For the car market we saw that the Japanese first comprehended how to make the most of this segment in the 1990's, when Toyota gave birth to Lexus and Nissan gave birth to Infiniti and Honda with their Acura division and so on. Today Hyundai is developing its prestige make, the Genesis brand.
The plebeian name plates understand the luxury name game, but do the luxury brand names understand the plebeian name benefits?
You may be laughing and saying who wants to buy a nice car designed as a humble, under the radar vehicle? This is something that Volkswagen understood, unfortunately too briefly.
VW has made many high class luxury vehicles that could have easily carried the Audi name, such as the Touareg, the Phaeton and the Passat W-8. VW has discontinued all of these cars for the US market. But, if you look for a used VW Touareg, especially the 2016-2017 model years, in especially the TDi trim you'll find that they have serious used car demand, their prices reflect that.
I was recently reminded how the 'under the radar' market is a niche that shouldn't be forgotten, unfortunately we see that it is. The most recent example of this was for Mercedes to do away with the blue collar, Freightliner badged Sprinter line. It was discontinued the end of last month.
Currently my wife and I are looking to buy a new vehicle, I found one that looks promising for our needs. There is one big problem, the car carries a prestige nameplate and is not available in a plebeian name plate version.
My wife, like my late grandmothers could afford a prestige name plated car, but wouldn't be caught dead owning one. My wife agrees that the Mercedes SUV is no more expensive than the plebeian name plates, but it carries the Mercedes name that attracts more attention than she feels comfortable associating herself with. She has felt this way for the 20+ years we've been married and even more so now because her job also discourages flashy cars. She has a point, after all when you take a prestige name plated car in, say to be detailed, the price is higher, the service may cost more on the perception you have more to spend, tips are suddenly expected and car thieves drool at the thoughts of stealing parts off of or your entire car. In short everyone sees you as a piggy bank, flush with cash to be exploited.
So, what to do? It's a shame that Mercedes make a great vehicle at a competitive price but is disqualified only because of its highfalutin name. At this point they don't offer it in any other, more "socially acceptable" brand name; such as our Freightliner branded Mercedes Sprinter was, when purchased back in 2017.
It may sound silly, but perhaps the Freightliner name or another, less pompous name should be used to offer a mirrored line-up of Mercedes SUVs, for those who don't appreciate the flash and attention of the big star, but still want the car. People could still service their cars at the MB dealer, as I do with my Freightliner. I know that the car magazines would mock this idea at, at first, as they did with VW. I believe it would be the preferred option for many, including those involved in charities, foundations, government and religious organizations and those who just seek "low ego emissions" vehicles. Unfortunately it appears that Daimler doesn't appreciate or see this as an avenue worth pursuing.
Attention aftermarket vendors, if your paying attention perhaps it wouldn't be a bad idea to offer a Freightliner grill for the MB SUV line-up? I know of at least one interested buyer. I think that would be pretty cool.