In today’s Sunday Times Jeremy Clarkson spends the majority of a Porsche review banging on about Millennials falling out of love with motor-cars.
Soon almost no one will want to buy a car … Cars are enjoying their last hurrah, burning brightly as suns do just before they fizzle out. [Today’s] young people are simply not interested in cars at all. My son is … 19 and has not bothered to take his driving test. His argument is a simple one. There’s a coach that stops right outside his flat in London and it takes him, in a blizzard of wi-fi, to and from Oxford. For £11.
If he wants to go somewhere else, he can use a train or something called “a bus”. An Uber cab is never more than a few clicks away, and there’s always a Boris bike for short trips on level ground when it’s not too cold or hot or wet. He can move about without worrying about breath tests or speeding fines or parking tickets or no-claims bonuses. My son therefore thinks he’s free simply because he doesn’t have a car.
And there’s no point going on about the open road and the wind in your hair and the snarl of a straight six because he just doesn’t see cars this way. With good reason. When he was little he spent two hours a day on the school run strapped into a primary-coloured child’s seat, in the back of a Volvo, in an endless jam. There’s no way this was going to engender any motoring-related dreams. He wasn’t sitting there in a goo of expectation, thinking, “Hmm, when I’m big I will do this as well.”
And if you sell something as a practical proposition, it had better actually be practical. Which, as we’ve established, a car isn’t. Nor is a fridge, for that matter, since you have a supermarket on every street corner now that can keep everything chilled until you need it. Free up the space in your kitchen. Get rid. And free up the space in your garage while you’re at it. Because you don’t need a car. Not really. Not these days.
Is this yet another example of “peak car”? Or, at the very least, “peak Clarkson”? And, if so, why build more roads when we likely won’t need them?
I’ll be using Clarkson’s view of the car’s last hurrah in my forthcoming talks …