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Millions of new cars remain unsold. Join the dots…

8 Feb

DSC00283roadwax

As more than 10 MILLION brand new cars join the ever increasing backlog of unsold stock across the World – four million cars in Europe alone – factory closures are now to become a reality.

Well-hidden and secure compounds across Europe, Asia and America are the usual first home for newly-born cars awaiting shipping to dealers. But these are now so full that dealers themselves are having to store cars in their already-packed yards.

The backlog of stored new cars in Europe now runs to four million. US sources point to a similar figure for America and things are so bad in China that Mercedes Benz are offering as much as 30% discount on some new models (S-Class, anyone?) as an attempt to shift stock.

No matter how politicians of all persuasions in all car-making countries try to dress it up, the fact is that production lines and whole factories now stand to be closed as a means of reducing output to match the drop in demand.

As Jorn Madslien’s BBC article here points out, the 7 – 10% annual drop in European demand since the Banking crisis of 2008 is set to continue through 2013 according to industry analysts.

There is no evidence to suggest that this trending reduction in demand will halt. Unemployment, static wages and financial insecurity continue to keep potential customers away from showrooms.021roadwax

What many ordinary people have overlooked in the last three years is the part that national politicians have played in this unfolding catastrophe.

Anxious to deflect criticism of themselves from voters already outraged at the corruption within the financial industry that has wrecked economic prospects, many political leaders have persuaded car giants to keep production at a steady level to avoid redundancies.

In the last three years, American car-making states have seen the quite shocking sight of trains loaded with brand new cars leaving the factories bound for the deserts – where the cars are simply off-loaded and parked up – as an alternative to laying off workers or reducing pay-packets.

Now, this temporary vote-buying strategy has resulted in such high levels of surplus vehicles that the need to close whole factories has replaced the idea of cutting the odd work shift. There is now no other option left.

Discounting of new car prices at dealership level is now rising into thousands of dollars. Some makes and models are almost dead in the water, effectively having so few interested potential buyers that they may as well not be offered.

Chrysler, for example, has more than six months worth of 2013 Dodge Darts parked up right now, as the Wall Street Journal’s article here reveals.

Six months worth of Dodge Darts. At what point does a ‘new’ car technically become an ‘old’ new car? Can a car that has sat out in the open for most of a year still be described as ‘new’? One can easily imagine the challenges that car manufacturers now face.

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But showroom price discounting – especially up to amounts like 30% – can wreak havoc with the residual value of that car’s marque. The prices of ‘nearly-new’ second-hand versions plummet at auction and fleet clients and Hire Purchase customers can become saddled with a kind of negative equity on their own vehicles. Fleet News made this point six months ago in their article here.

Some commercial vehicle manufacturers have been hit really hard as savvy fleet operators have held onto their trucks for an extra year or two to avoid this depreciation risk. One major truck maker sold zero units of its product in the UK in 2011 as regular clients simply sat tight.

General Motors has only now struggled back into profit in the US after years in the red with an unloved product range. Desperate for small cars it didn’t have, it hastily re-badged Asian Daewoo products, slapping a ‘Chevrolet’ badge on them and shipping them into America.

Now, it is watching as its twin European badges – Vauxhall and Opel – fight a desperate war to survive. It is abundantly clear that 7-10% over-capacity plus some ageing and inefficiently designed production facilities cannot be propped up at all cost.

roadwaxJeep 101

In this situation, the cost will be production line workers. There are no deserts in Europe to hide millions of unwanted cars.

The emerging giant economy of China fueled the revival of hopes in 2009 for top marques like BMW, Cadillac and Rolls Royce. Dying on their feet as Europe and America struggled with a banking collapse, these big names spearheaded a rush to satisfy Chinese auto sales volume growth of 46% in that year.

But by 2010 that figure had dropped to 32% and in early 2011 it slumped to 2.5%.

We are not supposed to use the word ‘problem’. The fashionable and politically correct word today is ‘challenge’.

The ‘problem’ is over-production of depreciating consumer goods.

The ‘challenge’ for today’s politicians is to find unemployed workers jobs that can generate their family a surplus income. Enough to buy yet more depreciating consumer goods and certainly more than enough to live on.

