Posts Tagged ‘auto’

As I drove my beloved 159 into a certain supermarket petrol station yesterday evening I noticed that the price of petrol has lept up again since I last popped her full of fuel. The government’s Fuel Escalator has kicked in even though the price of crude oil is still only just above $51.petrol prices

So why are we watching the cost of petrol creep higher and higer as it edges toward £1 a litre again? Not only that but I’ve noticed more and more people squeezing every last inch of mileage out of it that they can. This doesn’t just apply to petrol either, the escalating costs of food also means that people are restricting their intake, especially those forced out of work. It is almost like we’re having to adopt rationing and coping methods from the last War. 

And, in a very true way, the whole world is at war again. While there is a common enemy it’s not other countries. It’s the ineptitude of major governments. Here, for example, we’re being led by an un-elected leader struggling to make us pay for mistakes he made as chancellor. The politicians so nobly announce that they won’t take the pay rise offered to them this year but still take expenses topping the £100k mark, then spend billions of pounds on an actual war effort we were lied to about from day one while industries across the nation fail as that money is being sorely missed.

Of course it’s not just us, we’re not alone. Every single country is facing a real struggle for the next year or so because of the ineptitude of a select group of politicians who then act like heroic lions when they announce they’ve come up with a trillion dollar plan to get us out of a mess  their own lack-of-foresightedness put us all in. But then, you don’t see any of them struggling to afford the rent. When was the last time Gordon Brown dipped into his pocket to fill his car? Of course not, he dips into ours.

Not one single politician seems to show any sign of personal sacrifice in a time when their measures have forced us all to make some. All these empty promises and now we’re at the point where I’m once again not filling my Alfa all the way up in the hope that next week the prices will drop again and I won’t have to face adding half as much again to the cost of a full tank. 

So yeah, we are at war. We’re at war with an economy out of control and a group of governments that fail to use anything resembling common sense and foresight then, as we all struggle to cope with escalating costs that mean it’s hard to find a loaf of bread under £1, go off spending OUR money on the kitchen on their second house or their husbands internet porn. 

If you want my vote next time the non-elected PM decides to hold an election all you need to do is three things: 

1) Show some common sense

2) Stop Lying to Us

3) Stop Robbing from Us

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I spend a lot of time following the ups and downs of the auto industry as it bounces around in time with every stupid financial decision the government makes here and look at today’s news shows the picture isn’t prettier in the US either.

While the Big 3 had some well-documented issues late last year (and surely still are) it looks like the Japanese manufacturers are in dire States too. To be honest, with their range of smaller vehicles proving more gas efficient I would have expected their to be no trouble selling new Mazdas but the Japanese manufacturer are cutting 110 jobs from the North American workforce.

Mazda said: “We’re doing what we need to do to remain competitve in the current environment.”

But is that the case for Nissan too? The future isn’t looking to good for new Nissans either as the company announced plans to cut it’s advanced-planning team in California. Surely reducing the amount given over to planning new vehicles is only going to hinder their competitiveness?

Don’t you need to always planning your next move if you’re going to succeed in such a volitile market. Will cutting your resources in that area really help?

I’m starting to get the worrying feeling that my initial optimism in the recovery of the market was wrong and that we may yet to have seen the worst. Is their worse to come for the auto industry?

new vauxhali nsigniaPerhaps it’s increased awareness but I’m seeing the new Vauxhall Insignia everywhere lately.

There’s a theory, and experience points to it being correct, that when people look at adverts from electrical-goods stores they take in all the televisions, stereos etc but nobody ever notices the fridge. Unless they’re in the market for a fridge and then all they see are fridges.

Does this mean I’m unknowingly in the market for an executive car without knowing it? Since I watched, and blogged about, the London launch I’ve been seeing the new Insignia everywhere. First in the middle of my local shopping centre, then strolling around London at the weekend I swear one must have been following me, the story of it being named European Car of the Year lands in my inbox and now, every time I pull up in traffic or hit the motorway, what do I see? A new Vauxhall Inisgnia.

Knowing full well that this is probably due to the fridge-advert syndrome I’m not too worried. It is a pretty decent looking car and it’s not quite at The Prisoner giant-balloon stalking levels yet. I am curious though as to whether anyone else is experiencing anything similar at the moment, what’s following you around or always appearing?

Having made it home down a perilous motorway, I’m now working from home for the day but I was shocked by some of the driving I saw en route. Ignoring the matrix sign speed limits and the over-heard “skid risk drive slow” there were still people determined to break 100 even without grit on all the lanes.

I think it took the sight of a new BMW 5 Series in the bushes by the side of the motorway to make everyone wise up. But it shouldn’t take that. Knowing that a lot of people are facing a similar journey I thought I’d throw up (as in post here not vomit) a few tips for driving in this weather.

Take it EASY. Lower your speed, leave plenty of space and brake genlty. REAL gently. Keep in low gears and don’t use cruise control.

See and be seen. Make sure your windshield is clean and you’re not peeking through small gaps. Make sure lights are clear of snow and turn them on.

Don’t overtake the plows and gritting lorries. There’s a reason they’re up there and, personally, I’d rather not risk my car on roads they haven’t cleared yet.

These are just the principles I use when driving in snow but I’d love to know what methods or changes other people employ while plowing their cars through the white stuff.

Sad stuff this. Honda are closing up their Swindon plant for four months once today’s shifts are over. Staff will get their basic pay for the first two months but an estimated 60% of it for the rest of the shutdown.

Yes, this is all in response to the economical crisis and downturn in the car market – not just in the UK, it’s worldwide. Honda have said that global third quarter profit was down 89%.

The philanthropist in me wants to run down my local dealer and encourage everyone to buy up a load of new Honda Civics but I have to re-look at that last point: “profit was down.” So they’re still making a profit.

Loads of car manufacturers – including the once infallible Toyota – posted losses. Honda made a profit. Don’t get me wrong – I’m extremely sympathetic to those staff that won’t be working during the shut down but it seems more a case of a manufacturer doing what we should all do – tightening belts to get through.

The union are saying that staff – while still being paid – are cutting their expenses… “others will take a second mobile phone back  or will take holidays in the UK instead of abroad.”

These are things that should’ve been done anyway regardless of employer. I’m doing that anyway and a friend of mine – who was made redundant and not being paid – can barely afford rent and one mobile phone let alone a second.

To me this is simply a case of Honda doing what it needs to do to ensure long-term survival and the more businesses look at long-term, post-recession plans the better. The more we focus on the negative the more we’ll speculate and continue the downward cycle. Let’s see how the media continue to spin this one!

New Grande Punto Abarth

New Grande Punto Abarth

Abarth – anyone know anything about them? I’m a car lover in that I love cars and pretty much everyone of them gets a credit just for being a car and peice of engineering in the first place. Yet I’m not a car nut so that’s probably why I only had the faintest of recollections of the Abarth name.

Until I saw the new Grande Punto Abarth and decided I should get myself down to my nearest Kent Abarth dealer asap! I’ve been looking at this dealers webpage and I’m stunned that I’ve missed all knowing about this car. It’s like they’ve taken a Fiat Punto, taken it apart and put it back together with bigger guts and a stronger body. So it’s like a Punto on steriods, right?

This is the thing and reason I’m thinking of going down to Lipscomb to have a look – I don’t know about it. The stats sound meaty enough: 0-62mph in 8 seconds and something called a “power boost” giving me visions of little switches and action-movie style chases through storm drains. That and it looks inconspicuous enough not to draw attention from the flashing blue lights on the motorway just for the sake of it.

Does anyone know about the new Grande Punto Abarth? Is this car as good as it looks and sounds on paper?