The last-chance saloon runs dry
01.11.20: THE MOTOR industry was in mourning yesterday when the death of the family saloon was announced following a long illness.
Increasing charges for private ownership, stringent new taxes on company cars and car parks and other legislative and fiscal changes have recently caused many to question the private car's survival.
Recent data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders suggest we are following the example of Japan, where many motorists have been weaned off the notion of the car as a status symbol.
The vast majority of European motorists now opt for leasing or short-term rental instead of buying. Of these, by far the most popular has been the CardCar, a petrol-electric hybrid. The system enables travellers to use smart cards to access micro-compact, computer-controlled city cars effectively a halfway stage between private cars and conventional public transport. Information contained on the magnetic "swipe" strip on the driver's card means he or she is simply billed each month for the mileage travelled.
The success of such programmes means that only the very rich seem likely to retain their own vehicles and, as such, the automobile looks set to become, once again, a mark of great wealth and privilege, just as it was 100 years ago.
There was some good news for the rest of us, however, with EntsCo confirming it had signed a deal with the EU to acquire a long lease on a site in Luxembourg.
EntsCo wants to create AutoWorld, the world's first motoring theme park, a 2,000 sq km holiday playground where motor enthusiasts can pay to rent anything from sports cars to off-roaders.
Lobby groups are already forecasting a rise in pollution and fatalities. DL