If today’s politicians actually have a solution to this challenge, then they are keeping very quiet about it.

 

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Ford (USA) reveal “Back to the Future” version of European Transit

6 Dec

In a bold marketing move by Ford USA, described as “bold” by a panel of analysts who search for boldness in our world, Ford USA have released the first publicity shots of the T-Series/Transit van that will replace the historic E-Series/Econoline on the American continent.

Now, before I begin to ridicule the man on the far left of the photograph, let me point out that Ford are really putting their best brains forward on this project. How do you replace a van as iconic as the E-Series wth something totally new yet retain your customer loyalty?

Answer: You put a 1970’s retro grille on the front and you cross your fingers.

And you make the rest of the van look as much like a Mercedes Sprinter as you can without the Mercedes lawyers calling you up and saying:

“Now, you have made a mistake. A ferry, ferry bed mistake. Ve feel you hef not the full understandink of the word respekt.”

Okay, no cultural stereotyping here on Roadwax but you gotta love the German accent. It rocks.

Right. Now back to the man on the hard left of the picture.

Basically, the story is this.

Ingemar, the director of the photo shoot, doesn’t know squat about how people in warehouses work. But he’s pretty sure that somewhere along the scheme of things, an authority figure with a red clipboard and a hard hat has to shout and order people around.

So he employs an extra called Dave to stand there next to the shutter and shout and wave his hands as though he is in charge. In real life, Dave would keep well clear of the walls because he knows that ‘Blind Danny’ is about to return to the warehouse and collect some pallets, so standing next to a wall right now is not a good move.

In the foreground, to reinforce the fact that this is a parcel van that is being portrayed, Ingemar gets hold of an extra who looks like a parcel delivery driver.

Meet Remy. To compensate for the fact that Remy actually works as a damn good ballet dancer and doesn’t even hold a driving license (he cycles), Ingemar tells him to look exhausted and ignore the bloke who is shouting and waving his arms over by the shutter.

Remy was a little upset that the wardrobe department have mistakenly given him ill-fitting workwear but Ingmar just smiled and nodded his head with a knowing wink. Ingemar ordered the workwear himself and he (like us) knows about these things.

Although Ingemar has got an embarrassingly limited understanding of how the parcel industry actually works, he is highly skilled as a director of films depicting the violent collapse of the human condition. Ingemar just knows instinctively that a third character must be introduced to the picture to destabilize it and imply a note of menace.

Ingemar used this technique to great effect in “Twenty Steps to Trondheim” and “Death Is Thursday” which both won him awards at the 2012 Cannes Festival of Stuff Going Straight to DVD.

Cue Colin, far right.

Colin is an English nanny who works for Ingemar’s partner now that his US work visa has expired. Colin is cheap and reliable and does what Ingemar tells him to do.

So, Ingemar says:

‘Colin, I am feeling that you should be standing with a sack barrow in front of you. I think this works.”

Does Colin point out to Ingemar that this looks utterly stupid and removes the last shred of authenticity in the shot? That the entire warehouse is filled with palletised goods, none of which could be moved with a sack barrow?

You decide…

RoSPA shocked by how ordinary people actually live their lives.

24 Oct

I’ve got nine lives. You ain’t. Deal with it.

RoSPA has expressed shock and dismay that people drive while holding mobile phones.

The ninety year old veteran survivor of countless accidents and a couple of world wars was startled to discover that  people who drive cars through necessity often ignore common-sense advice on the use of mobile phones.

“It beggars belief!” said RoSPA, looking up from his newspaper while eating his breakfast and stroking the cat. “You’d think these people were quite unaware of the risks they were taking. I shall write an article about all this – you see if I don’t!”

Responding to Roadwax’s undercover reporter, RoSPA’s housekeeper and assistant, Verity Crash-Bangwallop, explained that RoSPA doesn’t get out much these days and is quite unaware that the practise has been going on for over twenty-five years.

“He normally gets upset when it comes up in the newspapers every now and then but he’s usually better by the time I bring him his lunch. Last Thursday, he became incandescent when I explained to him that bears are reluctant to use toilet facilities in woodland areas. I just locked myself in the Safety Room until he calmed down. He’s really very nice.”

