Occasionally I trawl randomly among the newsroom pages of various car manufacturers. What did I find this time?
The first marginally interesting snippet involves MG Cars. Despite it all, they are selling more and more cars albeit not many more cars.
“More than 4,440 new cars were registered by the iconic MG Motor UK brand in 2017, an increase of around 6% year-on-year, according to the latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released today (4th January 2018). In December alone, MG Motor UK achieved 100 additional unit sales over 2016 figures, thanks largely to the roll-out of the new MG ZS Compact-SUV. ”
Another thing I discovered was thattaking a screen shot using a MacBook Air is a pretty cumbersome process. I won’t go into it but the Windows-based laptop I normally use is a lot easier to use in that regard. That’s why there is a little “x” in the MG picture. It’s a screenshot from my ‘phone.
Other news: VAG cars have almost swept the board in the “most popular cars in Europe” game. VW Ireland will be wondering what they did wrong to let the Hyundai Toucson take the top spot. In Denmark the Peugeot 208 ranks highest among Danes’ affections. In Greece the Yaris is numero uno. In France, not surprisingly, it’s the Clio. There isn’t one GM car in the top spot.
Regular readers will not be surprised to find out that Italy’s second best selling car is the Lancia Ypsilon.
Over at Subaru, the plan is to remind buyers that if their cars might look a bit rough they are also tough and well-engineered. This one resonated with me as a Subaru Legacy saloon (!) parks on my street and I have to agree with myself that it exudes a perceptible aura of clunky.
Not unlike Toyota’s quondam gift of manipulating blandness, Subaru hire a certain type of journeyman designer whose not-very-good styling skills are assisted by competent engineers and studio design managers. Before Subaru UK write in to complain I want to say I think the schtick is very clever.
I might be tempted to tell Subaru to dial up the clunky a bit more – the Legacy is almost a good-looking car in its own way. “Better where it matters” is the tagline for the campaign. I hope that the tagline is not supposed to suggest any kind of double-meaning.
Rolls-Royce have a press page. The first real bit of news is that RR sold more than 3000 cars last year. They don’t make cars or sell cars: their cars are commissioned: “Rolls-Royce Motor Cars has today announced a highly successful 2017, with a total of 3,362 cars commissioned by customers in almost 50 countries around the world.”
There isn’t much new at Mitsubishi but I did find a pretty workmanlike pick-up truck, the LM200. It has a meaningless name and it can pull 3.5 tonnes. That’s professional.
Skoda’s PR page reports some WRC success. Win on Sunday, sell on Monday goes the adage. Sure enough we find this: “Octavia and Karoq, two Skoda models win the “Best Cars 2018” awards of the German magazine ,auto, motor und sport in their categories. More than 117.000 readers took part in the ‘Best Cars 2018’ awards. For the 5th time in a row, the Octavia has been awarded the title of best imported car to Germany in the ‘compact car’ category with 18.6 per cent of the vote. The new Karoq is a winner right off the bat: barely on the market, yet already selected as the best import car in the ‘compact SUV / off-road vehicle’ category with 16.5 per cent of the vote.”
Note to Skoda UK: please stop using all-caps in your press releases. The same goes for Skoda Ireland who used all-caps for their model names in this bit of text. “Skoda Ireland have also recorded Market Share of 6.9% which is the highest ever share recorded by the brand in Ireland and saw them deliver 9,056 new vehicles to customers in 2017. The growth has solidified Skoda’s position as the sixth bestselling car brand in the country for the third year in a row, as the brand now sets its sights on a top five finish in 2018.” I removed the all-caps. I must ask Skoda Ireland why they have to use all-caps. Watch this space.
We almost finish our tour with the fact that Volvo had a record year in 2017 with the sales of half a million cars. This is the pertinent slab of text: ” Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, reports record sales in 2017, as global sales rose 7.0 per cent compared to 2016 to 571,577 cars, driven by growth in all regions. Sales of the new XC60 and the 90-series cars were the main drivers, highlighting the effect of Volvo Cars’ in-house developed Scalable Product Architecture, a modular vehicle architecture, in terms of design, technology and brand.”
Finally, to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm: Audi report that their employee ideas programme has saved more than 100 million euros. What I like about this item is that the savings come from ideas that range in scale from a modest marking of wrenches to altering ventilation system programmes. It is piecemeal stuff but all adds up and stands in contrast to the typical engineers’ insistence on “silver bullets”.
The other pleasant aspect of such a programme is that it also helps staff feel valued. As a counter-example, a decade ago I was working as an engineer and spotted a modest potential saving at my workplace: make sure PCs were switched off at night and not merely on stand-by. I failed to convince the IT troll that it was “worth it” for him to set up an automatic reminder to staff. In essence he was saying he couldn’t be bothered. Audi in contrast gets a) to save money and b) the staff feel hugged too.
So, good news for Lancia, MG, Skoda and Volvo.