LEAVES FROM THE INSPECTOR'S NOTEBOOK.
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Repeat Orders. The Miners' Business Car. Makers' Handicaps.
ISUPPOSE IT is only natural that competing manufacturers, and in particular the members of their respective sales organizations, should snow keenness in the competitive sense in regard to the particular form of business in which each of them claims to excel. The result, very often, is an array of similar claims amongst which it is very difficult to differentiate. We all of us know the numerous people who claim to be. the "largest manufacturers," "manufacturers of the best motor vehicle," "suppliers of the most vehicles to the 'War Office," "makers of the first commercial motor,". and so on. And there is no ready means for the ordinary man who does not know the A.B.C. or the internal his-. tory of the industry, to test these claims, were he so desirous.
There is another form of competitive trumpeting, taking the particular shape of claiming the longest list of buyers; statements which as a rule are powerful advocacy on the part of those who make them. For myself, however, I have recently been more than doubtful as to the expediency of scrambling for repeat orders.
In these days when supplies are so inadequate, compared with the demand, there surely arises the necessity for very diplomatic handling with regard to priority of promises of deliveries, it is, of course, quite easy at the present moment, for the leading manufacturers in particular, to fill up their books with orders for machines to replace those which were seized by the Government, or those which have more or less disappeared in the course of four yearsof strenuous wartime wear.
gut we have now arrived at a new era of use for the motor vehicle, when everybody, with very few exceptions, is quite convinced of the necessity of mechanical haulage in all its very many branches: a time when new employment and new substitutions are being found daily. The age is long past when it was necessary to go out into the open-and persuade people, that mechanical haulage was likely to be a practical alternative. The country as a whole needs hnotor vehicles very badly, and, as a matter of fact, is asking for them.
Now during the past few years it has been quite easy to put one's finger on portions of our home country, and also, of course, to a lesser degree, on territory abroad, where motor haulage has secured a very definite hold upon the activities of the corainunity. It is just as easy, too, to mention. districts, both at home and abroad, where hitherto hardly any attention has been paid to the subject. With the conclusion of hostilities, all that is more or less changed, and the circumstances are entirely different, with the result that those districts which have held back so obstinately are now in the forefront of the clamour for deliveries.
Now, -I hold that it is all important that these distd.cts should have preferential streatinent. and that machines, if only as samples and examples, should be hurried to them so Soon as possible, rather than that there should be a giant concentration in districts which are already strongly 'pro-motor-vehicle, and whose education is more or less complete. I do not suggest, or course, for a. moment that the new man should be considered to the detriment Of the old user, but it is all important that the former should be encouraged in his new frame of mind and that, despite the anxiety to secure that very sittrac
tive repeat order, the man-who has hitherto been.entirely contented with horses should be given an opportunity to prove that his new attitude is a correct one.
The Miners' Business Car.
There surely is no finer illustration of the ultimate possibilities of utilitarian motoring in this country than that witnessed by many visitors to the South Wales coalfields areas during the Royal Show period. There it is now quite a common sight to see lines of Fords leaving the pit-heads, each with a full complement of black-faced miner passengers aboard. I am told that the miners are buying machines for this purpose in large quantities, and doing so in most cases co-operatively. They have long favoured the bicycle as a ready means of getting to -and from their work.
Their higher earnings,. nowadays, make it a perfectly feasible plan jointly to become motorcar owners and to drive to and from the pits. They have not yet reached the level of Wolseleys or RollsRoyees, but there is no knowingin these days of ambitious labour and limitless remuneration! It is of course, the Ford, the wonderful Ford only, that has made this_possible, but there is a very pregnant lesson in this development that may well breed optimism as to the future of universal business motoring.
A Handicap for the Leading Makers.
There is an aspect of the problem created by the seizure of the subsidy and subsidized machines by the Government at, the heginning of the war which does not appear to have been afforded much, if any, attention. I refer to the handicap suffered by the leading makers who by the wholesale, and in some cases complete, removal of all their recent models from.civilian service lost very heavily in the matter of gooclWill. After all there is no finer advertisement for a firm thanathat of the vehicle in actual civilian service—the lorry with its load.And owing to the sudden rush of necessary replacem. ent orders, those who lost most in 1914-1915 stand to lose most in 1919— in the matter of old-time goodwill at any rate. This wealth at leait, seem an argument for the considerable release by the Government of such unused vehicles as are in stock, to their makers, to enable them to give some sort of priority to their old customers, whilst still tackling their share of entirely new orders.
If this, or something like this, be not done, the makers of "second-line" machines that were not commandeered, to say nothing of new makers of firstgrade models, would seem to be securing a distinct advantage, first of all either because they had no vehicles to seize or because the majority of their vehicles were never taken from civilian service, and, secondly, because, not being smothered by orders to replace their own machines, they can get ahead apace with supplying the requirements of newcomers, sod so more 'rapidly compile a lengthy list of new owners than can those who have done more to gain the chance. In other words, inequitably the older leading makers are having to start off with a new list of actual owners, just as if they were newcomers. Their previous goodwill arising from machines in service having been wiped out, ironically enough, because of their excellence.