The Personal Luxury Car segment could come back! ...eventually. Until then, we do have a segment exploding out of the void known as consumer bank accounts. That’s right kin, I’m refering to this wave of Personal Luxury Flagships coming from everyone with any six-figure brand equity. This subject is a big one, prepare yo’selves!
*Note that modern Personal Luxury Cars would be a few markets down. If the Impala, 300, or Taurus had a two door above them then those would be Personal Luxury Cars. Of course, all those sedans are as good as dead. They could come back as all-electric coupes though! Until then let’s peek at what is in the high end markets above:
- Aston Martin DB11
- Audi A9
- Bentley Continental GT
- BMW 8 Series
- Lexus LC
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe
- Polestar 1
- Rolls Royce Wraith
- Cadillac CT8
- Ferrari 812 Superfast successor
- Genesis GT90
- Infinti Q80 Coupe
- Jaguar XK successor (XKi)
- Porsche Panamera Coupe (928)
- Maserati GranTurismo successor
From 2020 through 2024 you can expect all-electric versions of these vehicles along with multiple levels of electrification. The reason I believe this segment will be worth mentioning is because the petrol version of the segment is here (that helps). Secondly, this segment would do a great job filling the electric car gap between the $37,000 Chevy Bolt and the $1.2 Million NIO EP9.
Of course Tesla is that gap and, like the Jeep Wrangler or Chevrolet Corvette, it will be nearly impossible to compete directly against Tesla’s offerings (namely the Model S). That means an indirect frontal assault is the way to go. The ol’ hook and roundhouse, baby!
Instead of going after the expanding six figure shoppers with something they wont buy over their Model S — they are putting that money towards deposits on a Model S P200D and plaid shirts — many automakers will instead utilize these large two doors to appeal to the lifestyle and rapidly changing interests of the segment.
But why use big electric luxury coupes instead of electric sportscars? The answer is expectations.
Expectations of track day survival and the expectation of better performance compared to petrol sportscars within the same market. Add in selling to the smaller subset of the already miniscule sportscars market and it all adds up to the price point being something like $120,000 in order to match the material quality and performance of a $40,000 Camaro SS (and make money). Only branding can cover that difference so your name needs to be Tesla, Porsche, or maybe even Aston Martin to make up that ground. Or perhaps even Maserati, Jaguar, or Corvette (hinty hint-hint *cashing in on brand equity*).
Going with a large luxury two door gets rid of the track day expectation, slashes performance expectations, and places the cars in a similar price range as their direct competitors (a class being created right now by these same automakers). All this while avoiding direct comparisons with Tesla or Porsche while still sitting in the same market.
Making sense? Let’s imaginate since you’re now inside my head. The floors are sticky and the snozzberries taste like refrigerated pheasant feathers and freedom.
Imagine a large 2+2 coupe with zero emissions, triple-digit mpge, low center of gravity, and a long hood designed for storage rather than to accommodate a twin-turbo V12. All this while being positioned as the most prestigious, most technologically advanced vehicle that brand has ever developed in the history of everdom, ever! Easy sell!! Now imagine the possibility of a future convertible variant. Oh man, the only thing stiffer than that chassis...
*Mmm, sorry, I had to grab a sip of my liter of cola.
...are all the necks being snapped by wealth mode in stealth mode.
Now imagine the same six-figure car built as a 4-door liftback. What are the chances of getting volume with a Cadillac or Jaguar sedan when everyone is willing to wait for the Tesla or Porsche and even buy them outright without ever even seeing them?
*But first, designing long hoods for frunks and having AWD may be the reasons it won’t matter whether electric cars are FWD or RWD.
The luxury version of this segment began this year (2017) with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio QV. The segment is compact, premium high performance CUVs with approx. 430 hp and way up.
- Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
- BMW X3 M
- BMW X4 M
- Jaguar F-Pace SVR
- Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVR
- Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 SUV
- Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupe
- Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Package
- Audi RSQ5
- Maserati Compact CUV GTS
Nearly every brand will have a compact CUV making 300-380 hp by 2024. That includes Escape, Forester, CR-V, Tucson, etc. (plus every self-proclaimed premium brand). Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, and Nissan are currently the only four brands I can see offering variants making over 430 hp by early next decade.
Rather than expand the nameplates (Equinox, Journey, Escape, Rogue) upwards past 350 hp, there is an opportunity to spin off a new nameplate on a RWD platform. These spin off performance crossovers from regular brands will be the first official Pony-Xs.
- Chevrolet Compact Performance CUV (Chevy Crossbow)
- Dodge Compact Performance CUV (Dodge Dominator)
- Ford Compact Performance CUV (Ford Havoc)
- Nissan “Z” Performance CUV (Nissan ZX)
Im just throwing out car names I would buy. There sure are a lot of cars named after planes, ships, and stuff that will kill you. Sorry for going on a secant there. It wasnt a tangent because I stayed within the topic.
Uh, here is a rough comparison of the compact crossover segments:
CUV $22,000 / PonyX $—— / Premium $37,000
CUV $28,000 / PonyX $33,000 / Premium $43,000
CUV $41,000 / PonyX $44,000 / Premium $56,000
CUV $53,000 / PonyX $55,000 / Premium $69,000
CUV $—— / PonyX $66,000 / Premium $82,000
And so on!!
You are probably burnt out by now, or at least feel baked. I’ll save this FWD subject for another post. For now, I wouldn’t expect many luxury vehicles starting under $40,000 to remain on RWD platforms after 2025. Namely the Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, 2-Series, and so on. I’ll explain more another day but the answer is market motion and — after I looked at the 2018 model year cars Mercedes offers in the US — I realized they could (and should) be able to cut down to only four platforms for over 100 models.