Monday, April 17, 2006

I got it! I got it!

We feel just like we did in our law school days when the professor posed a tough question and we knew the answer.

About the increasingly unreliable electronics in expensive cars and trucks, Professor Kaus asks:
The interesting question is why the rich tolerate this--why doesn't at least one European luxury automaker back off the iffy, cutting edge electronics and market a car that, you know, keeps working?

Answer: Because then they'd have a hard time distinguishing this year's model from last year's. (This also answers why BMW would Bangle-up some of the most handsome sedans on the market.)

If you want to get someone to trade in their 2005 7-series (which will probably give reasonable service for a good decade) for the '06, you've got to offer something new and different. Unfortunately for the manufacturers, automobiles, particularly those at the high-end, are assymptotically approaching maximum utility, as measured in typically vehicular terms. Except at the margins, there's limited value in pumping up the horsepower volume. (See the Downshift Limit of Power Theory.) Handling, ride, braking, even safety, are about as good as one can reasonably expect.

What does that leave you? Bells and whistle. Almost literally so.

Why do buyers put up with it? Why does anybody put up with any of the sacrifices of fashion?