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Brand Finance Global 500 has named the world’s strongest brand names for 2020. Only 12 brands were awarded their highest AAA rating. Coming out tops was Ferrari for the second consecutive year. This competition was announced to the World Economic Forum at Davos. The Brand Global 500 report calculates the Ferrari brand at $9.1bn for the year-on-year progression of 9%.  

Porsche was announced as the Best Employer 2020 for the first time in Germany. The survey was run by Glassdoor. 

The safest car tested by the Indian N-Cap testing system which compares with any other system in the world was the entry level Mahindra XUV300. It received a 5-Star rating for side- and front impact tests. It scored 16.42 out of 17 for adult protection giving it 5 out of 5 stars and making it the highest scoring vehicle ever in the Indian N-Cap Safety Programme. They also got 4 stars for child protection. 

What Car? magazine in Europe has announced their Car of the Year Awards for 2020. Winning the Large SUV Award for the third year in a row was the Peugeot 5008 SUV. And it shows on our roads where they are starting to make headway into the SUV market big time as they expand their Dealer Organisation and make their presence known in South Africa. 

20 or 30 years ago Spence Stirling who was the MD of Sigma told me that in the not too distant future there are going to be only seven major manufacturers of motor vehicles in the world.  I said: “No ways, not with the number that we have in Japan, Korea, India, Europe, America, South America and all over the place.” Well, it is getting close. The Volvo Group and Isuzu Motors have formed a strategic alliance to establish a technical partnership in the heavy truck business for both Isuzu Motors and UD Trucks in Japan to handle international markets.    

South Africa has said farewell to the Volvo V40 and V40 Cross Country which quietly slipped out of the country last year. 

Toyota’s Sports GR86 is going to use Subaru’s fresh new 1.8 litre turbo flat four. This will give it real performance as well. 

Mercedes-Benz in South Africa who don’t report their sales figures have announced that they are South Africa’s leading luxury brand in the country. That is despite a challenging market and economic conditions saw an overall decline in the luxury vehicle section. A Mercedes-Benz A Class won the Auto Trader South African Guild of Motoring Journalists’ Car of the Year title for 2020. 

Good to see Goodyear starting to get back into International competition with their tyres. It wasn’t too long ago that they pulled out totally of motorsport probably thinking that they were such a strong brand name nobody would challenge them. Then in came Hankook, Continental, Michelin and Pirelli into the International racing scene and took over. Now Goodyear is back, hopefully back here in South Africa as well to prove the excellence of their tyres in competition. They are going to start by supplying the European Le Mans Series teams with their new technology Goodyear Tyres. 

The MotoGP Series that should have started on 8th March (now delayed due to Corona virus) when our South African, Brad Binder will be seen racing a KTM Works machine up against the likes of Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez etc. He would have been the Moto2 winner last year if he had started the season as he finished it. He was only three points behind at the finish at the end. He spent the first six months sorting out his bike. 

Good news also that both the Binder brothers were back in South Africa to ride in the 2020 DJ which started in Heidelberg and went down to Durban, or rather, Hillcrest. 

It is now official. Mercedes-Benz X-Class Double Cab bakkie has announced the closure of that assembly line at the end of May. Whoever you are it is very hard to take on the established brands in the one-ton bakkie class, certainly here in South Africa where Toyota, Ford Ranger, Isuzu and Nissan hold sway. 

Here is a quote from Winston Churchill which is absolutely right for our current times: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. Its inherent virtue is in the equal sharing of misery.” 

Here is another one from Churchill: “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” Does this apply to us here in South Africa at the moment or not. 

Mark Twain said “If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed and if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”  

Here is another – “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Government. But then I repeat myself.” 

The AA that keeps the eye on transport and all things motoring says the Government is trying to introduce new laws with the purpose of increasing their kitty. The Government is wanting to add a “Stealth Tax” to the AARTO Act so that if you have any fine issued for any amount an additional R100 will be added to it. There is no way you can fight this in Court. 

Going on current income from the motoring as regards fines, this could mean that they will be grabbing another R2bn from their cash cow: the South African Motor Industry and motorists. Guaranteed it won’t be used for improving our roads, potholes and the huge uncontrolled traffic jams we suffer every day. Dubai and Switzerland here comes our dough! 

It is 50 years since the legendary Nissan GT-R made its appearance at the 1968 Tokyo Motor Show. Jeremy Clarkson of  Top Gear describes it as one of the very best cars in the world and gave it the nickname “Godzilla”. It certainly has earned its reputation of being one of the fastest cars we have in this country and seen once again at the Simola Hill Climb against every type of European opposition. 

GWM, with a view to increasing production of their SUV’s and electric vehicles – which are in their plans – have just bought the GM factory in India. Don’t underestimate these people. 

Toyota South Africa is going to build a new passenger vehicle at its Durban plant where it is investing big money. Probably the biggest investor in our country, bar none. The Government, of course, claim it is a result of them looking for investment in this country when it fact it was planned anyway by Toyota. This is to increase their sales in South Africa with new models and for investment in Africa along with other markets as well. 

Amazing that VW since it started producing the Polo down in the plant at Uitenhage has completed 200 000 Polo’s. More than              1.1 million vehicles have been exported from Uitenhage to right hand- and left-hand drive markets around the world. 

Alfa Romeo in 2020 celebrates 110 years of unparalleled history. It is going to be remembered on June 24th which is when they first started making vehicles. 

Lately they have been prominent with wins in the Mille Miglia. They will be in attendance at the Goowood Festival this year and also celebrate at their very own museum in Aresa. The South African Alfa Romeo Club are also planning big events to celebrate their centenary. 

After a career spanning more than 35 years Leon Theron has been appointed Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Toyota here in South Africa. He has been at Toyota for 28 of these years and is certainly a dyed-in-the-wool motor man. He takes over from Calvyn Hamman who retired after a great career at the end of 2019. 

big surprise at the Toyota’s State of the Motor Industry event which gave a very honest opinion of how the economy is doing, showed there was real optimism as they continue investing in Toyota in South Africa.   

Another big surprise on the day was the launch of the new Corolla Quest based on the former Corolla model. The Quest has new styling after years of collaboration between the plant at Prospecton, while the marketing department came up with a newly designed vehicle which has a 1.8 litre engine, and a 6-speed ’box. There are lots of extra safety features – in fact everything you could need in a car. 

The price starts at R249 900 and goes up to R317 700. Its real value for money with free service on a 45 000km service plan and a 3-year/100 000 km warranty. Toyota is certainly feeding the market with some very up-to-date, well priced wheels. 

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on’t forget to listen to Roger McCleery to hear  more inside stories every Tuesday afternoon on his Motoring programme on Radio Today (1485 AM) or on DSTV Audio Channel 869, on social media and podcast around the world.