Dave Leggett | 13 October 2004
Along with a couple of colleagues, I met with consultant and writer Mike Wattam yesterday to talk about upcoming work and next year's just-auto publication programme. It was a good session and we've a few things lined up for Mike that will utilise his knowledge of the retail side of the industry. One interesting topic of conversation was 'car clubs' - schemes that allow people to part-share and time-share car ownership. Typically the schemes can involve a group of people in a block of flats (apartments) or neighbourhood. Annual car running costs may be split, say, six ways and you book access in a diary.
Two groups are targeted - greenies (attracted because they don't want/need to own a car, but still require occasional use) and those who are too poor to actually own a car (beyond perhaps a ten year old banger). Some carmakers are interested in the niche - Vauxhall in Britain is a leader. If the schemes can fit into the public authorities' transportation policies - reducing road congestion in urban areas maybe, getting older cars off the road - then perhaps some official encouragement could emerge in the future. And why would property developers be interested in including such schemes with high density blocks? Well, it may mean they can get away with providing fewer parking spaces in their developments, which frees up more space for more profitable building... Anyway, interesting subject and Mike will be delving into it further for us.
And I read today that UK government stats show that young people in the 17-20 year age bracket are becoming less inclined to have a full driving licence - 25% now versus 50% in 1990. I was surprised at that and it doesn't square with the large numbers I seem to see in accessorised small Citroens, but there you go. And if they are finding it too expensive to own a car, then what about car clubs as a solution? And then there's the potentially huge student market? You'd just have to make sure, of course, that the cars weren't too trashed.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...