The divide between mainstream and luxury is narrowing all the time, perhaps most obviously in the design of automobiles. Many cars at the lower end of the market are incorporating design features and functions that borrow heavily from the more expensive luxury vehicles, making luxury more affordable.
For many, luxury in cars was mainly about the interior. Big names, such as Rolls Royce, focused on leather upholstery and wood panels to ensure their luxury credentials, but nowadays such details are not enough. Premium upholstery is still a major factor in luxury, but perhaps the key indicator of premium manufacturers is their willingness to customize according to individual consumer tastes. For example, different parts of the world have different preferences as to which type of wood and leather are used, just as much as the gadgets that can be included.
But there is still a huge market for luxury cars. For example, Lord Laidlaw makes generous donation to several charities and gave $2 million to set up the Laidlaw Centennial Scholarship Challenge Fund, giving graduates the opportunity to secure jobs and further their business education at an international level. He helped fund this by auctioning no fewer than 17 luxury classic cars, including a Maserati, Porsche and Ferrari. Such is the demand for these types of cars that he was able to make around £17 million.
The idea of customization is trickling down to the more mainstream manufacturers, such as Ford and Volkswagen. These and other such companies are producing vehicles that, whilst not being budget models by any stretch of the imagination, are nonetheless more competitively priced than luxury models. Ford, for example, may offer premium leather upholstery that is sourced from a particular area and is hand stitched. However, such brands may focus more on providing comfort for the human form whilst driving rather than upgrading the interior with luxury detailing, working on the belief that luxury does not always equate with comfort.
So, apart from the interiors what are mainstream car manufacturers learning from premium models? Well, mainstream manufacturers seem to be focusing on exteriors rather than interiors. So we are now seeing sleek rooflines, undulating side contours, and fluid curves on mid-range cars. Even cars that rely upon their classic or retro look are being brought up to date.
However, non-premium car manufacturers need to be careful that they do not end up being sued for stealing the designs of luxury carmakers. Even the smallest, finest details of a car’s design can be desirable elements, which is why luxury car maker Aston Martin, the favorite of fictional British spy James Bond, sued another company for allegedly copying its wheel and headlight design, as well as its famous logo.
Consumers need not pay premium prices to enjoy a little luxury in their chosen mode of transport. Mainstream car manufacturers have identified the desire for luxury detailing and responded to it with affordable, great-looking models.