Luxury car brands, how to win the “smart electric defense”?

When the C-seat of Rolls-Royce’s booth at the Shanghai Auto Show was occupied by the pure electric car “Shining”, this phenomenon seemed to announce the end of the era of traditional fuel cars and the victory of the fans of electric cars. When V8 and V12 are gradually replaced by electric motors, and when valuable horsepower begins to depreciate, cars seem to have entered a period of unprecedented “affirmative action”: at this stage, no matter it is a 200,000 family car or a million-dollar luxury car, the power batteries come from Ninde era, Panasonic, LG, and use the same chips from Nvidia or Mobileye, and they have similar range and acceleration, and they even have more and more electric cars embedded in their interiors. Inside the car are embedded with more and more similar big screen ……
As a result, it seems that $500,000 is the “ceiling” for EV prices, because at that price, we can get almost all of the experience that a smart EV can give at this stage. This is not an illusion, just past May, China’s market penetration rate of new energy vehicles has reached 30%, but the sales of luxury EVs hovered in the double digits. As the saying goes, there are “heroes” in every era, and the internal combustion engine that helped establish the “brand dynasty” of luxury brands in the past has begun to “take a backseat”, so how can luxury brands set up a new “moat” in the era of intelligent electric vehicles to win the battle of defense?

1. When people are buying luxury cars, what are they really buying?

If you trace the history of luxury car brands, about half from the track, half from the royal aristocracy exclusive customization. So when the internal combustion engine is replaced, luxury brands still have the meaning of existence?In 2014, Musk appeared in China, the first batch of domestic Model S owners delivered the keys, and now set off the automobile industry “refrigerator color TV big sofa” trend of ideal car founder Li Want, is one of them.
What was the experience of spending a million dollars on an electric car in 2014? Some say it’s a rich man’s toy, some say it’s an opportunity, but in the final analysis it’s a different experience from the previous luxury cars: no engine roar, no long history and royal customization, no track record, and even less luxurious interiors and décor; however, it has a faster acceleration than a million-dollar supercars, an exaggeratedly large in-vehicle screen, and amazing performance of the assisted driving function, The new integrated electronic electrification architecture, as well as a reference to Musk’s dream of Mars, made the Tesla at that time surrounded with novel experience and mystery, for which everyone could even tolerate the shortcomings of the interior workmanship and comfort.
Many say that the internal combustion engine is fundamental to the foundation of a luxury automobile brand, and the Model S’s forebearance shows us that the story of luxury automobiles can still be told even if there is no engine at all. If not Musk’s ambition is not here, focusing on being the “mass” in the electric car, ten years later, Tesla can still rely on the pioneering position in the field of electric cars, go to Mars and robots to create brand value, sitting on the “luxury electric car” of the first chair. Tesla is still the number one luxury electric car. Just like the recently released Apple Vision Pro, the 25,000 RMB price tag couldn’t stop the first users from placing orders for the unprecedented experience.
Recently, Musk has been floundering as the world’s richest man, competing with Bernard Arnault, CEO of the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. The downturn in the world’s economic situation has not stopped the head of the luxury goods empire from becoming the richest man in the world. The luxury car itself is also a luxury product in another sense, but with more industrial attributes, industrial attributes provide excellent use value, and luxury attributes provide intangible emotional value, both of which are indispensable. The world’s definition of a luxury electric car may change, but the market demand for luxury automobiles will always be there.

