers to push sales with margin-eroding incentives, unless they have hot new products to drive showroom traffic.

Fiat has had a sales boon from its Grande Punto and Panda small cars plus the Alfa Romeo 159 sedan. New car registrations for the Italian group advanced 16 per cent year-on-year, with a 17.8 per cent increase at its core Fiat brand. Alfa Romeo brand sales gained 16.2 per cent.

Japan’s Toyota, the world’s second-biggest automaker, saw sales of its flagship Toyota brand rise 13.8 per cent to over 66,000 units, while registrations of its premium brand Lexus advanced more than two-thirds to 2,835 cars.

Solid sales of its Aygo, Yaris and Corolla models have helped build its market share to nearly six per cent this year.

Audi, Seat and Skoda nudged Volkswagen group registrations up four per cent to more than 255,000 units, keeping it atop the European tables with a market share of 21.1 per cent in October and of 20 per cent so far this year.

Renault group sales dipped two per cent. Sales of Renault brand vehicles alone contracted 2.8 per cent as it focuses on profitable business, while sales at Dacia, maker of the no-frills Logan family car, swelled over 40 per cent.

A robust French market in October helped sales at PSA Peugeot Citroen rise 7.1 per cent, paced by the Peugeot brand.

BMW, the world’s biggest premium carmaker, saw group registrations slip 3.9 per cent as a slight gain at its core BMW brand was wiped out by declines at Mini, where output fell while it ramped up a new model for launch before year’s end.

Asian carmakers had another mixed month.

Honda’s sales advanced almost 14 per cent, continuing its strong showing this year, and Mazda Motor Corp showed a gain of 8.2 per cent.

Sales at South Korea’s Kia Motors jumped 11 per cent in October but were still down more than 10 per cent so far this year. Kia was the fastest-growing brand in Europe in 2005.

Sister brand Hyundai, which has scaled back its forecast for European sales growth given tough market conditions, watched sales fall 13.5 per cent, taking its market share under two per cent in October.

General Motors group sales gained 5.4 per cent, helped by its entry-level Chevrolet brand and by Opel/Vauxhall, which has outsold the Renault brand in Europe so far this year.

Ford Motor Co also outperformed the market with a 4.5 per cent sales gain as the Ford brand and Volvo offset declines at premium marques Land Rover and Jaguar.

The ACEA data reflect registrations in all European Union countries except Malta and Cyprus and include Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.