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For a grand old industry like automobiles, where many popular brands havecelebrated their centenary and others have made it beyond the 50 year mark,you would wonder why everything seems to be so new. Technology and itsby products suffer a very short shelf life, yet some aspects remain with usseemingly for ever – like the internal combustion engine. So we are presentedwith situations like a 100-year old company like GM being essentially a newone after its rebirth from bankruptcy, car manufacturers projecting electricaldrives as the vision of the future, even though they are essentially a 19thcentury innovation and the use of alternate power sources, which was last invogue before petrol became so commonly available around the world.In this bold new environment, car manufacturers are increasingly having their jobs cut out in maintaining the USP of their brands, keeping their productsdistinct and fending off the challenges from rising new powers from the Asianautomotive scene. Finally, the golden rule of the product being king is beingtorn to shreds as value, battered brand perception and constricted wallets taketheir toll.It is indeed heartening that the year set out on a positive note. Along with analmost uninterrupted growth of the new markets of China and India, globalautomakers also saw some demand return from traditional markets, even if that was because of loss of volume mid-year. The top end of the car marketcontinued to be relatively sheltered from the vagaries of the volume segments,thereby allowing premium brands to enter this year with a degree of cheer.Product ternds also indicate further sales are expected around the corner. Newfour-door offerings from traditional supersports marques, a refreshening of the family car segment from market leaders and some really interesting topend offerings from both the major Korean brands will only serve as appetisersbefore the expected barrage from the European marques. At a time when economists are arguing over whether we are through therecession or are about to face a double-dip version of it, it is indeed heartening
that the year seems lled with products that carry the avour and joy of
motoring with them. Here’s wishing you all a year of being able to afford yourpassions.
A year of great expectations