Bumper crop of new cars set for 2022, but Covid threatens production

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Are you sitting comfortably for another fluctuating year for motoring? The challenges will be enormous as we — hopefully — turn the corner on this grisly pandemic.

The good news is that we can look forward to a bumper crop of highly anticipated cars reaching the UK market — although we may face a wait before they roll out of showrooms.

Car-makers are already warning of longer than normal delivery times continuing into 2022. 

All new: Citroen’s premium C5X will be available as a plug-in hybrid costing about £38,000 with petrol variants to follow from about £30,000. No diesels

All new: Citroen’s premium C5X will be available as a plug-in hybrid costing about £38,000 with petrol variants to follow from about £30,000. No diesels

This is in part down to staff absences hitting production, but also the impact the virus has had in creating a shortage of vital electronic computer chips needed for modern cars.

This shortage of new car stock has, however, seen prices of second-hand vehicles soar as demand has outstripped supply. Used car prices rose by 28 per cent in the first 11 months of 2021, according to Motor Trader magazine.

Highs and lows

Vauxhall’s Corsa looks on course to be the biggest new car seller of 2021 and to end arch-rival Ford’s 50-year run at the top.

Vauxhall’s Corsa looks on course to be the biggest new car seller of 2021 and to end arch-rival Ford’s 50-year run at the top.

Vauxhall’s Corsa looks on course to be the biggest new car seller of 2021 and to end arch-rival Ford’s 50-year run at the top.

Up to November the Corsa had racked up 38,306 sales, with the final tally to be announced in the first week of January.

Although some 1.54 million new cars have been registered up to November — compared with 1.50 million in the same period of 2020 — this is still around a third down on the five-year ‘pre-Covid’ average.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) warned of more disruption into the New Year noting: ‘Covid is impacting supply chains massively, causing global shortages — especially of semiconductors — which is likely to affect the sector throughout next year.’

He also warned that carmakers themselves could suffer from delays at borders when full customs checks between Britain and the EU kick in.

UK car production has also been hit. In the 11 months to November 2021, UK car plants built 797,261 vehicles, some 432,794 fewer compared to 2019 and a whopping 667,441 off the five-year ‘pre-Covid’ average.

Last month alone, new car production in the UK fell by 28.7 per cent to its lowest November since 1984 as a total of 75,756 cars rolled off British production lines.

It marked five consecutive months of declines and followed the lowest October output since 1956. Industry chiefs said the drop reflected global supply problems and Honda’s decision to permanently close its Swindon factory in late July.

In 2021, we also said goodbye to broadcasting legend Murray Walker OBE (who also commanded a Sherman tank during World War II), who died in March aged 97, and whose infectious enthusiasm as an F1 commentator gained him fans far beyond the sport.

His beloved F1 itself became deeply divided when Max Verstappen was awarded the 2021 Championship after pipping Britain’s Sir Lewis Hamilton in the last lap of the highly controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale.

On the horizon

But looking on the brighter side, what are some of the automotive highlights with which to ring out the old and ring in the new in 2022?

One of the longest and most eagerly awaited vehicles is the Volkswagen ID.Buzz, a 21st century take on the original classic VW T1 campervan, which I first saw as a prototype at the Detroit Motor Show in 2017, seemingly a lifetime ago. 

Heritage: Volkswagen's ID.Buzz is a 21st century take on the original classic VW T1 campervan (pictured together)

Heritage: Volkswagen’s ID.Buzz is a 21st century take on the original classic VW T1 campervan (pictured together)

Versatile: The ID.Buzz will be available as an eight-seater people carrier or a commercial van

Versatile: The ID.Buzz will be available as an eight-seater people carrier or a commercial van

Key numbers: The ID Buzz range is expected to be 350 miles and it will come at a price of around £60,000

Key numbers: The ID Buzz range is expected to be 350 miles and it will come at a price of around £60,000

Retro but with a modern twist, electric power and sliding rear doors, the ID.Buzz will be available as an eight-seater people carrier or a commercial van, with single or dual motors and four-wheel drive. Expect a range of 350 miles, but a price of around £60,000.

Britain’s svelte new 5th generation Range Rover may leave you in seventh heaven. Available in standard and long-wheelbase it offers four, five and for the first time seven seats.

As well as 3.0-litre petrol and diesel variants (and a range-topping P530 Twin Turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol), it is available as a plug-in hybrid P440e and more powerful P510e 3.0-litre 6-cylinder with battery-electric motor, with the first fully electric zero emissions battery version to follow from 2024.

Seven up: The 5th generation Range Rover will be available in standard and long-wheelbase it offers four, five and for the first time seven seats

Seven up: The 5th generation Range Rover will be available in standard and long-wheelbase it offers four, five and for the first time seven seats

Prices start from £94,400 for an entry-level diesel D300 short-wheelbase in base SE trim, up to £137,800 for a five-seater long-wheelbase First Edition model.

