Where did I put those keys? The bin?
Fascinating day watching the Carlos Ghosn soap opera unfold, a welcome distraction from Brexit. In our job you meet car industry bigwigs regularly; I’ve interviewed the Alliance chief four times over the years, including from the passenger’s seat of an early Nissan Leaf while he drove me around Paddington. Always wondered what Ghosn’s weak link was, because he had to have one and it wasn’t obvious. But among the Bill Fords, Martin Winterkorns, Mary Barras and Alan Mulallys, he was the one whose manner positioned us furthest apart: him up, me down.
Most industry bigwigs are fundamentally nice people (whenever I return from a big-note interview, the Steering Committee is apt to say: “Don’t tell me – he’s a really nice guy”). It takes special people to be industry leaders. But Ghosn always seemed to have arrived from another realm, to repose in ours as short a time as possible. Now we see how true that was.
The oft-used image at the top of this page of Sir James Dyson, currently working in well-publicised secrecy on a revolutionary electric car, always makes me wonder who drew the fascinating freehand images – evidently of a vacuum cleaner – on the wall behind him. The romantic in me hopes it’s him. They bear a striking resemblance to the illustrative style of Mini creator Sir Alec Issigonis, who expressed his car ideas in the same sort of non-technical freehand. How amazing it would be if Dyson’s cars were so successful.
Ready for a tale of stupidity? Here goes: two weeks ago, I chucked away the keys to our 15-year-old Citroën Berlingo. Lobbed them in the rubbish, I think, though that’s not proven. Whatever I did, they disappeared, and since the spare key had made a similar exit years ago, the car was immobilised. Locked in gear in a deeply inconvenient place with the handbrake on.
As I now know, there’s no panic as acute as having a car stuck where it shouldn’t be, when you have no way of shifting it. Couldn’t even open a door to push out of the way. The only solution was to find the VIN number from our dog-eared document file, use it to source replacement keys from France with the kind help of Citroën friends (I’ll always owe you, John Handcock), wait a week for the postman, verify that the new keys opened the car, and then find a specialist in nearby Swindon prepared to travel to our place with a magic laptop to restore electronic relations between keys and car. But when it finally happened, joy was unconfined. There was no better sound this week than that of the old diesel donkey bursting into life after a mute half-month.
Ghosn seemed to have arrived from another realm
Rarely feel as lukewarm about a new car as I did over the Audi A4 Allroad last week, so it was necessary to take a restorative night drive in our Volkswagen e-golf, a car so good that I’m already scared in case next year’s all-electric ID (its realworld replacement) doesn’t strike such perfect compromises. Silly, I know, but there it is.
The orgy of car buying in our household continues apace. Having joined the dark side a few weeks ago by buying an oil-burning VW California, we’ve now invested in a Hyundai Kona Electric to replace the Fiat 500. It comes next month on a PCP. Despite what the missus and I already know of electric cars, this feels like a brave leap into the future. Mr Editor Tisshaw wants me to write about it, so I’ll look forward to telling you more about it soon.
Do James Dyson and Alec Issigonis share hand-drawn styles?
Our man didn’t warm to Carlos Ghosn on their drive