Fleet News

Thinking CAP: January 8

Thinking CAP: Martin Ward, CAP manufacturer relationship manufacturer, predicts how manufacturers and suppliers will tackle the year ahead

Just before the Christmas break I went to a couple of manufacturers’ presentations and drives of two new cars – not just new cars, but new cars with new technology.

New technology and lower CO2 emissions will be the watchwords of 2009 – doom and gloom will be a couple more.

Manufacturers and suppliers will have to work doubly hard this year to ensure they are on-track to create new cars to comply with ever-more stringent CO2 emissions standards to comply with new EU regulations coming over the next few years – not an easy or simple job, and hugely expensive.

As a result, some will not manage to meet them.

Looking back on last year, the second half was just awful, and most are predicting this year is not going to be any better.

The best predictions say it may get back to some sort of normality in the summer, but most say it will be two years at least before we resume normal service.

Leading up to Christmas, there just wasn’t any good news. It was all so depressing and you just knew during the holiday that it will be the same mood into this New Year – nothing has changed.

This year, the manufacturers will continue to have facelifts, launch new models and be as competitive as ever, so the industry will still get the best deals possible, and the latest cars and vans with the latest technology.

We may see that the UK could become an exporter of new cars to Europe, not by the manufacturers but by dealers as the Pound weakens against other currencies.

This will make our new cars look relatively cheap, and we may see dealers ordering more left-hand drive vehicles to sell, which could help their business and cash flow, and keep their doors open a bit longer, as dealers will suffer more than most this year.

The cars I saw before Christmas, and there’s plenty more in the diary for this year to see and drive, all have very green credentials – they are economical to buy and run, and will make good used cars in the future, and with more coming it will make the last few years’ technology look suddenly very old.

Around 6.5 million cars have been registered in the past three years, so 6.5 million homes will have to be found for these at some point.

We seem to forget just how many cars are out there for sale and how many more will hit the market, and at a time when used car sales have slowed it is not going to be easy to shift them all.

A good new market depends on a healthy used market.

Governments around the world are insisting on manufacturers lowering CO2 emissions, with some saying as low as 120g/km by 2015.

The amount of money that needs to be invested is going to be well beyond some manufacturers’ budgets, so collaboration is needed.

Some, however, will just fail.

All this investment is needed when most manufacturers are having a torrid time, cash flow is at its worst and sales are mis-erable – they simply don’t have the money in the bank to fix
the problem.

All the clever designers, engineers and technology experts are working overtime to save the planet, when all they really want to do is save their jobs.

The motor industry will be a different place this time next year, hopefully in a much healthier shape, and something to be proud to be a part of as it gets through a bit of a nightmare.

Happy New Year!

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