What if Kei cars were the solution to the European sports market?

By:   Fedora Atjeh Fedora Atjeh   |   Agustus 01, 2017
Many people like sports, although not everyone can buy one. And although it is a segment in which the supply abounds, sales in units are not very high. The brands continue to propose them either because of image, or because they have gotten the formula to make them profitable. That is to say, it is either premium and the profit margin on each car has to be raised either, like Mazda with the MX-5 associated with FCA and Toyota, which joined Subaru (Toyota GT86 / Subaru BRZ) and BMW (future Supra), share development costs

Thus, the sports segment of minus 80,000 euros in the first quarter of 2017 registered a decrease of 4%. It is true that this figure includes models that was withdrawing from the market, such as the BMW Z4. Even so, in the first quarter of 2017 were 21,506 sports of less than 80,000 euros sold in Europe. To which we should add just over 7,000 units of luxury sports, a segment that accounted in the same period a decrease of 11%.

If the proposal is successful there is a market
In the case of luxury sports, we know that the fashion effect plays a lot. It is a market with a reduced clientele and that the car is usually bought in the first two years of its commercialization (the brands already calculate the profitability of the car in that two years, although it is more than five in the market), since in the third year Sales of the model plummet.
The most interesting sports here are the more affordable ones. The Mazda MX-5, Ford Mustang and Audi TT (in their less powerful engines) have shown that there is still a gap in the market for sports cars that offer sensations at a reasonable price with respect to what they offer.

The Mazda MX-5 is a pass when you drive it and costs less than 30,000 euros. The Mustang, with its four seats and trunk, offers a V8 and dreams Route 66 for about 40,000 euros, while the TT, for the same price, offers great tourism with great style and perceived quality of unparalleled finishes.

So, if you like and we are many petrolheads that we would like to have one, why not sell more sports? One of them could be the expensive image to maintain. In some brands, especially the premium ones, it may be true although they offer optional "all-inclusive" maintenance packages.

It is a question of priorities

But the main one is the progressive aging of European society (in Spain, the active population has fallen by more than one million people in 2016 with respect to 2014). In other words, they are not adapted cars for families. And it's not just that some are two-seaters or that you need to be a contortionist to put the child in his Isofix stroller in the back seats of an Audi TT. Sometimes, it is as simple as your partner has back problems, you have to accompany an older relative many times to the doctor, etc. There are thousands of reasons. In short, we see the sport as a motorcycle, a second or third car.

And if you see it as a second car, a car whim, you can not always spend 30,000 euros or more on it. Come on, they are expensive. Solution? Making our income level with the Emirates is not going to be possible, so why manufacturers do not dare to propose kei-cars in Europe. This could be a palliative solution so that we have the bad sports.

Kei cars as a solution

Kei cars are those small Japanese cars whose owners are exempt from owning or renting a parking space in order to register them. They must have a maximum of 3.40 m in length by 1.48 m in width, a 660 cc engine and a power limit of 64 hp.

Respecting the limitations of size and displacement and adding a limit of 90 or 100 hp instead of the 64 hp Japanese (yes, we always want more power), we would have a very affordable sports. Who could resist a Honda S660-central engine-for about 13 or 14,000 euros?

In the background the idea is not so far-fetched. Smart already made a similar proposal in 2003 with the Roadster, a coupe and cabrio of 3.43 m long, less than 900 kg and engines up to 100 hp in the case of Brabus. Come on, what would come to be a European kei car. The model was a success, sold just over 43,000 units in three years. And if it is said that it was an economic disaster for Daimler was due to the high cost of repair of cars under warranty (water). The concept, on the contrary, was successful.

Disadvantages? The first and most important would be the lack of power. Let's face it, today sells more time per lap in the 'Ring than the driving sensations. In the background is normal, it is easier for the marketing department to sell one time per lap or 0 to 100 km / h than to sell sensations. Toyota suffered in Europe with the GT86, a car with a chassis designed to enjoy

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