Cars not being sold

Just bought the game, I understand the basic premise of the game and can do that pretty well. Checking cars that are in the showroom it starts out most customers are looking for a different body style, though I am not even close to researching other body styles. But cars still sell fine so not a big deal. Companies will start researching other technologies that require specializations to install, but I am no where close to having specializations to install them. Then, seemingly out of the blue, 20-30% of customer are passing on cars because they have insufficient features. Checking the features list, all features are still rare for the car I am trying to build (budget). And because of that, car sales grind to a halt.

My initial solution to this was to lower car prices, but component prices (seats and engines) go through the roof (50% of production costs) and I can’t turn a profit for anything in the budget class.
I usually run 3 research studios.
Am I not researching fast enough? Seems to me if features are rare, customers shouldn’t be passing on the car because of insufficient features. Any thoughts as to what I am doing wrong or not setting up?

Some suggestions:

  • I invest a lot more than this in research. I always start by buying as many research offices as I can fit, then focus them on developing research centres as soon as possible, and immediately replace the offices with those. Then, I research factory expansion and the design studio, and buy another plot so that I have office space to build some design studios. I have to take out multiple loans to make all this happen (in addition to building the actual car production line at the same time), but it’s worth it. Once I’m turning a decent profit, I’ll expand into any other plots where there is office space, even if I don’t need the production space. I do this long before I try to pay back any loans; research is way more important.
  • If you’re not doing enough research to keep up with features and specialisation, you’re potentially going to run into trouble later when you start to need maintenance, rework and better QA; those things all require quite a bit of research.
  • I have a game going where I am only building the base model of each type of car, with no extra features at all. It’s still been viable to sell them, so you will hopefully be able to turn things around. Some body types are actually selling for mid-range prices, even though I’m missing a common mid-range feature.
  • Electronics features don’t require you to research the electronics process specialisation first, so they could be a good starting point if you don’t want to research or build the specialised production slots. Most of the electronics features are in the ‘entertainment’ part of the tech tree.
  • Marketing can help a lot, but it does require quite a bit of investment (researching the slots, allocating office space, building the offices, and paying for the campaigns).
  • Making your own components is worthwhile if you have enough space. You should save a fair bit of money from that over time. Again, it does require quite a lot of research first.
  • There’s an additional benefit to making your own components, although it probably won’t matter much unless your cars have lots of features: manufacturing certain components can reduce the overall quantity of resources you need to import, meaning less pressure on your resource importers. Computer chips and bumpers are examples of components where this happens; sunroofs and powertrains are examples of where building them yourself actually results in you having to import more resources in total.