By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion
You hear it all the time: “Where will the next generation of technicians, designers and all-around motor heads come from? Today’s younger generation have more interest in I-things than gasoline things.” Maybe true, maybe not but certain evidence is emerging to support at least part of the theory.
London’s The Guardian recently ran an article with the scary title “The End of Motoring,” in which it was revealed that the percentage of 17 to 20-year-olds with drivers licenses in Britain fell from 48 percent in the early 1990s to 35 percent last year. However, for perspective, remember that area in question encompasses the same approximate square mileage as Louisiana; thus their stats may represent 1/50th of the U.S. trend.
But a drop is still a drop, and observers put it down to many causes. Some cite the economy in general, while others note the overall cost of keeping a car including fuel, insurance, fees and so on. One offered a more terse explanation—“the golden age of motoring is over.” If it’s true there, it might be true here to some degree.
The UK has some large and very dense cities – notably London – in which driving is much more chore than pleasure. The UK also has a finely-developed bus and rail transport system, and popping off to see dear Aunt Tillie in a neighboring town often doesn’t require a car. Should you need one however, the article notes the rise of various car sharing operations by which you can rent a needed vehicle for a very short term, often only a few hours.
Stefan Liske, a well-known designer with credentials from several big-name OEMs noted, “… there is a huge status shift happening, where we are losing the idea that you use a car to define your status. So the industry needs more flexible leasing, financing and car-sharing models. And second, they have to find new revenue streams.”
The industry is indeed listening, and it may be all about those revenue streams. Many of the European makers are worried by the trend away from car ownership and are looking into supporting car sharing or mini-lease deals in all their markets. In the U.S, General Motors recently announced that the company has done a deal with RelayRides to make OnStar’s remote-unlock available to RelayRides customers who are borrowing a GM vehicle. Ford has already announced it will sell up to 1,000 vehicles to Zipcar in the U.S.
Just to end on a high note, and give you some hope for the next generation, we’ll mention that the highly competitive IMSA GT-3 Gold Cup, a professional series for up and coming drivers in race-prepared 430+ h.p. Porsche GT3s, was recently won by Madison Snow of Salt Lake City, Utah. In the 2011 series, he held five pole positions and took five wins (two of them in the rain) but doesn’t have a state driver’s license. He’s 15.
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.