Today, potential customers walk into dealerships often knowing a lot more about the car they want to buy than the poor turf trying to sell it to them; in 1989, they wouldn’t have had the slightest idea. So the success of any product usually did not depend on whether it was good or not, but on the number of resellers the manufacturer had. It should come as no surprise, then, to find that Ford, Austin Rover and Vauxhall were not only the best-selling manufacturers in the UK, but also had the most dealers, with 1,200, 975 and 681 respectively. Peugeot had 400, Volkswagen had 355 and BMW had a paltry 157. They never had a chance.
So while we may lament that many people are increasingly choosing tall and heavy cars, we should celebrate the fact that they made this decision with at least the possibility of being in full possession of the facts, and that ‘they just have different priorities for us. Which is much better than the situation that was authorized 30 years ago.
Hit above their weight
The recent debate over the rise of large SUVs in urban areas was sparked by a report that focuses on the role of advertising in promoting “false promises of safety and superiority” with these vehicles. It was published by the New Weather Institute, a “think tank” that focuses on a “rapid transition to a fair economy”. The Mindgames on Wheels report claims that large SUVs make up one-third of all vehicles sold, three-quarters of which are registered with people living in urban areas. He calls for a ban on the advertising of these cars, arguing that “the damage to human health and the climate caused by SUVs is enormous and must be repaired”. While the report raises some interesting questions, it appears to merge two separate – but often related – issues: the growing size of cars in general, and the reduced efficiency and higher emissions of some big-engined, less-aerodynamic SUVs. And while talking about an advertising ban oversimplifies a nuanced question, it does raise an intriguing question: Are automakers or car buyers responsible for the growing popularity of SUVs? James attwood
Second Opinion – Matt Saunders
Andrew Frankel literally wrote the book that Autocar uses to this day to educate aspiring road testers about the primacy of fitness for purpose when evaluating a new car. But I know where he came from. It’s easier when you can think like an interested driver, with a keen eye on dynamic appeal, in deciding a verdict.
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This notice was published: 2021-05-01 05:01:23