From a professional perspective I won’t be sad to see the back of 2017. 

No doubt such a bold, albeit negative, statement isn’t exactly what you’ve settled down to read, but I feel it’s worth saying.

Before I put you right off your remaining mince pie, let me justify my doom-laden view. From continuing to fail to properly challenge and report on the origins of ‘dieselgate’ to an apparent unwillingness to hold Government accountable for its various anti-motoring – and by extension anti-business – policies, the biggest losers have been consumers and car buyers. 

The non-specialist press enthusiastically jumping on the electric vehicle and autonomous car bandwagons has done little to manage consumer expectations, and is something we all can learn from.

There’s more to life than the zero to sixty time of the latest wedge-shaped unpronounceable supercar from Italy. As regulations and restrictions on the use of motor vehicles are expected to increase, often based on questionable logic, my New Year hope is for a profession that sees the value in defending the motor car against a growing backdrop of increasingly vocal challenges from bicycle-loving activists. At the very least, 30 million-odd driving licence holders deserve better.

Despite being a card-carrying pessimist I do acknowledge that 2018 promises much in the automotive world. Our own patch is host to Aston Martin’s new Saint Athan factory, which promises to add some glamour and, more importantly, local newsworthy content as its construction evolves.

The Group’s own driving day is, naturally, another newsworthy and important event in the 2018 calendar. Progress on this key industry event will ramp up shortly, and I’ll repeat the invitation from members for suggestions on who to invite outside the core PR guest list and for activities, cars and themes to help further boost its appeal. 

And on that note, before the madness begins again after this most welcome festive respite, may I wish members a productive and enjoyable 2018.

Iain Dooley | Chairman, Western Group of Motoring Writers

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