Progress Kills

By Bruce McCulloch

09.20.2007

Anyone else remember when the automotive world, specifically that which is the supercar world, was limited and controlled? By limited and controlled, I’m referring to a market where the number of supercars wasn’t reminiscent to the vast amount of fruit types you buy at the super-market.

It’s no secret that I love supercars and take great joy in discussing them, examining them and above all else, dreaming about them. After all, supercars are the acme and epitome of the automotive world; they showcase all of which has advanced in our century – speed, power, technology, handling, braking – you name it, actually.

Thing is, though, I’m starting to lose much of my faith and interest in supercars and the reason is because they are now becoming a bit garden variety, a rich man’s play palace where bragging rights are the number-one priority. Though, one could argue that’s always been the case with these unambiguously expensive automobiles, but I happen to think the market has finally shifted them into an undesirable state.

Never did I think that in my lifetime supercar companies would be competing for a market share which in retrospect is similar to that Toyota versus Honda – albeit at a much smaller level. The supercars market throughout the 90’s was much simpler and it only consisted of a few marques; those being such greats as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche and Jaguar. It was all so simple back then, but now we don’t have just four marques, we over have twenty and probably some more on the way as I type this – all jostling for their place and of course, while trying to out-do each other.

Sure, it always about competing, but not at such a level as it is now. And it would appear that the turn of the decade was the birth of these many new manufacturers and the “new” way of selling, producing and manufacturing these automobiles. No longer is it a simple and mostly innocent game of billiards among guys that know each other down at the gentlemen’s club, (where you also debate important things like Jessica Alba or Rosario Dawson, steak or lobster, etc. ), it’s an all-out war where the specialty maker that produces the most powerful car is ultimately the winner.

Production, Performance & Power:

With the exception of F40, exotic production through out the 1990’s was pretty low-key. Just 300 Jaguar XJ220’s were built, just 349 Ferrari F50’s were manufactured; and on a smaller scale of exotica, just 60+ some McLaren F1’s were built. Furthermore, each of these high-end models didn’t have a dozen multiple variations.

Thus is the main reason why my interest in supercars is swiftly fading. As these companies are now engrossed in making big money and keeping up with the competition, one variation with a 5-year life span is deemed no longer sufficient from a business point of view. Now, if you plan to have a 5-year life span for a model it’s going to need multiple updates; everything from a new sticker on the boot to a possible 200 horsepower upgrade.

Look at the recent crop of Aston Martin’s for instance. Firstly, they had the 6-speed sequential DB9 coupe, then a 6-Speed Sequential cabriolet, then a 6-speed coupe and then 6-speed cabriolet, then a sports package, and then an 06 model update featuring everything that sports pkg had and now, the DBS and the DB9 LM. Even the V8 Vantage has undergone a similar twist of marketing with potential owners being force-fed multiple variations; each one promising something new and unique. Even such companies as Lamborghini and Bugatti have followed this trend; evidenced by both launching special editions of their flagship at the Frankfurt Autoshow.

And let us have a look at the power upgrades these vehicles are constantly undergoing. The first generation Koenigsegg CC8S had 655bhp – more then enough for any sane individual – but 600+ bhp was becoming a casual figure (even amongst various Mercedes-Benz automobiles), and as a result the company decided to step it up and give it a full 806bhp. That is merely one example, but one that is evidently at the top of the peak; other such manufacturers are following by pumping up model updates with an additional 100 some horsepower.

And so forth and so forth, company and after company following these trends. Now, I am fully aware that from a business standpoint such an approach is doing these manufacturers mighty, so why then, am I complaining?

Guess I’m just an ‘ol car romantic; I loved the day when the market was exclusive and unique. It was smaller, and therefore more mentally manageable, and frankly, more emotionally intimate regarding the wonderful machines themselves.

Guess I should get used to the Camry vs. Accord market of the supercar, eh?

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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4 Comments

  1. I like all the new choices, even if I cannot actually afford to buy any of these cars. More fuel for the fires of my imagination.

  2. I’m with you, Bruce. It’s getting almost ludicrous. All of a sudden, a Lamborghini isn’t enough – it has to be a special edition. Same goes for all the others. Not just a Porsche 911, but a GT3 RS. A Saturn Vue isn’t enough – it has to be a Redline. (Oops). 🙂

  3. What’s amazing to me is the increase in buyers for all of the cars from these special small car companies. These cars aren’t cheap. It just goes to show you there’s a lot of money worldwide chasing new thrills.

  4. Well, lots of people have money, but the money all looks the same! So you have to convert into something hardly anyone else has in order to stand out from the other people that have money.

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