| 15.4°C Dublin

Why I think every car should have a spare wheel

Close

Handle the pressure... Look after all tyres, including your spare

Handle the pressure... Look after all tyres, including your spare

Handle the pressure... Look after all tyres, including your spare

I'd have thought with all the ingenuity at the disposal of car companies, with all the billions they spend on research and development, that they'd be able to come up with something as simple and basic as a spare wheel.

Most of them have abandoned the idea.

Instead we get options that include a gelatinous mess that only works if the puncture is of modest proportions, or utter reliance on a roadside assistance company.

I got quite animated about it with Jan-Paul Rubens, Product Marketing head of the new Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake (estate) in Frankfurt last week.

To my surprise he accepted the point. He flattered me by saying he was taking note of my comments. (I'm not used to that).

His reaction was in sharp contrast to the defensive position adopted by several of his counterparts in other companies.

Any time I've raised it they have reeled off excuses in a whirlwind of positive spin.

Sorry fellas, it doesn't cut any ice any more.

We all know it has to do with shaving weight off the car so its fuel consumption and consequently it emissions are lower.

That means lower VRT and road tax. They claim the money saved for the consumer (and that of not having to make the spare wheel), and the extra space for luggage, means the sacrifice of reassurance is worth it.

And in fairness the CLA man did say that their figures showed between 80pc and 85pc of customers, according to surveys they'd carried out, didn't know how to change a wheel.

I take his point but that is a different argument. People can learn quickly. Or someone will always stop who can change a wheel. The knowledge that there is a physical replacement on board for a damaged item is a big thing, for me anyway.

Who wants, on a miserable wet and dark night on the side of the road, to start pumping gooey stuff into a flat tyre in the hope the puncture isn't too large to seal?

Who comforts themselves with thoughts of lower emissions at a time like that?

A few days later I was talking to Peugeot. They made the point succinctly.

It is their policy to fit a spare wheel to ALL the cars they physically can.

And guess what: they have one of the lowest average emission levels around (110g/km). There are many ways of shaving emissions.

They said exactly what I feel: it is important for drivers to have the comforting reassurance of knowing you have a physical fall-back remedy if one of your tyres goes.

"We don't like to see people stuck on the side of the road with a box of stuff they don't know about or understand," Colin Sheridan said. Isn't that the winning argument?

Which comes first: emissions or people?

And I'm not even arguing for full-on spares. The point I'm making is that surely, when you think of the innovation and ingenuity bursting forth from carmakers over the years, that someone somewhere will find a way of fitting a super lightweight, little wheel to get you home.

Is that asking too much? Let me know your thoughts.

ecunningham@independent.ie

Indo Motoring