Monday, May 21, 2012

Using off road courses to sell luxury automobiles

Businessweek on manufacturers using off road courses to sell luxury automobiles:
At the Land Rover Experience Driving Schools, you don’t learn how to parallel park. Pushing the vehicles to their limits—or rather showing how few limits they have—is the order of the day. The brand hosts three such programs year-round on the grounds of American resorts: the Biltmore Estate in Asheville; the Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif.; and the Equinox in Manchester Village, Vt. You don’t have to be a guest to take part: For $250 per hour (or $1,200 for a full day) you can hop into a $90,000 luxury truck and learn how to drive through mud, gravel, ruts, and streams, just like those stunts in TV ads the fine print warns you not to attempt.
Now that nearly all luxe car companies have developed their own driving-experience programs, those seeking to differentiate their brands are having to offer ever more extravagant courses. Bentley (VOW) and Mercedes both hosted instructional ice driving events near the Arctic Circle this winter. BMW held invitation-only “Training for Professionals” programs in Berlin to sway the expert chauffeurs who drive dignitaries in armored vehicles.