/ Motoring

What do you want to see from the motoring industry in 2014?

We’ve made our New Year’s resolutions and rounded up the motoring issues the Cars Team would like to see resolved over the coming year. Do you have any car developments you’d like to see implemented?

We’re lucky enough in the Cars Team to drive a wide variety of new cars across an even wider range of roads. And we deal with car companies on a daily basis so we’re used to the quirks of the industry. All of this means that while we get to drive both good and bad cars, there are some motoring issues that quickly start to drive us mad!

My wish for 2014 is that vehicle recall agency VOSA finds its teeth. Having heard about the dangerous situations some VW Passat owners have been left in – vehicles stranded across carriageways or rolling into roads – when electronic parking brakes suddenly failed, I think it’s high time VOSA forced carmakers to cough up for safety related defects.

My colleagues have a few ideas too:

avatarTim Pitt – I’d like to see some joined-up thinking when it comes to electric cars. When I drove a Renault Zoe recently, I had terrible problems finding a charging point – even in central London. The reason? The Zoe uses a seven-pin ‘Mennekes’ connector, rather than a conventional three-pin plug. It’s already hard enough finding somewhere to charge your electric car. Reducing your options still further with different charging systems seems bonkers.

rob5-avatarRob Hull – I’d like to see manufacturers stop using claimed mpg figures in their car adverts. We believe these fuel efficiency figures aren’t achievable, and it appears they agree too when you look at the small print on the official websites stating that these claims are for comparative purposes only.


Christofer Lloyd – Having been marooned at 2am on New Year’s Eve with a flat tyre and no spare, I want to see standard-fit spares on all cars again. I’m not concerned whether car companies fit full-size or skinny space-saver spares – having a tyre means you can get home should you have a puncture.

avatarDavid Holes – I want to see DAB radio fitted as standard to all new cars. With the switchover from FM to DAB radio looking certain to happen within the next six years, I find it incredible that only around 40% of new cars sold in the UK currently come with a DAB tuner fitted. There are going to be an awful lot of motorists who will have to install expensive retro-fit tuners to their cars at the end of this decade, if they want to continue to listen to the radio while they drive.

avatarJonathan Richardson – I don’t own a car and wish there were more hire options. Car clubs like Zipcar are fine for short distances, and traditional car rental (with all the paperwork that entails) for long breaks, but for weekends or a day out to the coast there isn’t really a decently priced and convenient way to do so.

What would you like to see (or not see as the case may be) in your car this year? Is safety, driving experience or features top of your list?


I agree with Rob about the unrealistic fuel economy figures. I accept that these have to be measured under standard conditions to allow for comparison, but there is no reason why the figures provided by the manufacturers should not be adjusted to reflect what a typical driver is likely to achieve.

Christofer and Rob have both told us about their unfortunate experiences with punctures. Though none of my many punctures has caused me much problem (I’ve generally gone to the car and found a flat tyre) I can really empathise on this one. Having used a space-saver wheel several times, I really don’t think they are a sensible solution and I would like to see the return of full-size spare wheels.

Like Dave, I was looking forward to having a DAB radio and mine has exceeded my expectations. I like the way it switches to the same station on FM if the signal is weak.

I think Jonathan will have to tell us more about car rental options because I am out of touch. It seems to be so expensive to hire a car in the UK.

My wish is for car manufacturers to display details of faults in plain English rather than using error codes and coloured lights.

Phil says:
10 January 2014

“I was looking forward to having a DAB radio and mine has exceeded my expectations. I like the way it switches to the same station on FM if the signal is weak. ”

Do I detect a degree of sarcasm there?

NukeThemAll says:
10 January 2014

No sarcasm – it’s a feature of most DAB radios. In my experience, DAB coverage is excellent: for example driving from London to Cornwall, the signal was never lost. In a few places DAB coverage isn’t quite so good and you get cut-outs and glitches, whereas a weak FM signal will be obviously noisy but (just) usable.

Hi wavechange, it certainly can be pricey to hire a car, though I have found some good deals for week-long hires or short term (2-3 hours). This usually means putting in a fair amount of research to do so.

If you are hiring for a week or more you can get good hire deals, or Zipcar do rentals by the hour that are handy, but you are limited on the distance you can travel with it, you get charged per mile after a certain amount.

