Sales of luxury cars have been slipping for some time now. No surprise there—we may not be living in refrigerator boxes (with decent Wifi connections, hence you reading this post), but we’re not completely over the 2008 recession. And yet, luxury cars have sunk even lower in the market for some time now, and not just for obvious reasons.
In the first quarter of 2010, luxury car sales were up 8 percent. So what’s the problem? Well, the rest of the light car market grew by 26% in that same period—which means that the luxury market decreased about 1.5%, from a former share of 9.4%. Polk Research, the firm that organized these sales trends, points to five categories within the luxury-car market: Basic, for entry-level cars like the Nissan Maxima and Infiniti G37; Mid, like the Cadillac CTS; Prestige, like the Lexus LS; Prestige Sporty, like the Porsche range; and Roadster, like, well, the Mazda MX-5. The American luxury market mostly consists of the first two categories, for an 82% lion’s share, and the Cadillac CTS is the best-selling luxury car in America, at 7%.
Even Basic Luxury sales are dipping, by about 10% from 2010 to 2011. So aside from the recession, why is nobody buying lugg-jury anymore? Polk researchers believe that it’s because the styling and features once available in luxury cars are trickling down to more affordable cars. When even a Ford Focus comes with rain-sensing wipers, once only available on the 1996 Cadillac Deville Concours d’Elegance, the need for people to drop thousands more on envy-inducing ostentation wanes. And when even the Hyundai Sonata comes with Bangle-inspired “flame surfacing,” well, it only reinforces the other reasons Polk listed, such as rising gas prices and the inevitable post-recession spending guilt.
Damn, it may feel good to be a gangsta, ridin’ around town in a drop-top Benz, but as another rapper put it best—pimpin’ ain’t easy.