"We spend a lot of time talking about that," says Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter. "How do you get [i.e., sell to] younger people who think the Corvette is an old man's car, when every driver they see has white or no hair?"*
Personally, I think their problem is pretty basic. I have a soon-to-be 20-year-old son. We live in a pretty average Midwestern American town—neither big nor small, neither prosperous nor impoverished. We are neither prosperous nor impoverished, too. Maybe a third to a half of his friends have their own cars. (Somewhere in there. I haven't done a survey.) He himself drives a '98 Buick that was relatively pricey at about $6,000 used. His friend who is the biggest car nut in the group works with cars and drives a used but hotted-up supercharged Pontiac Grand Prix (red, naturally).
Corvettes used to be "the working man's sports car." But American workers don't earn as much as they used to, and Corvettes used to be a lot cheaper, relatively, than they are now. Not only can my son not even think about a Corvette, but his father can't, either. (Not my style of car, but that wouldn't matter either way. Besides, I still have most of my hair, and it's not white yet.)
A new Corvette goes for $50k to $105k. As far as I know, only one of my son's peer group could theoretically afford a $50k car—a kid whose parents own a local Chinese restaurant. That kid drives a late-model SUV.
My theory is that young people don't think about the Corvette because it's just plain too far out of their reach. It's pure lottery dreamin'. Chevrolet is just out of touch with reality in America c. 2013.
So one thing I've noticed in the camera market is that the Canon 6D has been selling surprisingly well, and generating a great deal of interest from Canon fans and from camera buyers in general. I wonder if what's driving that is simply that the Canon 5D Mark III, at $3,500, is just too expensive for most people. It's not that they think it isn't worth it—it's just that they don't have the scratch.
The theory is that the high price of the 5D Mark III is driving peoples' interest into the waiting arms of the 6D. The 6D has a lot of the higher model's goodness, for such a big price cut that it tips the balance of most peoples' interest from the high-horsepower body to the more "sensible" model.
In other words, the Canon 5D Mark III isn't overpriced: it just costs too much.
And what America needs is a $25,000 Corvette.
*Quoted in Road & Track magazine, February/March 2013, p. 58.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Scott: "My photographer friends and I have a conversation going about the 5D Mark III vs. the 6D. It comes down to perceived value for a lot of us. For the extra money of the 5D Mark III we only really got a marginally higher sync speed with strobe. The megapixels and focusing differences didn't make much difference in our real world shooting. We're mostly working editorial photographers and not once has an art director asked about image size, color, or sharpness, or weather sealed cameras or any other build quality issue. The value doesn't seem there and the user experience is basically the same. No pride of ownership. As far as the Corvette, here in SoCal it's retired Navy and military that buy that car. The Subaru/Toyota venture or BMWs and Audis seem to rule the day. A new or used $25k car hits the sweet spot."
A. McLaughlin: "I read an article in the New York Times last year that said automobiles just don't have the allure they once had to younger people. Actually they don't turn me on any more either, but on the other hand a nice Fuji X100 is another matter."
Mike: "For me, the ability to change the focus screen to the Eg-S is the reason to buy the 6D. I manually focus 99% of the time and the fixed screen optimized for AF with slow lenses on the 5D Mark III is a total deal breaker."
Burt: "It's not just the Corvette they should be worried about; it's every car in the lineup. Turn back the clock and a few things were different:
- Cars were much less expensive. Base models are now $15k. In the '80s you could get a new car for half that. Wages haven't rises in concert wih the prices.
- Cars weren't boring. A Corvette may be exciting to some, but a $28,000 Camry is exciting to no one, and is prohibitively expensive to many. Kids used to want cars because they were cool. Now they're just commodities.
- Insurance. I'm 35 and have a great record, drive a ten-year-old car, and still can't get a policy for less than $1,500/year. I can only imagine what they'd charge a 16-year-old with a Corvette!
- Gas. Costs four times what it did 15 years ago.
"In short, cars nowadays are financially prohibitive and boring. When you're making $7.75/hr you probably want a bit more for your efforts.
"As for the 5D Mark III, I shoot one for my assignments. It's a beast and it gets the job done. There's something to be said for that. But it's a $28,000 Camry all day long. When I want to enjoy my camera I grab the weird little Fuji X100!"
Roland: "The 6D is a very interesting proposition. I am just waiting for a review on the WiFi software. If it is possible to shoot Raw+JPEG and beam the JPEGs to a laptop or tablet, that would be fantastic.... The client, A.D. [ad agency art director —Ed.] and other people could look at large images directly and at their desks, instead of crowding around me and chimping at the tiny camera screen."