Still, living in London it is cheaper for me than owning a car. I sold my last car a few years ago as it cost too much to have it sitting outside when I only used it a couple of times a month. I guess car hire research and travelling to pick it up is the price of saving on not owning a car.

Thanks Jonathan. This makes sense for anyone living in London, where a car is a bit of a liability. The Zipcar rates look not bad considering that insurance is included, but there is a large excess fee. Perhaps other companies offer cheaper rates to those with an excellent driving record. I have a car, but I am very interested in affordable van hire.

When I was working, one of the few perks of the job was to be able to hire vehicles at the excellent rates negotiated by my employers, though the insurance was not cheap.

There are problems for many with the concept of owning an electric car for short journeys and hiring a normal car for longer ones. Firstly, the need for a longer journey can arise quite rapidly for, say, family emergencies. It can be difficult to sort out a hire arrangement quickly. Secondly, those of us of advanced years are not welcomed by most car hire companies, especially the ones offering the most attractive rates.

Storm says:
20 March 2015

While DAB radio is probably great for the car (lots of choice etc) it’s a shame that the digital bit rate is set so low. It’s a sad fact that a good stereo FM receiver, with a good antenna still has better hi-fi quality than any current digital radio in the UK.

I wish it was not like this, so we could all look forward to the digital switchover, but until we get “proper” digital radio in the UK we will be stuck with this archaic rubbish. The wool has been pulled over too many peoples eyes and they have been slowly groomed to accept the “less than perfect”.

I’d like to see all cars with sensible warranties – at least 5 years / 100 000 miles. Subject to accredited dealer servicing and annual checks to be fair to the manufacturer. I’d also like the price of spares investigated – £250 for one Bosch injector was recently quoted to me – just the part. Many companies use spares as a cash cow.

Adam Rose (Carsuppliers) says:
9 January 2014

we have had many customer’s complain about not achieving the stated MPG, we took it up with one manufacturer, who to be fair, sent us a detailed explanation of how their tests are conducted. It was pretty clear that the simulated environments used for testing are not at all realistic enough to take into account contributing factors like tyre pressures, luggage, passengers, hills, start / stop, air conditioning usage etc etc

I’d like to see Road Safety based on science rather than untested (and often fallacious) logic. Main case in point is speed limit setting and, as importantly, its policing. In yesteryear, speed limits were set at 90th percentile of free flow travel, is, the nearest round number (30, 40 … 70) matching that at which 90% of cars were typically travelling in dry conditions with light to medium traffic (ie, which 10% were exceeding). These days they are lowered to 50th percentile at first setting, or even lower thanks to thought police believing that lower speed limits mean safer progress.

Artificially low speed limits have many detrimental effects, including but not limited to:
* risk compensation
* longer journeys – fatigue
* closer spacing between vehicles making it difficult for pedestrians to cross, reducing forward planning capability of drivers etc.
* unnatural speed of travel for typical motorists, necessitating much more observation of the numerical dial (taking time out from observing the road ahead), particularly when a speed camera box (live or not) is present.

Cars and road engineering have generally improved, yet our national speed limit is no greater than when it was first set in the sixties. Roads that were previously set at 60 as 90th percentile are now routinely 50 and 40 despite road engineering improvements and substantial improvements in vehicle technology.

If 90th percentile was the norm, I suggest motorway limits now would be around the ton, and most urban dual carriageways 80.

Some motorists have not become any better drivers and there are more of them. They’ll be more vulnerable when you hurtle along at 100 mph. With our more congested roads I always found that, when trying to hurry along, I was caught by more restrained drivers at the next junction, lights, or pack of vehicles. So I now keep a steady speed, don’t fight past all and sundry, and seem to get there just as quickly (or nearly so) and in a much better state of mind. There are always track days to get a fix – these shouldn’t be on public roads.

On environmental grounds, there is no justification for any increase in speed limits.

>> Malcolm: Agreed, but the parallels are there. In the sixties, with a 70 mph limit, barely anything travelled freely over 50 (ok the odd Rover and Beamer, but not a lot else, would sail along at 80 or 90, but 90% was at or below 70), These days, I estimate that the 90th percentile on a motorway is around 90 – 100 (that is to say, 10% of cars are exceeding 95 mph in good conditions with light traffic. In medium traffic or any hint of poor conditions, drivers – even the fastards – regulate their speed in accordance with safety, not the (near unattainable) speed limit.