Also due for launch this year is billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s back-to-basics Land Rover rival INEOS Grenadier off-roader with 3.0-litre BMW petrol and diesel engines, priced from about £40,000.

German car giant BMW has already been making waves with its all-electric flagship iX SUV, priced from £69,905. 

But brace yourself for the outrageous 740 bhp XM luxury performance petrol-electric plug-in hybrid expected in late 2022, powered by a turbo-charged V8 engine and an electric motor, from the firm’s M motorsport division.

Bonkers: BMW's 740 bhp XM luxury performance petrol-electric plug-in hybrid is powered by a turbo-charged V8 engine and an electric motor, from the firm’s M motorsport division

Bonkers: BMW’s 740 bhp XM luxury performance petrol-electric plug-in hybrid is powered by a turbo-charged V8 engine and an electric motor, from the firm’s M motorsport division

Citroen’s tiny electric AMI costing under £6,000 may have been the headline grabber for the French car-maker, but it’s the elegant C5X crossover which aims to captivate families. 

Part estate, part SUV, part coupe, it will be available as a plug-in hybrid costing about £38,000 with petrol variants to follow from about £30,000. No diesels.

It’s a big and curvy new flagship car that is fit for a French president, but has a practical boot (extending from 545 litres to 1,645 litres with rear seats down) designed and tested to be big enough to carry a washing machine.

Vauxhall’s new eighth generation Astra family hatchback and estate hit showrooms in 2022, priced from £23,275. 

For the first time in its more than 40-year history, it comes available as a plug-in hybrid in two performance levels.

Vauxhall’s new eighth generation Astra family hatchback and estate hit showrooms in 2022, priced from £23,275

Vauxhall’s new eighth generation Astra family hatchback and estate hit showrooms in 2022, priced from £23,275

Audi fans await the new electric Q6 e-tron priced from about £55,000 and with a high-powered 600 hp RS version managing rest to 62 mph in less than four seconds.

Keep an eye out, too, for the ORA Cat from Chinese car-maker Great Wall Motors. With a claimed range of 250 miles, expect prices of about £25,000 to £30,000 and UK delivery in mid 2022.

Genesis has had an astonishing 2021, launching not only their new upmarket Korean brand in the UK, but a smart five-strong range of new saloons, SUVs and the GV70 Shooting Brake estate created for the European market and priced from £35,250.

Families will be spoiled for choice with options from the budget priced Dacia Jogger with up to seven seats, Nissan’s electric Ariya, and Kia’s second generation Niro.

Supercar stars

Spring sees the launch of the new Lotus Emira, described as an everyday ‘junior supercar’ and ‘last hurrah’ for the Norfolk firm’s 70-years of petrol-engined sports cars, with prices starting from £75,995.

The new Lotus Emira, described as an everyday ‘junior supercar’ and ‘last hurrah’ for the Norfolk firm’s 70-years of petrol-engined sports cars, with prices starting from £75,995

The new Lotus Emira, described as an everyday ‘junior supercar’ and ‘last hurrah’ for the Norfolk firm’s 70-years of petrol-engined sports cars, with prices starting from £75,995

A base level version from under £60,000 follows in spring 2023. Also in the pipeline is a streamlined coupe version of Aston Martin’s DBX SUV with a price-tag nudging £180,000

Mercedes-Benz will be launching its new electric EQE limousine, with a range expected to exceed 400 miles, as well as its SL convertible from about £90,000.

Whatever you get to drive — or ride — in 2022, may you do so safely. A Happy New Year to all.

Now motorists must give way to undertaking bikes 

Keep double-checking your mirrors and watching those blind-spots.

Motorists face new rules in the New Year, including changes to the Highway Code which some safety experts say could put more lives at risk.

The revised Code introduces a new ‘hierarchy of road users’ in which those capable of doing greatest harm have greater responsibility to reduce the danger they pose to more vulnerable road-users. 

Give way: The amended Highway Code says: ‘You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction'

Give way: The amended Highway Code says: ‘You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction’

That now means motorists turning left must give way to cyclists on the inside who are continuing straight ahead or even ‘undertaking’ from behind.

The amended Highway Code says: ‘You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle.’ It adds: You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary.’

But Neil Greig, policy director at IAM RoadSmart, fears the change may put cyclists at even greater danger if they feel safe to ‘undertake’. He said: ‘Getting the communications right will be critical when some cyclists start exercising their new rights to undertake traffic and put themselves at risk.’

Vehicles and cyclists must also give way to pedestrians at junctions. An AA survey of 13,500 drivers found that only a third knew about the changes.

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