2017 is on its way. All the best to all of you during this year and let’s hope it improves on the tough year we had in 2016. Banks who control the motor market with a fairly tight rein seem to think that sales will either stay the same as 2016 or perhaps down a bit.

MG once the most famous British sports car in the world before it went bankrupt and was sold to a Chinese company has ceased production at its Longbridge plant in the UK.  Design and engineering all continue at this address.

MG was battling to find a market in the UK – the only country where it has sold in Europe. Last year they only managed to sell        3 152 units. But you know what they say – you can have the best product in the world but if you don’t spend money marketing it, it’s another name that will join the heap of great products that have been produced and finally cease to exist.

Only two British car companies now remain – Morgan and McLaren. All the rest are foreign owned.

Do you remember that famous smell of Castrol R? Well it is back in the country and ideal for all forms of Classic two- and four stroke motorcycles and cars for on- and off road use. Now marketed by Castrol South Africa, it is available from www.castrolclassic.co.za.

The 2017 Dakar through Paraguay, Bolivia in the main, and Argentina, has rightfully taken its place as the toughest automotive event in the world. All the top teams from Toyota Gazoo in South Africa, Peugeot and Mini, with possibly the strongest line-up of the best drivers, all experienced heavy trouble early on in the race. Plus there were unusually huge navigational errors by top crews.

Hino, the truck manufacturer in the under 10 litre Truck Class entered into its 25th Dakar race which it has dominated over the years.

As a matter of interest Argentine is the name of the country and Argentine is the name of the people. Not Argentinia or Argentinian. That’s official from the top.

97 motorcycles, 22 quads, 63 cars (including 5 SSVs) and 38 trucks —220 of the 318 vehicles that left Asunción, Paraguay, on 2 January— reached the final podium set up in front of the Argentinian Automobile Club building in Buenos Aires. The 39th edition of the Dakar was marked by a long stay above 3,500 metres on the Bolivian Altiplano. Stéphane Peterhansel emerged victorious from his eleventh-hour duel with Sébastien Loeb, while Cyril Despres completed the Peugeot 1-2-3. Victory in the motorcycle category went to a new champion. Sam Sunderland became the first British winner of the Dakar after beating Austrian Matthias Walkner and Spaniard Gerard Farrés. The Russian armada took the spoils in the quad category, with Sergey Karyakin, and the truck category, with 2013 champion Eduard Nikolayev spearheading the Kamaz comeback.

MISA (Motor Industry Staff Association) named Hanlie Strauss as their 2016 Woman of the Year. A mother of four with two at varsity, she and her husband live on a farm which they work themselves. She is PA to the director of Henred Fruehauf Africa in Bloemfontein.

Numerous public transport and goods vehicles, including taxis, registered after 1st December 2016, are now fitted – or should be fitted – with speed governors.

Governors will be required for any mini-bus, midi-bus or bus as well as goods vehicles with a mass exceeding 3500 kg. The vehicles are required to be governed to the speed limits applicable to each category. In the case of mini-buses etc., the governed speed will be 100 km/h. Good vehicles over 3 500 kg but below 9 000 kg will be governed to 100 km/h as well. Over that weight the speed limit is 80 km/h. This is going to be interesting and should give our law enforcers a busy time.

With the acquisition of Mitsubishi Motors in Japan, by the Nissan-Renault alliance will move them into the top three automotive groups in the world. Potential sales are 10 million units.

It will be business as usual for Mitsubishi Motors here in South Africa who recently signed a new five-year import, distribution, service and support agreement with Imperial Motor Holdings. They have been a custodian brand since 2011.

Citroën has stopped selling its cars here in South Africa. Its sister company, Peugeot, are going to concentrate more on the vehicles that they have in their current line-up and those to come.

Citroën owners, it has been promised by Peugeot, will be looked after in the same way as in the past with a good parts supply and service.

The Opel Mokka X has received a make-over which includes a name change. The most obvious exterior change is the headlight cluster full of LED technology. Powering the four Mokka X derivatives is the reliable 1.4 four-cylinder turbo charged eco-tech petrol engine producing 103 kW and 200 Nm of torque. Prices start from        R317 500.

Opel sales have continued to grow across Europe. They reached one million sales in just 10 months.

Opel is currently in the middle of their biggest model offensive in the long history of the company. They are going to launch 29 new models between 2016 – as they have already started to do – and 2020. Wow!

The Porsche Panamera has enjoyed a make-over. A new 243 kW V6 turbo petrol engine in either rear wheel or all wheel drive, also offers an extended body option. Power has gone up but with a reduced consumption of up to one litre per 100 km. In my book you don’t need a 911 as the Panamera give you all that and the luxury of a big saloon car as well.

Thomas Grant from PE took second place at the Jaguar Global Technician of the Year competition in England. He was one of 36 top technicians from 18 countries who participated. He had won the South African Technician of the Year earlier in 2016.

R90 m has been invested in the new Jaguar/Land Rover Menlyn facility manned by something like 60 people out there to give you even better service.

The Jaguar F-Class was crowned supreme winner of the 2016 Women’s World Car of the Year. A Jag was also awarded the Women’s World SUV/Crossover Car of the Year title. This award is voted entirely by women including our own Charlene Clark who was a former chairman and president of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists.

Hard to beat Jaguar’s design these days. The Golden Steering Award, Germany’s top car award, was won by a Jaguar F Class as well as the Best Saloon in the mid/full size category ahead of Merc’s E-Class and Volvo’s S90.

Yet it’s hard to beat Toyota as far as vehicle quality goes in South Africa. In the recent Ipsos quality survey, Toyota won 12 gold awards, five in the passenger category and a further seven in the light commercial vehicle category. Toyota also won two silver awards for the best diesel single and double cabs, plus the best 1-ton single cab commercial brand. A gold award was also given for its manufacturing facility in Prospecton KZN.

Chris Aberdien who used to race karts against Michael Schumacher, has ended up racing against the family again. This time it is Mickey Schumacher, the 15-year-old son of Michael Schumacher, and Jonathan, Aberdien’s eldest boy. So far he has won 10 races in the Dubai Formula 4 categories so looks to have a bright future  If he is anything like his dad, Jonathan will go places.

Another Cape Town driver, David Perel, enjoyed a stellar weekend in a Castrol Ferrari Barcelona in the GT Masters Cup. He won the 70-minute opener. “The team is stoked, the sponsors are stoked and I am stoked – what a way to finish my first race in Barcelona,” enthused David.

A real all rounder, the aforementioned Charlene Clark was recognised once again as South Africa’s top commercial vehicle journalist at the recent Guild of Motoring Journalists Annual Awards. This is presented by Hino. Charlene is the editor of ‘Focus on Transport’ and ‘Logistics’.

To keep up with the local and international motor industry and motorsport of all types, listen to Roger McCleery every Tuesday and Wednesday on Radio Today (1485 AM) at 17h30. The programme is also broadcast on DSTV Audio Channel 869 or on your laptops or computers on www.1485.org.za – that’s podcast around the world.