Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Big Year Gone and the Road Ahead Uncertain

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Big Year Gone and the Road Ahead Uncertain

Article excerpt

Byline: By Steve Hughes

The year 2004 was one of the most vital in the history of the motorcar. First ( Europe is now saturated with new cars yet manufacturers continue to churn them out in record numbers, mainly at a loss.

This means there are just three possibilities for the future.

Some of the major players will either go under or merge with competitors, they will have to concentrate on emerging new markets elsewhere or they will have to persuade us to change our cars more frequently.

As far as Europe is concerned, the latter could be the key to the future, as is proven whenever a stunning new model is unveiled.

Suddenly cars that we consider to be modern look dated and we long to have the newer replacement.

In 2004 this happened with a number of contemporary cars, such as the Vauxhall Astra, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf GTi, Audi A4, Mercedes SLK, BMW 3 Series, Ferrari 430, Porsche 911 and the Peugeot 407.

Not all have actually taken to the roads yet and some are revisions to current models, but their appearances were among the highlights of 2004 and we look forward to getting to grips with them in 2005.

An increasing number of new cars achieved top marks in the Euro NCAP crash-testing programme, Renault leading the way and increasing its reputation for safety in the process.

Safety continues to dominate the public agenda, with cars considered by many to be the greatest single threat to us and the planet. Speed cameras continued to proliferate throughout 2004 and the Government announced yet more stealth taxes for motorists.

London considered virtually banning 4x4 vehicles from its streets as an increasing number of manufacturers added them to their line-ups.

Most notable was BMW, whose new X3 is probably the most panned newcomer of 2004, along with BMW's 1 Series, which received a general mauling from the motoring press for being simply too expensive. …

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