London’s motor show at Excel seems back to being an annual event, helping to keep our city on the motoring map. It may not have the glamour and size of Geneva or New York, but with over 30,000 people attending this year’s event in May, it is still one to pay attention to.
Shows in other cities are often used to debut some of the most important new cars, from Fords to Ferraris. With so many new British cars being launched this year, including the McLaren GT and new Bentley Continental Flying Spur, it is a shame that they were not introduced to the world here.
At least MG didn’t forget about us! Last year it showed off its ZS compact SUV and this time it brought an electric version of that. Not exactly an earth-shattering revelation. The company also gave away goody bags that included a notebook, some pens, and a key ring with its logo.
Sadly, a lot of big car makers were absent. Whether this is because of declining sales, uncertainty over Brexit, or something else, is anyone’s guess.
One company that did make it was Suzuki. The firm had brought a number of its models over and the one that stole the show was its new Jimny. The tiny off-roader (“sport utility vehicle” really doesn’t apply here) has been immensely popular, particularly in its home market. Because of this its supply in Britain is heavily restricted, such that dealers aren’t even taking deposits! The car was also taken to a car show in America despite the company pulling out entirely from the US market. It seems Suzuki really loves to tease people and show them what they can’t have.
Every year electric cars become bigger and bigger players in the game as a range of new models are shown to the world. An entire stand at the show was dedicated to some of the most popular including the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, and BMW i3. These allow guilt free motoring and cost pennies to run (excluding insurance). It’s not a matter of when you make the switch, but if. And since charging stations are outnumbering petrol stations, that day may come sooner than you think.
This makes it all the more appropriate for Tesla to bring its new Model 3 over here. The car at the show was left-hand-drive with right-hand-drive production set to begin later in the year, but it was the first time the car set its tyres on our green and pleasant land. Its minimalist interior redefines what we expect from car interiors, with a single large screen controlling everything in the car from the HVAC even to the performance.
We always hear from naysayers that Britain hasn’t got a car industry anymore, since all of our brands are foreign owned. What these people miss is that we have factories up and down the country churning out everything from Toyotas to McLarens. It may be different from the Triumphs and Austin Healeys we are associated with. But ask anyone old enough to have had one of those whether those days were really better. You may not like their answer.