It is a constant theme. Garner a younger audience; sell to that younger group; keep that group for life. There is nothing wrong with this method. Youngerish buyers of up-and-coming Toyotas and Honda in the early 1980s have become loyal Camry, Lexus ES350, and Highlander buyers of 2008.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Nevertheless, those buyers who were 35 years-old in 1980 are 62 now. How does a car company secure them for the remainder of their days? Nissan, for example, has an aging suit. Yes, by suit they do mean 'article of clothing'. Except it's far more intricate than your average 42Regular. The bendy points are stiff, the goggles are warped to simulate poor vision, the belly protrudes, and the feet use turned-up toes for the not-so-balanced feel. Nissan believes what they'll learn from designing vehicles with this suit in mind (or on body) will benefit all of us.
You've already seen adjustable pedals and infrared night vision. Ford first made a big deal out of the H-point of its Five Hundred. The theory was that a vehicle with a hip point at a happy medium, not too high and not too low, would make life easier for older buyers; aiding ingress and egress. Greater sightlines were also afforded. Unfortunately, the Taurus (nee Five Hundred) hasn't performed on the sales charts.
Why such concern if drivers over 65 years of age have the lowest rate of accident involvement? Per 100,000 individuals, they're only in 17 fatal accidents. Drivers aged between 21-24 double that figure. But, alas, that statistic is tremendously skewed by miles driven, a stat where the over-65s rank low. Adjusting the fatal accidents/100,000 people for miles driven actually positions the over-85 crowd as the most involved.
So, build the cars with an understanding of their achy bones, bad eyes, and apparent chubiness - but don't market it as such. That would be the end of most any automaker in terms of young buyership.