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Pros & Cons – Too Much Choice in the Car Market?

The DriveDen blog provides advice, news and reviews. This article discusses the pros and cons of there being so much choice in the car market today.

 

It wasn’t too long ago that car manufacturers produced a small number of vehicles in a range, making sure that all the basics were covered – a small Hatchback, family Saloon, a useful Estate and sometimes a MPV or SUV model too. However, in recent years the trend has been for manufacturers to have the biggest range possible and to fill in any gaps to ensure the consumer gets exactly what they want. We’re now in a world where Mercedes will be making a pick-up! But…could all of this choice be a bad thing?

Almost every manufacturer now offers both small and large vehicles, to cater for a buyers every need. BMW used to offer a relatively small range and type of vehicle, but now their range has expanded to over 15 basic models and includes hatchbacks, saloons, coupes, estates, SUvs, MPVs, convertibles and even a couple of fully electric models, with more ‘green’ cars on the way too. There’s less of a focus on creating the ‘ultimate driving machine’ and more focus on covering the competition.

Instead of the basic 3, 5 & 7 Series models, there are now 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 Series models and each one has a multitude of derivatives – the 2 Series alone comes in Coupe, Gran Tourer and Active Tourer models…and by the time the ‘X’ models and ‘M’ performance range are thrown into the mix too, BMW now offers a staggeringly huge range of vehicles to choose from.

And it’s not fair to purely focus on BMW, as there are so many other examples too from across the globe. Mercedes for instance now offer 18 basic models and each one has a range of body styles, engines, trim levels and much more. The same goes for Ford, who now offer 18 different models too, along with Vauxhall who offer 12 and Audi who offer 13. Many of those counted are very specialised models, such as the Audi R8 or the Ford GT…but the point remains that choosing a new car to buy now means embarking on a long journey of deciding which basic model is required and it can be difficult to choose between cars that are so similar in size and shape. Sometimes it’s even hard to tell the difference in the first place!

four very similar white Mercedes cars

Mercedes GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS – but are they all necessary?

Taking Vauxhall as a specific example, they now offer 3 vehicles in their ‘small car’ range – the Viva, Adam and Corsa. The Viva is very much seen as a ‘city car’ and is smaller than the Corsa which has grown up a lot in recent years…but is there really a need for the Adam? It fits in between the Viva and Corsa in the range, in a gap that really didn’t need to be bridged to begin with. The same can be said of the Audi range with so many ‘A’ and ‘Q’ models available – at first there was a choice between Q3, Q5 and Q7, but now there is a Q2 model and it’s likely that down the line there will be a Q4 and Q6 too. If the choice is between Q3, Q5 and Q7 there is a defined range for the customer to choose from and a reason to go for one over the other, but having more vehicles fill in the gaps blurs the lines and creates more for the consumer to think about, when really they could likely have just chosen between the original 3 without there being an issue.

On a similar note, the rise of the ‘SUV’ has meant that even Maserati and Alfa Romeo now offer a tall and large vehicle to carry up to 7 passengers…which if you’d said 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable. There are even rumours that Ferrari will get in on the act too…and whilst it can be seen as positive that these manufacturers are willing to go beyond their usual comfort zones, there’s a risk that they will lose the identity that they’ve spent decades building up. It’s good to have a range of vehicles to choose from but there comes a point when there is too much choice and certain manufacturers should not need to get involved.

From an autoparts point of view, the manufacturers having so many similar vehicles could be seen as a good thing, as they will surely use the same parts across a range of models as a way of keeping costs down. Lights, mirrors and other shared parts could be used on different vehicles – but, it’s actually likely to be the opposite. The models all look very similar but the parts are still very specific and it means the consumer has to pay a premium to get the exact part they need.

There are certainly some good points for manufacturers producing so many different models – choice is a good thing for most consumers and they can get exactly what they want, down to the tiniest detail. As mentioned previously, it’s also good for manufacturers to stretch their imaginations and see what they can come up with, such as the very well received Alfa Romeo Stelvio – but, things can also go the other way and we end up with a vehicle that doesn’t really need to exist – we’re looking at you, Bentley Bentayga!

So should manufacturers produce as many cars as possible? Or should there be a defined range? Should Ferrari stick to supercars and should the Germans focus on executive saloons? It’s a lively debate and as car lovers, we’ll all have our own opinions – but it seems that this trend will continue for many years to come.

 

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