The matter first came to light when RoSPA was informed by the local Community Support Officer that a youth had been spotted driving in the village while holding a mobile phone. RoSPA immediately wrote a letter to his local MP to highlight the shocking issue and asked the PCSO to keep him informed of any developments.

Local Independent MP Brian Loadsworth explained that RoSPA was quite unaware of the pressures upon normal members of society to receive and transmit data while driving.

“RoSPA is a nice old chap but his idea of driving is to gently ease into his old Mercedes 300TD and potter the half mile to the village shop to buy some matches for his Aga. He is quite unaware that some people spend many hours of the day driving while being pressurised by bosses and clients to provide them with time-sensitive information.”

“When I recently explained that some mothers need to contact child-minders to say that they were stuck in stationary traffic and would be late to pick up their child as a consequence, he was most resolute. He felt certain that this could be easily done while pulling over into a lay-by, switching the engine off and making the call whilst wearing a high visibility jacket at the side of the road. Fortunately, Verity brought us some lunch and the matter was dropped.”

With UK drivers currently being four times more likely to be involved in an accident when using a mobile phone while driving, pressure is on for the Police and also safety experts to find a solution.

A week long initiative by East Scrains Traffic Police to intercept drivers who were holding phones provided valuable results.

“We got our message across. You can’t drive with a mobile phone clamped to your ear. Not when one of our lads has just broken both your legs,” said Det. Insp Darren Shaft. “We usually get caught up in this nonsense debate about once a year. If we come down too hard then we lose the trust of the public. But we have to be seen to do something. We refer to it as “culling”. It ticks all the boxes and lets us get on with our real jobs.”

Dame Elizabeth Jobs-Agoodun from the road safety charity MENACE was more scathing.

“The threat of being sidelined by your boss for demanding that your car be supplied with the latest telecommunications equipment is no excuse. Working people should live within their means and ensure that they are perfectly educated in all aspects of the instruction manual provided with their leased vehicle. It really isn’t good enough.”

A simple and inexpensive campaign suggested by Roadwax to provide cheap Bluetooth hands-free kits to all motorists for the same price as a Cornish Pasty was launched today.

Det Insp Darren Shaft was not convinced.

“So, where did you get hold of all these then? Let’s ‘ave a look in the back of your van. Hands where I can see them…”

Ford USA announce “American Psycho” Edition of European Transit Van Model.

14 May

In one of the most complex and garbled series of press releases by any major manufacturer in recent years, Ford (USA) and Ford (UK) and Ford (Europe) have just announced their van model line-up for 2013.

After almost 50 years, America is finally going to receive Europe’s massively popular ‘Ford Transit’.

That is the European Ford Transit.

No – not the small, car-like van that is sold by Ford to Americans as the ‘Transit’. That is in fact the Transit Connect. It was called the Transit Connect partly because in Europe it ‘connects’ with the smallest version of its big brother – the Transit – when in it’s largest form, being, if you like, the smaller brother of the European ‘Transit’ range.

But, because Americans have never had the ‘Transit’ range in the first place, the significance of the appendage ‘Connect’ is kind of lost on them. They have the ‘Econoline’ series instead. So, Americans tend to refer to the Transit Connect as simply the Transit. Which makes perfect sense. Up until now.

But the water has been muddied even further by Ford (Europe) coincidentally announcing a so-called “2013 Transit” which is not actually the 2013 Transit that America is going to get. It is something quite separate as a model. Even though it may be sold in America from 2013 onward as well.

If you are currently holding your head in your hands because you cannot make sense of Ford’s Worldwide van line-up, fear not.

Roadwax is here to help you and to share your pain and try to explain.

It is all quite simple really. The marketing departments of Ford (USA) and Ford (Europe) seem to have temporarily screwed up their sequence of model identifiers. It happens, from time to time, as model ranges evolve  in different sales territories.

Whereas motor manufacturers normally allocate model names to allow customers to differentiate between different models across a product range, Ford have temporarily reversed this procedure. They have just re-named all their different models with the same damned name.

Ford (Europe) has just announced the “2013 Ford Transit” in Europe. However, Ford show a photograph of a brand new medium-sized van that bears no relation to either their existing Ford Transit, the Transit Connect or the American E-Series. It is yet another new stand-alone product. It looks suspiciously like a Volkswagen Transporter.

