Autocar confidential: why car symbolism matters, Renault on the limit and more

In this week’s round-up of automotive gossip, Carlos Tavares explains why cars have become a symbol for freedom in the wake of the Coronavirus, Ford all but rules out a UK-version of its F-150 pick-up and more.

How cars protect freedom

A huge uptick in new car registrations post-lockdown can’t be attributed solely to pent-up demand, according to Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares. “Lockdowns have given clear evidence to citizens of the value of mobility and being free to move,” he said. “The best way to protect freedom of mobility is to own a car – a positive outcome.”

F-150 unlikely for UK

Ford of Europe boss Stuart Rowley has said the firm will start to build on its American heritage with future UK models, but don’t expect the best-selling F-150 pick-up to appear in dealerships here. “That’s a tough ask,” said Rowley. “Just the physical size of those products could be a challenge on British roads.”

Renault’s limited kickback

Renault boss Luca de Meo was surprised at the reaction to his firm’s decision to impose a 180kph (112mph) limit on its future vehicles. “The reaction was bigger than expected, because when you go at 180kph, you normally get a fine,” he said. “The big decision we made was to sell cars with contextual adaptive cruise control to respect the speed limit by default. We decided the car should respect the rules and then the customer can take responsibility.”

Chips are down for Merc

Not even the priciest cars on the market can avoid the ongoing computer chip supply shortage. Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Källenius highlighted the “ironic” situation of a “£100,000 S-Class” being held up by a part that “costs cents”. “If they double, triple or quadruple the price of that, it almost doesn’t matter,” he said.