While there we go, the end of another decade. It is interesting to see how the industry has progressed over that time. In 2010 there was a total of just over 2m new cars sold. This year the predictions are around 2.3m, despite a substantial year on year fall. Much of this is blamed on Brexit and WLTP. Car manufacturing, however, has stood fairly static. The SMMT reported a continued fall in manufacturing last month, it estimates that we will finish the year on 1.3m vehicles. In 2010, production was at almost identical levels. At that point, Vauxhall and Ford held the top four places between for sales by model, with only the BMW 3 series in 8th position as any sort of contender from the premium bracket. By 2019 the Mercedes-Benz a class was the fifth biggest seller, propelling the manufacturer very much into the volume sphere.
But it has probably not been the finest 10 years for the UK automotive industry. The similarity between the start and end of the decade disguises how things boomed in the middle. By 2016 we were producing well over 1.8 million vehicles a year, and car registrations of nearly 2.7 million. Analysts sadly are optimistic for the start of the next decade. Continuing economic turmoil, an industry very much in flux and the EU bearing down with severe emissions restrictions, most predict that manufacturing will continue to fall, and we will be lucky to sell more vehicles next year than we have this.
Nevertheless, groups like Marshalls continue to see the upside in the industry. They completed their purchase of 6 VW businesses from Jardines this week, and added in a new Volvo business, purchased from Vertu. The Volvo dealerships are part of a franchise very much on the rise, with accelerated electrification and significant investment from their Chinese parents. Marshalls now own 7 Volvo businesses, a substantial portion of the manufacturer’s network.
This week also saw the confirmation that FCA and PSA (Fiat, Chrysler and Peugeot group) a set to finalise their merger in the coming year. This will make the world’s fourth largest car manufacturer, and will give them significant toehold is in markets all around the globe. Quite what it will mean for the U.K.’s Vauxhall manufacturing plants, however, is unclear. Though many are sceptical that they can survive.
This will be our last newsletter of 2019. Our thanks to all of our customers, candidates and interested parties over the past year. It has certainly been an intriguing ride. Enjoy your Christmas break and happy new decade.
It is always easier to believe than to deny. Our minds are naturally affirmative.
John Burroughs (1837 – 1921)
What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.
Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881)
Gratitude is merely the secret hope of further favours.
Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 – 1680)
Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.