MILITARY spending is being reined in as part of ongoing US budget cuts, but lucrative contracts are still being signed with truckmakers. US giant Navistar has been awarded a $A900 million contract to overhaul a 2717-strong fleet of Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles (MRAPS) serving in Afghanistan. The trucks had been fitted out for deployment in Iraq and the emphasis was placed on protection from roadside bombs. They will now be fitted with new armour and suspension components that aim to offer similar protection, but also allow the vehicles to better tackle Afghanistan’s mountain terrain. NATURE doused the global car industry’s optimism for 2011 and violently shook the list of best sellers.
Toyota, driverless at the hands of a tsunami in March and Thai floods in October, has sunk from the world’s biggest vehicle manufacturer to third.
With a 2011 production of 7.9 million vehicles, it lags behind a relentless Volkswagen — with 8.2 million units for the year — well down on General Motors, expected to report sales of nine million vehicles.
GM will release its 2011 figures at the end of this month. Overall, there were a few highlights and records for the 2011 year.
Rolls-royce, owned by BMW, celebrated its 107th year with its best sales. It sold 3538 cars, up 31 per cent on the 2711 in 2010, thanks mainly to renewed buyer interest in its Ghost and Phantom models.
Parent BMW ported a record.
It earned the title of the world’s biggest luxury car maker, with 1.67 million sales, up 14 per cent on 2010, thanks to accelerated interest from China and the US.
Sales of the Mini rose by
re- 21.7 per cent, followed by a 12.8 per cent rise for the Bmw-brand products, which account for more than eight out of 10 cars sold by the company.
BMW sales executive Ian Robertson predicts it will remain the world’s largest premium car maker in 2012 and expects the global market for luxury vehicles to grow by more than 8 per cent this year.
Europe’s biggest car maker, Volkswagen, breached the eight million sales mark for the first time in the company’s history.
Sales included vehicles under the Volkswagen um- brella, including Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti, and Lamborghini.
VW’S 14 per cent sales increase over 2010 allowed it to frog-leap Toyota, which had held the crown for the previous three years.
General Motors’ forecast sales of more than nine million vehicles is based on projections from the first three quarters. Bentley reported a 37 per cent increase in sales on demand from China and the US. UK manufacturers are faring better away from their home market.
Overcoming UK sales, which slipped 4.4 per cent in 2011 over 2010, are booming sales in emerging markets and a strong revival in interest from US buyers.
Eight out of 10 cars made in the UK are sold abroad and the biggest market for British-made cars at Nissan, the country’s biggest car maker, is Russia.
A Rolls-royce Phantom is unveiled last year, above, while GM sales rose sharply in the US