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    To buy or not to buy...

    When experts provide shocking statistics about the environmental impact of more cars on the road, and the extra pollution caused by large, gas-guzzling vehicles, some of us ignore the warnings and carry on enjoying the undeniable luxury, power and status of high spec motors.  Most of us shake our heads and say something needs to be done.  But only a small minority takes direct action to limit damage done by their own driving.

    It's not that we don't care, it's just we tend to spend a lot of time in our cars, and they need to accommodate our lifestyles.  A compact city model might be better for our carbon footprint, but how do we fit in the shopping, kids, etc.?  It's a question of practicality. 

    It's interesting then (though not surprising) to see that where predictions of a doomed planet have failed, messages of a temporary economic slump have made a serious dent in car sales this year.

    According to Whatcar.com, new car sales fell to their lowest level in the UK for 40 years in August 08.  63,225 were sold - 18.6% down on August 07. This summer also saw a downturn in used car sales profits. It was noted that smaller, more efficient cars are becoming much more popular, with top sellers including the Vauxhall Corsa. 

    Rising food and fuel prices are squeezing consumer spending and seriously cutting demand for expensive items.  The instant effects of the credit crunch are far more effective at changing our behaviour than the possibility of a spoilt environment many years in the future.

    Car manufacturers would argue that we should buy a new car if we want to be green.  After all, the latest designs are built to be more environmentally friendly, as well as being much safer for passengers.  There's some truth in this, and it's only natural that the industry is desperate to revive its flagging fortunes.

    Perhaps one positive result of these tough financial times is that we'll all consider our transport needs more carefully in future.  Do we really need to drive to the corner shop?  Is a bigger vehicle necessary, or could we hire one for long journeys?  It's only human to opt for what we want, rather than need, but maybe a general change in opinion will make the smaller engine a bigger status symbol for the next image-conscious generation of drivers.       

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