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Car confidential: Time for a spot of crystal ball gazing

Time for a spot of crystal ball gazing. It’s a new year and time for a sideways preview of what 2009 may (or may not) hold in store for the automotive industry.

Here are my predictions: New-car market shrinks. Sadly, the tea leaves I’ve been reading portend no good. The tough end to 2008 will carry over to a dire 2009, I fear.

The industry keeps scaling back forecasts and it’s hard not to agree.

Gordon Brown hugs more trees. Expect more politicians to talk excitedly about electric cars and anything with the word hybrid in it. Cue enough hot air to contribute to global warming.

Black is the new black. Favourite colours, most sung in-car tunes, best day of the week to buy a car. My inbox will surely flood with ever more ludicrous surveys and polls from organisations desperate for airtime.

Farewell old friends. The carmakers formerly known as the Big Three are in a parlous state, but who will be first to go? We’ll see the global industry consolidate in ‘oh-nine’, and it’ll change the business landscape in Europe and Japan too.

Lewis Hamilton exposed as love rat. For legal reasons, I’d like to point out that this isn’t true. But how much longer can the golden boy’s halo last? So far the young F1 champ can do no wrong, but the tabloids won’t be afraid of knocking him off his pedestal...

Audi trumps Mini. Who’d bet against the new 2009 A1 becoming the urban hipster’s wheels of choice? Not me. 

No niche too small. We’ve already seen multi-purpose vehicles, sports activity vehicles, sports utility vehicles and any-which-way-vehicles. But 2009 will usher in a bewildering array of new niches. Look no further than the imminent BMW PAS, a 5 Series on stilts.

No further questions, your honour.

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