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BIG DEVELOPMENTS

IN NEW ZEALAND MOTOR

TRADE

ASSEMBLY WORK AT PETONE

"A HARD FIGHT FOB THE

ENGLISH CAR."

It is now some weeks since the sale of between four and five acres of Crown laud at Petone, Wellington, was made to agents acting on behalf of a firm, the identity of wnich was not at the moment made public. Subsequently it wa,s announced that the purchasers were the recentlyregistered firm of General. Motors (N.Z.), Ltd., with"*, nominal capital of £50,000, and that the objects of the company were "to buy 'or manufacture, import, cxl port, sell, and deal in automobiles, motors, engines, aeroplanes, mo-tor-boats, etc. . . ."

At that the official announcement ends, but information gathered is to the effect that developments upon a very large scale are already in train, developments which will have a far-reaching effect upon the Dominion's motor trade.

Car assembly work is not altogether new to the Dominion, for the Ford Company is already carrying out such work, or perhaps more correctly, the completion of assembly, at Wellington and Timaru, after importing boxed chassis, boxed engines, and nested bodies. General Motors, it ia stated, propose to gp further into tho assembl" principle, to import^ their car parts more directly from the machine-rooms of overseas factories, packed, to the smallest economical space, and to place them upon "efficiency-routed" conveyors, to be riveted, bolted, and fitted into the machine that runs from the final working stage, painted and polished, ready for the road. READY-TOtBUILD ASSEMBLY shops. It is gathered that, providing no unforeseen difficulties arise, the preparation of the site will be commenced almost immediately, and the erection of the buildings will follow upon the arrival of the material in a month or so. Steel construction will be used practically throughout, the wall, gir? der, and roof parts being imported from America upon the ready-to-build plan followed in the erection of many large American industrial Ljildinga to-day. Two main buildings, it is stated, are provided for, the larger of which., with a floor area of something like 80,000 square feet, will be the largest single floor—excepting temporary exhibition buildings—in the Do» minion. THE MACHINES HANDLED. The American firm of General Motors is one of the moßt powerful motor concerns in the world, handling several well-known makes of cars, Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland, Chevrolet, Pontiae (the latter not yet known on the Australasian market), G.M.C., and Chevrolet trucks, and it has also recently extended its interests to English cars, having taken over the Vauxhall works, and having also negotiated, so far without having reached finality, with the Austin Company. Several of these machines iigure prominently upon the sales lists of the Dominion motor tra^de, and if General Motors (N.Z.), Ltd., handles these cars through its Petone assembly works, and also through its own selling organisation—and it is stated that the contracts held by agents expire about the middle of the year—it must take a very large share of New Zealand motor business, even if the numbers of these particular cars imported last year are not exceeded. TROUBLES OF THE ENGLISH MAKER. During the war years the English car manufacturer had other work to do, and when release from war duties came he found his markets in the Dominions and colonies largely gone, and, furthermore, that the overseas motor trader, unable to obtain cars from Britain and doubtful of the prospects for some time to come, had definitely committed himself for a year, two years, or more, ahead. Not only that, but the English maker, to cope with war-time work, had enlarged his factories and carried a heavier burden of capital costs than ever before the war. Looked at in percentages the recovery of the English car on the New Zealand market has been rapid, but in numbers imported the English car has a very long way to go to gain tho market, as the following table (which is probably a fairly correct estimated chows:— ■'.■■•.

As is quite generally recognised, there is a wide difference between certain cars which are classed as Canadian and cars manufactured in Britain with wholly British capital. TAKOT PROVISIONS. Under the existing tariff the British car is at an advantage as compared with the (imported complete) American car. The American car is assessed for duty on the basis of 10' per cent, ad valorem, plus 1 per cent, primage, plus 25 per cent., plus £15 per car for the protection of the Dominion body building industry. There is a preferential duty of 10 per cent, in favour of the English car, which paya 10 per cent, ad valorem, plus primage,, plus 15 per cent., and £10 for the, protection of the body building industry. According to the manner in which the Customs Act may be read, the importation of American cars into New Zealand unassembled may overcome the preference given the British car and turn the preferential treatment (£lO instead of £15) in respect of body building to a disadvantage of £10 per car. Naturally the motor trade, without exception, is keenly interested in the developments and in the probability of a keener competition to follow, particularly with t]ie English car, BODY BUILDING STAGNANT. The purpose of the tariff, said a leading Wellington .business man, had two objects: to encourage and protect local industry and to give preference to British goods. In the first regard it had failed, for the body building industry was in a state of stagna

