Back in the day, it was feasible for a stand-alone sports-car maker to survive on its own. So you had independent makers such as Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini to name a few.
|The Porsche Cayenne (Source:Porsche Media Site)|
Slowly as cars became more complex and more expensive to design and manufacture, economies of scale and scope began to expand. Thanks to their obscene prices, they did not have to scale up production as much. But the business of designing cars had to keep up with ever-expanding safety regulations, advanced power-trains etc. This meant that it was hard for these lone rangers to survive alone. So they had to get into a marriage of convenience with the mass manufacturers. And these mass-makers were ever willing to increase the size and prestige of their portfolios.So Ford acquired Aston Martin, Fiat acquired Ferrari and Maserati while Audi acquired Lamborghini. Porsche was the standout independent sportscar maker but they had a design consultancy to pad their bottom line. But that was not enough. To the horror of Porsche purists, it had to make an SUV by sharing the VW Touareg platform. Sacrilege! That was the only way Porsche could finance the development of its iconic sports cars. Eventually, Porsche also had to succumb to the realities of the market place and got swallowed by Volkswagen.
But merely getting into bed with the mass makers is not enough. Because that will only allow you to share parts that are out of sight (and occasionally, some interior switchgear as well). So the next thing incumbent on the sports car makers is to have a cash cow, which in today’s parlance means you need a SUV to sell in large enough numbers. This should not only fund the development of limited production halo sports cars but keep the brand profitable as well. That was the driver behind the development of the Cayenne, the boringly christened Bentley EXP 9F and the Lamborghini Urus.
Of all the three, it looks like the Urus has pulled it off in the look department. But then it’s an Italian redblood. And since when was Porsche known for styling prowess.Something was lost in translation when Porsche styled the Cayenne. Ditto the Panamera.But hey, if I had enough money to buy my wife a couple of Cadillacs or to hobnob with NASCAR teams owners, I would rather spend my greenbacks on an CTS-V Wagon or a Mercedes E63 AMG Wagon rather than the Cayenne or BMW X5 for that matter. Because all those buyers are looking for, is wagon utility to go with a storied brand.
|Merc E63 AMG|
So it remains to be seen how long will Ferrari resist the sinful temptations of jumping into the SUV flesh trade. So will it take the sensible route and come up with a ‘shooting brake’ as the Brits call it.