Engineering excellence, swathes of wood and leather, curvaceous body panels, and, yes, snob value – these are just some of the reasons we buy vehicles from luxury manufacturers. And, typically, all these facets that lure you in are very much intact when you drive out of the showroom. So-much-so that you literally bask in the glow of your recent acquisition, enjoying the benefits of decades of research and development that have culminated in the machine that you’ve just driven off the dealer lot – only for this pipe dream to come crashing down not long after!
The first time it rains perhaps, and the roads instantly turn into Venetian waterways – except your pride and joy isn’t an amphibious vehicle, and certainly isn’t a gondola. Once recovered, the dealer gives you an estimate for repair, and it’s scarcely believable that it’s three-quarters of the value of your once pristine vehicle.
Well, hopefully your luxury car experience hasn’t been quite this frightful. Perhaps, in your case, you merely sent it in for a service only to be told that the steering rack needs to be replaced – on a car in which the odometer has only just started displaying five figures. Or perhaps it’s less frightful still, and it’s just a piece of interior trim that needs to be replaced – but the dealer quotes you half the value of a new Nano.
So, whose fault is it anyway? Does the blame lie on your shoulders, for your ‘obvious’ negligence – as the dealer will undoubtedly have you believe? Perhaps it lies with the municipal corporations for ensuring that our roads resemble the surface of the moon, and therefore cause anything that’s not a lunar rover to self-destruct. Maybe it lies with the manufacturers for underestimating the almost warlike conditions that their machines would have to endure on our roads. Or perhaps the problem lies with the unscrupulous dealer, who’s so used to building a business at the expense of others that he simply doesn’t believe that there’s any other way.
Despite all of this though, all is not lost, fortunately. Our market is still very much in its infancy – and I, for one, am glad that all the issues that I’ve mentioned (all true, by the way) have already come to the fore. You see, the Indian customer just isn’t willing to be swindled anymore. And so carmakers – luxury and otherwise – are being forced to get their respective houses in order. Overcharge a customer, and he’s not coming back – and he’s taking his friends and family with him. The theory that ‘all publicity is good publicity’ clearly doesn’t apply here. Sure, the Indian market is unique, unduly difficult, and unpredictable, but it’s also the market of the future. And it’s high time that all automotive global headquarters – across whichever pond they might be – get that message loud and clear.
If it’s engineering excellence that I’m paying for, you better believe that I’m going to demand it…