The last thing I’m suggesting is people getting a fix! I’m suggesting that if drivers were to pootle at, say, 40-50 on a lightly populated motorway in good conditions these days, they would be at greater risk of collision than if they were up at 70 or 80), whereas in the 1960s 40 – 50 (comfortably within the limit) was the norm, with no need to glance at the dial as the speed that felt right was right. I’m only saying that the limit should be raised, not that folk should try to achieve it, particularly not routinely.

>> Wavechange. Environmental is a conscience thing. The sooner that duty is piled MORE on to fuel instead of road tax the better. that way those who are ungreen foot the bills.

Roger – You can’t leave environmental matters up to the individual because some don’t care and much of the fuel used on roads is paid for by companies and other organisations, rather than the individual.

Anyway, for safety reasons there very little chance that speed limits will be raised. Cars have become safer but I don’t think drivers have.

The 70mph limit was originally imposed as a consequence of a high accident rate on motorways. The grounds for the decision were somewhat spurious because, as Roger pointed out, most cars actually travelled at speeds lower than this limit. The accident figures had been inflated by some quite significant events, notably a major collision in thick fog where the M6 crosses the Manchester Ship Canal. After the imposition of the limit, the accident rate decreased and on the post hoc ergo propter hoc principle this was attributed solely to the limit. What was ignored was that no similar major thick fog incidents had occurred during the trial period and that there had also been a law passed to ban lorries from the outside lane – many accidents having been caused by lorries pulling out in front of overtaking cars.

I was a regular user of the M1 at the time. My car was a Mini Cooper S which was capable of 100 mph plus but was most comfortable at, as it so happens, 70 mph so this was my normal cruising speed. I found that I was overtaking the majority of other vehicles and was overtaken by just a few. After the limit, most drivers increased their speed to 70 so instead of travelling in reasonable isolation, I found myself in 70 mpg traffic jams!

I will be replacing my car this year and I still want a proper spare wheel and the tools to fit it. If I look at a car which doesn’t have one then I will cross it off my shopping list. Looking at the Which table I can see that I needn’t bother with Vauxhall, Mini, Skoda, or Renault. Shame really, since the Skoda garage is within sight of my house and I like the look of their cars.

In an earlier Conversation, I believe we were told that spare wheels were available as an option on Skodas and there was storage space for a full-size spare on one model. I hope that this is still the case.

Maneg says:
10 January 2014

Having just bought a Skoda Octavia, I can confirm that a spare wheel is available as an option.

Does the car have a space for the spare wheel or does it just sit on the floor? I’ve seen Skoda garages saying they would “fit this into your SKODA free of charge” but how?

Maneg says:
10 January 2014

There is a well for a spare wheel beneath the boot floor and accessible from within the boot (rather than from under the car). The well has a large enough diameter to accommodate the wheel. If you get 16 inch wheels, you will get a full-size steel wheel. If you get 17″ wheels and select the optional spare you still get the same 16″ steel wheel. The outer diameter of the tyre is the same as the 17″ but is narrower. I queried this with the dealer and was told that it would not be limited to 50 mph as would a normal skinny spare. I’m sure that the handling will not be as good with three low profile tyres and one standard, but it can’t be as bad as a skinny spare.

I haven’t had to use it yet and I am considering the possibility of buying a matching full size 17″ alloy as a real spare. The 17″ tyre is approximately 20 mm wider than the 16″ unit. This might possibly lift the boot floor by up to 20 mm and may need some support around the edges but shouldn’t be difficult. I haven’t yet tried taking off one of the 17″ alloys and putting it the well, but that’s where it will have to go if I have a puncture. Given the size of the boot, raising the boot floor marginally will make an insignificant change in capacity.

Hope this helps. My car now a month old so check the spec with the dealer – some details seemed to change slightly during the time between order and delivery.

I’d like to see the proliferation of huge touch screens stop. These multi-purpose interfaces are totally over the top and seem to add 50% to the cost of a car and the agents charge a fortune to update the satnav maps. I prefer to use my tablet as a satnav. (I particularly like the Brodit range of mounts for mobiles and tablets.)