2. How many steps does it take for a miscellaneous electric car to make a comeback?
I don’t know when it started, traditional brand pure electric vehicles have been labeled with a playful name “miscellaneous electric vehicles”. It seems that the new forces are like smartphones, while traditional luxury brands are like Nokia, waiting to be eliminated.
This sound has been shouting for several years, but BBA is still the independent brands of high-end insist on “playing” the object, it is really “everyone laughs at BBA, everyone wants to be BBA”.
After all, nearly a hundred years in the market can be good and popular, both brand and technology accumulation and financial reserves, in today’s car companies limit competition, “loss of money to sell the car” situation, who do not envy it? Compared to cell phones, cars are hundreds of times more complex structure and industry chain, but also decided that the story of the old school is not so easy to finish, car-making newcomers to go on the road of the luxury brand is also a small distance. Let users agree that luxury brand electric cars are worth buying, perhaps at least need the next few steps.
A time owed debt, but also need time to pay back
Nowadays, the reason why the luxury brand electric car is being slagged off, the reason can’t be escaped: oil to electricity, high premium, and can’t play with the intelligentization. Although last year’s Mercedes-Benz EQE/EQS, Audi Q4 e-tron have been listed on a purely electric platform, but still in the hearts of mass consumers, these marks are still lingering. I don’t blame everyone for the stereotype, but it’s really because the luxury brands themselves moved too slowly before, or to put it another way, it’s a little bit like “getting up early and catching up late”.
We use the electrification transition more radical BMW to see, in 2011 BMW launched a new pure electronic brand BMW i, and in 2013 launched two production pure electric car i3, i8, when the Model S has just been delivered in the United States, we are familiar with the azure small reason has not yet been established, from the beginning of the point of view of BMW in the electrification of the proper radical faction. Nowadays, we are familiar with the new car manufacturers have already iterated to the second and third generation of pure electric platform, BMW pure electric platform of the “new generation” models will wait until 2025 to be late.
In the past, luxury brands have always been the auto industry’s “rhythm master”, BBA tacitly control the rhythm of 5-7 years of iteration, that is to say, we now see the new listing of the BBA electric car, it is likely to be 2018 or even 2016 on the planning of the product. Suddenly the electric car players, quite a bit of “messy fist hit the teacher master” meaning, with a year a update, two or three years an iteration of the game easily disrupt the rhythm of the old players, so that the luxury brands gave up the original leading position. But electrification is not an insurmountable technological barrier, and each family has long had reserves. The next two years will bring the luxury brands into the cycle they had planned for: a new pure-electric platform will go into production, a new generation of pure-electric vehicles will come to market, and the shortcomings of electrification will be filled in. (Of course, this refers to luxury brands that are fully transforming to electrification, and luxury brands that still hold the dream of reviving the internal combustion engine are not among them.)
As for intelligentization, luxury brands are not as backward as we think. Take automatic driving as an example, not long ago Mercedes-Benz L3 automatic driving system Drive Pilot has just gained the qualification of public sales and operation in California, becoming the world’s first OEM to obtain the qualification. Just when the whole industry is stuck at L2.999, Mercedes-Benz has already taken a step forward. Of course, Mercedes-Benz’s move to open up Autopilot in production cars is far less radical than Tesla and the new domestic forces; but for consumers, slowing down a bit and leaving the maturity of the technology to time may not be a responsible approach. Of course, the key to catching back the lost years in the past on intelligence is to realize the change of the Chinese market demand, and the local-based intelligence can understand the Chinese demand better.
B technological innovation: always give homogenized electric vehicles to be a little different
In today’s EV market, there is no shortage of “hexagonal fighters”: similar functions, close parameters, and similar configurations. What is called “blossoming of flowers” in high intelligence terms is, to put it bluntly, too much homogeneity. I don’t blame the car companies, because at this stage, the progress of electrification and intelligent technology is more or less the same, and the market is the stage of piling up materials and competing with parameters, so it is inevitable that the homogenization is serious. As a matter of fact, there has been more than one stage of serious homogenization in the 100-year history of automobiles, and it has been broken again and again, which is precisely the charm of the automobile industry.
In the 60s of the last century, cars on the market could be simply divided into two kinds: the “classic cars” with huge size and exquisite workmanship, which were specially designed for the rich and powerful; and the affordable cars, which were just traveling tools. It was in this boring era that BMW launched the BMW 2002 turbo, the ancestor of the 3-series, which was compact, powerful and full of design, and put the label of driving quality on itself until now.
In a world of homogenization, innovation is as worthy of being chased as the bubbles in a Coke, both by car companies and consumers. Of course, the corresponding price is a long R & D cycle and huge R & D investment, this kind of thing may only be “blood trough thick” luxury brands can insist on doing it. 2022 BBA three R & D investment is 8.5 billion, 6.624 billion and 4.517 billion euros, this figure is almost the same as last year’s revenue of the new power car companies. This figure is almost the same as last year’s revenue of the new power car companies. We have to admit that the high level of R&D investment in capital and talent reserves, to explore the luxury brands of technological innovation to provide a solid backing. Maintaining a forward-looking approach to technology and experience has also been a fundamental part of what has made automotive brands become luxury brands over the past 100 years.
