Thinking CAP: Martin Ward scours the globe for the week’s insider intelligence
Been using a pre-production Vauxhall Insignia ahead of its slightly delayed launch in January.
The reason for the delay is that GM wanted to ensure it was up to the highest quality possible, and having a really good look around our test car, there isn’t much wrong with it.
However, one small niggle is that during the wet and cold weather recently, the side windows and door mirrors did seem to get dirty very quickly, much more than most other cars.
I’m sure the designers will put this down to its slippery shape, low drag-coefficient and class-leading aerodynamics dragging surface water towards the car.
Been speaking to many people in the industry about next year’s expected new car sales, and the common revised figure being bandied about is 1.7 million – lower than previously predicted.
This is based on leasing extensions – every extension is one less new car sold, lower rental and short-term cars, a general lower appetite of retail and fleet buyers and manufacturers registering many less cars for staff, management, press and fleet demonstrators.
Nobody really knows the exact figure, but I guess this is as close as you can be.
Many fleet people took the new Toyota Avensis across the Channel to put it through its paces in France and Belgium.
I first drove this car in February and, like the Insignia, it is a vast improvement on its predecessor. But both cars are entering a particularly difficult sector at a difficult time.
This year has been tough, but next year is going to be much worse for this type of vehicle, and only the best will thrive.
Those with low CO2 and outstanding design and quality will see sales stay the same at best.
There is plenty of choice in this sector, with some outstanding cars among them, but being good is no longer enough.
So, the end of another year hones into sight, and what a year it’s been.
It all started off rather well, then by the middle of the year we were in crisis – or, more accurately, the banks were – and this had a huge knock-on effect for all of us.
It’s not been good for many people and is likely to stay this way for many months.
I’ve been looking at my 2008 diary to remind myself exactly what I’ve done, and it has been busy and action packed. I’ve had some fun and learned a lot.
I have stayed in 76 hotels, flown on 104 planes, and driven countless vehicles.
Next year might slow down a bit as manufacturers try to cut costs, and testing new vehicles on such a regular basis might be on the list of cutbacks.
But for us to do our jobs effectively to understand the market and where the new model fits in its sector, then we need to see as many as possible.
Rest assured we will do all we can in 2009 to bring you the latest news just as soon as we can – merry Christmas, and a prosperous new year from all at CAP in Leeds.