November 21, 2014

Car manufacturers and the iPhone generation

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cmipIt’s true to say that they really don’t make a bad car anymore. Gone are the dark days of the pre-glasnost Skoda and the Austin “All Agro” when cars were seemingly thrown together and would be lucky to see the year out before succumbing to one major malfunction or another.

These days’ cars get ever more sophisticated and in this gadget hungry, time poor world we now live in car manufacturers fight a daily battle to win the hearts, mind and wallets of the new tech savvy generation.

And there in and of itself is a conundrum; why, when cars have come so far in terms of their reliability and durability; do we need to change them so regularly?

The change cycle if anything is getting shorter not longer, there are so many viable options with virtually all car makers producing quality models which people actually want to buy and the models themselves are being upgraded and face-lifted on a more regular basis than perhaps at any time before.

Is this trend then a reflection of the society we now live in? A time where there appears to be a constant need for quicker, bigger, more attractive and perhaps most notably the “latest thing”.

The slick marketing campaigns and new technology make us feel like we should keep upgrading and the fact that a lot more motorists now ‘rent’ cars like our American cousins through PCP’s means that just because we don’t need to change we do simply because we can.

2012-geneva-motor-show-the-girls-photo-gallery_12Then there are the various motor shows in glamorous (and sometimes not so glamorous) locations around the globe where the manufacturers battle it out in front of our eyes as the latest models, enhancements and gadgetry are displayed for all to wonder at. There 8 major shows in 2014 that manufactures simply must be seen at, Detroit, Delhi, Chicago, Geneva, New York, Beijing, Paris, Tokyo and Los Angeles and the investment made by the car makers to show at these events should not be underestimated, nor should there importance.

Not only that but manufacturers now fight each other with previously unheard of deal sweeteners and add-ons such as free express insurance, MOT cover, free petrol, paintwork protection, misfuelling protection, tyre insurance, extended warranties and of course, zero percent finance. All very hard to resist.

The way cars are purchased has already changed beyond recognition in the UK and the fact that we alone have bucked the downward trend in new cars sales reported throughout the whole of the rest of Europe, bears testament to this. According to the SMMT 2,264,737 cars were registered in 2013, which was up 10.8% on 2012 and exceeded SMMT’s 2.25 million forecast for the year. Contrast that with the 2013 figures for the rest of the EU where new car registrations fell 1.7%.

The next generation of car buyers are far less likely to view cars as an asset to be meticulously cared for, tinkered with and cleaned on a Sunday and much more likely to view them in the same way they view smart phones, constantly craving the next model and upgrading, with all the extras they can afford, as soon as their contract allows them.

However when we think of the way everyone blindly and avariciously hankers after the latest mobile phone, signing up for expensive contracts just to get their sweaty hands on the latest, greatest model we should hope that the “now generation” take a deep breath before rushing down to their local car dealers as a mistake on that scale cannot be easily (and cheaply) rectified.


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