With all the economic uncertainty in the world, FRANK BEETON felt it was an opportune time to take a look at what’s been happening to the bus markets in some key countries.
Several global markets returned negative year-on-year growth in 2011, and even China’s motor vehicle sales growth margins in 2011 were quite muted in comparison with preceding years. This was attributed to the absence of government stimuli and should be reason enough for global manufacturers to look nervously over their shoulders. Slow growth in China’s domestic market is sure to result in its manufacturers rapidly gaining a healthy interest in export business!
The overall market for buses and coaches in the United Kingdom during 2011 totalled 6 039 units, reflecting a decline of 12,8 percent compared to the previous year. This result included reductions in the number of both service buses and coaches sold, which declined by margins of 13,6 percent and 7,1 percent respectively. Positive results were recorded by minibuses with GVMs of 3,5 tonnes or less, which at 555 units, recorded year-on-year growth of 52,1 percent, and double-decker buses (1 278 units for a 34,5 percent increase), while the aggregate of all service buses above 8,5 tonnes GVM grew by 15,4 percent to reach a total volume of 2 560 units.
In India, the total bus and coach market for the period April to December 2011 reached 33 450 units, broken down into 10 672 units with GVM ratings between 7,5 and 12 tonnes, and 22 481 heavier passenger vehicles. The overall result reflected a decline of 5,6 percent when compared with the equivalent period one year earlier, although the lighter category returned positive growth of 5,6 percent. The major suppliers in the lighter group were Tata Motors (40,7 percent penetration), SML Isuzu Limited (21,9 percent) and Eicher (21,5 percent), while in the heavier category, Ashok Leyland led with 53,4 percent share, followed by Tata Motors (43 percent), and Eicher (2,5 percent).
In Japan, bus and coach sales volumes also declined in the year-on-year comparison. The 2011 total of 10 651 units was 16,6 percent off the 2010 result – although this decline can be attributed to production disruptions caused by the tsunami and earthquake that struck the country in March, 2011. The overall market leader was Toyota’s Coaster midibus, which captured 31,5 percent of available sales, followed by Nissan Motors’ equivalent Civilian model (22,3 percent) and Hino’s full bus range (19,9 percent).
The market for buses and coaches also declined in South Korea, falling by a margin of 7,1 percent from 12 228 units in 2010 to 11 354 last year. This market was dominated by local manufacturers Hyundai, Daewoo Bus and Kia, with 2011 market shares of 70,8 percent, 15,2 percent and 14 percent respectively.
In Russia, bus production over 1,5 tonnes GVM totaled 51 620 units in calendar 2011, an increase of 9,3 percent over the 2010 volume. The leading manufacturers were GAZ (28,3 percent of the total), PAZ (19,4 percent) and UAZ (18,6 percent). Total retail sales of 60 607 units in the same period comfortably exceeded the production total, being inflated by sales of an increasing number of imported buses, which were up by 90 percent to
12 743 units during the year.
The most recent market statistics available for China cover the nine months from January to September 2011. During that period, fully-built-up bus and coach sales, at 293 669 units, grew by 12 percent when compared to the equivalent result for 2010, while sales of passenger vehicle chassis, at 62 787 units, grew by less than one percent in the same comparison. This confirms a heavy preference for “one-stop” complete bus buying in China. In the fully-built-up division, Zhengzhou Yutong led the large and medium sized vehicle categories with 28,8 percent and 33 percent segment shares respectively, while Shengyang Jinbei topped the list in the light bus and coach segment with a penetration level of 34,2 percent. In the chassis-only division, the heavy, medium and light categories were all topped by Dong Feng Motors, with segment shares of 35,9 percent, 52,55 and 42 percent respectively.
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