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宝马再推“无车轮”力作

宝马再推“无车轮”力作

Doron Levin 2013年02月07日
豪华车厂商宝马正让自己的设计师和工程师把目光投到一辆完全不同的“终极驾驶机器”上。普通品牌和豪华品牌成本上的差异并没有价格上的差异那么大,豪华品牌更多的其实是在卖感觉。为了进一步强化“终极驾驶机器”的形象,宝马现在打起了汽车之外的主意。

    为了巩固已然十分强大的品牌,宝马公司(BMW)决定为世界级赛事设计一款两人座的雪橇,将在一年后于俄罗斯索契举办的第22届冬奥会上大放异彩。这一创举之所以令人称奇,不仅是因为宝马本来是设计汽车而非雪橇的,还因为宝马这次是出手帮美国,也就是它最重要的市场,而不是德国完成这个创举。

    美国奥委会(the U.S. Olympic Committee)和宝马北美分公司合作开发的这款雪橇拥有极为轻盈的特性,比如采用了碳纤维,还“优化”了空气动力学性能。上周,在奥地利伊格斯的国际雪橇联合会世界杯冠军赛(FIBT World Cup championships)上,这款宝马雪橇进行了首测。必须说明的是,每个雪橇必须符合国际及奥运会标准,也就是说,供设计师和工程师自由发挥的空间极为有限。

    30支初赛队伍中,驾驶宝马雪橇的美国队排名第14位,不过美国雪橇队队长对《洛杉矶时报》(Los Angeles Times)的一个博客表示,他并不失望,因为他的队员对新雪橇还不太适应。早些时候,宝马则发布了一则声明,称因为这款新雪橇能参赛而感到“十分振奋”。

    DesignWorksUSA是一家为宝马服务的国际设计咨询公司,位于加州的纽伯里。该公司的创意总监迈克尔•斯库里表示,宝马作为一家汽车厂商,它的技术“是雪橇设计的灵魂,它使雪橇更轻盈,还如我们所希望的那样速度更快了:实在堪称冰上宝马” 。

    宝马正与梅赛德斯-奔驰(Mercedes-Benz)、奥迪(Audi)和雷克萨斯(Lexus)在争夺北美、乃至全球豪华车市场统治地位的角逐中,展开激烈竞争。这场战役并不只是意味着要卖掉更多的宝马汽车。这些豪车品牌所致力的目标是,要基于消费者对更高价值的认可,提高每台车的售价,而不是靠一辆拥有相似性能、品牌形象却低人一等的车取胜。

    普通品牌和豪华品牌的成本差异远不如这二者的售价差距大——这意味着豪华车的利润率要比普通品牌的车高得多。据汽车网站Edmunds.com称,宝马在美国的平均成交价为52,990美元,仅次于奔驰的54,454美元,高于奥迪的50,124美元。

    二线豪华品牌如雷克萨斯,这一数字为46,012美元,而英菲尼迪(Infiniti)为46,393美元。它们也都在蓄势赶超。如果它们能打造更强势的品牌,这一点也许不在话下。

    多年来,宝马主要靠那句“终极驾驶机器”(Ultimate Driving Machine)的口号闯天下。表明宝马认为,它的客户追求的主要是卓越的性能和不凡的操控。如果能在2014年冬奥会的雪橇比赛上夺金,它就能进一步强化这个认识。即在如何开得更快,同时又操控自如这一点上,宝马是最深谙其道的。

    当然,拿汽车来和雪橇相比是有点夸张了。最近,宝马公司与奥委会之间终于达成一项共识,而协商结果对宝马有利:宝马的一位发言人称,宝马的标识会出现在索契的美国队雪橇上。宝马的确希望美国队能用这款雪橇赢得比赛,这样美国观众就会认定,宝马就是卓越工程技术的不二化身——当他们买下一辆宝马汽车或摩托车的时候,也许就会毫不犹豫了。(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    BMW, in a bid to reinforce its already mighty brand, has decided to help design a two-man bobsled for world competition, culminating at the XXII Winter Olympiad in Sochi, Russia a year from now. The initiative is remarkable not just because BMW designs cars, not bobsleds, but because the automaker is helping the U.S., its most important market, not Germany.

    The U.S. Olympic Committee and BMW's North America subsidiary formed the partnership to develop a sled with extremely light properties, such as carbon fiber, and "optimized" aerodynamics. First test of BMW's sled took place last month at the FIBT World Cup championships in Igls, Austria. To be clear, every bobsled must conform to international and Olympic standards -- the amount of latitude open to designers and engineers is limited.

    U.S. teams running the BMW sled finished 14th of 30 entrants, though the president of the U.S. bobsled team told a Los Angeles Times blog he wasn't disappointed, given the team's unfamiliarity with the new sled. BMW earlier issued a statement saying it was "thrilled" to be competing with the new sled.

    Michael Scully, creative director of DesignWorksUSA, BMW's Newbury, California-based international design consultancy said the automaker's techniques "are at the heart of the design, making it sleeker, lighter and we hope faster: essentially a BMW on ice."

    BMW is locked in a fierce struggle against Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus (TM) for dominance in the U.S. luxury market, as well as worldwide. The battle isn't just about selling more BMW-branded vehicles. Luxury brands try realize a stronger price for each unit based on a consumer's perception of greater value than a vehicle of similar characteristics carrying a less-estimable badge.

    The differential between the cost of mainstream and luxury brands is much less than price -- meaning that luxury cars are much more profitable than more pedestrian models. According to Edmunds.com, the automotive website, BMW averages a $52,990 transaction price in the U.S., just below Mercedes' $54,454, and above Audi's $50,124.

    Second-tier luxury brands such as Lexus, at $46,012, and Infiniti (NSANY), at $46,393, are striving to catch up, something they may be able to do as a result of brand-building.

    For years BMW has relied heavily on its "Ultimate Driving Machine" tagline, an assertion that its customers demand superior performance and handling in their vehicles. A gold medal at the 2014 Olympic bobsled races could add to the suggestion that BMWs embody the very latest and greatest knowledge about how to go faster with more control.

    The parallels between a car and a bobsled are a stretch, of course. A critical discussion with the Olympics has recently been resolved in BMW's favor. A BMW spokesperson said the BMW logo will appear on the U.S. sled in Sochi. BMW is eager for the American team to win with its sled, for American viewers to digest the notion that BMW equates with engineering excellence -- and maybe not to blanche when buying their next BMW automobile or motorcycle.

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