I prefer to have buttons on the steering wheel to control the radio AND a rotary knob on the radio for a volume control.

I don’t believe this is true. The law says that the tyres must be the same nominal size and tread on the same axle. I don’t see that mixing 16″ and 17″ wheels can possibly meet this law. I fully understand that the profile may be different so that the overall diameter of the wheels are close.

Are you sure that if you choose optional wheels that are an inch bigger that Skoda don’t provide the same diameter steel wheel as a spare?

According to the AA:
“You must always make sure that tyres on the same axle are of the same size and aspect ratio – your car will fail the MOT test if they’re not – but the law makes an exception for temporary use spare wheels fitted in an emergency.

Temporary use spare wheels – non-standard spare/skinny spare – are increasingly being supplied as standard by car manufacturers to save space and weight. Generally these will be narrower than the standard size car tyres.

You can find details of any operating restrictions in the handbook, and the spare tyre itself should be clearly marked too. Maximum speed is usually restricted to 50mph for safety reasons.

Space-saver wheels are designed for temporary use to enable the vehicle to be driven to a place of repair. There is no maximum distance but due to the speed restriction, limited tread depth (only 3mm from new) and the fact that the tyre compound is often softer to simulate the traction capabilities of a wider tyre, the distance covered before repair should not be excessive.

Aim to get the original car tyre repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Handling will be different with a skinny spare fitted. Allow for this when driving as well as following any specific advice printed in the handbook.”

Using different wheels on the same axle seems a very dubious solution to me – particularly with regard to handling. How easy might it be to get caught out if you an inexperienced driver or hit bad road conditions?

Hotbird says:
9 January 2014

Scrap road tax and recover the same revenue from additional fuel duty

Manufacturers should provide free or at least affordable upgrades to built-in sat-navs. Since selling upgrades is lucrative, the manufacturers may need a little encouragement from the consumer, but I’m sure we are up for this challenge. 🙂

I know a few people who have objected to paying the extortionate cost of upgrading a built-in sat-nav and bought a separate unit at a lower cost.

Brian Wootton says:
10 January 2014

I understand Christopher Lloyd’s point completely and whole-heartedly agreed with it but I and the wife fell in love with the VW Sharan which I bought even though it didn’t come with any sort of spare wheel. It was fitted with ContiSeals, however. I got a warning on the dash saying one tyre had changed its dimensions from the other 3 and found its pressure was below the others, it had plenty of air left in it though and I drove another 150 miles on it before a tyre repairman took the wood-screw out of it and plugged it, there being no other damage – at no time did the tyre go flat even with a no. 10 woodscrew jammed in it. I am now happy with not having a spare wheel. The point I want to make is that there should be a much more prominent advertisement of ContiSeal tyres and their competitors to put car purchasers minds at rest when they are looking for new/replacement cars, in my opinion cars with with no spare wheels need be no bother as long as the correct tyres for the job are fitted.

One possible answer to the spare wheel issue would be for manufacturers to make their cars with space for a full size wheel, then offer a full size, spacesaver or tube of “gunk”, with the spacesaver being the default.
This would at least allow those of us who want a full sized wheel to be able to pay extra and get what we want.
I’m in the market for a new car but each one that loks suitable in most respects does not even have the space for a full sized wheel.
I shall not be buying any of the cadidates I have looked at so far.

Fine, as long as the customer is not charged a silly price for having a full-size spare wheel as an alternative. If you go for the space-saver wheel, you need a space big enough for the wheel with the puncture.

A lot of discussion on tyres here, all with one sentiment – keep going safely and quickly in the event of a puncture. The ideal is of course a like-for-like swap. However, the closet of seconds is a run-flat tyre. Beamers do them these days. They used to be available for all mainstream cars back in the 70s. Denovo I think. Whatever happened to them?

Look at the cost and practicality, Roger. Run-flats are a short-term solution – more so than a space-saver wheel, they are expensive to buy and I don’t think they can be repaired.

