Help Me Understand The Short Supply Business Model Used By Luxury Automakers

Is it really, really, really that hard for Mercedes Benz to make 400 or even 600 SLS roadsters next year instead of the planned 199? Is it really because they can’t make them or is it because some marketing “genius” decided that building fewer will artificially inflate demand and price?

I am betting it’s the latter. And Benz isn’t the only company that employs this strategy. My title on this post refers to luxury brands – and they are most often the companies using this trick. But even US auto makers use it when it comes to their top models. Try to buy a simple Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca. Most markets got very few and in my town, some of the dealers bought the cars they did get for their sons. Those that are available are selling for more than MSRP.

So what it seems like to me is – this business model depends on the rest of us to succeed. What would happen if we said, we’re not going to play? What would happen if nobody bought the SLS roadster because they know it’s a trick?

The notion that the only way the auto makers can sell their low-end models is to make their high-end models so hard to find and so expensive that they are out of reach seems silly to me. Call me crazy but if you have a nice car, and everyone wants it, wouldn’t it be better for you to make it widely available so you could – wait for it – wait for it – SELL MORE?

And if you have models that are dogs – stop making them. Make the cars we want. Don’t play hard to get. It’s transparent. We can see right through it. I refuse to support it.

I saw Harley Davidson Motorcycles do this years ago and as a result stopped buying their bikes. I remember when Mazda did this with the Miata. They were actually getting better than sticker for these cars. A year or two later they couldn’t give them away.

In this day and age when the younger market seems to be the target for most auto makers, the rules have changed. The young ones are all about transparency, organic approaches and honesty. This faux inventory shortage thing may not work as well on them as it did on generations past.

It’s a cheap trick and one that needs to end. Come on manufacturers, just make good cars and make plenty of them and we’ll buy them. Deal? Yeah I know, I’m wasting my breath. But I had to try.


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