October’s motoring news highlights
From the US shutdown to the on-going saga of Charles Morgan’s removal from the famous car company that bears his name, October was not a slow news month.
The crisis in North America did not appear to affect its car industry greatly, although the reported first year-over-year decline in 27 months hints at the affect that a government shutdown has on consumer confidence. In Europe, another shutdown affected PSA, the holding company of both Peugeot and Citroen, which closed one of its long-standing French factories at the end of last month, in response to dire European new car sales. Situated near Paris, the plant in Aulnay-sous-Bois is famed for producing over a million of each Citroen CX, AX and Saxos, as well as making Peugeot 104 and 205 models. The move was a bitter medicine for the car giant, as it seeks to return to profitability. Yet, it is thought that another of its French factories will also face the axe, even with the possibility of securing a Chinese funding saviour.
Meanwhile, closer to home, winter motoring would not be complete without some statistics on potholes. Apparently, councils have received over 32,000 claims from owners of cars that have been damaged directly by poor road surfaces. Yet, it seems as though the Department of Transport feels that there is no problem, by stating that the government has set aside sufficient money to fill in the holes that tend to proliferate on our nation’s carriageways come wintertime. The problem remains that many local council repairs are only short-term fixes and the uneven roads are having longer term affects on the health of our cars, which are not noticeable immediately. Personally, I have had my car’s wheel alignment adjusted twice this year, not because I have driven it into kerbs, but due to its suspension being hammered continually by badly denigrated road-surfaces. Just bear in mind that ALL local authorities hold insurance policies against this kind of claim. Do not be afraid to make one.
Last month brought bad news, if you are a car-obsessed teenager, because the Department of Transport has been investigating the introduction of graduated licensing, which would lengthen the time taken for a new post-test licence to become ‘full’, to three years. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is also calling for at least a 12-months-long learning period, before any young driver can apply to take a driving test. After passing, new limitations might include a novice driver being banned from carrying passengers under 30 years of age and from driving between 10.00pm and 5.00am. While this might seem laudable from a safety point of view, I consider the measures as being too draconian, aside from the impracticalities of policing the rules. Above all, many rurally-based teenagers work late hours casually, how are they meant to return home safely?
Onto car model news and Vauxhall’s Corsa (pictured) celebrated its 20th anniversary last month, since it took over from the venerable Nova. While I have never been a fan of the Corsa in any of its iterations, considering their clunky gear-changes, woolly steering, wooden suspension systems and cramped driving positions to be their worst attributes, the model has been a financial winner for Vauxhall’s General Motors parent company. At the other end of the scale, Aston Martin has ceased production of its Cygnet model. Although I had criticised this model previously, which is simply an overpriced Toyota iQ decked out with extra leather and a posh grille, I can comprehend its purpose. The Cygnet had a vital role of allowing AM to meet North American Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) figures but, now that the ugly duckling has been slain, with less than 1,000 examples sold globally (167 in the UK), it will be interesting to see the luxury carmaker’s next step, especially as it is now ‘in bed with‘ Mercedes-Benz. Yet, Cygnets are available on the used car scene. Anyone for a cramped but upmarket A-Class alternative?