Review of the main car stories from 2008

"2008 a very turbulant and troubled year"

Well 2008 was quite a turbulent year.

Sadly as we predicted last year, when we looked at new car sales figures, the recession has well and truly hit.

It is hitting the car makers particularly hard.

Times like these really sort out the men from the boys.

If anyone is planning to buy a new car then now would be a fantastic time.

There is currently a glut of cars hanging around and dealers are discounting them heavily.

There are some great offers around. We have even heard of manufacturers offering a free car.

In fact Dodge dealerships are reportedly running  a buy one get one free offer in a bid to shift stock. It would be a good time to consider an economical replacement anticipation a worsening economic climate.

We have also seen house builders offering an Aston Martin to buyers of homes as an incentive.

The used ads also reveal some stunning deals, especially if you are after something special. You can get a Range Rover sport for £24,000 with 13,000 miles on the clock, down from the new price of £36,300.

At the older end of the used market we are seeing small cars holding on to their value very well. It would appear that people are hanging on to their cars longer as well. Many TorqueCars members are planning to keep their cars running as long as possible before they consider changing.

2008 has been a year of change, we have seen the highest and lowest 3 year fuel prices and now face a deepening recession.

Perhaps a VW Phaeton with 10,000 on the clock at £23,000 would tempt you down from the new price of £45,000.You could alternatively pick up a DB9 for under £70,000 with 10,000 miles on the clock down from the new price of £83,000. If you go older then the bargains get better, we'll leave you to trawl the ads but many of the supercars you've always wanted are now within your grasp!

Luxury and large thirsty cars have been particularly hit by depreciation in recent times and there are plenty of bargains to be had.

We have also experienced something unusual in the UK. With the drop of the pound against the euro we are seeing lower prices in the UK for prestige German marquees!

Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and Audi have all got lower UK showroom prices than from their home countries. Perhaps the UK will become the destination for bargain hunters in Europe looking for new cars. Just a few years ago we were paying a premium price for new cars.

On the plus side the price of fuel is at a 3 year low. We started the year with high fuel prices and towards the end of the year they hit record prices. Now prices have slumped at the pumps we can once again afford to go and enjoy our cars.

When past recessions and the following depression hit we enter a stagnant period for new car models, especially the sporty ones. 2008 saw a whole raft of new models hitting the streets, we expect 2009 to be a run out of existing developments with very little new innovation or announced models.

Retro cool is certainly in, with the appearance of the truly stunning Fiat 500 Arbarth and the VW Scirocco. It all puts pressure on VW to revamp its Beetle range with something special.

The stunning Nissan GTR hits British shores (at last) and really has lived up to the hype. Currently touted as faster round the Nurburgring than a Porsche 911 we are sure Porsche will take up the challenge and come up from.

Electric cars are gaining credibility. There has been an increase in the number of hybrids and this will progressively move towards the all electric powered car. Various power trains are becoming viable with the fuel cell tipped to be the best.

We are also seeing the development of electric cars with petrol generators in the guise of the GM Volt. It looks like we may have to develop a whole new range of tuning skills to cope with the changing face of the car.

We've seen some big upsets in the world of MotorSport. First we hear that Subaru have announced their withdrawal from WRC and Honda are set to exit Formula 1, then Seat announced in September that they are pulling out of BTCC. It looks like everyone is trying to save every penny they can. Perhaps smaller low budget teams will once again take motorsports back to its roots.

Whilst we are talking F1 and WRC we should congratulate Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Loeb for their stunning and well earned wins.

New regulations take over in F1 for 2009 with the reintroduction of slick tyres and a reduction in the aerodynamics of the car. Hopefully this will make it more fun to watch with plenty of overtaking action.

One interesting development was the announcement from Lamborghini and Porsche that they are considering making a 4 door saloon. A big departure from the 2 door sports models and coupes they are known for. It would be no surprise to TorqueCars if Ferrari announces a new Diesel powered model and we would expect something to really Torque about.

So what does next year hold? Hopefully our predictions will not come true but looking at the new car sales figures we have to conclude that we are heading towards a very prolonged and unprecedented period of financial turbulence. We expect to see some big upsets with potentially large vehicle manufactures being forced to restructure and reinvent themselves or disappear to make way for new smaller companies.

The smaller companies springing up are outsourcing production of their cars and buying in major components avoiding the costs associated with running or maintaining a production line. Perhaps the larger car makers will start to outsource production and share components in an effort to make themselves more financially stable.

When someone talks about ECO worries in 2008 they are no longer referring to the environment but the economic situation. Fuel is likely to again become an issue as production decreases. The limited demand will help to keep prices low but we can bet that by the end of 2009 prices will again be at an all time high.

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