Why cars are destroying Europe
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Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to the latest podcast from Adept English. Visit our website at www.adeptenglish.com and then you can have a look at all the other podcasts which are available for you to listen to and also have a look at our courses. These will help you specifically with English conversation.
Last weekend was a nice weekend for me, as I went to swap my old car for a new one. It’s not brand new, but fairly new – and new to me of course. And having driven my new car around for a week, I’m very happy with it. I’ve bought a Fiat 500L – so in Italian that’s a Cinquecento – Cinque is 5 and Cento is 100 in Italian. So it’s not the tiny little Fiat 500, but a slightly larger ‘mummy’ version, the 500L – so that it can carry children and shopping and larger items sometimes. But it’s about the right size for me – and what we might say in English is it’s ‘nippy’. ‘Nippy’ means that it moves quickly, it’s quick around corners. I’ve never really thought about this before this, but actually the word ‘nippy’ can also mean cold. On a cold day, you might say ‘It’s nippy outside’ or ‘It’s nippy without gloves’. You only ever say it really about the weather, the outside temperature. But my Fiat 500L is nippy, so here meaning ‘quick’. It goes round corners really well. So it’s a Fiat I’ve bought this time, but before that I had a Renault and before that a Citroën and before that an Audi. So I like European branded cars best of all. A ‘brand’ is the word we use for the name that products are sold with – so of course Costa Coffee or Starbucks are brands. Adept English is a brand too – though not so well known as those!
When we talk about ‘brand’ for cars in English, we tend to say ‘make’. So if you were hiring a car, or buying a car in English, you’d have to say the ‘make’ and the ‘model’ names. A car’s ‘make’ means whether it’s Fiat, a Renault, a BMW. And if you talk about a car ‘model’, that means what type of Fiat or Renault or BMW? Is it a Fiat 500, a Fiat Punto, a Fiat Panda? So the model name is sometimes a number, like the Citroën C3 or C4 or the Fiat 500. And sometimes it’s a name, like the Ford Fusion or the Ford Fiesta. So that’s the ‘model’. I realise that the names of cars are often different, depending upon what country you are in. And sometimes even the make, the brand of the car is different. For example, Opel is a German car maker, but in the UK, Opel cars are sold under the brand name ‘Vauxhall’ and in the US, some are sold as ‘Buicks’. It can be even more confusing because many of the car companies own other brands. So BMW owns Mini and Rolls Royce, and Fiat owns Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Ferrari and Jeep. So although we may associate a make of car with a particular country, very often, a bigger company from a different country owns it. And cars are often no longer made in the country that you associate with their make either.
So what kinds of cars do people own in the UK? The most popular, the most commonly sold cars are actually Fords – F-O-R-D, so the American owned company. But on the whole, the Ford cars that you see in Britain are not the same models as you see in the US. For instance, we have the tiny Ford Ka, for example but this isn’t sold in America. The Ford Ka was designed in Brazil and they’re very popular there. In the US, they tend to like much bigger cars. So Ford is the most popular brand here, but also it’s the only American make of car that is really common here.
Other makes of car that are common in the UK are the German ones – so Volkswagens, (or ‘Volks-wagon’ as we tend to say in the UK), which also sells…..we call them ‘Audis’ and ‘Porsches’, but Audi and Porsche, I guess – nice if you can afford a Porsche. Also BMWs are particularly common in the UK and Mercedes-Benz. Remember these are brands, not necessarily who owns the company. And we also like French cars – Peugeot and Citroën cars – which are in fact made by the same company. And Renault, of course – who are part owned by Japanese car company Nissan. And finally we also like Japanese cars so you’ll see on the streets of the UK Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mazda cars.
So there are two things which are going to have an effect on what cars we buy and who makes our cars in the UK in the next few years. The first one is what kind of fuel are we going to be using. Fuel means what you put into the car to make it go – so petrol, diesel or electricity perhaps. You do see electric cars in the UK, but so far they’re not very practical – they don’t do many miles before you have to charge them up again. The technology needs to improve for them to become more practical and more popular. Also – at the moment, if everybody in the UK had an electric car, we couldn’t actually produce enough electricity to run them all! Aah! But just now, the big thing is about the damage done to peoples’ health by diesel cars. Now there was a problem with Volkswagen and the other car manufacturers not being entirely truthful about diesel cars and their emissions. ‘Emissions’ means ‘what comes out of the back of the car’ – the good chemicals and the bad chemicals, like CO2 or Nitrous Oxide or Nox, which comes out of the back of your car. But also, a few years ago the UK government was persuading everyone to buy diesel cars, because supposedly they were better for the environment, better for the countryside. And the government made it cheaper to run a diesel car. But now there’s a big turnaround – they’ve changed their minds. It’s been found that diesel cars are much more harmful to health than petrol cars. People become ill and have died because of the emissions from diesel cars. So now the people who bought diesel cars for the sake of the environment are going to have to pay more money, more tax, more for their fuel. And they may even be refused entry to some cities in the UK. The government have also promised to ban diesel and petrol cars altogether by the year 2040. Let’s hope the alternatives work a bit better by then.
And the second issue for car comanies is of course….you guessed it, Brexit. 80% of the cars made by Jaguar Landrover in the UK are exported – that means they’re sold abroad. And half of these go to countries in the EU. 1 in 7 German cars is imported to the UK, so bought by someone in the UK. And 80% of cars imported to the UK come from the EU. So the UK and the EU are pretty dependent upon each other for their new cars. The car industry is one area where the outcome of the negotiations in Brussels are very important. Lots of car making companies will be worse off, if we don’t manage to negotiate a deal. So in the end, cars would be more expensive, say if there was an extra 10% to pay on imports and on exports. Apparently there’s already been a fall in the number of new cars being bought in the UK this year. People are holding on to their money and waiting to see what will happen. Most people in the UK who listen to the news from Brussels are saying ‘Come on, hurry up. It’ll be a lot better if we make a good trade relationship – a good buying-and-selling relationship. Stop arguing, find a solution. Just sort it out!’.
Anyway…….enough for now, have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.