Whips for Whippersnappers

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:

  1. Professionals in more lucrative careers (finance, law, consulting, engineering, etc.)
  2. Artistic types (prevalent to a great degree in all the cities this article furthers)
  3. Blue-collar professionals
  4. 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.

Read the full article here

Comments (16)

Apr 25, 2012 - 6:55pm

I am not getting in line to buy an ILX or it's equivalent to say the least. I will say that I think this is a better move to get people into the dealerships to look and then upsell them. Especially if they start pricing them only slightly under their more premium cars. I think people will go with the more expensive care more often than not when in a dealership and pressured with offers of 0 down or 1.9 Apr or whatever they are offering these days. I could very well be totally off base and maybe there is a huge amount of people looking at getting these. However I think once you set foot in the dealership many, certainly not all, people will fall in love with the shinier model that is a step or two up from these. I think there is definitely still, although it has definitely been shrunk in the current economic climate, that will absolutely pay up just to say they don't have a honda even though the acura is just a honda with a few more standard features. Same can be said of an infinity (just a nicer nissan).

Apr 25, 2012 - 7:02pm

my goal is to live in cities where I don't need a car for next 5-7 years. That said it's been 16 months since i've driven a car and man I kinda miss it, what I would give to rent a porsche and cruise around argentina's wide open highways for a few days...

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Apr 26, 2012 - 5:48am

my goal is to live in cities where I don't need a car for next 5-7 years. That said it's been 16 months since i've driven a car and man I kinda miss it, what I would give to rent a porsche and cruise around argentina's wide open highways for a few days...

It's more fun doing it in a 25 year old bus...just from personal experience

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk
Apr 26, 2012 - 10:24am



Please immediately ban the next person who says that.

Please ban this guy

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk
Apr 25, 2012 - 8:01pm

Pick one, fast or efficient. Infiniti M Hybrid and Tesla do not count.

The answer to your question is 1) network 2) get involved 3) beef up your resume 4) repeat -happypantsmcgee WSO is not your personal search function.
Apr 26, 2012 - 5:00am

Most people around my age (~23) don't care about fuel economy, and the ones that do aren't throwing down $$$ on new cars. I'm not sure why young people opt for something more luxurious than sporty, either - there's plenty of time for that when you get old. I bought a used Honda S2000 last year and couldn't be happier with it.

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