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USED Motor News April 2014

Asia expected to lead in auto manufacturing

Asia, excluding Japan, is expected to become the leading manufacturing hub for car production worldwide. The region includes Thailand, Indonesia, China and India and it is expected to manufacture just over 30.21 million vehicles during this year according to research and consultancy firm PwC. That is an increase of 12 per cent year-on-year. The production numbers will be higher than all other regions, including the USA, where around 17 million vehicles are expected to be made.

The research unit expects 87.4 million cars will be made worldwide in 2014, an increase of six per cent. The increased activity in manufacturing will be seen by all regions, including Europe, but excluding developed Asia, which includes Korea, Japan and Australia. This region will likely see manufacturing fall by two per cent during the year to 13.37 million units due to capacity cuts in major territories and a shrinking of activity in Australia due to upcoming factory closures.

Vehicle manufacturing in the European Union will rise four per cent to 16.51 million vehicles. Within the Asia region, China will remain the leading country of production with 20.8 million vehicles scheduled to be manufactured out of 30.21 million for the region. It represents 24 per cent of global output. The stellar performance in the manufacturing sector in the region continues at a fast pace even though sales in some of the home countries is slowing.

New Mini to have extra long body

A concept version of the new Mini Clubman has been unveiled showing a longer body in an estate version that will have rear doors and be able to more comfortably seat rear passengers. The new models are expected to hit showrooms later this year. The car will measure 4.223 metres long by 1.844 metres wide and a height of 1.45 metres. The dimensions mean the car will have an overall size that is bigger than its predecessor. It is even longer than the current Mini Countryman SUV model.

The new mini is set to become much more practical with five seats and a good amount of luggage space, even though it will keep its trademark look and feel. The boot door will be engineered to be more user friendly and practical. It has been a challenge to design the car with extra room and additional features without having it lose its distinctive looks. However the new design still looks unmistakably like a mini and so its famous quirkiness is preserved.

For the interior, a newly designed center console with a touch screen will give the car more of a modern feel. The circular air vents are likely to be removed and the interior will look sleeker. Still the current designs are in the concept phase so some waiting may be required for the final version.

Toyota to open showroom in Myanmar

ToyotaToyota Motor Corp will open a showroom in Yangon, Myanmar to make its first step into the new car market in the country. Through the local dealership the company is expected to sell its Land Cruiser Prado sports utility vehicles and its Hilux pickup trucks. Other models, including small and mid sized passenger cars, will also be sold at the outlet.

Since Myanmar new car sales are low, there is much optimism about the new car market in country. Out of around 100,000 cars sold in the country each year on a first time registration basis, 90 per cent are used cars from other countries, mainly Japan. Toyota still made up a large percentage of the imported used vehicles, but sees good promise in the new car market. Up until now the company has only had service facilities in the country to support the growing number of imported used cars.

As incomes rise in Myanmar, and as new car finance becomes more widely accessible, the country’s appetite for new cars is expected to grow rapidly. Toyota joins a number of other global car brands that have already set up sales outlets in the country. On the manufacturing side, local assembly is also set to increase rapidly in Myanmar in the coming years.

BMW expects high sales to continue in Thailand

German automaker BMW expects high sales to continue in 2014. This follows record sales in 2013 with 8,147 BMWs and minis sold, up over thirty per cent on the previous year. It means Thailand was the second highest growth market worldwide for the company. A breakdown of the numbers saw BMW cars achieve sales of 7,536 vehicles, mini sales notching up 611 deliveries and BMW Motorrad accomplishing 400 units sold, according to a statement released by the company.

The statement also said, "2013 marked a great year for BMW Group, with record-breaking performance worldwide, in addition to our equally record-breaking performance here in Thailand.’’

BMW Group improved its position as the world leader in luxury vehicles with a 6.4 per cent increase globally that equated to nearly two million vehicles sold. Matthias Pfalz, the president of BMW Group Thailand said, “In Thailand, we continued our success with an increase of more than 33% for BMW and Mini vehicles sold, despite headwinds, with a total of 8,147 vehicle sales, and a 38% increase in BMW Motorrad sales. This marks the highest sales in our company’s history.”

Although there were no sales targets released for this year, Mr. Pfalz said the company would try to maintain already achieved average sales growth of the last couple of years, which was around 20 to 25 per cent.

"We continue to grow despite headwinds in the industry. BMW Group believes in the potential of Thailand and has expanded investment in our assembly pipeline over the past year. This means our Rayong plant is the only site within our BMW global production network that produces vehicles for all three of our brands, making it one of the most efficient and flexible assembly plants in the world,” Mr. Pfalz added.

"The BMW Manufacturing plant is now ready to expand its production capabilities to cover BMW 1 Series, BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo, and the all-new BMW X5 as the latest additions to our existing BMW, Mini Countryman and BMW F800R assembly lines,” he said.