An increasing trend I’ve been noticing is the increasing discomfort that older buyers are experiencing with luxury cars. Even the more tech savvy of the lot are getting frustrated with the rapid influx of technology in their cars of choice.
In the past year, I’ve had two older gentleman ask me for lower-tech alternatives in the luxury segment. One man in his 80′s was interested in a Lincoln MKT, but ended up purchasing a Lexus LS460 after being unable to get a handle on MyLincoln Touch. Another in his mid 60′s, who religiously buys Lexus ES350s, is now looking at a Hyundai Azera after being frustrated with the new mouse-style control for the Lexus infotainment system.
Doug DeMuro brought up a great point on his Kinja blog, namely, what are older buyers gravitating towards when every luxury brand seems committed to attracting younger buyers. Yes, this makes good business sense, lest you become Buick, saddled with a customer base that is literally dying off. But why ignore your customer base, which actually has the money to buy your cars? Why does the Cadillac XTS, a car that will only be bought by those in the over 45-set, offer CUE, a notoriously bad touch-sensitive infotainment system? The XTS is the kind of car that should be elegant but simply laid out for ease of us. A driving experience laden with distractions and repeatedly stabbing a haptic feedback control is the antithesis of luxury.
I wonder if the tide will eventually turn back to traditional buttons, simpler layouts and less reliance on complex, fragile electronic systems. As public beta testing and increasingly disposable electronics become the norm, cars have the opportunity to be a beacon of resilience and quality. But I don’t think I’d be on that.