Brian Wootton says:
11 January 2014

Look at puncture proof tyres, they have been fitted to farm equipment and other off-road vehicles for years. You can now buy them for cars, they keep their pressure when holes are poked in them, they are repairable, and mine will last 30,000 miles or more. I’m 78 and I don’t think I have the strength or agility to change a wheel on my largish car anyway. I have never liked getting my hands, clothes and
car furnishings filthy either. The last wheel change I did was on a busy minor road and I considered it to be an easy way to commit suicide. And as for getting a puncture on a motorway!!

Richard Billing says:
11 January 2014

High Intensity Rear Lights (Fog Lights): Should it not be made compulsory for them to be de-activated every time the car is switched off. How many times have you been dazzled by idiots 2-3 days after the fog event (well slightly misty day). AND Brake Lights; especially the high-level ones & the newer LED variety, have them dim down after a brief period of time whilst below a certain speed? This will also preserve the night vision of the poor old driver behind the idiot that can’t or won’t use their handbrake? Agree wholeheartedly with the comments regarding spare wheels, or the lack thereof! Every single car on the road needs to have blue-tooth hands free mobile phone facility so that there can be no excuse; then the punishment for using a hand-held could be losing your licence for good? There you go, three for the price of one!

I very much agree about the nuisance lights, Richard. Some manufacturers designed out this problem decades ago.

I have no problem with hands-free phone connections in cars provided that the phone is operative only when the car is stationary with the engine switched off, for safety reasons.

I welcome LED lighting, if only to get round the problem that some manufacturers have been working on making it difficult to replace a failed bulb. As Richard has pointed out, LED brake lights can be very annoying if you are stuck behind a driver who has their foot on the brakes. I wrote to a well known car manufacturer about a model with particularly intense LED brake lights and indicators but the message obviously did not get through because I was just told that their cars now had LED lights to save fuel.

I agree with Richard that brake lights should dim after a short time when a car is stationary.

LED lights on vehicles are good because they are solid state and have a long life, so should be resilient to mechanical breakage. That they use less power is a minuscule side benefit and doubt that fuel saving is even measurable. (Of course, that will be different for electric only vehicles. )

But I share your concerns about how bright they have become. There should be some automated intensity control so that they are less bright in the dark for both front and back LEDs.

In defence of keeping one’s foot on the brake: let’s say that prior to my current car I always used the handbrake and took my foot of the brake pedal. But now I have my first car with a DSG gearbox (Tiptronic) which has an electronic interlock that only lets the driver select D when you put your foot on the brake and the handbrake is incapable of holding the car against the bottom end grunt of a diesel engine. That means you have to stop, select N or P and put on the handbrake; when it’s time to go, you have to put your foot on the brake, release the handbrake and select D before you can move off. The interlocking is so tortuous that you must put the car into P before you can remove the ignition key! So please accept my apologies for the brake lights and blame the EU and US regulators for making the car complete brain-dead idiot proof (i.e. people who shouldn’t have a licence).

There must be something very seriously wrong if the handbrake is insufficient to hold a car stationary. There was an international recall of cars with DSG gearboxes not long ago, but I don’t know what the problem was.

The only interlock I have met in a manual transmission car is the requirement to press in the clutch before starting. That does not bother me because I’ve done this since I was a learner to decrease the load on the starter, rather than for safety reasons.

The handbrake is fine with the gearbox in N – more than adequate. But in Drive it isn’t, which isn’t any different than a manual gearbox. Would you really expect a manual gearbox in first gear to hold the car if you let out the clutch?

(The recall was to change the synthetic gearbox oil for mineral oil.)

Interesting, but I feel fortunate to have a manual gearbox and no interlocking.

I couldn’t start my car recently – until I depressed the clutch (not my normal routine). It then started – turns out this happens if the reversing light switch on the gearbox fails – it had. Then I had a clutch hydraulic failure – car wouldn’t start, but I’m now a bit smarter! No good depressing the clutch, so tried the footbrake Vroom. Wierd. Anyone know the logic?

OMG! Confusing to say the least. It seems those that little micro switch which used to do nowt more than toggle on the brake light, does a whole lot more ‘interfacing’.

Somewhere there must be a product team that sit regularly together devising ways to make cars more complex for no good reason. Next the interior light switch will open all the windows wide, recline the front seats into the sleeping position, unlock all the doors and release the tailgate – but only if the windscreen wipers are active.

