At the New York auto show in March, auto executives couldn’t stop looking at this emerald-green Mustang Shelby GT350. The latest version of the fastest and most powerful car ever made is a monster. The V-8 engine produces 526 horsepower, so it comes to a whopping 0 to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds. At a price that starts at $64,195, the base version is already in high demand.
“We sold out of production in the first quarter,” Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told me at the show. “We got the whole factory working around this super-premium line.”
Maintaining super-cars has become a multi-million-dollar business, requiring specialist teams to perform the many tasks that keep the cars running and looking pristine.
Recognizing the niche, a group of Ford execs took a plane to Shanghai in the fall of 2013 and spent the day with a team of eight super-car mechanics at their base in Shanghai. They watched as the team worked on a unique Lotus and taught the mechanics about how to address potential issues.
“It was pretty eye-opening,” LaNeve says.
The full factory for Ford’s partner, Lotus, occupies a massive, upscale facility in Shanghai.
“It was such a great opportunity for us to experience a first-hand the lengths Lotus goes to to ensure their customers have the best cars in the world,” he said.
For the car industry, and for luxury auto manufacturers in particular, safety is a priority. There are extra layers of protection to ensure the highest standards of engineering. A temperature sensor is embedded in the car’s windshield, as are seat belts with full-length harnesses to prevent injury in an accident.
To meet the government’s National New Car Assessment Program, or NCAP, strict safety standards are also required.
“We are required by law to fit all safety equipment and certify the performance of our cars and trucks,” says LaNeve.
Other suppliers also focus on safety, he says, adding that when a Ford engineer wanted to get some sleep one night, the others made sure he was guarded while he slept.
Super-car maintenance requires specialized resources. The facility in Shanghai is staffed with specially trained mechanics who have to be certified for super-car use. They tend to follow all the safety standards, both at the individual level and industrial level. For example, special goggles are used for eye protection, safety gloves (like the ones provided by unigloves) for hands, and helmets for heads. These steps need to be taken because a lot of the production involves calibrating the equipment for optimal performance and safety in order to get to production on time.
The trip to Shanghai allowed the Ford executives to see the breadth of work required by super-car makers and their suppliers. It also allowed them to learn a lot about the cars themselves.
Super-cars often turn heads, and demand for new models continues to soar. A large global waiting list, which includes cars that haven’t been made yet, awaits the next new version.
Not everyone likes the idea of spending that much money on a vehicle. Some buyers are getting their money’s worth from more economical cars.
So if you perhaps won a super car competition run by one of the new online casinos you joined, would you sell it and buy a more economical model or would you zip around in it with all the responsibility that comes with owning a supercar?