“I was standing in line at a tea shop the other day, and I overheard the conversation of the people beside me. The conversation had the word Panamera in it, so of course, my ears perked up. These were youngish people, in their early twenties I would say. They had that tone and volume of voice that makes you wonder if their discussion was meant for ears other than their own. They also had two girls with them so I am sure that factored into the equation.
They were talking about the Panamera, and then they mentioned the M5. What was interesting was their comments on the M5, which had nothing to do with specs or performance or ability. Rather it had to do with whether or not certain cars were too common or easily seen. They also mentioned certain brands which were, according to them, more for older people. Why can one storied ultra-luxury car brand be considered stuck in the past by the people in this conversation while another company can actually release an SUV and still be considered appropriately young and current? I know from an industry point of view why this may be the case, and I may well agree with them, but the opinions I was hearing had nothing to do with the hard facts and statistics of the matter, yet their beliefs seemed accepted across the board.
Such is the state of the car industry today. A very hard-core car enthusiast who became part of the industry itself said that he was most surprised by the fact that most of the cool cars were not, in fact, bought by people who were into cars as cars. Note that I have at times found this guy replacing a bulb on a classic by getting under everything himself, so he clearly has a love for all things automotive. There was a look of pain in his eyes when he said this. It was like a shattering of an ideal.
But then, perhaps that is what success brings. The bigger and stronger you are, the more mainstream you become, the more you are looked upon as more than what brought you here in the first place. Case in point, our cover car. I was never enamored by the four-door Porsche sedan even though I recognized its strengths. I kept thinking of it as a Porsche, and a Porsche should be a sports car. But the brand from Stuttgart has broken barriers in ways no one else has. And now we are in a world where the four-door Porsches are what pays for the two-doors to become increasingly awesome. Who would ever have thought up this reality? Or the one where an M5 is questioned not because of ability but because of popularity and the fact that you can now actually buy one without jumping through grey-market hoops? What is interesting, though, is that not all brands fall prey to this. Some manage to be above it, and they tend to be the ones that stick to their truths in spite of the fact that their vehicles become more usable in the real world by real people.
Maybe that is the key, being true. In the case of the two ultra-luxury brands I just discussed but shall remain unnamed, one is part of a group where their demand for excellence permeates through everything they do, say, or has their name on it. In today’s world, everyone internally says that they are trying to appeal to a younger market. Maybe success is only possible when you don’t think the younger market is any less intelligent or demanding or deserving. Which reminds me, happily, of what we were told over a decade and a half ago and something I always enjoy repeating. We were told that the Philippine car consumer wasn’t mature enough to make decisions that weren’t handed to them pre-packaged and directed.