Passenger car equipment is very heterogeneous worldwide
Different countries show different preferences. When it comes to vehicle equipment, there are significant differences depending on which region of the world we’re looking at. This can also be seen on cars of various brands coming from America, Asia and Europe. American makes are primarily regarded as comfort-oriented and spacious. Asian manufacturers often display a penchant for electronic playfulness. And Europeans tend to focus on high-quality craftmanship and sophisticated technology. But the differences only really become clear when it comes to the scope and orientation of the standard equipment. What may be offered as standard equipment by one manufacturer, is available as an option by another, and by yet another, not even at extra cost. JATO Dynamics took a look at the German registration figures for 2020 and compared the best-selling models from various manufacturers from different regions.
The models in this comparison are:
- VW Golf for Germany
- Volvo XC 60 for Sweden
- Ford Focus for the USA
- Hyundai Kona for Korea
- Toyota Yaris for Japan
75 optional extras for the VW Golf
There are currently 67 different versions of the VW Golf, divided into twelve equipment lines (trims). Customers can choose from an average of 75 optional extras (individual options and option packages), including 16 different paint finishes. In addition, three different powertrain variants are currently offered: eleven Trims with combustion engine, four with mild hybrid and two Trims with plug-in hybrid.
For the American Ford Focus, there are 11 trims and an incredible 186 versions with a choice of an average of 45 optional extras (including 19 paint finishes) with two powertrain variants. In comparison, the Golf offers the most optional extras, while customers of the Toyota Yaris can only choose from twelve. And three quarters of these relate to the paint finish. The wide range of paint finishes offered by other manufacturers is also striking. Color is therefore seen as an important way of individualizing the vehicle across all manufacturers and regions.
But what about the standard equipment? If we compare the two extremes – the Golf with an average of 75 available optional extras and the Toyota Yaris with twelve – we notice that comparatively few features are offered as standard for the Volkswagen. On the other hand, there is plenty of room for individualization via optional extras. With the Toyota it looks exactly the other way around. Although only a few extras are offered for the Japanese brand, the standard equipment is quite impressive. It includes adaptive cruise control with active lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking with seatbelt tensioners, as well as heated front seats and LED headlights.
Manufacturers set different accents
A look at the other vehicles in this comparison shows similar ratios: A large selection of extras goes hand in hand with lower standard equipment. But this was to be expected, because individualizing a vehicle via optional extras requires correspondingly smaller set of standard equipment. What is particularly interesting here is that each manufacturer sets different priorities, which can be seen from the standard equipment.
Volkswagen conveys particularly great confidence in the longevity of the Golf. This is made clear by the comparatively long service and inspection intervals. While other makes require a major inspection every 30,000 km, the Golf can be driven an impressive 60,000 km before it has to go to the workshop. Volvo, on the other hand, places more emphasis on driving safety with an electronically limited top speed of 180 km/h and “intelligent” airbags that take the weight and position of the driver into account. And Ford focuses more on comfort-oriented standard equipment with features such as multi-zone automatic climate control, WiFi and parking assistant.
The Hyundai Kona and Toyota Yaris stand out because of their technology features. For example, in the Kona you’ll find a camera-based Parking Distance system, a fully digital speedometer and keyless entry/start. The Yaris also offers the fully digital speedometer and there’s also automatic high beam and parking assist.
The right offer for every type of customer
In summary: Manufacturers are pursuing different strategies, which ultimately benefits customers. Customers can either choose from a wide range of optional equipment to configure a vehicle that is as individual as possible. Alternatively, customers can skip individualization in exchange for extensive standard equipment. Fortunately, within this broad spectrum there are many manufacturers who set different priorities to be able to offer every customer a suitable vehicle.
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