Supercars: the cars of our dreams. Cars that make a statement everywhere they go. For most of us normies, they’re unattainable. With price tags in the six figures, we couldn’t ever imagine owning one…
But why is that? They’re just cars, aren’t they? They have four wheels, two doors, and an engine. Why does a Ferrari cost ten times what a Camry does? What really separates them from your average sports car, and how is it that people are actually willing to pay these unbelievable prices?
Well, keep reading, because we’re going to tell you exactly why supercars are so expensive, and then you can decide for yourself whether or not you think it’s worth it.
Let’s start off by establishing that a supercar is not defined as such because it automatically has better performance than your more affordable sportscar. The term “supercar” comes with a high degree of subjectivity, and while some might consider a car like a Nissan GT-R or a Chevy Corvette to be outside of the class of supercar because their prices are not quite as astronomical as other cars, others might argue that their impressive performance metrics ABSOLUTELY qualify them for this title.
However, more often than not, the cars that are considered supercars are pretty incredible when it comes to performance. Typically, cars in this category spit out over 500 horsepower, with some of them even doubling that number.
Take the McLaren 720S, for instance. It’s 4-liter twin turbo V8 is capable of generating an ASTOUNDING 710 horses. And, well, no one man should have all that power. When people are paying six figures or even millions for these vehicles, they’d better be fast.
Creating a car that generates that level of engine output and is still reliable? Not an easy task. And it’s not a task a lot of supercar companies succeed at either. Supercars are true feats of engineering, and the companies that build them are going to make you pay big money for all the R&D that went into them.
Cutting Edge Technology
One major characteristic that helps define the supercar category is that supercars are often on the cutting edge when it comes to technological advances in the automotive industry. And as I’m sure you know, when a completely new technology comes out in any industry, it’s coupled with a big price tag for at least the first several years after it’s been released. When car companies create a technology that is completely new to the world, they can charge massive premiums for it.
Look at the Rimac Concept_One, for instance. This is the most powerful electric car ever built, without a DOUBT. It’s got four 92 kW motors, one for each wheel, and combined, the spit out a ridiculous 1,088 horsepower. It’s absolutely amazing how far electric technology has come, and this is the pinnacle to date.
And because Rimac has completely redefined what an electric car is capable of, they can charge $980,000 for it, the cost of a one bedroom apartment here in Seattle.
But ten years from now? Thanks to development of technologies by companies like Rimac, electric cars will probably have better performance overall. So, supercar companies are sort of like NASA, but for cars.
If you’re going to shell out the massive stack of cash that it costs to own a supercar, of course, you expect it to have a beautiful exterior that impresses others. But you’re going to spend your time in the driver’s seat, and you want your interior to feel more like the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton New York and less like a sleazy budget motel. An incredible amount of effort goes into designing the interiors of supercars and finding the right materials to give these cars the most luxurious feel possible.
Let’s look at the process that Rolls-Royce goes through to produce their supercars. They went to small markets all across Italy in search of the perfect leather to put in their decadent driving machines. Eventually they settled on a father-and-son operated leather producer, who now deals nearly exclusively with Rolls-Royce. The leather they produce is made from bulls who are grown for their meat, and aren’t factory farmed, resulting in extremely soft and comfortable leather that just screams luxury.
Rolls also uses about one-sixth of the paint on their leather that other companies use, which lets the natural feeling of their high-quality leather shine through. It’s this kind of attention to detail in the interiors of supercars that make them so desirable, and makes it so the companies that make them can charge prices that’re unaffordable to around 99% of the Earth’s population.
With supercars out there like the Bugatti Chiron SuperSport 300, which can hit tops speeds of 304 miles per hour, and goes 0-60 in just 2.4 seconds, the internal structure of a car like that has to hold up to insane tolerances.
If you try to throw the SuperSport’s 8-liter 16-cylinder powerplant on the chassis of your buddy’s Civic and rev it up to 1500 horsepower, that Honda’s chassis will essentially explode halfway through first gear. Supercars need the latest and greatest in materials and design to withstand their performance, and carbon fiber is the material of choice due to its incredible strength and light weight.
