A weekly look at all that sucks in the car industry, and some good bits
Over years of car ownership I’ve rarely hankered for the new, preferring instead to buy used and keep what I have in good order for as long as financially viable. Car makers don’t like that. They want us to buy new, trade our car for the latest model regularly.
Cars are built in the manner of a Windows computer system. You think that is all you will ever need but as time goes by facilities in your system begin to disappear. Bill Gate’s empire is telling you, gently forcing you, to dump what you have and buy the latest version of the system. You can’t add or augment the system you have for a few pounds, you have to buy the whole package at the full price. The joys of built in obsolescence.
The old 3-door RAV I use as everyday transport is so shiny and pimped – years of steady improvements as and when afforded – pedestrians check it out, nose against the tinted glass to see inside. A few ask where they can buy one, disappointed when I tell them the car is 22 years old, no longer available.
Car be gone!
According to new research almost one in ten folk don’t want the expense of buying new equipment. They think they don’t need a car at all. The findings from automotive data HPI show 9 percent of motorists aged between 45 and 54 believe that they no longer need a car, and that was one of they key reasons why they were selling their cars.
There were any number of reasons given for the radical change in attitude; upkeep of cars too costly, car taxes onerous, traffic congestion – hours wasted sitting in traffic queues, city transportation improving, people choosing bicycles and electric two-wheeler, (cycle sales have flattened), and one reason from left field – boredom. A lot of cars are boring, boring to sit in, boring to drive, boring to look at. More than half of drivers aged 18-24 said that they had sold their cars because of mechanical issues.
The survey said nothing about the newly car-less standing in freezing bus shelters in dark hours – if lucky to have what passes as a shelter near their home or work.
Flavour of the month
Over seventy percent of folk consulted in the 45-54 age range said they’d sell up in favour of owning a newer and better car. A fifth of young motorists also said they sold their cars because of high running costs. In fact, the youngest age range express the greatest anxiety about car ownership.
18-24-year-old owners are the most concerned with keeping track of the value of their cars. The rest of us don’t much care until we come to sell, and which stage we adopt an attitude of over-valuing it. The time to sell is when it’s running well, serviced, and in good nick, not when it’s blowing blue smoke and rattling.
Car manufacturers spend a lot of money checking on what buyers will expect in the short-to-medium term. Current predictions for 10 years hence are:
- We will move from car ownership to ‘usership’ with traditional dealers offering leasing and subscription services.
- Internet will be standard in all vehicles in the next 5-10 years meaning connectivity to mobiles, work and home appliances will be commonplace.
- Virtual co-pilots will control driving enabling automatic lane changes and parking. Instead of pulling over for a snooze, we can sleep while on the move.
- This one I like: there’ll be more focus on the interior of the car with touch screens, entertainment, refreshments and comfort all incorporated within the design.
- The next five years will see motorists increasingly buying personalised cars online with virtual test drives and home delivery.
He says, I say
Fernando Garcia, HPI consumer director, says, “There’s been a staggering amount of change in the industry, how people buy and sell cars, but nothing compared to how things will evolve as technology advances and attitudes change. We’re seeing cars upgraded every few years like mobile phones, a frequency likely to increase.”
I’d like to think dealerships are wise to a growing public mood, an environmentally friendly attitude, that dislikes throwaway possessions as if plastic bags. People are opting to take bus, taxi or train, or if car happy like me, upgrade old parts exchanged for the latest. Cars should be manufactured with a minimum life of 20 years, all parts in it, dash equipment too, designed for upgrades. Just saying.
GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS
Best and worst
There’s an after market insurance company called Warranty Wise. It specialises in covering the bits of your car that are liable to need replacing once the dealer warranty has finished. Warranty Wise keeps note of which cars fall apart quickly and which rarely make claims. It calculates that by age. Results can be surprising, cheap models lasting better than luxury models. Owners of a VW Polo, Ford Fiesta, Audi A3, BMW 3 Series, and the Nissan Qashqui don’t activate the warranty until well beyond 9 years. Honda, Toyota, Skoda, Mazda brands score well. Brands that make most claims are Land Rover (infamous in the industry), Jaguar, Volvo, BMW, and Vauxhall. The most common faults are shared among the brands: suspension, alternators, steering, and a myriad of electrical glitches. Top of the list for poor durability – the £90,000 Range Rover Sport.
Nissan says No Brexit
Nissan confirms what this column predicted weeks ago, that it will build its new XTrail SUV outside the UK, the first indication car makers have lost confidence in Merry May’s promise of no tariffs. Readers will sense we are seeing the tip of the iceberg. The company blames Brexit. Another cat out of the bag is the alleged £80 million offered to Nissan to hang fire. People are screaming ‘corruption’ as if a car company has never received state aid before. May promised to subsidise tariffs after Brexit – well, now we know how much she thought she’d have to pay. What I find odd are English folk who write angrily denying Nissan’s decision has anything to do with Brexit. Some of those who write are Nissan workers living in Leaveland, otherwise known as Sunderland. Nissan assembles cars in the UK from parts imported from the EU to sell in the UK and the EU. Did Nissan workers really assume a Japanese employer is not Onion Johnny?
Workplace parking levy
This arrived in my in-try from Adam McVey the SNP council leader of Edinburgh Council. Any reader got the skinny on it? “The Scottish Government’s indication of acceptance of the Green amendment to the Transport Bill will also allow us to explore further the introduction of a ‘Workplace Parking Levy’, which could provide much-needed revenue to invest in public transport, active travel and other key public services while tackling congestion.” I stand to be corrected, but is this not a Tory idea mooted some years back?