Published on February 11th, 2019 | by Subhash Nair1
How I Split Up Most Car Brands
There are a lot of car brands out there, even before you start counting the countless more that exist just to serve the Chinese Domestic Market. To better group these companies together, it’s useful (but maybe not completely fair or accurate) to look at what sort of products they offer, at what price point and their scale.
Note that I am excluding most American, Australian, Indian and Chinese brands, as they tend to focus on their domestic markets a bit too much.
A good place to start is with Premium Brands. This is because they spend the most on branding and marketing and have a large enough following to be known to most people. I would put the following car brands under the following sub-categories
German Trio (genre defining):
Secondary Options (available in most markets, offer viable alternative to Trio):
Other Options (available in some markets, often a little behind on trends):
Niche Premium (available in some markets, don’t fight outside comfort zone):
These brands offer something more exclusive than what the premium brands are offering. There is some spillover between Premium and Opulent. The sub-brands Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach, BMW M, Audi’s RS cars, Range Rover as well as ‘hero’ models of each premium brands clearly step into Opulent territory. But generally speaking, you won’t see these brands offer ‘downsized 2-litre turbo sedans’, so they tend not to have the volume of Premium brands.
You’ll also note that there are three themes that all Opulent brands offer: Lifestyle, Luxury and Performance. Here’s how I would place each brand.
Medium scale, daily-performance oriented:
Low scale, performance-lifestyle oriented:
Low scale, performance focused:
Low scale, luxury-oriented:
Bentley (luxury-performance in some models)
These are the main players of the industry. Here too, there are divisions and spillovers. Some brands don’t have the scale or the right market conditions to thrive so aim to fill the gap between mass market and premium. Other brands are completely focused on cutting costs down to a minimum to focus on profits-through-volume. Others still have had to reposition themselves for more commercial vehicle sales. Here’s how I’d group them
Mainstream Niche (medium volume, niche products/market):
Mainstream (high volume in many markets):
Budget-focused (high volume in countries where cars are a necessity):