For example, one of the major selling points of today’s pure electric vehicles is the 800V high-voltage fast charging technology. 2018 Porsche launched its first pure electric vehicle, Taycan, as the first production car to use the 800V high-voltage system, when Porsche engineers described the needs of the supplier, the other party could not believe it, no one has ever pulled the voltage of the car’s electronic system to 800V so high, the previous components can not be used, they need to start from scratch. The launch of the Taycan was not only the first 800V production car, but also the creation of an 800V high-voltage supply chain from scratch. Today, five years later, we can already see 800V technology on the 220,000-plus Xiaopeng G6, and even 100,000 yuan EVs in the future will be able to use 800V technology. But it was Porsche’s experiment with the Taycan that allowed 800V technology to come to fruition and spread more quickly.
Nowadays, there are too many places like 800V that need to be upgraded and improved on smart EVs, and we don’t want to see EVs still running around with half-ton battery packs or poking and prodding at in-vehicle screens twenty years from now. When will battery energy density come to a leap forward? What new materials can improve battery performance? Will BMW, which once brought center screens and airplane HUDs into cars, bring about a new cockpit revolution with its Panorama View Bridge? Will color-changing bodywork become a real trend in the future? These future possibilities come from forward-looking technological developments that today seem pie-in-the-sky and not realistically possible. Isn’t a fresh experience five years in advance one of the biggest selling points for the luxury EV audience, in and of itself?
C Hardware determines the experience down the line, experience determines the experience ceiling
In everyone’s spouting of luxury brand EVs, we can hear the spouting of electrification, intelligence, and cost-effectiveness, but no one is spouting about the “car” itself, such as the driving experience, the reasonableness of human-computer interaction, and so on. Metaphysically speaking, this comes from the traditional luxury brand’s understanding of the automotive industry, and to be more direct, this is the accumulation of experience. The car can best reflect this aspect is the chassis and suspension, today, the car configuration can be parameterized, but each family to show their own good handling is still very emotional way – master tuning. As for how the masters tune and with what parameters, there is no way to copy their work. In the engine and chassis long up traditional luxury brands have a natural advantage. For example, last year by the netizen slagging 420000 + also has no air suspension EQE, in the actual driving experience in the ride quality does not lose the same level of air suspension models, or even better. In last year’s unveiling of the pure electric flagship concept car EQXX, we also see a lot of chassis suspension “invisible” efforts: fiberglass support springs suspension, one-piece casting tower top, all reduce the unsprung mass, so that the handling performance is better.
This accumulation of automotive hardware also allows for more possibilities for future smart cars. For example, with the body control domain and the cockpit entertainment domain, the vehicle can be accompanied by playing music “bouncy”, according to different road conditions and driving habits automatically adjust the suspension, etc., these seem to be the function of the hardware and software with more test of the integration of the car company’s ability.
As if the 8155 chip is not the same as the car machine experience is good, the pile of hardware determines the lower limit of the experience, as for the upper limit of the experience of the soft power, there is no way to write in the configuration table. But for users, what they value in buying a luxury electric car may be those invisible but subtle “soft power”.
D hybrid supercar, the content of combustion of their own land
Seeing the domestic new energy in full swing, the European tight combustion program in full swing, large-displacement engines really have no future? Not really. Recently, supercar brands have also done a plug-in hybrid, different from the independent brands to economic and fuel-efficient dominated plug-in hybrid, supercars with large displacement engine + high-performance battery packs, to ensure continuous and efficient power output. For example, the recently unveiled Lamborghini Revuelto hybrid supercar uses a naturally-aspirated V12 engine combined with a transverse eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and three electric motors, with a power of 1015 hp and 13 driving modes. This meets the limits of emissions regulations while retaining the thrust of traditional supercar gearshifts and the sound of the engine to the fullest extent possible. In the decades to come, when the world will be “de-combustionized”, the supercar will remain the internal combustion engine’s preserve.
3. In conclusion
As the EV market becomes more and more “Teslaized” and “BYDized”, we are more eager for something unique to break the boredom of today’s market, which is probably one of the reasons why the luxury brands are still expected to do so. In every era, there is a turnover of old money and new money. Those companies that maintain technological innovation, product advancement and sustained profitability will actively participate in the research and development of core technologies and at the same time lead the improvement of the industrial chain, injecting their own creativity and experience into their products, and return to the top; as for those luxury brands that obstinately don’t want to accept the changes and resist the self-transformation, they will probably be swept away by the wave, and will not be able to survive the change. As for luxury brands that obstinately do not want to accept changes and resist self-transformation, perhaps they can only be captured by the wave and replaced by new luxury brands that catch up. After all, there is no such thing as a sunset luxury brand, but there will always be people willing to pay for luxury cars.

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