Snakes and Ladders

Half year European car sales data paints a somewhat uneven picture.

(c) Car Magazine

Originating in India, the popular board game of snakes and ladders was for decades a timeless children’s favourite – in the analogue era at least. Based on traditional morality tales and to some extent the concept of karma, the nature of the game was to move from the bottom of the board to the top via rolls of the dice, avoiding potential trapdoors along the way.

With data for the half-year to June now available, it could be stated that the current European car sales situation is of a similar haphazard nature. Last week, we looked at how the EV sector was performing, so today we cast our gaze upon the walking wounded and the not much longer for this world, courtesy of Automotive News, market trackers, JATO Dynamics and figures from Carsalesbase.com.

The first six months of 2019 has witnessed the continued bifurcation of the European auto market, with adoption of crossover and SUV formats reaching a new high of 36.1%, up from 33.2% over the same period last year. Needless to say, this comes at the expense of other sectors, but even within the SUV/CUV segment, a hollowing out of sorts also appears to be under way.

The obvious victims of the ongoing shift in customer behaviour continues to be the MPV, which is entering a new and now likely decisive phase – with both small and compact segments losing a third of their volume over the half-year – (Citroën’s Grand Picasso dropping by 41%). As their declining appeal accelerates, it would be an optimistic carmaker indeed who would Continue reading “Snakes and Ladders”

Dirk’s Demise vs Luc’s Lamento

Bentley’s Bentayga SUV turned out to be an instant smash sales success. Yet the car that was intended to preview it was not only met with fright – it also cost its chief designer his job. 

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Dirk’s swansong, photo (c) Car and Driver

Dirk van Braeckel’s career at Volkswagen had been one of sustained corporate ladder climbing. Having joined VAG’s Audi branch in 1984, he rose through the ranks at Ingolstadt, before being chosen to help re-launch the much-maligned Škoda brand. He did as he was asked with some aplomb, leading to a generation of Škodas that were not just competently styled, but, more importantly, conveyed a sense of thorough quality.

With hindsight, this first generation of VAG-engineered Octavia, Fabia and Superb models must be considered as conservative, competent, long-lasting pieces of design which stood the test of time without anyone really noticing. Continue reading “Dirk’s Demise vs Luc’s Lamento”

Photo for Sunday : 2017 Bentley Continental

Driven to Write’s star of the Frankfurt motor show may surprise you.

It’s more than a little Bentayga. Image: Carbuyer

Since we founded Driven to Write three and a half years ago, (where has the time gone?) I think I’ve written almost nothing on the subject of Bentley – a glaring omission on my part and one for which I ought to make amends. There are a number of reasons for this Crewe-shaped hole in my DTW outpourings, but I suppose if I was pinned to a wall (or similar stout object) and forced to explain, I’d Continue reading “Photo for Sunday : 2017 Bentley Continental”

Scream If You Want To Go Faster

If you have to ask how much it costs to look this cheap you probably can’t afford it.

The Mansory Black Edition with a suitably Alpine backdrop. Context innit? All images: Autoguide

Bentayga exists, I realise, to provide a frame upon which the spectacularly insecure can hang the neediest portion of their id – and for those at the extreme end of the spectrum, have it rendered in ‘Collage Edition’ carbon fibre. Behold the Mansory Black Edition – the ultimate expression of Bentayga. Suddenly it all makes sense. Continue reading “Scream If You Want To Go Faster”

Creativity Crushed?

When two of the most prominent car designers recently left their posts, each left a ‘legacy’ awkward SUV model behind. Coincidence?

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Two awkward SUVs, photos (c) http://www.motortrend.com

Most commentators were astonished when Luc Donckerwolke, one of the most high-profile design directors at Volkswagen Group, decided to leave the German giant behind and join Hyundai’s nascent Genesis brand. Was it the allure of receiving the call of his former boss, Peter Schreyer, that made him leave his post as Bentley’s chief designer and depart for South Korea? Or was it simply a matter of giant paycheques changing hands?

Continue reading “Creativity Crushed?”

Bentley Bentayga: 4000 Customers Already

After revealing a rather challenging design for their new SUV, Bentley have found a name as unappealing: Bentayga.

2016 Bentley Bentaygo
2016 Bentley Bentayga

There must be no poets among the senior staff at Bentley. The proposed name lacks any charm or musicality. How did they choose this name? Automotive News and others reported that the new SUV is to be named after a mountain on the Canary Islands. Continue reading “Bentley Bentayga: 4000 Customers Already”