Usually, cars get replaced on very regular cycles lasting four to six years.
That’s what’s needed to keep a model fresh and the factories that make it churning at an approximately consistent rate, notwithstanding Lehman Brothers collapses and the like.
But across Europe, plenty of the major manufacturers are not pressing the go button for the cars to be unveiled in four to five years' time. Why? Because they’re waiting for the European Union to ratify the legislation that will mandate a 95g/km CO2 fleet emissions average for 2020. That’s according to an insider at General Motors, who reckons that plenty of major brands are holding back just like they are.
Until those regulations are confirmed, he says, plenty of makers are going to delay defining the fundamental specifications of their cars, because they don’t want to be caught out if there’s a sudden EU policy swerve. "It’s too big a gamble to make," he says.