So, this vehicle that Ford (Europe) have announced as the “2013 Ford Transit” is not actually the 2013 Ford Transit. It is a completely separate model from any other Ford product, with its own unique body shell and dimensions. It is specifically intended to attract builders, plumbers and hotel courtesy bus drivers, all of whom have recently migrated to VW because the current Transit now looks boring, style-less and under-powered by comparison.

But in North America, the ageing ‘Econoline’ series is about to be replaced by the European Ford Transit. So, unless somebody at Ford jumps in quick (and I’m sure they will) the “2013 Ford ‘Transit” will be sold in America alongside the ‘Ford ‘Transit’ and the Ford ‘Transit’. And in Europe, the 2013 ‘Transit’ will sit in the model range right between the existing ‘Transit Connect’ and the existing ‘Transit’.

Confused?

Here is a quick history lesson with easy to understand pictures and explanations. It will help us all unravel the truth.

We begin our story in 1964. The American economy was booming. Britain was just a few years behind, still recovering from the devastation of war-time bombing, breaking out of post-war austerity and only just learning how to have a good time.

This is the van that started it all. This is the Ford (USA) Ford Econoline.

This is the van that every small business used in the 1960’s in America. Although astonishingly badly engineered by today’s standards, it was a giant leap forward for the world of light commercial vehicles at the time and light-years ahead of anything else available, anywhere in the world. It was an outstanding commercial success, right from the day of its launch.

Ford (USA) were so delighted with its sales success that they called up Ford (UK) on the telephone. The conversation went something like this…

Ford (USA): “Get ready to rock, you skinny bunch of lime-soaked half-wits!! The ‘Econoline’ is coming to the UK! You guys can build it and sell it all across Europe!’

Ford (UK): ‘You must be mad. Go away. Besides, we are too busy trying to pull our Ford Thames out of the hedge at the end of the driveway and we haven’t got time to play silly games. ‘

 A 1963 British Ford Thames. It survived because nobody tried to drive it.

Ford (USA): ‘No – listen! This Econoline is the solution to all your problems with your Ford Thames! The Econoline actually turns corners when you pull on the steering wheel! Its a major step forward in driver safety!’

Ford (UK): ‘Driver what...? Look, can you send us some more rope? We’ve just snapped our last bit. ‘

Ford (USA): ‘That’s what we are trying to explain, you schmucks! Your booming consumer economy needs a real van! One that can actually carry more than a bag of spanners without grounding. A van with room on the inside so you can carry  lots and lots of boxes!’

Ford(UK): ‘We put the boxes on the roof if they don’t fit inside. No thanks.’

Ford (USA): ‘Oh, yeah…? And where exactly are the boxes you put on the roof-rack of your Thames?’

Ford (UK): ‘They are scattered across a potato field. Look, stop rubbing it in and send us some more bloody rope…!’

Ford (USA): ‘Nope. We’re gonna send you an Econoline and you are going to evaluate it and then build it.’

(Ford USA  sent an Econoline in a crate to Ford  UK. A few weeks went by and nothing was heard. Eventually, Ford USA telephoned England to find out how things were going).

Ford (USA): ‘Well, whaddya think of the Econoline? Great, ain’t she…?’

Ford (UK): ‘It is stuck in the potato field at the end of the driveway. Can you send us some really, really strong rope?’

Ford (USA): Damn. How did you manage to get it stuck there?’

Ford (UK): I don’t know. All I remember was touching the gas pedal and then there was this huge roar. My false teeth got sucked down my throat and everything that had previously been in front and a long way away came rushing towards me really fast and ended up behind me.’

Ford (USA): Why didn’t you brake?’

Ford (UK): ‘I thought the hedge would do that for me. This Econoline seems to be a tad heavier than the Thames. The plan sort of fell apart…’

Ford (USA): ‘So, you like it, yeah…?’

Ford (UK): ‘It is totally unsuitable for the British market. We have decided to build our very own van. We are going to call it the ‘Transit’. It will have the ride and handling of a typical British car. It will turn corners and have an engine that barely develops enough power to pull the skin off a rice pudding. That way, our world will be safe again.’

Ford (USA): ‘Transit, eh…? Hmm…the name will never catch on. You need something more sexy. How about “F-Series”?’

