Expensive extras: special requests for the car cost exorbitant sums

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Special requests for the car cost exorbitant sums

Expensive extras: special requests for the car cost exorbitant sums-cost

It’s not just special rims that cost money when it comes to extras. The auto industry offers a lot of extras that drivers don’t really need, but would like to have

Source: picture alliance / dpa

Hardly any new car still rolls on the road in the basic version. Customers insist on extras, especially convertibles and SUVs. The manufacturers support this with clever marketing.

F.earlier, life was easy. If you wanted to buy a car, you decided on the model, engine and color; if you wanted a little more, you could leaf through the list of extras. One side, a maximum of two, sunroof, automatic, maybe a factory radio. A little negotiation, a signature, the car purchase was sealed.

Today, on the other hand, you can spend very long evenings configuring a new car. Is the budget enough for the basic variant and air conditioning, ordered individually on top? Two equipment versions higher it is standard, but also some other things that you didn’t want at all. The navigation system can only be ordered with the better radio. And that in turn cost no matter how much?

Attractive business for manufacturers

What do I actually want and what is the cheapest way to get it? These questions are increasingly difficult to answer for car buyers. Entire departments in car companies are involved in creating such mazes. “The business with special equipment is certainly attractive for manufacturers,” says Ralf Landmann, partner for the automotive sector at Roland Berger’s strategy consultancy.

Because the extras offer car manufacturers the opportunity to regain the margins that have declined in the discount battles of recent years. Navigation or entertainment systems as factory equipment, for example, are significantly more expensive than solutions from the accessories. This can partly be explained by the fact that they are more closely networked with the on-board electronics and can therefore often do more than the retrofit solutions. But only in part.

But on the other hand: With the new car straight to the car hi-fi hobbyist, who equips the car with a retrofit radio that flashes in a thousand colors and attaches the navigation system to your windscreen with a suction cup? Somehow you don’t want something like that – and manufacturers rely on customers to think that way.

Leather seats for 1590 euros

For example the BMW 1 Series: Dozens of different extras can be ordered for the smallest model in Bavaria. Alloy wheels including matching tires? 600 to 2300 euros. Sunroof? 980 euros. Leather seats? 1590 euros. Metallic paint? 660 euros. Parking assistant? 350 Euro. BMW sells the luggage compartment partition net for 170 euros, but only if the through-loading system is in the car for 230 euros. A key case costs 29 euros.

If you want all the extras, you can turn a naked 114i, which costs almost 23,000 euros, into an equipment monster that costs well over 40,000 euros. And as with BMW, it is with most manufacturers. For the Audi A1, for example, the color blue costs 130 euros extra; But they are only available if you can also have the exterior mirrors painted in the same color as the car – for another 70 euros.

The pricing does not always seem plausible: What exactly makes an adapter cable for the iPod 60 euros expensive if a fitter puts it in an Audi A1 at the factory? "Such things go through completely different quality tests than the components from the accessories", Audi spokesman Moritz Drechsel tries to answer. “Compatibility with the rest of the electrical system must also be checked.” And why can the Bose sound system for the A1 only be ordered in conjunction with LED interior lighting? “These combinations are often due to technical issues,” replies the Audi man.

No air conditioning in the cheap Sandero

Most manufacturers set the prices for special equipment like Audi or BMW – regardless of whether it is a premium brand or a price breaker. And there are always good explanations for it. "One of Dacia’s concepts for reducing costs is the consistent rationalization of production," says the Romanian manufacturer when you ask why you can’t order an air conditioning or radio for the cheapest Sandero variant, not even for a surcharge.

"In the basic Sandero Essentiel version, this is carried out even more consistently, as the variety of options is drastically reduced." So if you want cold air in your Sandero, you have to choose the higher-quality Ambiance equipment. It costs 1000 euros more, still without air conditioning and music. After all, you can order them as an extra for the Sandero Ambiance, for 590 and 250 euros on top.

This pricing policy allows Dacia to advertise the model at a competitive price of 6990 euros, although, at least in Germany, hardly anyone is likely to buy such a barren Sandero. Even the manufacturer sees it this way: According to Dacia, almost 60 percent of customers choose the model in the Stepway variant, the most expensive equipment option.

Because the other side of the truth is: there is also the desire of customers to do something extra. Lots of crosses on the list, lots of switches in the center console, lots of features where you can see that the same model in the parking space next door doesn’t have them. Many people have fun doing something like this, and this is particularly evident in the lifestyle and fun cars segment. “The more emotional the vehicle, the more additional equipment is bought,” says Audi man Moritz Drechsel. "This applies to all convertibles, the SUVs are also ordered on average with twice as much additional equipment as sedans."

From a certain price range onwards, buyers must also order a navigation system, otherwise they will never get rid of their used car. There is also particular demand for everything that aims in the direction of electronics, assistance systems, communication and connectivity – and everything with which you can make your vehicle look unique. The manufacturers take this into account with ever new variants of paintwork, decorative strips and foil stickers, especially for models in the lifestyle segment.

Desire for something special

It seems that especially in times when vehicles are standing in traffic jams between thousands of other vehicles, the longing to stand out from the crowd is growing. “The customer may order a series product,” says psychologist Alfred Herrmann, “but he wants his car to be something very special. This can be achieved with extras, and many customers like to make use of them. ”Last but not least, premium only becomes premium when it looks like premium.

Audis A1 comes, for example, in the basic equipment on steel rims, without shiny exhaust tips and with a dreary gray headliner – if you put so little value on luxury, you could actually buy a cheaper Polo right away. And if you invest in rims, LED lights, a pimped up interior and perhaps in the characteristic two-tone exterior paint, you can make your car look more valuable, but also make it a lot more expensive.

Only two identical BMW models a year

The figures prove the theory of the psychologist Hermann right: At BMW, only two completely identical 3 Series leaves the assembly line per year, if you take into account all the equipment decisions. And according to the manufacturer, mini customers invest a full fifth of the purchase price in additional equipment – quickly turning a meager 16,000 euro bread-and-butter mini into a 20,000 euro car thanks to the navigation system, special paint and sound system.

Roland Berger expert Landmann has observed that those who have to save, tend to order fewer extras today than they did 20 years ago. However, doing without it is easier than it was then: "Today we find a large number of standard functions in many models that were sold as optional equipment a few years ago," says the expert. "Cars like the new Golf now have air conditioning, central locking and electric windows as standard."

Anyone who can still look over the shoulder and are able to stay in their lane without assistance can be happy with a certain basic equipment. On the other hand: The leather steering wheel, the gear knob in aluminum look and the parking beeper on the confusing front – it would be nice after all.

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