Saturday, October 7, 2017


Three cars I photographed during my latest visit to Europe, reflect the rapidly changing  reality of the role of the automobile in daily life.

This Citroen Goddess, which in a past life saw  service as an ambulance, was parked beside a houseboat on one of Amsterdam’s canals.

The essence of Citroen’s historic and very idiosyncratic, design style has disappeared, because the pressure to create profit demands that today’s Citroens become more mainstream in appearance, more homogeneous and more appealing to a wider audience.

Today, there seems to be only small differences between Citroen and Peugeot cars. Certainly insufficient to help create a unique marque identity for each badge.

The Hyundai Ionic electric taxi provides another stark change in our automotive landscape.

Already in Australia we are seeing literally hundreds of Toyota Prius hybrids being used as taxis, but in Europe the trend is toward battery electric vehicles (BEVs). As I left the Amsterdam international air terminal I was greeted by a large fleet of Tesla Model S taxis and, given the purchase price of a Tesla Model S, I was very surprised at the choice of vehicle for such a mundane task.

The owner/driver of the Ionic said he paid 25,000 Euros for his Hyundai, including some subsidy from the Dutch government, but the car allowed him to travel 270km before recharging, and his ‘Fast Charger’ gave him two thirds battery power in under an hour. He thinks he has made a good investment because the Tesla Model S costs more than 85,000 Euros, with a 10,000 Euro subsidy, but the Tesla battery packs will need replacement earlier than his Hyundai, and they cost three times as much again.

BEVs will be more popular in Europe because the driving pattern is mostly short distances, whereas it’s unlikely Battery-only vehicles would be as popular in the USA or Australia.

A few days later, in the seaside resort of Estoril in Portugal, this little Opel Adam city car got me thinking about the innovative engineering vision which exists within GM’s former European division.

Opel has shown many times that it is capable of thinking outside the box, and the cute little Adam is a good example of a car, and an engineering vision likely to be swallowed and disappear, when France’s PSA absorbs Opel and Vauxhall in the next few years.

It is often said: ‘Change is what happens, when you’re making plans.’

1 comment:

  1. This line has a really great impact on others ‘Change is what happens, when you’re making plans.’ And it delivers a great message to many of us.