Automakers are already, in February, selling 2007 models. This seems daft to me, and another example of companies distancing themselves from consumers.
I understand that legally, American companies are allowed to do this, but it gives used car salespeople a chance to make a model seem newer than it really is when it comes to resell. But, it might actually help those who are honest enough to stick to a more traditional sense of model years—BMW, for instance, continues to roll out ’06s right now, as does Volkswagen and Honda.
“Model years” as a selling concept is generally unknown outside North America. The only “deception” that tends to come in is the year of registration: if a car is unsold and sits on disused air ﬁelds or docks for a year, and only gets registered after it’s been in acid rain, then it’s the later date that gets touted in listings in the UK and New Zealand. But even now, retailers are more honest: a 2005 special on Renault Lagunas in New Zealand listed the cars as being 2003-speciﬁcation models (probably priced too high initially, and new models were on their way).
Only in the last decade or so have we seen the next year’s models actually offered with that year mentioned as part of the headline—but then, only from September or October, which, traditionally, was the month that the next year’s models emerged in the United States, too.
Perhaps the whole glitz and glamour of annual model changes in 1950s American advertising never made it out this way, so we don’t use them as selling tools to confuse the consumer.
As a teenager I seem to recall the next year’s models came out, or at least featured, in August issues of American car magazines. The earliest example I can recall where the cars went on sale ultra-early, though I know I am wrong on it being the ﬁrst, were the General Motors C-cars for 1985 came out the previous March. I think the ’Vette might have been part of a similar deal, with ’84s coming out mearly.
But if a car came out earlier, there was always a model half-year in North America—the 1964½ Mustang, one of the most famous cars (and marketing successes) of all time; or, for those really into obscurity, the US’s 1970½ Falcon, which lasted about seven months in production.
Who’s still doing this? Kia. The Hyundai subsidiary releases a sedan in April as a 2006½. It’s a nice tradition, and I don’t feel quite as cheated. And Kia might as well trade on honesty and warranties, since it can’t really trade on emotion and glamour right now. The Average Joe or Jane seems to appreciate it.
Del.icio.us tags: model years | cars | automobiles | marketing | sales Posted by Jack Yan, 21:19
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