Published in Jan-Feb 2021
As Covid-19 hits just about every sector of the world’s economy, this is an apt time to be reminded of that old adage: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” You never know when that fringe product or service may just be the one that keeps your business afloat. Here are some interesting products you may never have guessed are made by car manufacturers.
Volkswagen (it means ‘the people’s car’ in German), make another product: sausages. Called the Volkswagen Currywurst, it even has a VW part number! The ketchup served alongside is made by VW too. Toyota make homes, yes! Entire townships in fact. Toyota Housing, established almost four decades ago, has built over 100,000 homes and apartments in Japan alone. They are now building in Indonesia. Wish they would come here too. That would put all our low-quality builders out of business! Honda, the makers of iconic motorcycles and cars, also make business jets, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), lawnmowers, pumps and many other petrol powered items of everyday use. In the meantime, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes Benz have all collaborated on speedboat design, although inevitably it is a niche market and not enough to keep them afloat. However, the speedboats certainly do wonders for their images. Other joint ventures bring in revenue. Luxury clothing, watches (remember the IWC wristwatches by Porsche?), furniture, bicycle design, even high-end beers and wines. So the next time you think cars, remember that you are looking at a vast network of products and services.
Many of the larger car manufacturers overseas provide hire, purchase, leasing and even rental agreements, and hopefully these services will come to Pakistan eventually. So, if the prospect of buying a vehicle daunts you, you will no longer need to. You will be able to lease a car and trade it in every few years and acquire a newer model in the process. What is more, you will not need to worry about selling, depreciation and all the paperwork. With no ‘ownership’, even your tax returns may look better.
Back to cars. Mercedes Benz, Porsche, VW and even Nissan, realising the loyalty potential of offering factory spec restoration of their older classics, have been offering factory quality upgrades and restoration for some years. As the prices of post-WW II classics skyrocketed, even VW’s microbuses, vans and buses now command six figure prices in dollars, making this a very profitable segment to corner. Mechanical and passenger compartment upgrades apart, you can even go for all electric propulsion. Ever wanted a classic Rolls-Royce without the petrol bills? Now you can. Check out Lunaz’s website –www.lunaz.design – they are ‘electrifying’ classic cars – so if you have a 50-year-old Rolls-Royce, they can make it run like a Tesla.
Carmakers also like to be seen as more than just providers of transport. Witness Mercedes Benz’s state-of-the-art, multipurpose stadium in Atlanta, or the Super Dome in New Orleans. Sports, entertainment, dining facilities, bars, all in one place. If that doesn’t scream product loyalty and brand recognition, well… The company that coined the slogan, ‘Engineered Like No Other Car In The World’, have just engineered their way into the mind of every sports fan in the USA and you really cannot put a price on that.
Romano Karim Yusuf is a vintage car enthusiast. firstname.lastname@example.org