My Life in Cars - July 2020

by BTM

Thu, 02 July 2020

My Life in Cars july 2020

Dick Potter reflects on how the virus is affecting the motors industry.  

“We’ve got to keep the wheels turning.” This sage advice was recently provided by Jeremy Clarkson. Indeed, we do need to keep the wheels of the motor industry turning – yes undeniably for all industries, but this is a car article, you understand.

Pre-Covid (if you’re struggling to remember that era, you’re not alone I assure you) the motor industry in the UK provided employment for about 800,000 people. However, post-Covid (whatever that may look like, and whenever it happens) the industry reportedly expects approximately 400,000 jobs linked to the motor trade to be at risk. 

I was amazed to read that only 197 cars have been made in the UK since the pandemic lockdown. To put that number into context, the UK usually produces about 1.5 million cars per year. It’s not rocket science then, that if cars aren’t made, they can’t be sold. Subsequently, one of the largest car dealerships in the UK is set to cut 1,500 jobs and 12 dealerships. This group apparently plans to either close branches, merge them with other showrooms or refranchise them.

Many other firms are already making job cuts also. Between them, McLaren, Aston Martin and Bentley purportedly aim to cut around 3,000 positions.

For every employee in the car plant, there are another four reliant on it in the supply chain – some of whom have highly skilled jobs. Once you’ve bought your car, it needs fuel, insurance, servicing and, inevitably, hauling back to the shop for its MoT or other annual check. You get the picture of employment in the motor industry then.

However, Jeremy Clarkson has a solution to these potential redundancies. He claims that if we all sign on the dotted line for a “new set of wheels”, we’ll be helping keep these employees in their motoring jobs and off benefit payments and thus “… keep the wheels turning”.

Undoubtedly, every sector of the car industry would be rapturous if we all dashed off to buy a new car, but do you get the notion Jeremy’s forgetting something? Where exactly are ordinary folk supposed to get the money for these brand-new wheels in these times? (Most especially the McLaren, Aston or Bentley?!)

Clearly the majority aren’t stampeding off to buy a new car – to date, new car registrations are down 89 per cent from the total number registered in 2019. However, given the current discussions underway in the UK regarding a £1.5. billion injection which includes a ‘cash for clunkers’ scheme – like that used a decade ago to revitalise the market – new car sales might just shoot up before the year is out.

I do concede this article chiefly concerns the British motor industry; however, the motoring sector is very important to every country. Apart from wholesale, retail and repair of cars – just think of the multitude of garages, to say nothing of the swathes of car wash chappies that would be affected here? It’s fair to say many of us are not regulars on public transport and rely heavily on our cars – I use the plural as it’s a rare household here that doesn’t have more than one vehicle. How then do the car dealerships propose to keep the new wheels continuing to turn on our sunny island, I wonder? 

It’s an industry we simply cannot allow to run on empty. Meanwhile, I’m just sending Jeremy Clarkson a reminder that my birthday was in April – so he can send me that new set of wheels and I promise to do my bit to keep them turning!

Happy motoring all.

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