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Old 08-02-2015, 10:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
Land Ark's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Default Car makers don't want an enthusiast base

I've been thinking a lot about how Honda, Toyota, Subaru, etc. have all abandoned their enthusiast fanbase. Let's take a look at why reasonably prices car makers would do that.

1. Enthusiasts make a lot of waves
There are forums for just about every car out there. But among them are large collections of owners on well known sites. Examples include VWVortex, Acurazine, NASIOC, Bimmerfest. And on these forums word travels fast. If something appears to be a common problem evidence starts to mount and people start complaining. These folks are most likely to research information and report concerns. This can lead to recalls and free service that might not occur if folks didn't share information with each other.

2. Enthusiasts don't go to the dealer for service
After complaining about all the problems, enthusiasts will only take their cars to a dealer for free service. Otherwise they do their own wrenching and source parts from other than the OEM. If someone finds a replacement part that works better than the manufacturer's word spreads quickly. OEMs look out for franchisees and dealers make a lot of money off service. Building a car geared for enthusiasts does not help the dealer's bottom line after the sale.

3. Enthusiasts are frequently not the first owner
Some of the most vocal and persistent enthusiast owners are the second, third, fourth owner of their car. The manufacturers don't get the benefit of good customer service from people who don't buy new cars. If a dealer sells used cars they can benefit, however the time they spend selling an enthusiast a car could potentially be spent on selling compact crossovers to small families who know nothing about how a car works and will bring it in for service.

4. Enthusiasts are difficult to deal with
They modify their cars and expect warranties to be honored, they know more about the car that the salespeople and make it clear, and they expect to get it for less than the average sale price. Not to mention that they know what their car is worth when it comes to trading in. Most folks do some research before buying. And enthusiast makes it a badge of honor to know every detail about a car and totally take any salesmanship away from the dealer.

So enthusiasts don't buy the cars, complain the loudest about them, and fix them themselves. What incentive is there to build cars for them? Perhaps enthusiast buyers eventually surrender and buy family cars, but enthusiasts are often not overly brand loyal when better options are available. An RSX Type S owner is no more likely to buy an MDX as an X5 if they determine the X5 is better.

In other words, until soccer moms and dads start demanding affordable sports cars, I think the enthusiast is going to have make do with what we have and keep checking the calendar for that lousy 25 year import ban to run out.
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Old 08-03-2015, 05:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: South Florida
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Not sure about this. Based on my brother's experience on the Vortex he has purchase two brand new, limited editions VeeDubs. Also the enthusiast I know tend to be the first in line to purchase a new model. Sure they often catch the bug for a brand by purchasing used, but their loyalty means they have a strong desire to own the latest and greatest offer out there. They want to be the first on the block with that new special model. Thus such enthusiasts become sales people for the brand. Instead I think the real problem is enthusiasts buy niche vehicles, and such vehicles are not the cash cows of the manufacture. And as we all know the bean counters always win.

The really confusing part is how these same manufactures participate in motor sports where they are attempting to gain enthusiasts which (ironically) leads to people doing the very things you describe (modifying parts, avoiding the dealership, etc). Its almost like the marketing department and sales department have entirely different goals. Marketing says "our vehicles are fun, they are sporty, we want people to enjoy driving", where sales says "please give us more boring soccer mom machines because those sell great". Now who is the OEM going to listen to?
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Old 08-03-2015, 09:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Car companies don't want enthusiasts huh.... then why do they make/introduce cars like the

Camaro, particularly in higher trims
Abarth 500
Mustang, particularly the phenomenal GT350
Civic Si
Veloster Turbo
Golf R
Tiguan R Spec

I would argue there are more cars catering to enthusiasts, particularly in the affordable piece of the market, than there have ever been, barring maybe the 80s. But even in the 80s, most of those cars were crap, even for then. Now most enthusiast cars are flat out excellent. I don't agree
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