Luxury car marques plan for end of the road

Mercedes and BMW prepare for future where users of shared and autonomous vehicles put less emphasis on brands

Sitting near four concept cars at BMW's Munich headquarters, Harald Kruger, chief executive, says his company has no problem differentiating its products from the likes of arch-rival Mercedes-Benz. How BMW feels and handles is based on drivetrain and software expertise that other makers cannot deliver, he says. BMW's Mini, for instance, "has an iconic driving feel" while its Rolls-Royce cars are "like a magic carpet".

But in the next decade, product differentiation may become increasingly irrelevant as growing numbers of passengers using car-booking apps, such as Uber, Didi and Lyft, no longer care as much about make or model. Like airlines, the carrier company may become more important to the consumer than the vehicle's brand, with passengers often unaware whether they are flying in a Boeing or an Airbus.

03. Juli 2017

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