Mike Waters' Blog: 29 December 2009 - The end of year finale
29 December 2009
Mike Waters is head of market analysis at Arval
With the New Year fast approaching, it's time to get all sentimental about 2009 before it's consigned to the history books, so I continue my review of the major automotive events that we saw this year and the impact that they had on drivers.
In the UK one of the biggest talking points was the workplace parking levy in Nottingham which was given the go-ahead and leaves local businesses having to purchase a licence for their parking spaces. Expected to raise £14 million a year it effectively imposes a tax on working in the City centre, and may be an indication to things to come.
Further afield, Asia continued to be an automotive stronghold with Toyota and Honda leading the way, especially when it comes to hybrids, with the Prius and Insight growing in popularity. Never shy to innovate, Toyota also announced news of a fuel cell hybrid which will boast an estimated range of 431 miles on a single full tank of compressed hydrogen gas and average fuel economy of 68.3miles/kg.
Pretty much all of the major manufacturers delivered an influx of fuel efficient labels ranging from Blue Motion to Econetic. With fuel prices remaining volatile, these allowed drivers to purchase everyday cars but with significantly reduced emissions and improved mpg performance; so good for the wallet and the environment.
On the electric front the G-Wiz continues to bear the brunt of many jokes although electric vehicles look likely to come through in waves with many manufacturers' trialling vehicles next year. It remains to be seen if 2010 can answer key questions around range and charging network (currently the two big stumbling blocks) but if it can, London will be at the fore with Boris Johnson's vision to make London the top European city for electric vehicles (and cycling if the Mayor gets his way).
While vehicle technology is moving at pace, drivers still have plenty to do around their behaviour. Road rage remains a growing problem around the world and UK research showed that in London alone there were over 180,000 instances of road incidents ending in violence.
One of the biggest innovations of the year could signal the reduced role of the driver! While there are plenty of gadgets available that reduce the likelihood of driver error, Heathrow Airport and several local councils have bought into the idea of a driverless car with the only driver interaction coming from a start button and touch screen where passengers programme their destination.
So that's it, a whistlestop tour of some of the big things that happened in 2009. A lot has changed and this rate of development doesn't look set to slow any time soon, so happy New Year and I will be back in 2010 for another year of great development, innovation, interest and debate.