As some of you know I have been working out a system to explain prestige and product positions within the US car market. The new evolution of this system now uses 13 Market Levels for the US. I need to test this out, workout the kinks, then I can explain it all to you all, y’all. For right now though, give this a try:

Find your US Market Brand Position below:

*The stuff after the asterisks(*) are just thoughts for myself to help me work this stuff out. Also, I’m going to strictly define each of these levels after I make sure I’m on the right track.

Tutorial - Economy

(No US Brands in this segment, only products)

*Now impossible to enter the US market at this level. Hyundai and Kia will be the last to go this approach with any success. Too low of a profit, too low of a brand value, and it destroys brand reputations. Better off just offering products in this space, never place the brand here.

Level 1 - Commodity 

Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen

*This is where all us

Level 2 - Upmarket 

Buick, Chrysler, FIAT, GMC, Jeep, MINI, RAM, smart

*Most top trims/flagships of Commodity brand products are here. Level 2, Level 7, and Level 11 are extremely interesting because they offer a huge variety and can contain your tuned/modified cars, independent projects, and specialty brands.

Level 3 - Premium


*Buick-Avenir (potentially) and GMC-Denali (for sure) are in this level. I think Acura being alone in this segment makes it look bad. Rather than being viewed as its own thing it’s seen as underperforming. Because Level 2 is so diverse (can be done in your driveway) it’s really difficult to be viewed as interesting as well. Like the Economy segment, I think it’s best NOT to place your brand here.

Level 4 - Super Premium 

Genesis, Lincoln

*I think Dodge SRT has a much higher market position compared to any other Chrysler brand which would explain why it attempted a spin off. Dodge is dependant on SRT.

Level 5 - Luxury 

Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, INFINITI, Jaguar, Volvo

*I think the difference between Level 5 and Level 6 is all perception. Freshness of product is the most important aspect which means extreme competition and effort.

Level 6 - High Luxury

Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Lexus

*This one is difficult because BMW and Mercedes are working extremely hard to move their brands into a Level 7. Audi and Lexus had caught up to them branding wise for a while but are going to fall behind. By the time the US gets enough Audi Sport models (namely RS branded vehicles) they’ll be too late. Lexus F does not have enough value to move into a Level 7 currently. Cadillac V and Alfa QV both are on the border of Level 7 performance brands which is hard on Lexus since every luxury brand with slightly less current prestige (US wise) can beat them in pricing and brand value when utilizing their performance brands.

Level 7 - Prestige 

Land Rover, Lotus, Maserati, Porsche, Tesla

*AMG, Audi Sport, and M are in this segment which is why they are being pushed so hard in order to move the parent brands further away from other Luxury competitors.

**Most of the track toy brands like Ariel, Morgan, or BAC can fall into this group. Independent and high level tuner vehicles can hold this kind of prestige out of the gate until proven otherwise.

Level 8 - Prestige Plus 

Aston Martin, Bentley

*Land Rover’s Range Rover brand carries so much prestige that it’s no wonder there are more of these in Land Rover’s lineup than actual Land Rovers. JLR SVO seems to be in this category too which helps out Jaguar models a lot but would only feel like a “trim” when attached to Range Rovers.

Level 9 - Exotic

Lamborghini, McLaren

*Ford GT actually has this level of prestige and I’m realizing Ford priced it correctly and is producing it the right way to keep that value. This is another rough place to be because, like Level 5 “Luxury” you need to keep freshness, but rather than needing new products you need constant special editions and updates.

Level 10 - Prestige Exotic

Ferrari, Rolls Royce

*This is an interesting point to get to because you no longer need to compete as much as “deliver an experience.” As long as you can deliver what everyone expects (or better yet, just slightly more) then you can really do things in your own time. Must be nice, but you absolutely must deliver that experience or else fall to Level 9 and have to work your tail off to get back to this golden resting place.

Level 11 - Super Exotic


*A lot of these random, independant supercars can be placed here. Rimac, NIO, as well as crazy track specials like the Glickenhaus or Radical.

Level 12 - Exclusive

Bugatti, Koenigsegg

*This is the edge of production cars can be. Pretty much the pinnacle of what can be done and only a select few will ever know it.


Hopefully you didnt the stuff in the asterisks or else you probably forgot that al you needed to do was find what level your brand was at. Now that you have your brand’s market level do the following for any of their models:

Subcompact: -2

Compact: -1

Coupe (2 or 4 door): 0

Executive: 0

Executive Coupe (2 or 4 door): +1

Sportscar: +1

Fullsize: +1

Supercar: +2

Limited Production Supercar and Hypercar: +3

So if you chose a Level 6 brand such as Mercedes and the CLA model, then the CLA is supposed to be a Level 4 product in the “Super Premium” segment.


Next, take that product and choose the trim level:

Base: -1

Midtrim: 0

Toptrim: +1

Performance trim: +2

Performance-Plus: +3

So your Level 4 CLA in base trim becomes a Level 3 product which places it in the “Premium” segment with middle of the road Acuras. That is a very big fall from a Level 6 Mercedes badge. However the CLA45 AMG would add two levels to the Level 4 CLA, placing it as a solid, full-blown Mercedes at a Level 6 product.



Give this a try so that I can work out the kinks and so forth. Then I’ll go on from there.


Share This Story

Get our newsletter