“Examples as to how consumers are literally made fun of during board of directors meetings in the automotive industry.”
Should be a University thesis, really… :p
Either these marketing tricks are happening much more often lately, or they were always there but I couldn’t see them. I think it’s the first one. There are dozens of reasons that make today’s automotive industry dull, repetitive, and uninteresting. Reminds me of pop music, boys bands and Brittney Spears.
So I came up with this. Forgive the writing style, this is for fun. But let me just say that the following examples contain so much bashing, sooo much bashing, that every single person who is going to read this will come across at least one fact that he will find wrong/arguable or unnerving. But these are my views, even if a bit caricaturized. Here we go.
Examples of how the desire to make more money can ruin an interesting industry:
- Porsche Cayenne (needless to say, a nightmare for anyone who has respect for this invention, the automobile that is). They say it saved the company, but in reality the 996 is the best selling 911 ever, so go figure? How can a brand like Porsche take an SUV, which is rightfully a good looking VW, and decide to slap it Porsche logos and an engine? oh and make it ugly too? Great, now the rich blond knows Porsches better than me. Hey, she OWNS one!
- Porsche 996: it became bigger, to become more usable, to sell better. It shares common nose and dash with Boxster (inexcusable) to cut costs. No more antilock differential (the millionaire going clubbing doesn't care about that option), replace it with an inescapable devilish electronic software that should keep the car from over steering every time you step on the brakes, like we don’t know the difference with a real antilock differential (both this and the antilock diff, changed on the 997). Who cares if you’re made a fool of on track day by the first M3 E36 in sight (remember the E36? That’s 1993). An insult to Porsche owners? More like a slight cut in costs. What does a track-like antilock differential offer more on the driveway of a restaurant. Porsche is my favorite 'realistic' brand by the way, so don't bash me, but the 996 is the ugliest piece of sh*t that I have ever seen coming from this manufacturer (except maybe the 914); nothing to do with all previous Porsches, and not even the 997 can make me forget the 996. I can't wait for a new 911 (a really new 911, and actually more like the old ones). Also, we want the old roof-line back!!
- VW's effort to change its image. So a company called "Cars for the People" wants now to become a luxury car maker. Why? Go figure. What do they do? Something unheard of for a while, a W12!! No-one will notice that it actually is three Golf engines glued together. Also give it a “cachet” and maximize the finishing and feel of the car, let it be better than the best Audi. But why? The old BMW boss, now VW boss, is convinced it is better. He says VW can sell luxury products. Ok, kill yourself and your staff to make it happen. But why? VW made the beetle. The first one was something like under 1000 DM.
- The new VW beetle. Someone said: "Yesssss! We can make money out of the Beetle concept!! just revive it, it doesn't matter if we are burning the Beetle name for ever, since the new Beetle will only squeeze cash and kill the concept. Instead of harvesting ideas, they put a Beetle look-alike body on a front-engined front-wheel drive Golf. We, car enthusiasts, are supposed to sympathize with the idea. Riiiight.
- Renault's efforts on new designs. I won't argue, most are very successful (sales wise). I only want to talk about the Vel Satis, a ridiculously heavy Coupe that should compete with the upper class Coupes and Sedans. i.e a President's car. Engine? the 4-banger 2.0 16 Valve is one of the options. Niiice. Performance figures reminded us of cars of the 60's. Incidently, the Vel Salis is the lowest selling upper-segment Renault of recent years. Makes sense.
- Citroen's desperate efforts to make different but not better. As always (remember the DS, or the Ax). Except now, the PSA bosses are trying to keep the Citroen gadgets where they belong; on the drawing board. Therefore Citroen is just Peugeot with a different body, usually uglier (Peugeot’s, don’t forget, are designed by Pininfarina. Unfortunately this means they’re only good in pictures. Guess what that leaves to Citroens). My girlfriend bought a new Citroen Saxo (important: before I knew her). The 1.4L burned more fuel than her Dad’s Mitsubishi 2.0L. She changed it and bought a VW. No wonder Citroen is the only manufacturer whose new models you sometimes see for the first time in the shop. I saw a Saxo at my mechanics’ shop. “A new Citroen model??”. “Yes this is the new Saxo. It lost its oil, the engine is lost”. Nice.
- Ferrari's efforts to make cars that are more usable on a daily basis. Consider the 360 Modena with a higher roof line, and the more comfortable models (all of them). Hope we don't regret this one day.
- Saab’s take on the Subaru Impreza WRX. Change the front, change the rear, change a few things. Wow a new blistering fast Saab!!...
- The family van that was made by Peugeot/Fiat and Lancia introduced about a decade ago. Difference? The dashboard, the front and rear body parts. It seems the marketing departments are overstaffed. (Find three names, three images, three frontal looks, do one car).
- Globalization in general, that brings us the same platforms across the globe, the same engines, the same gear boxes, the same sounds, the same problems...
- Finally, take one of my favorite brands, BMW, and put its fate in the hands of someone called Chris Bangle. At least, the chassis are still good!
- And there are hundreds more. I’ll stop here (you’re lucky).
[Edited 2004-08-24 13:45:45]