Marques of Extinction; MOTORING

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), November 17, 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Marques of Extinction; MOTORING

Byline: Russell Bray

SPECIALIST cars could be driven off the road

within 10 years by the bureaucrats of Brussels.

Small firms making interesting and unusual cars face a deluge of tougher pollution, safety and noise laws and impossible deadlines to meet the new rules.

Companies building fewer than 5,000 cars a year are particularly at risk.

It could mean the end of Aston Martin, Bristol, Lotus, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Morgan, Rolls-Royce or TVR.

And it could kill off less well-known names such as Asquith, Bitter, De Tomaso, Caterham, Excalibur, Grinnall, Quantum, Spectre and Venturi.

Even the giant Toyota has succumbed. EC noise and pollution laws have stopped European sales of its sensational twin-turbo [pounds sterling]42,000 Supra and the exciting four-wheel drive Celica GT-4, priced at [pounds sterling]32,000.

Ferrari, despite the backing of the vast Fiat organisation, has had to muffle its latest model, the [pounds sterling]144,000 Ferrari 550 Maranello, to such an extent that one motoring publication said the car sounded like a vacuum cleaner.

But small manufacturers, determined to resist death by legislation, are fighting back. The Coalition of Small Volume Automobile Manufacturers (COSVAM) has been formed to provide an expert professional voice in the corridors of power.

Michael Carmichael, a director of the organisation, is an Oxford-based marketing and research consultant who specialises in political and commercial campaigns.

He says that the small manufacturers are in crisis, under pressure from the economics of low-volume production and the greater threat of government regulations.

He says: `Legislation aimed at the mass-produced family car is threatening to kill off the small specialists. Without the huge resources and lobbying strength of the multinationals, individual manufacturers have little say in the development of vehicle legislation, and the impossible lead times threaten to drive them out of business.

`Everyone wants cleaner and safer cars, but many firms are being dragged towards bankruptcy.'

The EC's Stage Three and Stage Four anti-pollution directives, which affect vehicle design and construction, are due to take effect in 2000 and 2005. But though the car industry has accepted Stage Three, it claims the Stage Four directive will have virtually no impact on vehicle emissions and will not be cost-effective. It says cleaner fuels would be a better and cheaper way to cut pollution.

Roger King is a former Conservative MP for Northfield, Birmingham, where many Rover employees live.

As spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, he claims that 99.9% of new cars' exhaust emissions are now harmless. He says: `Developing the technology to cover the final 0.1% grows ever more costly.'

Across the Atlantic, COSVAM USA was formed in January. It has already persuaded the American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to recognise the need for greater flexibility and longer lead times in the application of new laws.

Carmichael says: `Legislation in the US is far worse than in Europe. It has effectively killed off the entire low-volume

industry in North America. Only three small companies - Calloway, Hummer and Vector - are still going.'

COSVAM (Europe) is at Essex House,

137-141 Kings Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4EG. Telephone 01277 202552.

A chance to win the drive of your life

IF the roar of powerful engines, the smell of hot oil and the swish of speeding tyres make you long to drive a racing car, you could be in luck.

Financial Mail on Sunday has teamed up with Castle Combe Racing School in Wiltshire to offer you a chance to follow in the tracks of world-class drivers such as Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, James Hunt, Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Jody Scheckter and Alan Jones.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Marques of Extinction; MOTORING


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?