Fleet News

Will the show stars last the test of time?

'THE motor show is here again with all the glitz and glamour the industry can throw at it. But all that glitters is not necessarily gold – especially when it comes to used cars. Of course cars look fantastic in the unnaturally-lit surroundings of the NEC in Birmingham but, a couple of years down the line, they will look very different in the cold light of day.

Some of the stars of Birmingham will remain so for a long time while others will fade away very quickly and the real challenge for all manufacturers is to produce a new car that will be just as popular used.

When you look around the show you intuitively know which ones will make it, and those that won't.

Looks aren't everything because there is build quality and image to consider – and in some ways these qualities are even more important in the used market.

Getting a new car right is very difficult and getting it right first time is even more difficult because of the inevitable 'teething problems'.

These can sometimes stay with the car for a long time, so some cars can turn out to be a disaster on the used market.

One of the problems with modern cars is their technical sophistication – there is so much more to go wrong. Everyone understands this but it is also true that sometimes a new car is rushed out, just to keep up with the market.

Launches are sometimes brought forward before everything is fully tested and often it may be the poor old used car buyer who discovers what this means.

So, when you see all the new cars with the coloured spot lights playing over the shiny paintwork try to picture them as they will be for most of their existence – used cars.

Respect is due to truckers

I RECENTLY got the chance to drive a couple of trucks, one being the new ECT from ERF and the other a Mercedes-Benz Actros. Both had 40-foot trailers and a total weight of more than 41- tonnes. These things are monsters and if you have never driven one you don't know what you are missing.

They have all the creature comforts of modern cars, such as air-conditioning and cruise control, sometimes they are automatic and most have bunk beds.

But, on a serious note, because they are so big they are very challenging to drive, something the car driver may never think about.

One of those 'ideal world' scenarios would be a cab ride in one of these beasts as part of every car driver's training – or even a turn at the wheel.

This could be adopted by the fleet industry now, with all company car drivers given the pleasure of sitting in one.

This would give motorists not only a proper idea of truck size but also the restrictions in visibility out of the cab. If this led to drivers giving trucks more space and respect then it would almost certainly reduce accidents.'

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