We often get asked about the new car enhancement programs we develop and build for global carmakers and official new-vehicle importers.
Here’s an ENHANCED case study.
The official new-vehicle importer in this case study is a brand that builds and sells new vehicles in an array of market segments.
Bernie Quinn, Engineering Director and Partner at Premcar: “We love working with this company. They’re big, they’re skilled and they’re always ambitious. And they know the value of special-edition vehicles, especially in terms of brand enhancement and business growth.”
The circle of life
New-car models have a lifecycle. This is the time period from their market release to when they’re replaced by an all-new version. This lifecycle can be anywhere between five to ten years, or even longer.
A new-car model’s final year or two is often the time when it’s least competitive against its (usually newer) segment rivals, which makes it the ideal time to create a special version to boost its customer appeal.
“This is where new-car enhancement programs can be very effective for new-car buyers, official importers and their retailers,” says Quinn.
The official OEM new-car importer in this case study was aware of this. As one of their most important new-car models reached then end of its lifecycle, they looked to create something with authentic appeal.
“They wanted this special edition to be unique and their product ideas were quite extensive. They included exterior styling, interior styling and an engine upgrade.”
But there were a few problems.
“They followed their regular internal product development channels and their proposed program didn’t meet any of their commercial, financial or timing targets.
“After doing some preliminary work, they began to believe this new-car model series – which would soon begin the final phase of its market lifecycle – was going to need too may hardware updates to achieve the product uplift they were after. They started to worry it was going to be too expensive, too complicated and too slow to complete.”
They then looked at alternative methods to create the program. That’s when Premcar got the call.
“We went through their proposed special edition program and we showed them how they could achieve it within the time and budget they had available,” says Quinn.
“Making changes to any new car’s drivetrain is usually an expensive investment but the company was firm this run-out model series needed it. We didn’t try to talk them out of it; all of our work at this point focussed on showing them how we could help them achieve their product goals inside their program’s tight constraints.
“We dedicated a lot of work establishing the program’s technical and commercial feasibility. We showed them how we could run this new-car model’s enhancement program alongside their regular vehicle development operations. It was entirely achievable.
“Sadly, we eventually discovered the company’s earlier preliminary work had eroded the top management’s appetite for the program.”
The result? “They simply gave up on the idea.”
Then this happened
Fast-forward a couple of months and something unexpected occurred.
“I was at an industry event and I bumped into the staff member who had initiated this company’s new-car enhancement program,” says Quinn.
They gave me a quick update on the program’s status. By now it had become a very diluted version of the excellent original product concept. It was disappointing to hear that but I turned it into an opportunity for both of us.
“Give me a car and an engine to put on the dynamometer,” I said. “Give me four weeks and we’ll show you how everything you want is achievable, and all of it within the technical constraints your colleagues have mentioned.”
The Premcar team got to work. It was an intense period but the vehicle and powertrain engineering development teams designed and made the necessary prototypes, and tested and collected all of the necessary data, including minute details on everything from heat cycles and vibration frequencies as well as performance data showing the targeted improvements.
“They were impressed. They saw first-hand how all of the technical barriers could be successfully managed without the need to fit additional hardware, which was no surprise given their car was very well developed.”
But there was still a problem.
“They needed to find the budget. The finances for the program had recently been signed off for the diluted content only. The program didn’t need a lot of money, relatively speaking, but they still needed to find it.”
A call in the night
Shortly after Bernie got a call.
“I was overseas at the time,” he says. “My mobile phone rang at about 3:00 A.M. and it was the executive in charge of the program.
““We’ve got approval,” he told me. “We’ve received the funding and the program’s back on!” I’m never thrilled about getting phone calls at three in the morning but that one was good to receive!”
With much of the preliminary testing work and some of the development work already on file, the program enjoyed a fast start.
Both teams from the carmaker and Premcar were a great match.
“We got all of the testing and validation for every area, such as durability, completed on time. It was the same with the homologation processes and creating the spare parts support, in-company warranty integration, and so on.
“The first big win came when the company’s senior engineering executives saw how our strategy and processes had managed to achieve the technical results they thought weren’t possible.
“This was despite their initial beliefs that these new driveline loads would pose too many issues. And when they drove the first pre-production examples they were clearly convinced the product was a winner.
And a winner it was. Within less than a week of the car’s public sales release, it was sold out.
“This run-out edition was launched ahead of its replacement being revealed. But even with its much-higher retail price and media coverage about a successor model coming, it sold out inside one working week.
“Even though it wasn’t intended as a limited-edition version, production was capped behind the scenes.
“At the start of the program, there was a lot of discussion about possible customer uptake and production numbers. Some departments were cautious and others were keen to make as many as possible.
“In the end, the head of the program said they should have at least doubled, and possibly tripled, the final production number, such was the program’s success,” says Quinn.
It opened the door to new customers and revenues
Despite the time lost between the carmaker’s original internal preliminary research and Premcar’s appointment to lead the project, this new-car enhancement program came together smoothly and landed within budget. It also enjoyed a profitable result and sparked a new way of doing things.
“For this OEM carmaker, it was a reminder of the effectiveness of niche model ranges,” says Quinn. “It showed them how Premcar is well equipped to develop them and even build them.
“They discovered how to create extra revenues and deep customer satisfaction with an existing new-car model range, especially one that’s approaching the end of its market lifecycle.
“Those facts have become evident to many other OEM new-car importers, as you can see from what’s on sale in the Australian market today.
“We’ve since gone on to create many more niche-style new-car enhancement programs for this client – and others – and we’ve remained a regular engineering and development resource for them.
“Calling in trusted outside help is an effective and profitable way to develop and sell niche new-car model ranges. For any OEM new-vehicle importer, new-car enhancement programs are a great way to attract more customers and grow a new-car brand.”
Get in touch if you’re keen to discover more: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Premcar – Premcar Pty Ltd is a leading Australian vehicle engineering business that specialises in the automotive, defence and aerospace industries. For more than 25 years, global car-makers have made Premcar their go-to partner for the complete design, engineering and manufacture of niche-model new cars, full-scale new-vehicle development programs, and electric vehicle (EV) conversions and manufacturing. As the name behind more than 200,000 new cars and 55,000 new-vehicle engines, Premcar’s body of work is extensive and has delivered technical and sales success for major car brands from Europe, the USA, Japan, China and Australia. Visit premcar.au.
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