HOW do chauffeurs and high-end limo drivers choose their cars?
That’s something BMW revealed as they let us drive a pre-production version of the new 7-Series.
It seems that, as you’d perhaps expect, most 7s will be sold to fleet, corporate and business customers. With a fair chunk of these being used, certainly in the week, to ferry round Sir Alan Sugar types from business meeting to golf course.
Such buyers look at the price. No surprises there. But, for them, running costs are just as important – that’s the price of servicing, the cost of tyres, insurance ratings and repairing (inevitable) minor damage, as well as the obvious major consideration of fuel economy.
With all this info, they’ll then see what they like driving most for their budget. Don’t underplay this. These guys can spend eight hours a day behind the wheel. In some ways, they’re the most demanding, exacting customers you’re likely to see. They want to drive. You’ll have to let them.
‘It’s a very different way of looking at things,’ admitted a BMW spokesman. And volumes in this sector, despite the credit crunch, are predicted to remain pretty level. Despite being luxury cars, they’re just as much of a business tool, and BMW expects to maintain its average of 2500 sales a year.
The launch 7-Series range won’t include a long-wheelbase diesel model, though – despite the attraction of the standard model, at 39.2mpg, being the most economical luxury car you can buy. It instead arrives next March. ‘China and the US take the most long-wheelbase models, so they get priority…’