Supercars as Sales Builders

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Almost no one will buy a new Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) F-150 SVT Raptor Special Edition, which has special seats, a good sound system and a nice paint job. It is a pickup truck that gets 13 MPG and costs up to $60,000 — as much as many BMWs. Ultimately, however, like any pickup it is good for hauling dirt. That has not kept Ford, and almost every other car company, from producing models no one will buy, perhaps as a magnet to pull consumers into showrooms. Once there, these people can buy the $30,000 F-150, a much more practical model.

The auto company marketing ploy of producing supercars as a way to entice consumer interest is nothing new. Cadillac sells a version of its mainstay CTS that has a 556 hp engine that will run from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Most people cannot even hold a car like that on the road, unless they have been trained as professional drivers. And the Cadillac CTS-V sells for nearly $70,000. The base model of the same cars sells for less than $40,000. Almost anyone can drive that model of the car, and it comes with leather seats.

Whether supercars are an effective way to lure customers to certain brands is not something that the general public or media know. Auto manufacturers have enough sense to keep that to themselves. Either these company do not want competitors to know about an effective measure to create sales, or the special models are a waste of design and R&D budgets, and a costly waste of product development time.

Even the most high-end car companies offer cars for dreamers or the exceeding rich. BMW has a new ultra-fast model called the M6 Gran Coupe. For $115,000, anyone can own one. And, for an extra $6,500, the car comes with a heated steering wheel, a power rear sunshade and high beams that light up on their own.