Whenever I start to write this newsletter, I always dial into the Financial Times for inspiration. They generally carry the most up-to-date news and articles about the automotive industry. None more so than this week.
To begin with, everybody is talking about the fall in sales in China. October is down 12% year on year. And while we have suffered similar drops in past years in the UK, one month of China’s sales equals approximately one year of UK sales. So it’s effect on the global market is massive. Last year they sold 28.8 million units. A pathetic sales penetration in the face of 1.5 billion inhabitants I will admit, but still very significant, and one that worries many European manufacturers, especially the Germans, who have up until now done extremely well over there.
Their second headline “Brexit isn’t the UK car industry’s biggest problem” is very appropriate. And in fact it ties in well with the launch of a new service called Turo which was announced in AM-online today. Because the gist of the FT article is that young urban dwellers are just not into car ownership any more, and consequently car sales are going to fall off a cliff over the next few years. Well Turo claims to have launched the “Airbnb of cars”. They claim that the average car spends just 9 hours a week being driven, sitting idle for the remaining 159. And if we could only rent the thing out for a fair proportion of those we could earn, on average, £6000 a year. And I am guessing, we could take another seven or eight cars off the road. They claim to have sorted out insurance issues and the technology platform, which is good news for car owners, consumers and the green lobby, but not great for car manufacturers. I suspect that many of us looked sceptically at Uber, Airbnb and even Amazon when they launched. Who knows how Turo will do, because we take the others very seriously now.
Their final headline highlights the new chairman of Tesla. The person who will finally rein in their headstrong chief executive, Elon Musk. It has to be said that many are sceptical that Robyn Denholm will have the necessary toughness and authority to control her charge. Others, however, say that she has managed it successfully elsewhere, especially in the telecoms industry from where she originates. You have to say that the company needs it, and in fact the appointment of the chairman was at the insistence of the US authorities after recent controversies over their share price and production figures. But whatever the outcome, Tesla is here to stay, like many of the other new big players on the world stage.
Have a great weekend, at least you won’t be woken by fireworks this week.
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