Audi

There is good news and bad news in the motor industry.  NAAMSA says robust global growth should benefit our new vehicles exports as they are expected to show substantial upward momentum in the months ahead.

Fiat-Chrysler has now joined Mercedes-Benz in not reporting individual model sales in April. One of the industry people said you can get the figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industries. That phone call would be one to remember if you had lots of time to waste hanging on for someone to answer.

Mind you with Alfa Romeo only selling four cars in March I am sure they didn’t want to boast about their sales in April. I suppose cancelling their number one dealer, Arnold Chatz Motors who has been an Alfa agent for 51 years, can’t have helped sales too much.

South African born Jacques Brent formerly President of Ford Middle East and Africa, is moving from Dubai to America to take up a new position as Director of Product Marketing.

Well done to him but pity for us here in South Africa as Ford lately has been an all-South African outfit with Jacques in Dubai in charge of the region and Neale Hill all seasoned motor men running South Africa.

It always takes two or three years for a newcomer to come in and learn the South African psyche and how our market works, which is different from most other parts of the world.

From the Volkswagen Group Mark Hanley has been made head of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles with a great range of products, including their new Crafter series. Ryan Searle has taken over as national sales manager from Mark Hanley for the entire Volkswagen brand. Welcome back to Ryan who has had a long history in VW as his father, Peter, was CEO in former years.

It’s the season for dealer awards. Suzuki Centurion was crowned Top Suzuki Dealer in South Africa. Dealer to watch was Suzuki in Paarl with Suzuki Fourways winning the award as the Most Improved Dealer.

Audi’s annual awards showed 43 handed out in eight categories. Audi Centre in Arcadia, part of McCarthy’s, walked off as Audi Dealer of the Year. The Micro Dealer of the Year went to Hatfield Group in Pretoria.

Volkswagen has opened a new driving academy at Zwartkops to promote advanced driving, which is sorely needed judging by some of the antics of unlicensed drivers on the roads. They will teach 4×4’s, safety driving courses, high performance driving courses and have a new driver programme as well, so parents don’t worry about your children. Get them along to the driving school at Zwartkops or book through your Volkswagen dealer. It will certainly be worth your peace of mind being taught by trained professionals.

Fuel is going up again. Not by one or two cents but an expected 85c for petrol, diesel by 87c and paraffin by 82c which is really going to hit poor people who use oil for fuel and warmth.

Wesbank’s Rudolf Mahoney says that new vehicles sales in April were deceptive as the drop of 26.2% was recorded compared to March 2018.

March sales were, thanks to consumers, wanting to avoid the increase in VAT and ad valorum tax getting in the act and buying. The 1% increase is of course nearly 7% increase on the previous figure is you take 1% of 14%.

Brink Towbar Systems in PMBG have just completed the 350 000th tow bar which was fitted to a Ford Ranger T6. They stopped production for a short celebration before getting back to making more product.

Porsche, started on the 9th June 1948, have just celebrated their 70th year in existence. As a company they have never deviated from saying they are sports vehicles. And they sure are made to high quality standards. Their first quarter of 2018 saw Porsche sales around the world increase by 6% to 63 500 in the first quarter of this year. Main rivals of growth of course were the States, Europe and Germany. 6% of the Panamera models were hybrids.

Nissan has just celebrated making 150 million vehicles. They started their company in the mid-30’s making Austin-engined cars. Since they started the 21st century Datsun back in the market place and popular, has sold 300 000 Datsun Go’s. This is the car that Max Moseley, President of the FIA at the time, says it should be banned from the roads.

Up to the end of 2016 the Honda CRV was the top selling SUV in the world over a period of four years. This has just been surpassed by the next Nissan X-Trail which sold 814 000 vehicles in 2017.

Walmart, the world’s largest department store is moving into selling cars, which is something motor dealers in the States had feared. This might be the start of a trend as you can basically order your car, set up finance and give delivery instructions on your iPad.

Do you know who the biggest producer of diesel engines are? You don’t? Well, it’s Isuzu. They have produced 25 million diesel engines to date. Their engines are used for the construction industry, ships, forklifts, snowmobiles’ going to the South Pole and of course, for their bakkies and other models in their range.

Mannie da Canha received a Lifetime Achievement Award from NADA recently at the Kyalami Convention Centre. Mannie introduced Renault, Daihatsu, KIA, Hyundai, Citroën, MG and Rover, Bentley, Ssangyong, Kawasaki and Triumph motorbikes, Proton, Tata, Foton, Lamborghini and FAW cars into South Africa. Tell me that he is not a pioneer in the motor industry. He has always maintained,      “Why have assembly plants when you can import all the cars.”

Mercedes-Benz have now launched their X-Class bakkie based on the Nissan Navara. It has already got the title of “Navara with mascara”. Top of the range is R818 000 for an auto, which is serious shekels.

Fernando Alonso the twice Formula 1 World Champion, drove a Toyota Hybrid at Le Mans this year. He was part of a three-driver team that took first spot and has already helped to win the six-hour race at Spa.

2018 European Car of the Year is the Volvo XC 40.  Amazing the difference made to Volvo when Geely took over the concern and put money into R&D in Sweden with Swedish designers and assembly.

37% of South African motorists say they would still choose diesel vehicles over petrol vehicles although studies show 38 000 people die prematurely as a result of diesel engines exceeding their stated omissions.

It would be good, of course, if the Government went ahead with investing in the cleaner fuels for the Euro 5 engines we get from overseas with lower emissions and cleaner burning. Nothing has been done by the Government in the last six years as they collect emission charges for cars spouting out over 120 g/km from Euro2 fuels.

Triumph Motorcycles has a new distributor. It is Fury Motor Group with Bruce Allen, former chairman of NADA heading up the business. Formula 1 World Champion, Jensen Button, is going to lead the Honda Civic Type R attack in European saloon car racing.

Auto Trader recorded over 80 million paid viewers across its website and applications in January this year. That is 20 million more than the closest competitor. CEO is George Mienie who actually pointed out at the first summit ever held for motorcycles at the Bike Festival that motorcycle dealers don’t trade in second hand bikes. A profit maker if ever there was one has gone to waste. History was made when the Chinese Geely Group acquired a 7.3 billion Euro stake in Daimler. This is the first and I don’t think the last.

Geely now has access to knowledge and expertise to help them become a world leader in the production or commercial electric vehicles while Daimler gets into the Chinese market.

News of a different kind is that there might be a motor racing circuit between Nelspruit and White River which is a hotbed of motor sport in South Africa with the development taking place near Rockies Drift. The man behind the project is the Editor of Auto Dealer in the Lowveld – Matthys Ferreira.

And finally – a quote from Winston Churchill:  “Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions. Don’t forget to listen to Roger McCleery on “Motoring Today” on Radio Today, 1485AM or on your computers on www.1485.org.za or on DSTV Audio Channel 869 every Tuesday and Wednesday at 17h30. Get all your news on the motor industry, motorsport and everything to do with wheels and motors.