The slowdown in car sales expected this year in the United States should save luxury, a sector where exclusivity, aesthetics and power increasingly coexist with gadgets and electric technology to seduce both purists and youngsters. millionaires.
At the New York Motor Show, which opened on Friday, these two visions of the luxury car are inseparable, cutting-edge automotive groups who do not want to lose the next generation of young millionaires who grew up with technology and reacted to change. climate change.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new generation of GLS SUVs equipped with a new MBUX entertainment system with advanced features.
He has a voice assistant called "Hey Mercedes" incorporating artificial intelligence to learn the habits of its owner to replicate afterwards.
This toy turns the vehicle into a smart car, such as "Kitt," the car that drove David Hasselhoff, aka Michael Knight, in the hit series K 2000 (Knight Rider), released in the 1980s.
– "Safer" –
"Speech recognition is something customers want," says Mercedes CEO Dietmar Exler in the United States.
"It's more practical: the car reads your emails or sms, you do not have to leave your eyes on the road or leave the wheel to take advantage of your phone, it's safer," he advanced, being convinced that this tool will attract young millionaires.
The number of these is increasing in the United States in view of the successes, including the stock markets, revolutionizing startups entire sectors of the economy.
With its eyes fixed on this clientele, the Italian house Pininfarina presented Battista, an electric car sold for $ 2.27 million, in an art gallery in the trendy neighborhood of Chelsea, Manhattan.
Equipped with 1,900 horsepower, it is expected to reach speeds of almost 100 km / h in two seconds, a hair faster than a race car.
Like Genesis (Hyundai), which unveiled Mint ("mint"), a city-electric car concept with minimalist interior, the Italian brand believes the rich youngsters are ready to take their checkbook to an eco-compatible car.
Other brands play with power and exclusivity to preserve their customers. This is the case of Porsche, whose 911 Speedster (pronounced "nine eleven") is a combination of refinement and dynamic driving. The engine is in the rear, the chassis extremely low.
Less than 2,000 units will be produced and sold worldwide, a scarcity strategy that works as the US sales of the German group rose 7.5% in the first quarter in a declining market.
– "Au vert" –
"The signals are green," a Porsche spokesman told AFP.
"The rich are looking for the ultimate, they want a car that allows them to stand out," says Brian Miller, dealer New York Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti, whose latest is a dominated sports car, Chiron.
This is confirmed by Bob Laishley at Nissan, who designed a limited edition of 50 GT-R cars, the GT-R 50, one of the stars of the saga of action films "Fast and Furious".
"All the materials in this car are genuine – carbon is carbon, not synthetic," says Laishey, director of Nissan's sports car program. "Every detail has been made by hand, is tailor-made."
To be successful, "a luxury car today must encompass three dimensions: design, energy and technology," says Dietmar Exler.
In 2018, luxury vehicle sales fell 0.3% to 2.02 million units in the US, while the automotive market recorded a small increase of 0.6%, according to official figures. .
But the trend should be reversed in 2019, experts say, the richest still benefit from the tax cuts decided by the Trump government two years ago. This is no longer the case with a large number of families.