If you’re going be hitting ridiculous speeds, you need a chassis that’s durable, but light enough to fly. Cars like the Ferrari LaFerrari utilize carbon fiber reinforced polymer in their frames, to enable them to hit insane speeds, and survive when things go wrong.
And all that carbon fiber does not come cheap. For comparison, a Toyota likely costs around $12,000 to manufacture, while a Ferrari’s manufacturing likely exceeds $150,000
Let’s be honest, if you’re driving a supercar, part of the reason you’re doing so is to differentiate yourself from your average Joe. You want people to know that you’re rolling in the dough and that you can afford a car that nobody else is driving. And if you’re willing to pay those big bucks, you probably want a product that’s going to be uniquely your own.
That’s why companies that build supercars often give buyers the option to customize nearly everything! Want your initials embroidered on your seats? Easy peasy. Want a paint job no one else has ever done? It’s all yours.
The options are pretty much only limited by how much cash you have. If you’re willing to put $500,000 in Bugatti’s pockets, you have a great deal of negotiating power over the features of your supercar. And that’s part of the reason these cars are so sought after.
Just like Jared Leto’s customized Gucci jacket, supercars are a sign of wealth. And having a ride that’s one-of-a-kind let’s people know that you’re stacking some serious paper.
If you’re into high fashion, you probably know this word “couture”. It’s basically just a fancy way of saying hand-made. And it’s also a fancy way of saying expensive!
This principle doesn’t just apply to the fashion industry. Part of the reason supercars are able to fetch such absurdly high prices is because they are hand-crafted works of high-performance machinery. Since these cars aren’t typically built on an assembly line, oftentimes buyers have to wait weeks or months before they even get to lay eyes on their beautiful new rides.
But the upside? The joy of knowing someone poured their heart and soul into every piece of your car. Supercars are crafted with love and attention to every single detail of the car, and they’re thoroughly tested before they’re released to the road.
Supercar companies have reputations to uphold, and any tiny problem with a car that costs north of $500,000 would be absolutely devastating.
Now, there’s plenty of examples of those devastating problems…but that’s a discussion for another day.
Ever wonder why precious metals like gold and silver are so much more valuable than, let’s say, copper? I’m not going to dive into an entire economics lesson with you, but it’s basically because these precious metals are just a lot harder to find.
Rarity is a factor that can seriously drive up the price of any commodity. And companies that build supercars probably understand this better than anyone.
Cars like the 2020 Aston Martin Valkyrie, of which there will only be 150 produced, are made in such limited quantities that they instantly become super-rare collector’s items. Sure, Aston Martin could probably produce more of these cars, but why would they when the rarity of these vehicles allows them to drive the price up to astronomical levels? Build less cars and get more money. Sounds like a pretty good strategy if you ask me.
And beyond that? Sometimes these companies even build limited edition versions of their supercars to further increase that rarity factor. People who drive supercars consider themselves to be collectors, and having the rarest car on the road is a pride-driven endeavour. So the rarer the car, the more people are willing to pay for it.
Marketing and the Brand
While most supercars do have significant advantages over your $20,000 Toyota, a great deal of the price difference comes down to branding and marketing. That’s right, when you buy a supercar, oftentimes you’re paying $50,000 or more just because it’s got a fancy badge on it.
And this goes back to the fact that people buy supercars primarily because they want to give off the outward appearance of wealth. Doesn’t matter if you’re driving the most powerful car that’s ever graced God’s green Earth if it has a Kia logo stamped on the front. Nissan GTR anyone? It’s as fast as a Ferrari, why doesn’t it cost as much? Because that same emblem is on their sedan back home, people are going to assume it didn’t cost you all that much.
Companies like Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce, McLaren, and Bugatti spend big bucks on marketing so that they can build the association between their brands and the luxurious lifestyle. From TV ads, to car shows, to pretty much every other advertising route you can imagine, these companies go the extra mile to ensure that they keep up their reputations as builders of pristine, powerful, swanky supercars. That’s why you never hear famous rappers singing about their Toyota Yaris.