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Carmakers cater to customers, offering iPads and concierge services to new buyers

Luxury automakers are piling on the perks to distinguish their brands from their competitors'.

Nissan said its upscale Infiniti division will offer a free concierge service for vehicle buyers.

The Infiniti Personal Assistant will give owners unlimited 24-hour access to a live team of professional assistants who can provide driving directions, weather forecasts, dining suggestions and reservations, travel arrangements, and sports scores — all through the car's Bluetooth system, or even by phone from a separate location.

The service is good for four years to one registered driver per vehicle, and it is not transferable. Service for a second driver is $199 at the time of the car's purchase. Other carmakers, including BMW and Cadillac, charge for similar services.

But concierge services aren't the only enticements manufacturers are offering to attract buyers.

BMW includes four years of maintenance with the purchase of its vehicles.

Equus, a luxury sedan from Hyundai, comes with an iPad instead of an owner's manual and a concierge service for maintenance. An Equus technician will travel to the owner's house or office when the vehicle needs service, pick up the car and drop off a loaner car. Hyundai will then bring the serviced vehicle back to the owner.

"The brands tend to offer things based on their strengths," said Dan Hall, an analyst at AutoPacific Inc., an industry consulting firm in Tustin, Calif. "Lexus doesn't offer years of maintenance because they are known for being reliable. But BMW is known as Break My Wallet, so they had to do something."

Carmakers cater to customers, offering iPads and concierge services to new buyers 08/10/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 4:30am]
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