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Japanese market set to shrink

With a shrinking domestic market, the powers that be at Toyota Motor Corp have decided to halve the number of car models sold in Japan by 2025. 

The decision has been made in response to a declining trend as the Japanese population ages and the younger generation chooses alternative measures to car ownership. 

Meanwhile, automakers worldwide are increasingly focusing their research and development efforts on electric vehicles (EVs) and autonomous driving technology. 

Toyota will gradually cut the models down from 60 to 30 by 2025, according to an unauthorised spokesperson who was interviewed by worldwide news provider, Reuters.

The news comes close behind an announcement by Honda Motor Co Ltd, to end production at a domestic factory by 2022.

 

“As Toyota begins to develop EVs for markets including China, Europe and the United States, they will likely focus on making models which can be sold both at home and abroad,” says Yoshiaki Kawano, manager of Japan/Korea vehicle sales forecasts at IHS Automotive.

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Record number of used-car dealers

A record number of dealers sold used cars last month, with 3,500 registered dealers – the highest number for the eighth month running.

Meanwhile, used-car transaction numbers grew moderately throughout the country –
up 1.6 per cent on the previous year to date.

New car sales were also higher than September 2016 by about 1.5 per cent. This was mainly caused by a large increase in the number of new vehicles sold into the rental vehicle market (23 per cent higher than last year).

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Steel scandal hits marques

Some of the world’s biggest car companies – including Toyota and Honda – have been rocked by an industrial scandal in Japan over falsified data relating to the strength and durability of aluminium used in the production of their vehicles.

Kobe Steel, one of Japan’s key metal producers, says its staff has falsified the strength and durability of metal products delivered to more than 200 companies. These include automotive manufacturers, aerospace companies and the space industry.

The company works with several other marques, such as Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Ford, General Motors and Mitsubishi.

Kobe Steel says data had been falsified to make the metals look as if they reached quality standards. The false information has been linked back to four aluminium factories in Japan, and, for some items, the practice goes back about a decade, says Naoto Umehara, executive vice-president.

The company is now investigating the practice, but says so far there have been no safety concerns. Toyota has confirmed its use of aluminium with falsified strength and durability ratings in doors and other outer areas.

A spokesman says: “We are working to identify which models might be subject to this situation and what components were used. We recognise this breach of compliance principles on the part of a supplier is a grave issue.”

Honda has also stated it has used materials with false ratings in its doors and hoods, while Mazda and Mitsubishi are investigating if their vehicles are affected.

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Carmakers agree to diesel filter

German carmakers have agreed to install software in 5.3 million cars to make exhaust filtering systems more effective.

The software will bring down the vehicles’ emissions of nitrogen oxide by 25-30 percent.

A statement from German industry body Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) said the software updates would be free for motorists and would be just as effective in cutting nitrogen oxide levels as bans on diesel vehicles would be.

The targeted diesel cars will be mainly in the Euro-5 category for car emissions and some in the Euro-6 category.

Meanwhile, the manufacturers will also offer incentives for consumers to trade in diesel cars that are 10 years old or older.

BMW will give a discount of up to €2,000 ($NZ 3,229.83) to drivers who exchange a Euro-4 category BMW when they buy a new diesel BMW, electric BMW or Mini.

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UK market struggles

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) states that the market is falling for the fourth month in a row for new car registrations in the United Kingdom.

According to the SMMT, registrations fell in July from the same time last year, by 9.3 per cent with about 162,000 vehicles sold last month. So far this year, 1.56 million cars have been sold, down 2.2 per cent from a year earlier.

“The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit,” Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive says

The government said last month it was to ban all new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide threaten public health.

“While it’s encouraging to see record achievements for alternatively fuelled vehicles, consumers considering other fuel types will have undoubtedly been affected by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s clean air plans,” Hawes says.

Meanwhile, sales of electric and hybrid cars are growing with a market share of 5.5 per cent. This is up from a year ago when they only held three per cent of the market share.

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Advertising sways customers

According to a survey by the Motor Ombudsman, approximately a quarter of consumers are swayed by advertisements.

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Imports down across the board

A total of 25,735 passenger and light commercial vehicles were imported into the country last month, which was down 13 per cent on the same month last year, when 29,457 vehicles crossed the border. There were 9,825 new cars and 2,969 new light commercials, for a total of 12,794 new light vehicles.

Used light vehicles totaled 13,494, of which 459 were light commercials. Used car imports were substantially down on the previous month, when 19,579 vehicles were imported, only 13,035 came in during April, a decrease of 33 per cent on March this year.

The top country of origin for used cars was Japan with 12,288 units, which was 94.3 per cent of the market share for the month. Australia followed with 433 vehicles – a market share of 3.3 per cent, followed by Great Britain with 152 used cars and a 1.2 per cent share of the monthly used car imports. 

 

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The future for NZ vehicles

With the majority of vehicle manufacturers working on autonomous technology, it is no surprise that self-driving vehicles are part of the future.

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Ferrari posts large profit

Ferarri’s first-quarter profit has jumped 36 per cent.

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Used commercial vehicle sales remain high

Used commercial sales rose by 9.9 per cent last month with 908 vehicles sold – up from 826 sold during same time last year. 

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MTA100 centenary

The MTA100 Car Show of the century took place last weekend, with industry insiders and automotive enthusiasts, of all ages, swarming to Wellington’s waterfront to enjoy some of the greatest cars ever made.

The show celebrated the Motor Trade Association (MTA)’s centenary and included a wide array of vehicles from crank-handle models through to autonomous and modern electric vehicles (EVs).

The vehicles were showcased in the TSB Arena and included Rinspeed concept cars (from the automotive manufacturer and tuning designer based in Switzerland) through to unique Kiwi vehicle such as the Trekka and Chris Amon’s Maserati.

Visitors to the event were also given the opportunity to take an EV out for a test drive with the Better NZ Trust.

Head of Rinspeed, Frank M Rinderknecht and his Kiwi designer Alain Brideson were the first speakers at the event, which marked the first time a Rinspeed vehicle has arrived in Australasia.

 

Trade me motors’ sales director, Chris Knight, who attended the event, says the range of speakers at the event was very impressive. “There was also a great range of manufacturers showcasing what was coming in the future. From the advanced technology to what’s available currently.”

The event was open to the public on April 29 and 30.

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