31 May 2015

Four Questions About Car Buying


1) Why buy a fast car? In many nations there are relatively low speed limits. New Zealand has a speed limit of 100kph (or 62mph) so what is the point of a car than exceed that with ease? They generally handle well but are just cruising along at 100kph.

2) Why buy an off-road SUV? There are those who purchase such a vehicle with the sole purpose of suburban driving. Is it a feeling of safety or the driving height for anticipating what is ahead? It adds to the cost to engineer serious off-road ability.

3) Why be concerned about where a car is made? For some this is an important point when buying a new car. Supporting a local brand may be a reason, or one made in your country. For others they are buying an imported car and yet still wish it made in a particular country. Will it make a difference to the car?

4) Why buy a 4-door car? They have four or five seats and a boot (trunk). That's it. A hatchback, crossover or SUV has what the 4-door car has, but can also become a wagon too, as well as other useful capabilities.


I ask the above questions because the fact is people do make the above decisions - despite logical reasons not to - which shows that buying a car isn't just a rational choice. The emotions and image are important too. Some say a car will soon be like buying an appliance, such as a computer. Car brands will soon be irrelevant.

For that to happen, the car would have to become merely functional. If cars were 100% self drive, that would take driving pleasure away and a reason to buy a brand in particular. However, as long as owning and driving has an emotional connection, then the car would never become just another appliance.


1) Owning and driving a sports car makes you feel good and (for some) look good.

2) A vehicle with off-road capability makes people feel their SUV is the real deal, and not some pretender. They also like to know they could go bush if they wanted to.

3) Where a car is made is unlikely to affect the quality.* However, would someone want their Rolls Royce made anywhere but England?  There is an emotional side that would limit how far car makers can go in this area before they start losing sales.

4) I must say the last question is one I cannot answer. If you have three or more cars, having a 4-door among them is fine. However, a one or even two car owner must surely find the versatility of other types of vehicle too compelling to ignore.


Car buying can be a practical, emotional or aspirational decision. It can also be all three to varying degrees. Purchasing a car is still a long way off from simply choosing a domestic household appliance.

*Of course buying a brand with a poor reputation should put you off. The purchasing decision spoken of  here is based on the assumption that the brand is one with a good reputation.

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