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Travelling along the M40 this morning I moved right for an Audi A5 Cabriolet to join the carriageway. Silver with a black hood. Still a handsome car.

Only as it passed me did I notice its ’58 number plate, making it an early version given deliveries only began early in 2009. But even at 13 years old given a polish and a brush-up, from the outside at least it looked to me like it could be on sale today.

Does Audi, more than any manufacturer, have a design language so consistent that this is possible? Mis-hits like the angular Audi Q2 aside, its models are so subtly detailed but recognisable that, while they might look ostensibly similar – not much separates an Audi Q3 from an Audi Q5, say – they’ve also built an exceptionally strong brand image.

At launch, A5 cabriolets cost from under £30,000 but a very tidy early one still fetches the best part of £10,000 today. And I’m sure its design is a huge part of that.

I don’t imagine that residual values of cars near the end of their design life is particularly front of a designer’s mind when plotting a new car – there’s no money in it for Audi at that point, after all. But if a company is trying to build or retain a solid brand prestige, it’s definitely worth considering how gracefully a design will age.

Electrifying new bike

Maeving, a new British electric motorbike manufacturer, thinks it has hit a sweet spot for e-bikes with its RM1.

For one, the RM1 bike doesn’t look like a scooter, it looks like a classic motorbike. And yet unlike proper ‘big’ electric bikes it’s still only a 125cc-ish equivalent two-wheeler with a 45mph top speed, an 80 mile range, and which can be ridden on a CBT licence (so after a day’s Compulsory Basic Training).

Large electric bikes, Maeving thinks, don’t have the range to challenge the versatility of petrol motorcycles – typically they’ll do up to 100 miles, but no more – and are more expensive than an internally combusted equivalent. And batteries are still so expensive that it’s harder to get real value into smaller electric scooters – though given how much fuel costs, they can be competitive.

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