He drives. He likes fast cars. He covered 3500 miles across America earlier in the year, on a family touring holiday. And, praise be, he’s also Transport Secretary.
We’ve detailed elsewhere what he said. To summarise here is to say it was encouraging. He seems a realistic, connected guy, who appears to appreciate the challenges facing the industry – and also the issues that need to be overcome.
The industry needs cashflow, needs banks to start lending money. Customers want greener cars, and car makers will supply them – if they’re given clear regulations to work towards, and enough time to do so.
Intriguingly, he also said Government had ‘heard’ the industry’s request for financial aid. A meeting tomorrow with Business Secretary Lord Mandleson may thus prove more fruitful than some imagine…
What particularly encouraged us were his anecdotes. Tesla? He’s driven it, called it ‘breathtaking’. He’s visited the Toyota plant in his Derbyshire constituency, toured the MINI plant, has been described by Top Gear as ‘car mad Hoon’.
‘I enjoy driving,’ he said. For someone holding one of the key positions in the motor industry, this can only be good news…