Buying the new car, which best suits a customer’s individual needs, has probably never been more complicated. There are so many different cars to choose from now that it is often difficult to spot the difference and car makers are significantly increasing their model line ups. Whereas years ago there were maybe 6 or 7 cars at most across their range today there can often be a dozen or more models and several variants within the model range.
Many manufacturers have entered into market places that perhaps they have little experience in, because the changing requirements of the customer dictate that they should go after their share. For example, if you look at the SUV or Crossover they are now represented across the board while a few years ago they were the exclusive property of the likes of Land Rover, Mitsubishi and Toyota. Now it seems nearly every manufacturer has their own example of one, some good some not so.
It is the same with smaller cars. Even the likes of Audi with their funky A1 are getting into segments of the marketplace which they would not traditionally be known for. Of course there are savings to be made by shared technology and floor plans especially when a manufacturer owns several brands, and when you see the meteoric rise of the BMW Mini you can understand why there are perceived opportunities.
As much as all this choice ultimately is probably a good thing for buyers as it creates competition, it could also have the effect of de-valuing models as they evolve so rapidly and means customers don’t know whether they are buying the right car from a financial perspective.
I hear on my travels quite regularly, when talking to customers, that they just don’t know what to buy. They know quite often what they don’t want but with so many publications, TV shows, websites and blogs along with the advertising campaigns it can be very confusing and often means that they need the benefits demonstrated to them in quite some detail. That is something which not all sales execs these days are capable of doing. I guess the question we’re asking is; are sales teams in main dealer showrooms totally up to speed with the rapidly changing products they sell on behalf of their brand partners?
In some cases, as I have personally witnessed over the years, there are, and they are generally total anoraks. However there are also still sales people out there who just want to get the sale closed and perhaps do not always encourage the customer into a car that actually suits both their lifestyle and budget or even worse don’t have the foggiest what car may suit them at all.
This situation is only likely to become more complicated as the range of different options available increases alongside the model line-ups even on more basic, cheaper cars and as a result the lead times are likely to increase as customers end up having bespoke cars tailored exactly to their needs.
If a wider choice of manufacturer, model and dealer lead to the customer getting a better deal and all round experience then I am all for it but if it leads to customers to taking a car and wanting out of it after a short period of time then there are only going to be unnecessary costs incurred by all involved.
Maybe Renault have the right idea with a streamlining of their entire product range in the UK but that maybe a decision that was more forced upon them by the ever declining numbers of people who actually wanted to buy one. Other manufactures take note.