Monday, June 01, 2015

Cadillac Service at Chevy Prices

This post is directed at luxury car owners. If you drive an Acura, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, or Infiniti and you’re taking your car to the dealer of that same make you drive, you’re paying as much as twice as much as you have to for maintenance and repairs.

Most people know that General Motors manufacturers Cadillac as well as Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC trucks. Most of the models of each of these makes share in the engineering and design. This also holds true for Acura and Honda, Lexus and Toyota, Lincoln and Ford, and Infiniti and Nissan. Some models are almost totally identical “under the skin”. The manufacturers make their luxury version look fancier and add luxury options and accessories, but the underneath it all, they are mostly the same vehicles.

The reason that many people don’t know that their Infiniti is built by Nissan and Lexus is built by Toyota is “marketing”. The manufacturers don’t want you to know that that the Lexus ES you’re driving is really a Toyota Camry, “all dolled up” or that the Acura ILX is really a fancy Honda Civic. Volkswagen, Mazda and Hyundai all made big marketing mistakes when they introduced their luxury models, Phaeton, Amati, and Equus. The VW Phaeton which cost over $100,000 bombed badly and is no longer sold in the USA. The Mazda Amati was announced in the early 90’s but Mazda canceled their plans when they suddenly “saw the light”. The Hyundai Equus, over $60,000, is not selling well either and I predict it won’t be able to compete in the USA luxury car market either. 

The reason these three models failed is that Volkswagen, Mazda and Hyundai made the fatal marketing mistake in expecting a luxury car buyer to spend $100,000+ for a car sold in a Volkswagen dealership or $60,000+ for one sold in a Hyundai dealership. To compete with established luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW, manufacturers must offer buyers a car that they feel confident is not only a luxury car, but perceived by their friends, neighbors, relatives, and business associates to be a luxury car. When a luxury owner is leaving a fancy restaurant or his country club and gives his ticket to the valet, he doesn’t want to be asking for a Volkswagen or Hyundai, albeit the most expensive one. When he brings his car in for service, he wants to mingle with other luxury car owners with all of the luxury amenities offered…it’s like first class vs. coach. I know Lexus dealers who offer massages and manicures to their service customers. JM Lexus, the world’s largest Lexus dealer, has a putting green on their roof for their waiting service customers.

Luxury owners expect to pay more for service and luxury car dealers are happy to accommodate them. If you’re willing to pay twice as much for an oil change because you can play golf while you wait or have a manicure, that’s up to you. But you can save a whole lot of money and have technicians that are totally qualified to maintain your luxury car by bringing it to the same manufacturer’s dealer for the lower price make…Acura to Honda, Cadillac to Chevrolet, Lexus to Toyota, Lincoln to Ford, and Infiniti to Nissan. 

There is one caveat and that is the manufacturers require that you have your factory warranty repairs done by the luxury car dealer. You may also experience some problem with parts availability. Although most parts are the same, there are some parts like a cabin air filter which the dealer may have to buy from the luxury car dealer. My suggestion would be to make an appointment for your service in advance and tell the Honda dealer what you would like done. He then can be sure to already have all the necessary parts on hand when you arrive. You will be shocked at how much money you can save and, measured over the total time you own your car, this can amount to thousands of dollars.

I know that a lot of luxury car owners will read this and continue to bring their luxury car to the luxury car dealer just like there are diamond jewelry buyers who will pay Tiffany’stwice as much for the exact same caret, color, and clarity diamond as Costco sells, when the only tangible difference is the “little blue box”. Brand image is a powerful marketing tool.

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