Back to the future with car maintenance and potholes
MOTORPREDICTIONS 2009 MOTORS TEAM:With little certainty as to how the car industry will cope with the current economic turmoil, some of 'The Irish Times' Motors team offer up some predictions for 2009
MICHAEL McALEER, Motoring Editor
WHILE NEW car sales will be significantly down in the first quarter, some form of stability returns to the market as people begin to see they might hold onto their jobs. Sales will slowly start to pick up again. Volkswagen will make a serious assault on the Ford and Toyota dominance of top spot in the new car sales league.
The SUV segment will dramatically shrink as buyers look for value and the cost of road tax becomes the biggest selling point for new cars.
The Government will tinker with the emissions rules once more to protect the revenue it takes in from the motor industry. In return a new scrappage scheme will be introduced.
The old bugbear of potholes return to Irish roads as cutbacks hit council spending.
In the US, the new president will offer a financial lifeline to the car industry but in turn General Motors will stop six of its 13 brands, consolidating them under the remaining marques.
Road death figures will continue to fall due to improved enforcement by the Garda and continued efforts by the Road Safety Authority. The introduction of new speed cameras will cause further frustration that will not be cleared up until an open and accountable system of applying speed limits to particular stretches of road is introduced.
Meanwhile, the Porshe Panamera will put it up to Ferrari.
Car dealers who invested shrewdly in their premises, didn't carry too much stock and provided good customer service will survive longer than those who didn't. Expect not to wait in dealerships to be served, expect courtesy and sales staff who have to sell, not just take orders.
With more people holding on to their vehicles longer there will be a return to buyers changing oil, replacing tyres and keeping their car in good condition before they can get another one.
It is happening already - despite the fact the euro is so strong against sterling, the saving on importing a used car from the UK is getting less obvious, as Irish dealers desperately try to clear forecourts. A 2006 Lexus IS220d will now cost you less to buy here than it would to import after paying VRT and there are more examples of that.
Expect a few car companies to go under, regardless of rescue plans on both sides of the Atlantic. At the very least, there will be new owners for some famous brands.
The Exchequer will gain extra cash as first the ANPR and then the privatised speed cameras are rolled out. Watch out for mayhem as Dublin City Council tries to restrict private vehicles around College Green.
Sebastian Loeb will be an easy winner of Rally Ireland at the end of January
Lewis Hamilton will take a second World Drivers crown on this occasion from Robert Kubica, and theirs will be the great rivialry of this F1 era
The Government will totally misjudge the introduction of a carbon tax on Irish motorists
Recession and less milage per capita will see a further welcome reduction in deaths on Irish roads
Max Mosely will reluctantly and for the sake of the sport agree to serve another term as FIA President.