What, as Infiniti has found in Europe, is a problem. How do you convince people that it is worth spending more than the average money on your car? The easiest way is to be German or British or Italian and to have done it a century ago. Then you can say that you are `the ultimate driving machine or `designed like no other car. Which is fine. If its still true.
But heres the thing: what if its not? Or, at least, what if its true for some of your cars, but very little true for others? Because while it is irresistible for “normal” car manufacturers to try to sell cars on the premium market, it is just as tempting for hitherto elegant car manufacturers to try to sell them to people who couldnt afford them before.
So if you want to rent a Mercedes-Benz or Audi for no more than £200 a month, you can. Or, in other words, stop drinking a latte every day and a Ford Fiesta, and you can probably have an Audi A1. Doing that doesnt sound so elegant at all – and if youve sat in an A1, you probably wont be either.
So Audi will continue to make R8s and Mercedes will continue to make G-Classes because they have to keep remembering that, deep down, they make high-end cars, even when, in most cases, they do not. And I suspect that the worlds ordinary manufacturers will continue to try, and quite often fail, to find ways to go beyond that line, because they dont make cars that have six-figure prices and whose performance or engineering we cant take for granted. So well never swallow the fact that a DS is a rival to Audi, even if it looks different and feels better inside.
But the lines between premium and ordinary have never been blurred. And although theres a lot to gain, whether youre Infiniti or DS, trying to overcome it, if we start to see reality for what it is, I think theres a lot to lose for high-end car manufacturers who are also below the line, and expose all the farce for what it is.
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