So, what is going to be the big talking point of the car industry in 2018?
Find out what John Swift, award winning Motoring Journalist, thinks we’ll be talking about this year.
No one has an entirely accurate crystal ball but to me one of them must be the arrival of the Chinese car makers.
Some people still sneer at the quality, the ridiculous names and the clumsy copycat styling which, it is true, typified its manufacturers in the past but that is to ignore recent developments and especially in the crucial electric car market which will be the second talking point of the year.
China is decarbonising its economy faster and more deeply than any country and electric vehicles are being adopted there faster than anywhere else in the world.
Don’t believe me? Between January and September last year it registered 20 times more electric cars than we did here in the UK and four times as many as in the second biggest market, the USA. In those nine months 227,000 EVs were put on the road in China, 61,000 in North America and 12,000 in this country.
It makes what we do here seem little more than a sideshow.
This is the market European manufacturers are targeting but the Chinese are not sitting back and waiting for us to take their customers’ money. Their domestic manufacturers have been independently developing their own models or buying in Euro technology and soon they are heading our way.
One, Geely, bought Volvo (as well as the London Taxi Company and will be electrifying its famous black cabs) and we’ll see the first fruits of that tie up between Swedish know how and Chinese money later this year. Geely has an off-shoot challengingly called Lynk & Co but last autumn it showed a bang up to date mid-size SUV looking a little like a Porsche Macan with a Volvo chassis and engines and an interior many Euro models simply can’t match. Oh, and if you still question Chinese quality, it will have a lifetime guarantee…
Another, Chery, has a joint venture with Jaguar Land Rover which recently opened an engine plant there and has seen its sales rocket, up some 25 per cent in six months. It too has a little SUV, the Tiggo, (below) which is said to be as good as anything built by companies more familiar to us.
Yes, there are still some names which sound silly to us – Trumpchi for example and Hongqi sit uneasily with us – but 2018 will be the year when we will begin to take Chinese cars seriously and you will see them first in the SUV market with hybrids as well as conventional engines.
True, there are many I’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed before they appear in UK showrooms, a dealer distribution network being an obvious one, but mark my words, they are coming.
What was it that Napoleon said some 200 years ago:
China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep for when she wakes she will move the world.
Would you buy a Chinese car? Let us know in the comments below.