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Are UK Motorists Spoilt For Choice?

By raccars Published

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How many different models does the car industry need? There has never been more choice for consumers buying cars, with an ever increasing number of new models available, encompassing some very modern niches. However, could this be a case of too much choice being a bad thing, with consumers confused by the amount of variety on offer?

Glass's, the automotive evaluation firm, believes so. It fears that a number of models lack focus and occupy small niches which leave the public confused. The big three premium German manufacturers, for example, now include at least 20 models in their ranges, each available in a number of different variants. Is there a place for each of these in the market or do they only serve to confuse car buyers bewildered by the variety on display?

Audi's marketing chief, Luca de Meo, points out that in some cases, such as its own Audi A3 saloon, a model may be aimed at a specific market rather than globally, as the A3 saloon was designed with the Chinese market in mind. However, once the vehicle is on the brand's roster, it makes commercial sense to supply it elsewhere if the demand is there.

BMW gives its customers more credit, claiming that they are brand literate and know what they are looking for, and that giving them more choice allows them to have exactly what they want. Its case in point was the X6, launched as a niche product in 2008, but which has sold well enough to become a mainstream item because it fulfills a specific market demand.

The model range at Mercedes-Benz has become so confusing that the company has had to develop a whole new naming strategy to help customers recognise what sort of car they are looking at. Nonetheless, the firm has another 11 models in the pipeline, claiming that sales are increased rather than diluted by a wider range.

The likelihood is that other manufacturers will follow its lead, so rather than relying on traditional salesmen to help them through an ever crowded market, the onus is on the customers to educate themselves. The internet is an ally here, helping customers to view and recognise the models on offer, in order to rule out some and put others on a shortlist. At one time, customers would have had to trawl through showrooms listening to hours of salesmen's patter to find the same information. Ultimately, if you are prepared to put in that time, the amount of choice can, as BMW points out, work in your favour.

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