Automakers Reducing Lineups As Cars Look Too Much Alike

Nov 14, 2014 02:10 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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The plethora of options for would-be car buyers can actually be stifling when automakers are offering too many choices that aren't different enough.

German car companies are looking to limit the number of models they manufacture as production costs and technology updates increasingly strain their resources, said a Bloomberg report.

Model growth for automakers like BMW and Audi should level off by 2018 after Germany's big auto names have peaked with more than 200 options. The industry across the board has been offering increasingly nuanced differences between models, and just German carmakers expanded their vehicle options by around 25 percent in the last three years.

"The retail environment is probably at the most significant crossroads in the last 100 years," Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales, told Bloomberg. "I'm sure there will be points in the future where we look at certain cars and say, 'Maybe we need to think differently now.'"

Automakers started expanding their lineups with increasingly subtle variants in the 1990s. In one example, Volkswagen AG's Audi has grown from 10 variants to around 50, including the extremely similar A5 and A7 coupes. All those models start to add up when it comes to production costs.

"Every single variant increases development and logistics expenditure," Porsche spokesman Achim Schneider told Bloomberg in an email. "Operationally this only makes sense if there's production of a certain number of units over the life of a model."

Porsche is capping the variants available for its flagship 911 sports car, which is offered with a generous 22 variant options.

French automaker Peugeot Citroen also plans to dial back its model offerings, aiming to reduce its lineup from 45 vehicles to 26 by 2022. The second largest carmaker in Europe, Peugeot Citroen is hoping to focus on its most profitable titles after reducing its lineup.

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