Ford (UK): ‘That is both rude and disrespectful to the Queen, sir. Women would lose their moral values and society would end. No – “Transit” is a nice, sensible name. Also, we are going to put the engine behind the front axle but in front of the driver so that the weight distribution allows for a thing called “handling”.

 1965. The Ford Transit. A legend is born.

Ford (USA): ‘ “Handling”? What is that? We don’t have handling in America. Is it some kind of cheese?’

Ford (UK): ‘We just invented it. “Handling” is the means by which vans can be kept separate from hedges and potato fields.’

(The years passed and the Ford Transit became legendary as the prime mover of goods across all Europe.)

 A 1970 Transit with a new and sexy grille.

 A 1980 Ford Transit with an even sexier grille.

 A 1990’s Transit with an un-sexy “Smiley-Face” grille.

 A 2005 Transit with ‘can’t be bothered to try’ grille

  A 2010 Transit with the ‘stolen from a VW Crafter’ grille.

Meanwhile, Ford America dropped the word ‘Econoline’ because it sounded cheap and created the  ‘E-Series’. Everyone still referred to it as the ‘Econoline’ and so Ford said “Ah…what the Hell…” and called it both.

Every van driver in Britain wanted one but Ford remembered the incident with the Econoline and the potato field and decided it was not a good idea. Also, it was calculated that just six Ford E-Series vans would consume more gasoline within three hours than Britain could import in a week.

 A Ford Econoline. Big, powerful and utterly pornographic.

(The decades passed, a few wars happened and then one day, Ford (USA) emailed Ford (UK) to see how things were going).

Hi, Ford UK!

We just got a Facebook page and it is really cool! Why don’t you pop over and “like” us? 🙂 FordUSA.com

Hi Ford USA!

That’s really clever! How do you do that round yellow face thing? Rgds, Ford (UK) Ltd.

Hi Ford UK!

Hope you are well. We can’t be assed to re-design the E-Series. Can we steal your Transit design? 🙂 FordUSA.com

Hi Ford USA!

Sure, no probs. Have emailed you a picture of it!

Hope you like it!  :-*+)) Ford (UK) Ltd.

Hi Ford UK!

WTF is THAT!!!??? OMG. It looks like  a Volkswagen Transporter got hit by a badger. Totally gross front end, man.

Hi Ford USA!

It is our 2013 Ford Transit! You said you wanted one! Oh – by the way – how do you do the face with the smile thing?

Hi Ford UK!

F*** the smiley face. Where is your Ford Transit? The REAL Transit ? 😦 You’ve had it since 1965, ferrchrissakes???

Hi Ford USA!

Oh. That one. That is as tired out as a hooker on Sunday. We can’t even sell them to builders. Take it if you want it. PS How do you do that sad face thing? Rgds, Ford (UK) Ltd *–P

Hi Ford UK!

Thanks! Hey – guess what we have done to your Ford Transit!!! 😀

Hi Ford USA!

What – the one that looks like a Volkswagen? 🙂

Hi Ford UK!

No – stop going on about THAT one. It is just getting everybody confused. Its just a goddamn VW with a Ford badge. 😛

Hi Ford USA!

Oh. We spent all night staying up and trying to make it look good. Sorry you don’t like it. 😦

Hi Ford UK!

LMFAO! It looks pants. Anyway – check this out, dude. Look what we’ve done to your old European Transit! Twin Turbo!!! V6!!! 😀   😀   😀

Next Gen Ford Transit Ecoboost Outline

Hi Ford USA!

You can’t be serious…that is….OBSCENE!!!!  By the way, what does “LMFAO” mean?

Hi Ford UK!

Hahahahahahahaaha….! F**k you.

That’s right, folks!

Ford of America have gone and stuffed a 350 BHP twin-turbo gasoline V6 into Ford Europe’s ageing ‘Transit’! This psychotic, tyre-burning monstrosity of a van will now replace their home-grown Econoline range.

And, no….we Brits will not be allowed to own one in case we hurt ourselves. Instead, we will be persuaded to buy Ford’s new VW  Transporter look-alike or else plod on with our 90 BHP or 130 BHP versions that are already well past their sell-by date.

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