How do you make sure that vehicles match the ideals of those wanting to buy? It’s a difficult question, one that’s troubled the auto industry forever. How do you consistently make sure that your buyer base, both older and newer, are getting what they want so they will purchase from you?
Many of the top automotive executives are meeting in Detroit at the SAE 2013 World Congress to address that very question. Demographics have been changing quickly with a widening global market and fuel standards being made even stricter. Car manufacturers are having to constantly keep up with designing new cars.
“You can’t use traditional research methods to ask a customer ‘do you like this or do you like that,” said Mike O’Brien, President of corporate planning and product strategy for Hyundai.
Ralph Gilles, the senior VP of design for Chrysler, sees this same problem. The millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are some of the toughest to address. What they want in a car is very different than that of the generation before them.
Gilles doesn’t seem this as a problem though. He said “Everyone says they don’t like cars. Maybe. But I don’t buy that. They just don’t need cars right now.”
He also doesn’t believe that larger cars are the answer to what America is looking for, quite the opposite in fact. “I think small is the next big thing. I think small cars are finally here.” The numbers back him up. Small and compact cars had their sales increase by 27% in 2012 as opposed to the 13% for the overall industry.
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