Originally Posted by tony20009
Sure, $35-$45K isn't unattainable, but it's still more than the average person spends on a car. I know here in the DC area, that's not the case; BMWs and MBs (of all sorts) are extremely common. But in most of the world outside the Beltway, the average person doesn't spend $30 - $40K on a car, and s/he doesn't drive any sort of BMW or MB.
I understand that MB makes the Maybach, but nobody says (much less thinks) of a Mercedes: Ooh, it's the mainstream Maybach. And that goes directly to the point I was making above. A MB isn't a mainstream car; neither is any current model of BMW. I'm not saying there's anything particularly exclusive about either brand of car. I'm just saying that they cost more than what the masses spend on cars and that by definition makes them also not mainstream brands. Both brands have the opportunity to reap additional profits by dispensing their prior technology and engineering in a new automobile line (called something other than BMW or MB, which, given your comments, must be a point I didn't make clearly enough in the second bullet of my original post...) and selling them as mainstream vehicles.
Finally, I can assure you that no car maker is particularly looking to be exclusive; not one of them has that as their mission, though whatever their mission is, may yield exclusivity as a by product. Car buyers may want exclusivity, but car makers, and their stockholders, want to sell as many cars as they possibly can, to as many people as they possibly can, at a profit.
That we see many kinds of car makers -- from Kias to Maybachs -- is a function of there being a profitable way to make money at a wide variety of price points. If Bentley or Pagani could make their cars and profitably sell them -- I'm talking about making and selling exactly the cars they sell now -- for $24k each, they would because in the end, they'd make more money that way. For better or worse, the economies of scale haven't yet conspired to make carbon fiber and Connolly hides affordable to the general public.
I'm on the same train of thought for most of what you said.
The bentley and pagani example I don't quite agree with.
They make a product that's uncommonly-engineered and expensive, and that in itself is the draw of their brand. It's why they get customers.
If they were affordable and many people had them, they wouldn't be useful as a 'show off my wealth' item (lose a selling point)
If they were scaled down in engineering, then they wouldn't stand out on that front either, and they would have to compete in the ocean of cars that are similar. (lose another selling point)
Selling a mass-market car, for them, would place them in a market segment of high competition.
Whereas now, they can afford to not make the tough mass-competitive choices, and can simply make the product they want to make first.
I suspect that from the POV of the owners/builders/designers, they are where they want to be, and the common-markets are none of their concern.
Which all harkens back to the concept of diluting the brand (where it applies to BMW and MB).
I totally agree that BMW would love everyone to buy one of their cars.
However, like you mentioned, people want the exclusivity. It's an important selling point.
BMW needs to carefully choose at what economic strata they want to split into another brand - so that they don't lose that important selling point.
Balancing affordability (to move cars), and exclusivity (to attract buyers), is the dilemma.
Up-scale buyers can easily say :
"My street has too many BMW's, I think I'll buy an MB"
If that happens too often, then all BMW would accomplish is a growth in down-scale sales, and shrinkage in up-scale sales - transforming the company into a brand like toyota/honda that caters heavily to affordability.
Which may not even matter.
Do I care? Do you care? Does anyone care? Does it matter?
It's simply a change. A change that I know lots of folks would prefer to be without.
Granted that I'm talking about the emotional buyers. Those that buy a car on how it makes them feel emotionally.
It's a very large group.
But none of this affects the other group of buyers. Those that evaluate cars on the technical aspects and features, and couldn't care if 1 or a million people drove them.
While I personally lean towards the 'technical evaluation' side, I know a lot more people that simply 'adore the aura', and see the badge first and the car second (eg. they say "that's a nice car" without knowing anything
about it - other than who makes it.)
That's a group that easily converts to buyers - a group that's not to be alienated.
That's just my personal experience. I could have the wrong impression. I could be totally wrong.