With my previous Golf, pressing the door close button once closed the doors, twice deadlocked them and three times unlocked the passenger door. I don’t know the reason but the fault was fixed under warranty.

When one of the CDs failed to eject I cured the problem by disconnecting the battery for a short time, but that’s a fairly standard fix for anything controlled by computer.

I remember a priceless episode of the hapless Harry Worth with a car wired up in a weird way with a set of circumstances even more bizarre than these!

I used to be one of those who cursed drivers whose brake lights stayed on at, for instance, traffic lights. Now I am one of them! My car has what is becoming a standard system of achieving good fuel economy and low emissions. When the car is stationary the engine stops and the car is held on an electronic parking brake, with the brake lights on. When ready to move off, all that is required is a prod on the accelerator which starts the engine and releases the electronic brake.

It is a good system, but I do feel some guilt about the effect of the brake lights on the driver behind me! As someone has suggested, it would be a good idea for the light intensity to reduce after the car has been stationary for a period.

As a side issue, a former colleague of mine had a weird electrical fault on his car which caused the garage some head scratching. It started when he arrived home one night. He turned off the ignition but the engine continued to run. When he took his foot off the brake pedal the engine stopped. Next morning there was no problem and everything worked as it should. Arriving home that night, though, the problem returned. To cut a long story short, the problem was eventually tracked down to a double filament bulb, one filament being the brake light and the other the rear light. What had happened was that one of the filaments had sagged so that it touched the other. Consequently, with the brake pedal pressed the ignition continued to be energised via the rear light. With the lights off in the morning, there was no problem. Very obvious in retrospect, but it certainly took a fair bit of time to sort out.

Thanks for posting this, Tony. Perhaps the car manufacturer has not read the Highway Code:
“In stationary queues of traffic, drivers should apply the parking brake and, once the following traffic has stopped, take their foot off the footbrake to deactivate the vehicle brake lights. This will minimise glare to road users behind until the traffic moves again.
Law RVLR reg 27”

This sort of crass stupidity by car manufacturers should be exposed. At least your car has filament bulbs rather than high intensity directional LED brake lights, which can be even more dazzling.

The problem with dual-filament lamps can occur inside the lamp or because of bridging of connections. If the engineer had been told that the problem only occurred at night he should have been able to guess the problem without looking at the car.

Wavechange: You will find that most manufacturers of new cars have adopted this system. Although the advice from the Highway Code is sensible, things have moved on. One of the major hazards these days is the rear end shunt when approaching cars simply do not realise that the vehicles in front of them are stationary. Having the brake lights on when stationary does assist in such cases. By the way, how do you know that my car has filament bulbs?

As to the problem that I described; it is easy to say that a fault is simple to diagnose after someone else has actually sorted out the cause!

I don’t think keeping brake lights is any more sensible than manufacturers deciding that we don’t need spare wheels in our cars and as the Highway Code says it is a courtesy to other drivers to turn the brake lights off. Like many drivers I am capable of putting my foot on the brakes if I have to stop anywhere other than traffic lights, roundabout or a junction to warn cars behind. If I have to stop unexpectedly on a motorway I put the hazard lights on too.

I realise that you were referring to a colleague’s car problems rather than your own, so I don’t know what sort of lights your car has.

Phil says:
16 January 2014

Getting back to the original topic of “what do you want to see from the motor industry in 2014”, there are two new ‘facilities’ I would like to see on the options list.

The first would be a factory fitted black box to save me having to add yet another item to the windscreen, in the shape of a traffic recording camera.

The second would be for them to start developing an infra red screen for greatly enhanced visibility in the dark, AND IN FOG! The thermal imaging firm FLIR now have a really cost effective processor that should enable the manufacturers costs to be minimal. For anyone who doesn’t mind adding to the windscreen ( or dashboard) clutter, they will soon be selling an iPhone slide on attachment for less than £250.

Then, my wish list gets even more indulgent, though not necessarily more expensive. I have a free (and not particularly impressive) navigation app for my iPhone that attempts to tell me the time distance from the vehicle in front.

