Has the German automotive industry lost its momentum?
German brands have produced and are still producing many iconic cars. But how does the current German market compare to 10-15 years ago?
Before i start i would like to let you know that I tend to like more those car companies who bring something new to the market, those who are experimenting with their cars. For example i love design of the FJ-Cruiser and i also like the weird French designs of that period (C6, Avantime). This could explain why i am not such a big fan of the more "conservative" German brands.
In the mid 2000s German brands delivered a lot of amazing(or at least interesting ) cars. In my opinion this in not the case now. In fact i would say that the German automotive industry is taking decisions that either let down their fans or just aim to an economical profit, disregarding consequences to the car history. Below i will present you my biggest complaints.
Let's face it, the design of German cars is BORING. Almost every single new generation of any German car, is at least 80% identical to the previous one, especially after mid-late 2000s. Take the the VW Golf for example. The situation is simillar with BMW , Mercedes and Audi.
2. VW Group common platforms
The use of common platforms among different cars and brands was always common. In the case of the VW Group though, i cannot get the difference anymore. Most highlighted example are the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga, VW Touareg, Audi Q7/8, Lamborhini Urus and some more that share the MLB Evo platform. Although the difference between these cars is clear and each one targets a different audience, this has an effect on each brand seperately and in the end the only winner is the VW Touareg. I just cannot stop thinking that the Urus is a performance version of the Touareg while the Bentley is the more luxurious one. I cannot see a way this situation can guarantee a sustainable future for all these models.
3. Audi straight-5 engine.
Audi is one of the few brands that owned-own a straight five engine. If i am not wrong they are the single ones who have a straight-5 engine in the EU-Market right now. VW has been trying for years to acquire this engine and recently they succeeded. Cupra will be using this engine as well. This means that Audi will lose its monopole in straight-5 engine and i cannot see a case where this will not lead to a smaller amount of sales.
4. BMW 1 Series
The RWD layout of the older 1 Series was a huge differentiation point against the competition. A hatchback with RWD was not available by any other brand all over the world, not just Europe. But yet they did not want to stand out. Hearing that the new generation would be a regular FWD car was a huge disappointment and i believe that BMW will realize this in their sales sooner or later.
Since i mentioned BMW already, i would like to go on with another disappointing fact about them. Mini cars are not mini any more. I saw a Mini Clubman on the street the other day and it was nearly as big a VW Golf. The normal Mini has grown in size as well . How can a brand that betrays its loyalties and base attributes continue to have an audience in the future? Cars tend to grow in size after years, but in this case i believe they did not just get bigger; they are competing in a different class.
6. Mercedes-AMG GT
When Mercedes launched the SLS i was super excited. It was a car that had it all, excellent retro design, unique lines, good performance. When the production ended and the AMG-GT was announced i was expecting something equivalent. But no. The successor of the SLS is an entry level supercar. And then comes the confusing lineup at first the AMG-GT "S", then the "C", then the "R" and recently the Black Series. Looks like the performance factor of this car was never enough. That leads partly to my next complain:
7. Too many AMGs
Mercedes-Benz has understood that the AMG cars are selling good, so they commercialized it. Everything has at least 2 or 3 different AMG versions ( not counting the "s" models). AMG even has a car of its own now (which also has the same name with the other AMG GT) . No idea why to be honest... The 2 seater AMG GT was just a commercialized version of the SLS, it kept some attributes but it is no longer unique nor special. In order to balance the absence of a top spec performance car they added the special editions, which then made the base model look even more "basic". In the end AMG is becoming more and more common and after it is losing the "special" feeling it had.
8. Too much horsepower.
BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz cars have became so powerful that is not relevant any more. In the mid 2000s these brands released a series of extremely powerful engines. C-Class, 3 Series and RS4 got V8 engines, while in the upper class it was even better with V10s for Audi and BMW and 6.3 liters for Mercedes-Benz. Everyone was amazed by their performance back then. Nowadays these cars have became bigger , better and faster, but they a have lost a bit of their character. Then everyone wanted an M3 , that was the car to have. Now that it became bigger(and uglier too) the M2 is the one to have, because it has more fun. The A43s and the RS3 are close to 450 HP. In 2009 the Ferrari 430 had only 10% percent more HP than a modern hatchback. I get that the technology is progressing, but i feel that the fast AND fun cars of the past are becoming just fast cars nowadays.
Of course all these German brands have made and are still making exceptional cars and no one can disagree with that. All this just a personal view on the current German market.
I would be glad to see your opinions on that matter.