SALES DRIVE

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Your Letters -

The pop­u­lar press is con­stantly harp­ing on about low car sales, blam­ing the fall in sales on en­vi­ron­men­tally-con­scious buy­ers and the de­mand for the lat­est tech­nol­ogy in ve­hi­cles, etc. My view is that this rea­son­ing cov­ers just a small pro­por­tion of car buy­ers and that there are many other rea­sons aside from cost af­fect­ing the cur­rent drop in sales, es­pe­cially among those of the older gen­er­a­tion. 1) Scrap­page schemes tak­ing in cars that are any­where from seven to 10 years old. Who on earth is go­ing to buy a car if the man­u­fac­turer gives the im­pres­sion that it will po­ten­tially be scrap in a few years? Any en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ment from the al­legedly more ef­fi­cient en­gine will be out­weighed by the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of man­u­fac­tur­ing a brand-new car ev­ery few years to re­place a scrap­per. 2) Long-term un­re­li­a­bil­ity of the most mod­ern en­gines. Just look at the num­ber of re­cent ar­ti­cles talk­ing about the need to de­coke in­let man­i­folds and the like af­ter just a few tens of thou­sands of miles – and we are talk­ing about four-stroke petrol en­gines here, not just dirty diesels or good old two-strokes – due mainly to di­rect-in­jec­tion, seem­ingly re­quired to meet emis­sion reg­u­la­tions when the car is new, and the lack of a petrol/vapour wash of the in­let com­po­nents. Can any­one tell me that a mod­ern en­gine that’s rapidly work­ing its way to­wards this choked-up, coked-up state is any bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment than a flat-four that’s still sweetly run­ning af­ter 15 years? 3) Too much tech­nol­ogy I don’t need or want, such as an in­te­grated in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, par­al­lel park­ing aids or a mul­ti­tude of cam­eras and sen­sors, some of which will un­doubt­edly fail af­ter a few years. One of my neigh­bours was quoted well over £200 to up­date his Audi sat-nav sys­tem to cover the three years since he bought the car new. He po­litely de­clined. Short-term fash­ion­abil­ity and long-term en­vi­ron­men­tal la­bels have been latched onto by the car in­dus­try and politi­cians, I sus­pect to sup­port the eco­nom­ics of this par­tic­u­lar in­dus­try at the ex­pense of con­sumers. I just hope some com­mon sense and prac­ti­cal­ity re­turns be­fore I need to buy my next car! Colin Rienew­erf

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