Automakers Drastically Cutting the Number of Vehicle Options

Automakers Drastically Cutting the Number of Vehicle Options

Although in recent times, there’s been much talk from automakers on delivering the vehicles that consumers want, at least when it comes to options, perhaps such statements should be taken with a pinch of salt.

If we take a look at current trends, it appears that many OE vehicle manufacturers are drastically reducing the number of options available, in an effort to simplify production as well as ordering processes for dealers.

For example, Volkswagen has reduced the number of options on the Passat from 148 to just 15, while over at General Motors, Buick division only offers 18 different combinations of different trim and model variations on the compact Verano sedan (shown above). Even Toyota, which has prided itself on listening to consumers and delivering vehicles based on their requirements is taking drastic steps – the Sienna minivan has seen order complexity reduced by a whopping 80 percent.

While some industry analysts believe this new emphasis on reduced ordering options actually results in potential buyers ending up with features they don’t want or need, automakers who’ve embraced the trend believe that besides a simplified ordering process, the result is a lower cost per vehicle, which can be passed on to buyers.

In fact, according to some, offering fewer options can also prove ultimately beneficial to consumers, who end up liking features they might not have previously considered. Kristen Andersson, a senior analyst for True  says, “it’s actually a relief. They are removing the work of trying to figure out what I want.”

However, despite this apparent trend, particularly as it relates to mainstream vehicle brands, there are some, notably more higher-end, luxury nameplates who are sticking to the idea of an a la carte menu when it comes to options. Porsche, for example, says that around 30 percent of buyers still custom order their cars. “It’s expensive to do it the way we do  and  it slows down the assembly line,” says company spokesman Dave Engelman, though when you’re dealing with more discerning buyers it often pays to take such an approach, especially as it adds to the aura of exclusivity.

That said, some mainstream brands are also taking a multi-option approach when it comes to ordering new vehicles, Chrysler for example, lists no fewer than 100,000 different factory combinations for the new 2013 Dodge Dart, designed to broaden the vehicle’s appeal among a wider potential customer base. Will it work? Only time will tell, nevertheless it doesn’t hurt to give things a try.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]