What is the greatest danger to the motoring industry?
Something which crosses my mind more often than not is the future of motoring and what this means for the industry as a whole. While this may be an exciting time to be a motoring enthusiast (possibly the most exciting), there is also a lot of tension about the future.
There has been a continuous rise of autonomous vehicles in the last year or so. This is a very innovative idea but it also comes with some controversy. I remember in an awards ceremony, Jeremy Clarkson expressed his worry for the 'dark times' ahead. He explained that the way we buy and consume cars is very different to how it used to be and he is now 'enjoying it while it lasts'.
As someone who is trying to get into the motoring journalism industry, I find it terribly interesting to hear people such as Clarkson talk about what he thinks is to come in the future. Does it scare me? No, simply because I know there will always be something new and exciting to report on and talk about. Whether it has a petrol engine and a manual gearbox or not.
So, what are the current worries for the industry? Well, I think I better start with and address the rise of the electric car. For many people, the electric car is a thing given to us by the devil. They view it as a step in the wrong direction and that we should all move back to brutally grunting V8's and manual gearboxes.
I was one of those people until something clicked. Yes, I still think this is a short term solution for a long term issue but they are finally becoming more accessible. They are slowly becoming cheaper, coming with longer ranges, faster charging times, becoming bigger and somehow getting even quicker as we have seen with the upcoming Tesla Roadster. I am still yet to actually drive an electric car but I have been in and around a Tesla Model S a fair bit and I must say I was really taken back with just how clever they are. I especially liked the fart function, yes I am an immature child.
In the grand scheme of things, I don't think the electric car is necessarily a threat to the motoring industry but it has angered a lot of people. Everyone except people who wants to become a part of the movement and see what it's all about, such as James May who has recently bought a Model S to see what all the fuss is about. Fair play to him.
Secondly, I would like to touch on the SUV. This is another touchy subject among many motoring enthusiasts. 'What is it with all these SUV's?' or 'I want a small hatchback. My family of 17 people were fine with an Austin Montego back in the 90s'. Well, I am sorry to say it, but the SUV is not going away anytime soon.
The fact that supercar manufacturers are starting to jump on the SUV bandwagon says a lot about it. Ferrari have talked about it, Lamborghini have done it and it saved Porsche back when the Cayenne was released. If it wasn't for the Cayenne, we may not have the 911's we do today. Have a think about that.
However, with SUV's come these smaller engines with hybrid add-ons to make the government people happy yet angers a lot of hardcore V8 Range Rover buyers. Which brings me smoothly onto my next point, or a segway as Tim Rodie would say.
Diesel cars, especially in the UK are going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. No one wants to buy one as they are too afraid of the dreaded 'diesel tax'. It was even announced last week that Bristol will ban all diesel powered personal vehicles will be banned from entering the city centre from 2021.
While it may be a bit of time until we see any further action, we can't ignore it, it's going to happen. Now, this has caused some people great distress. My mother for example. She swears by her diesel powered Skoda Yeti and wants to hold onto it forever much like a child's favourite teddy bear or a loyal family dog. The issue is, the imminent arrival of the diesel tax scares her a little bit and she doesn't know what to buy instead. She likes the fact she can get 600 miles on one tank from a car which costs less than a Rolex Submariner. It is a real conundrum.
While we're on the prices of Submariner's, you will probably not know I am a bit of a wannabe watch nerd. Don't stop reading just yet as I am trying to make a car related point here. So, inflation has greatly affected the watch market over the last few years. When the 'Hulk' Submariner came out back in 2014 it was worth $7,500. Today it is worth upwards of $15,000 and will continue to rise.
The car market has just been a lot like this. We saw Ferrari F12 TDF's at £900,000 at one point which was mind boggling and we won't even get started on the 911 R. While the market is going through a bit of a rough time at the moment, prices are still high and for some cars, too high. This is the same for new cars. To think a Volkswagen Golf GTI can be around £40,000 is rather scary but it is just the world we live in.
I think a lot of the prices of new card are scaring us so we move to older cars. Not all of the time, but some of the time. For example, I would much rather spend £2,000 on a W124 Mercedes S Class than £40,000 on a new Volkswagen Golf GTI, even if I was leasing it. But that's just me. We will also get to a point one day where we may not have this option as these cars aren't going to last forever and we have no idea how a 2015 Tesla Model S electric motor will hold up in 30 years time.
I honestly don't know what the future holds for us petrolheads, but what I do know is that we have to take it all with a pinch of salt. Yes, the rise of certain things may become the straw that breaks the camel's back but we have to remember how exciting it all is at the moment. Journalists such as Harry Metcalfe, Chris Harris, James May and many more are embracing the electric car which I think is all something we have to do.
Think about it. How did we all react when the Toyota Prius arrived? Now, it is regarded as an acceptable car.