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$0027 or `designed like no other car$0027. Which is fine. If it$0027s still true.
But here$0027s the thing: what if it$0027s not? Or, at least, what if it$0027s 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 couldn$0027t 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 doesn$0027t sound so elegant at all – and if you$0027ve sat in an A1, you probably won$0027t 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 world$0027s ordinary manufacturers will continue to try, and quite often fail, to find ways to go beyond that line, because they don$0027t make cars that have six-figure prices and whose performance or engineering we can$0027t take for granted. So we$0027ll 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 there$0027s a lot to gain, whether you$0027re Infiniti or DS, trying to overcome it, if we start to see reality for what it is, I think there$0027s 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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