Interesting article in the Journal today about how auto manufacturers are targeting the young professional demographic with economical luxury cars.
And Honda isn't the only company taking aim at consumers looking for status on a budget. German luxury brands have said they plan to bring to the U.S. more economical compacts and subcompacts they sell in Europe.
"...taking aim at consumers looking for status on a budget" -- cute, huh?
But seriously though, this sounds like a shifty idea from Honda, Toyota, Buick, and others. The article states that the target market for the automobiles is a young professional living in or near a large city like Los Angeles, Chicago, or NYC. Do you guys actually know someone in Chicago or NYC who is in the 25-30 age range that owns a car? This might be more true for Chicago -- some of my friends there do drive, but in or around NYC the public transportation is so solid and owning a car is so expensive that it really doesn't make too much sense.
Now I've always been a car enthusiast, and I know I can't speak for the entire group of people that these manufacturers target, but I wholly disagree that people in the young professional demographic (I hate that it's a demographic now...) prefer fuel efficiency over horsepower. If I have the money to fork out $30K on a car, I'm looking at gently used M3s, G37s, S4s, Lancer Evos, etc etc.
I think we can break the 18-34 group into the following categories:
- Professionals in more lucrative careers (finance, law, consulting, engineering, etc.)
- Artistic types (prevalent to a great degree in all the cities this article furthers)
- Blue-collar professionals
- White-collar professionals in middle-income fields (IT, software, government administration)
None of these groups strikes me as a particularly good buyer for slow-but-prestigious cars. And Acura and Lexus simply cannot compete with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and to a lesser extent Audi, when it comes to luxury and especially "status". Status seems to be the most important thing here, but the above groups by and large either don't care about status or care so much about status that they'd prefer a car that delivers more punch in that regard.
And by the way, the ILX is priced at $27K base, and by the article's admission is basically a Civic with an Acura symbol. A Civic starts at $16 -- do YOU want to pay $11K extra to have the Acura symbol? I'll take the Civic.
Honestly, I am a proponent of buying old cars with good gas mileage (99-02 Civic, for example), driving them 'til 300K, and then replacing them, and I think our friend IP would agree. :)
What do you guys think? Who is getting in line to buy an ILX, or the Lexus equivalent? I know all of you would rather keep your M3s...
Next Monday I'll continue talking about resumes. But cars are also fun, so enjoy, and thanks for reading.