Now if I could have that, linked with a system in the rear window, that asked traffic behind to maintain a 2 second gap in clear conditions (and longer in adverse weather, traffic, etc.) then I would feel much safer; more comfortable and infinitely more relaxed while driving.

The devil in me would like the addition of being able to spray innocent, lightly coloured water on any vehicle tailgating me, with a further warning sign to say that the next squirt would be brake fluid!!!!! I’d even have two distinct nozzles on the boot – one with a slight colour stain,from the nozzle drips, the other with blistered paint work!! – both done using transfers.

Does anyone think either or both would be an effective deterrent?

Until the manufacturers can offer us safe, automated vehicles, I do think we, and the industry, need to think more creatively about how to discourage poor, reckless driving and the crazy gangs who are pulling the insurance scams.

I think your sort of car was supplied to Mr Bond some years ago. For when things got desperate you could go for the option of the ejector seat on the driver’s side. Should it go into full production?

Strangely, every single comment on this topic has been given “thumbs down” at least once, regardless of whether anything controversial has been said or not. Has one individual gone through this whole conversation systematically marking down every single comment up to 11th January, except for one comment (from a car supplier) ? Everyone has a right to their opinion, but there is no apparent logic in many of these objections. I haven’t seen this happen in any other thread. Am I alone in being slightly mystified by this ?

It is a little odd Esther, but it’ll have to remain a mystery I’m afraid! Maybe you can go an upvote everyone’s in response 😉

It would be difficult to implement some of our suggestions in 2014, but one thing that could be stopped promptly is the pressure to buy new cars. When I bought a car less than 18 months ago I asked the dealer not to waste time and money trying to persuade me to buy a new one. I’ve just had a call saying that I am ‘in a good position’ to change my car. I have also had information in the post about the same thing. The depreciation on a new car is huge, which is why I intend to keep mine for around 10 years.

For goodness sake listen to customers and don’t annoy them if you want them to come back.

Sophie Gilbert says:
19 January 2014

I’d like to see (hear) the motoring industry say nuts to the oil industry. There’s got to be a way. In my lifetime?

My current car has two facilities that I have found to contribute a lot to safer driving. One is a radar-based cruise control which maintains a constant time difference between myself and the car in front. In traffic, especially on motorways, the result is more time to look out for other hazards. Perhaps it should be added that it also limits the speed to a maximum set by the driver so if the car in front accelerates up to, say, 100 mph I don’t do the same!

The second useful facility is intelligent lighting. This uses bi-xenon main beam light units but no separate dipped lights, the light units move to provide lighting appropriate to the conditions. If a car comes in the opposite direction the beam pattern is adjusted to avoid dazzling its driver and a similar action takes place when coming up behind another car. If the rear fog lights are switched on, the headlight pattern is adjusted appropriately. After quite a lot of night driving in many different conditions (except fog, so far) I have not had to intervene manually because the system failed to act appropriately. If nothing else, it means that I never have the embarrassment of being flashed by an approaching driver because I have forgotten to dip my headlights!

Sounds good. Would you be willing to let us know what make and model of car you have?

Greetings John. My car is a Mercedes-Benz C class although the equipment described is available on this manufacturer’s whole range. Similar equipment is available on several other makes of car, including, I believe, some of the Ford range.

Thanks Tony. I’m not sure we shall be trading up to a Mercedes when we eventually part company with our Audi but by that time other manufacturers might well have incorporated this technology or offer it as an option. Smart cruise control and intelligent lighting systems seem to be a very good step forward in the interests of road safety. Perhaps the time has come when car makers will gratify our desires for longer lives as a priority over indulging us with ever more distracting entertainment facilities and vanity concepts.

With half the country under water, and their cars going nowhere, I hesitate to mention the problem of Winter sunshine but it has been very strong at a low angle this week making visibility very difficult in places. To me the answer seems to be a kind of photochromic windscreen like adaptive spectacle lenses. Those of us who wear glasses can have this feature as an extra but for those who don’t, and don’t want the fiddle of putting sunglasses on and taking them off while driving, this might be a safe and sensible option if the price is right. I suppose I have left it a bit late to get the motor industry to launch this in 2014.

Perhaps, picking up your initial observation, we should be resurrecting amphibious cars. I remember seeing one driving into the Thames and proceeding down river. More widespread applications seem to have arrived.