Shortage of premium carmakers as BMW, Audi and Mercedes go mainstream

Car valuations expert Glass’s has warned of a potential shortage of premium manufacturers as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi go mainstream.

The company says tempting finance and leasing deals are leading to increased sales of the conventional upmarket brands, leaving a vacuum for those who want a genuinely exclusive vehicle.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, said: “This is not to say that the German prestige brands have lost all their cachet. This is not true. Their more exclusive models remain luxury choices but, while most of the vehicles they make are well built and desirable, cars like the Audi A1 and BMW 2 Series Active Tourer indicate that a large part of their aspirations very much lie with the volume market.

“A gap has therefore opened up in the market for new brands to enter that, so far, has not really been convincingly filled. These cars would have to have the same or a higher level of desirability as the established German brands but, crucially, be less common and perhaps a little less conservative in their approach.”

Glass’s suggests that Jaguar Land Rover remains an option for a buyer looking for something a little more exclusive – with sales still dwarfed by the German brands. While Jaguar will be hoping its XE sells in numbers similar to the BMW 3 Series, it’s still a relative head-turner compared to German rivals.

Could #dieselgate increase Lexus and Tesla sales?

Other contenders for those looking for something a little more exclusive include Tesla and Lexus – both of which could see increased interest following recent bad press for diesel cars. Tesla produces the electric-only Model S (with a range of up to 265 miles) and is set to launch its Model X SUV later this year, while Lexus favours hybrid powertrains.

Pontin added: “Tesla sits outside the mainstream motor industry and, so far, its cars are only available in small numbers but it does present an appealing proposition to people looking for something prestigious and different.”

Traditional mainstream manufacturers have also spotted a gap in the market for upmarket models, with Citroen launching its DS brand and Ford offering Vignale versions of a number of its cars.

Pontin said: “These are interesting developments, DS especially. It offers a substantially different proposition to anything else on the market. However, it is likely to remain strongly identified with its parent brand for the foreseeable future and will face the problem of most new premium brands in that it simply takes so long to build a genuine reputation. We are talking of a question of decades rather than months or years.”

Citroen recently told us as the Frankfurt Motor Show that it’s currently concentrating on establishing DS as a brand in its own right rather than chasing sales, while we found Ford’s Mondeo Vignale lacked the premium touch when we drove it earlier this year.