tion. Australia's tariff scale was such as very definitely to encourage the body building industry, and far more chassis were annually imported into Australia than were oars; the reverse was the case in New Zealand. The comparative position during the last three years as to the importation of cars and chassis into Australia and. New Zealand had been approximately:

'Estimate based on figures for May, June, and September. In 1906 there wore employed in the eoaehbuilding and wheelwright trades 14G5 workers. In 1924 the number of men employed upon coachbuilding, wheelwrighting, and car and truck body building had fallen to 1302. In Australia in 1906, 3350 hands were employed in the car body building business; -in 1924, 14,718 were so employed, and whereas the increase in value of the Australian product w<is over ninefold, the increase in the New Zealand industry was less- than threefold. '' We have not really developed the motor body building industry, we have merely transferred a portion of our coachbuilders over to motor body work. The tariff does not give sufficient protection to allow local industry to develop with the motor-car business as it h,as grown throughout the country.'' The tariff, together with the British efforts to meet the market and the natural British preference for British goods, had, he continued, certainly achieved some measure of success,, as tho table already given shows, *It was that very success of the British manufacturer that the American had set out to combat, ASSEMBLED AND UNASSEMBLED Taking the case of a certain wellknown car, he worked out the comparative costs under different uieth? ods of importation, his figuring bringing him to the conclusion that by importing thia car unasseinble.il there would be (over the same car imported assembled) a, saving of £4 13s on packing, £10 in freight, and £17 in duty, total £3- 13s. Two thousand of that particular make of car were imported into New Zealand last year, and there would therefore be a revr enue loss of £34,000. Assuming that two thousand more cars, of a higher grade, were similarly imported, the revenue loss would amount to possibly £68,000. Imported through Canada, the American unassembled car would show a total saving of approximately £22 over the British assembled car, for packing, freight, and duty, ot which about £10 would be in duty, in spite of preferential treatment. "PREFERENCE KNOCKED TO PIECES" "It looks very much as if British preference is knocked to pieces. One of the greatest obstacles which the true British- manufacturer must face is the use which the "American manufacturer makes of Canada. In a few months' time we will have many more cars, coming to New Zealand from Canada, 'from just over the border,' as British goods, and there is the distinct probability that others again will be forced into the position of adopting the same policy. Yet all the capital and interests are purely American, This is merely making use of Canada to fool British preference. No wonder we buy more from Canada than she buys from us. A great deal will depend upon the interpretation which will in the future be placed upon the clauses of the Customs Act as to such importations through, Canada, but whatever should be that interpretation, the English car manufacturer is faced with one of the sharpest fights he has ever had to undertake."

L/AltD AiNJJ Ufl.ii.OOXQ xm.r\jni.JJlJ, 'Other ■'■ British. Canadian. Countries. .922 .. 152 1908 1270 923 .. 495 7349 4458 L924 .. 1015 10,313 4328 L925* 2606 ' 7180 6751 *Eleven months .

New Zealand. Cars. 923 ll,50« .924 14.2P5 .923* 14,01!) *Eleveu months. Australia. Chassis. 912 1358 1318 ! Cars.' 923 593(i .024 13,310 .925* 13,400 Chassis. 37,632 70,478 80,000

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19260120.2.22

Bibliographic details

BIG DEVELOPMENTS, Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 16, 20 January 1926

Word Count
1,514

BIG DEVELOPMENTS Evening Post, Volume CXI, Issue 16, 20 January 1926

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