Recently two suit clad gentlemen were waiting for their respective cars in a five star hotel lobby. It was busy time and therefore the valets were taking some time to get the cars. After nodding and exchanging tentative smiles, one of them decided to strike a conversation. “hot, sultry weather and this suit don’t go hand-in-hand” he said. The other person just made a face in agreement with half attention to the phone screen in hand. Since he had done with his mails and calls he decided to continue conversation. He did not relish the idea of standing quietly in a crowded place like hotel lobby.
“What car do you drive?” he said.
“I drive a Fiat Linea. What about you?” said the first gentleman.
With a faint smile on his face the other gentleman replied “I own an Audi A8”
He expected a look of reverence, awe, envy from the first gentleman. None was forthcoming. In fact the first gentleman said “Oh you own Audi! It is very common now-a-days”
Men with cars are no different than boys with toys. Men seem to be wired to compete – like two dogs competing for attention of the bitch and ending up hurt for something not in their control. The second gentleman suddenly became serious. His pride was hurt. He decided to settle the matter and show the first gentleman his place in the social hierarchy. This is one more aspect of men. They want to fight and it is often about prestige, social standing. We acquire many possessions that show off our importance – cars being one of the big ones – a fact cleverly leveraged by car marketers.
“In India, there are only 100 Audi A8 cars” He scowled.
“In India Fiat Linea sales are lower than entry level Audi model sales. That makes Linea quite exclusive.” replied the first gentleman.
“What about the showrooms, car quality and not to mention the sleek design” said the second gentleman as if opening a new front.
“Well Fiat is Italian. Everyone knows that Italians have best sense of aesthetics and design. In fact most cars are designed in Italian design studios. German cars are afterall German – Efficient, functional design but no sex appeal” said the first gentleman calmly.
“The Audi is large, spacious and ruggedly built” said second gentleman now almost ready to explode into a hand-to-hand fight.
“How much mileage does your Audi give? My Linea gives me more than 12 km per litre.” said the first gentleman.
“Audi gives at best 7.5 km per litre” replied the second gentleman feeling guilty for the enormous carbon footprint his car was generating every day.
“Look at it this way. What do we look for in any of our toys. Great design. Exclusivity that will make others envious. High perceived value wherein we pay very little. Fiat Linea scores on all these counts. There are few Linea owners in India. The car service, showroom network is as inefficient as luxury car dealerships – few and full of spare part challenges. But the car comes at much lower price and gives better mileage too.” He signed off as he got into the car.
As he drove away he could see the Audi owner furious, speechless and impatiently waiting for his car to turn up.