Symbolic Meanings of Cars

Most of us don’t realize but every brand, every car, in some cases every engine option have a symbolic meaning constructed by us. People tend to attach meanings to brands firstly, Mercedes is a rich men car, Bentley is an ultimate rich men car, VW reasonable price with good quality and it goes like that. Car companies also knew this situation very well and they try to add new meanings to their products by introducing better models and upgrading the quality! VW did this by introducing Phaëton and Bugatti Veyron. Veyron presented what VW can do and their ability in technology! Phaëton also introduced very innovative technologies to market and also became a flagship for VW and tried to change VW brand image. And this happened, when it is compared with a decade ago, VW’s brand image shifted up! Phaëton is also perceived as a luxury car but nobody tends to buy.
Mercedes, BMW and Audi is offering vehicles from small segment to luxury segment. They nearly have a vehicle in each segment and they love to create new ones. In addition to this, they are trying to increase more customers by offering a wide range of engine option from 1,6lt engines to 5lt engines in same car. As they offer many cars with many engines, they are differently priced. Extending product range is a good way to increase sales but also emerges different meanings to different products. There is a very good example for this; Mercedes C 180 Kompressor is offering 1,6lt engine as an entry level and C350 is the one model below the AMG model line. C180 K and C350 are offered in the same but their meanings are totally different. Firstly, they have a huge price difference. Someone who bought a C350 is perceived as a wealth person, because the car has bigger engine, consumes more fuel and more expensive. When all these notions came to together, it emerges a symbolic meaning for a very specific model. On the other hand, C180 K is perceived as reasonable priced Mercedes. Of course, it is quite hard to identify the wealth of the owner by looking at the engine size but this tends to happen most of the time.
Mercedes also offer high performance car line and named as AMG! They all have huge engines with enourmous amount of power. And there is an interesting diversification of two AMG models. 63 AMG and 65 AMG; S Class, SL Class and CL Class are offered by two huge engine options. 63 and 65! 63 is a 6,2lt eight cylinder engine which produces 525 horsepower and the car accelerate to 100km/h in 4,6 seconds. These figures are amazing and anyone who drives this car would be shocked! However Mercedes has something more shocking! 65 engine option, this is a six litre twelve cylinder engine with enormous amount of everything. It is producing 612 horsepower and 1000nm of torque which means it could rotate the world the opposite direction. This engine is also available with 63 AMG engine. Unfortunately, this 65 engine cannot transfer all its power to tarmac. The enormous amount of power cannot be controlled by the car and the performance difference between 63 is only 0,2 second faster. 65 engine could only provide that small amount of performance advantage, this situation is the same with while overtaking other cars. Too much power is uncontrollable and there is a very slight performance difference with the cheaper engine.
The price difference between 63 and 65 is more than 70 000 € for S Class in Germany. And you get nothing very special. But, people are buying 65! Are they crazy? You can spot SL 65 AMG or S 65 AMG in London very easily. And in London, it is impossible to use its potential. Here comes the secret thing, the symbolic meanings of owning S 65 AMG. When you buy this car, you show that you can afford the most expensive Mercedes which does not have a significant difference from the cheaper one, you will have twelve cylinders and aggressive looking car. This car becomes a part of the personal identity and representer of its owner! I have more money, I don’t care about anything else, I just bought it and I am in twelve cylinder club!
Symbolic meanings of products cannot be controlled very easily, customers are willing to emerge new and different meanings to every product and attach with a different social status. Therefore, extending product range and offering more option might help to increase sales but also hinders the risk of misunderstood by customers. Like Bentley and Aston Martin, offering a limited range of cars will strength their position on market and construct a very clear brand image. However in Mercedes, BMW and Audi; wide range of vehicles construct very different meanings and they will influence the main brand image. Extending the product line and the consequences of new products play vital role for constructing a stable brand image.
Pictures are;
Mercedes C Class
Mercedes S63 AMG
Mercedes S65 AMG
Pictures are from;
Mercedes Website