As we welcome in 2009 and wave a not so fond farewell to 2008 we can reflect on what has been a roller coaster ride in the car trade. There has not really been a day when any good or positive news has been announced. We have had dealers going out of business, thousands of people being made redundant, Sterling at an all time low, house repossessions, negative equity, businesses struggling to obtain credit to keep trading and so on and on. These experiences have been graphically illustrated in the motor trade with dealers and customers alike all feeling affected by the credit crunch. We have seen buyers with cars barely 6 months old that they can no longer afford the monthly payments on, being worth up to 60% less than what they were new and with fewer customers to sell many more cars to the car mountains around Europe have continued to grow.
We are hoping that 2009 will start to see the shoots of recovery but like a massive oil tanker trying to turn around this will surely be a slow process, indeed according to some analysts things could get much worse before they get better. So with this backdrop and much negativity can we pick out any pluses from 2008? Here is the MTI list in no particular order of individuals or organisations who have kept the flag flying and repelled the endless stream of bad news, it may only be that some have provided a little light relief or that they have been champions in trying to protect jobs and businesses from closure but they are all in there for the common goal of keeping the car alive!
1) The Top Gear team.
The show just keeps getting better, the trials of the team more audacious and crazy but the banter and humour wittier than ever, a cult show with a mainstream audience, we defy anyone to watch this show and not forget their troubles. The 3 musketeers we salute you.
2) Lewis Hamilton.
He is Young, he is British, he is world Formula 1 champion and he is bloody brilliant and perhaps more importantly he doesn’t give the impression of someone who is likely to take his foot off the pedal! Quite literally. He has given millions of viewer’s major pleasure, thrills and spills and did it with a smile on his face throughout, even in the face of extreme envy and worse still daft racism. Lewis as Murray says GO GO GO!
The German car maker has flown in the face of recession and actually managed to sell more cars in the UK than last year, a superb achievement when almost every other manufacturer in the world has seen volumes decline rapidly in 2008.The range and quality of the cars just keeps getting better and the A5, TT and R8 in particular are truly aspirational cars, which have come a long way since the 80 series. We can only see more improvements next year.
4) The Vauxhall Corsa
Bestselling car of the year it has proved practical value for money well speced and with low maintenance and insurance costs a recession buster if ever there was one. Keep up the good work little car.
5) Paul Everrit SMMT
Sometimes a lone voice but has worked tirelessly and lobbied the government endlessly to obtain critical financial support for the motor trade and has championed the cause of the business against a backdrop of lethargy and indifference from some quarters. Keep fighting the good fight Paul.
6) Premiership footballers
Must make the list because without them who else would buy the glittering array of sports cars that sit outside each ground and in such numbers. The total yearly spend on cars from footballers is reckoned to be in the region of £20 million worth of cars, say what you like about these pampered playboys but they sure are doing their bit for the motor industry in this country.
The future of low cost vehicles for the future? Maybe but certainly a force to be reckoned with in the next few years and definitely a major player in the outcome of car retailing in this country in the medium term.
The list is smaller than perhaps it should be, but given that the good news ship has sailed past the UK this year then the names on it are surely there on merit feel free to add any of your own champions and of course the reasons for inclusion and if we like them we may add them, the more the merrier. So there you have it 2008 now consigned to history and 2009 is now with us and the good news for players in the motor trade is that if you can overcome this recession you will no doubt emerge wiser, with a sound footing for future profitability and the lessons you will have learned will be invaluable in the quest to continually improve the service customers have the right to expect in the future.
A happy healthy and prosperous new year to one and all from all the insiders at MTI.