Have you ever wondered why motor vehicles are sold by the model year? It’s been going on for so long, no one seems to think much about it other than to wonder what the “new” models will have that’s different from the “old” ones. Cars change sheet metal or plastic a little bit and put some spiffy new electronic gizmo in the dash, but motorcycles often do a lot less, commonly summed up with the term BNG for Bold New Graphics. Why bother?
Apple Computer brings out a new iPhone or Power Book and that’s what it is, it’s not the all new 2012 Apple, it’s simply the new iPhone. Instead of forcing some pseudo change and calling it all new, why not just wait until there’s a real change?
Some motorcycle companies, Royal Enfield or Ural for instance, are proud to be building practically the same thing for decades before making significant changes. What’s wrong with that? It seems to be moving a bit in that direction with some of the new models or specials, like the Desmosedici, for instance, it’s known by name not year. Go back to some short lived, though still multi year models, like the Honda GB500 or Kawasaki W650, does the year matter? How about the V-Max that was hardly changed for decades, yet every year you had a “new” model. Why?
Let the engineers and design teams work on real change and forget the model year nonsense. Harleys hardly change, why not embrace it? When a Honda Gold Wing breaks new ground then call it a new Gold Wing or even something different. Certain brand experts will smugly cite minor changes between, say, the 1992 and 1993 model years for some particular model, but does it really matter?
If motor vehicle laws require a model year, make it the calendar year of manufacture, look at the date on the tag with the VIN number and be done with it. Manufactured on December 31, 2011? Then it’s a 2011 for registration purposes. On January 2nd? It’s a 2012. If incremental but meaningful changes are made during a model run, note that and make it clear with a model identifier, like the B model or C model, you don’t have to hold off until the next model year and say it’s all new when it isn’t.
Especially now, when sales are slow and manufacturers are trying to become financially stable, the demand to introduce new models is a needless strain. Focus on selling what’s already available, except of course, the psychology of new models is so firmly entrenched, it’s hard to break.
It will take some mental readjustment and it will certainly require some advertising changeovers, but the model year introductions, which have long ago detached themselves from calendar years anyway, should just go away.