Martin Ward , CAP ‘s manufacturer relationship manager, scours the British International Motor Show for the week’s insider fleet intelligence
Arrive at Excel after an easy journey, helped by light traffic on the roads – where has everybody gone? Are they on holiday, or can’t they afford the fuel?
Watch SEAT president Erich Schmitt unveil the Ibiza SportCoupé. It’s a very pretty three-door hatch that costs £500 less than the five-door version. Apparently, Mr Schmitt had been at the show the night before
re-arranging the stand as he was not happy with it. I know from previous experience with him that he is a perfectionist.
Over to the Peugeot stand to have a look at its 308 RC-Z Coupé concept, which I was told will definitely go into full production. Peugeot also said that a 3008 crossover SUV is likely.
Dropped in at Kia to have a look at the Soul concept, which will go into full production and will not be too dissimilar to the show cars. The Soul is a bit of a shock when you first see it, but after a while it does become sort of normal. Customers seem to want this type of different five-door hatch, so it could do well for Kia.
Toyota had two new cars on display which are due to go on sale early next year – the iQ and the Urban Cruiser.
The iQ is a small city car that carries three people, looks cute and should sell if priced right. However, Toyota says it will retail for more than a Yaris – less car for more money. The Urban Cruiser, a chunky SUV-like hatchback, has great potential.
To Ford to see two new offerings – the Fiesta and Focus RS. The all-new Fiesta is miles ahead of the current car in terms of styling and quality, and has a good choice of engines, including the 98g/km of CO2 ECOnetic version.
The Focus RS produces 300bhp and will no doubt be a very capable sports hatchback.
Rumours suggest that Gordon Brown had been chatting with someone at GM about electric cars, and asked how many it could build. The answer was 20,000, but it said up to 200,000 of the next generation Vauxhall Astra – with a bit of government money – could be built at the GM plant in the UK at Ellesmere Port.
How true is this? I don’t know, but some were convinced we will be the electric car capital of Europe. Mr Brown and the motor industry under the same roof at the same time – I bet security was tight.
Probably the best left until last. The Vauxhall Insignia is a stunning looking car that seemed to be liked by everybody I spoke to. It was good to see that GM had brought over many of the team that have worked on the Insignia project, as they should as this world première is probably the most important launch for them for many years.
Spoke to a huddle of journalists and they had mixed feelings about the show. Some thought it was dull, some thought it was lacking new car premières, others thought it would make a good family day out, but there were not many news stories for them.
They said the companies who had new cars to show naturally had the busiest stands, while those with nothing new were quiet.
The show is a very expensive bit of marketing, so just how valuable is it?