Holden on to the driving message

The recent announcement by Holden Australia to layoff 500 workers due to “falling demand and the high Australian dollar”. Personally, A Wheel Thing questions the second point, as Holden’s main competitors are from overseas and fighting the same fight. Ford’s Falcon is out of the picture, Toyota’s Camry/Aurion twins plug along solidly whilst the Kia Optima, Mazda 6 and Hyundai’s outgoing i45, plus Subaru’s venerable Liberty are all selling well enough in the larger car class. Holden had banked on the Cruze to be the money spinner and this is where the first part comes into play.

The Cruze is a nice car, a good car but it’s simply not good enough. The lacklustre 1.8L engine should have been ditched a long time ago, the styling has never been the prettiest, the interior is not up to the quality of its rivals such as the Mazda 3, Hyundai i30, Ford Focus and Fiesta and others and the value, not the price, the value is simply not perceived as being enough to switch people to the Lion brand. Of recent times A Wheel Thing has tested two Cruzes, the CDX wagon and SRiV hatch. Both had quality issues; the wagon a failed window mechanism and the hatch a nonresponsive aircon system. The “leather” seat covering looks plain, the ride quality was inconsistent and the switchgear/dash looks old school.

People have already bemoaned the money provided to Holden by the government system and, to a point, it’s fair enough, but who’s to say that the situation won’t change for the better and Australia’s manufacturing base in the automotive sector regains traction? The Camaro is based on the VE platform, GM utilises Holden for design and engineering and Toyota exports also. Let’s hope it turns around.

What also needs a turnaround is driver education. Too many basic failures are seen on Australian roads every minutes of every day, leading to fatalities that simply shouldn’t happen. No headlights when required, no indication, failure to stop for amber and red lights, truckies over the limit and bare metres behind your car, inability to merge or read the road traffic flow. These aren’t helped by an antiquated road management system and a reliance on speeding fines for road revenue. CAMS, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, has a program aimed at 12/13 year old students (details here: http://www.cams.com.au/news/media-releases/latest-news/personal-letter-from-eugene-on-road-safety) which, they hope, if implemented properly will filter down and help reduce the road toll.

Great idea. However, this relies on the person behind the wheel continuing to give a rats about themselves and their fellow drivers. Until a massive psychometric change in society happens, there will always be those that think they are great drivers, there will always be those that think red lights are invisible, there will always be those that think merging is to hip and shoulder other drivers out of the way. The antispeeding brigade continually ignore other aspects of road safety and any measure to help is met with derision. THAT mindset also needs a fundamental change. Great idea CAMS, but you’re well up against it.

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