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High End Luxury Cars

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  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "And, if you haven't noticed, there's not a single Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Audi racing in Nascar. If they are such tough cars with wonderful engines and suspensions, why aren't they competitive?"

    I'm sorry, but that has to be one of the most brainless statements I've seen on this forum. Just so you know, BMW, Porsche, M-B, Jaguar, Ferrari, Audi, Lotus, Maserati, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have long and prestigious racing histories. They also take lessons learned from say the M3-GTR and apply it directly to street cars like the M3 CSL. Or the 911 GT2. An Audi R8 would mop up any Nascar class Taurus or Monte Carlo.

    Merc, Maserati has continually refined its SMG. Drive an '01 Coupe Cambiocorsa and the US spec Quattroporte and you'll see what i mean. Its not perfect yet, but give them another few years to work on it, and it should be on the level of a conventional automatic. Also, the US spec suspension is supposed to be tweaked for our roads as well. The blown M-B 5.5L in the E had better be waxing the Ferrari 4.2L, or M-B would be doing something seriously wrong. However, the Ferrari powerplant has got SOUL. The Benz, with its plastic engine cover, is just an appliance, handbuilt or not.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "The blown M-B 5.5L in the E had better be waxing the Ferrari 4.2L, or M-B would be doing something seriously wrong. However, the Ferrari powerplant has got SOUL. The Benz, with its plastic engine cover, is just an appliance, handbuilt or not."

    Compared to Italian cars...gulp(!) yep! Being a fan of Italian cars I have no rebuttle. Defense rests...lol.

    What I'm waiting for is Maserati to adapt VW's DSG to their next generation Sypder and Coupe, and possibly to the Quattroporte. I've driven the TT 3.2 V6 DSG and it really is this close to being the perfect gearbox. I'm reading that the 2005 911 may have this gearbox as on option. Have you driven the DSG?

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Cant say that I have, the TT has never interested me so I havent bothered to try. If it is as good as you say though, I just may have to give it a look. Does it do as good of job as the M3 SMG?
  • eaton53eaton53 Posts: 356
    "I'm sorry, but that has to be one of the most brainless statements I've seen on this forum. Just so you know, BMW, Porsche, M-B, Jaguar, Ferrari, Audi, Lotus, Maserati, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have long and prestigious racing histories."

    Yeah, NASCAR's are purpose built race cars... don't have a single thing to do with production cars. Sounds like Toyota's getting in around '06.

    "An Audi R8 would mop up any Nascar class Taurus or Monte Carlo."

    Naw... the 'ol boys'll put 'em in the fence. :-)
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    "No it isn't because there is a S500, S55 and S600 and those models all cost way more than any Lexus. Period. Your reasoning assumes that everyone can afford to step up to the upper 3 S-Class models with no problem thus their price not being a factor (hindering) in sales."

    I disagree with your reasoning on a couple of levels.

    1. You are pretending that a wider model/price range hurts sales rather than helps sales. If we used your reasoning, then if Lexus were to introduce a 100k or even 200k super-LS, it would hurt overall LS unit sales. So I guess they'll never introduce higher-end models than the LS430, because it would hurt overall unit sales? Come on, merc1, you should know better than that! Put another way, if the wider price/model range is hindering S-Class sales, why doesn't MB just discontinue the higher-end models, and market just the S430? By your reasoning, S-Class sales would increase.

    2. You are talking about the price-sensitive buyer, but seem to fail to recognize that such a buyer need not buy a S500, S55/65, or S600. If he wants an S he can buy the S430. S-Class sales are NOT limited by the existence of the higher-trim lines, as long as the S430 is still marketed.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I think the discussions about pricing and whether folks factor it in about 50K would be more interesting if one were able to demonstrate that specific price points actually were barriers for certain customers.

    What are the median incomes of the LS and S430 'buyers'. How many buy vs. lease. How many find that $1250 a month lease is a hardship, while $1000 isn't? What is their trade-off - $200 or $300 a month a very small amount.

    What % of these cars are paid for by these drivers' businesses? For example, how many VP's are there in the Fortune 2500 on car plans - maybe 25,000 to 50,000? How many people in similar sized private businesses. Another 50,000?

    I find it unlikely that the CEO of $100 million/yr up companies tells his Veeps that they can't spend more than $1200 on a car unless it comes right off the top of their $200K comp package. And they all go 'ouch'.

    Many of the people driving these cars aren't buying them or paying for them. They don't bail to a Lexus because the can't afford an S55. They drive it because of the way it looks, drives and how reliable it is. These days it looks like a very, very good decision amongst their peers. Maybe they look at an S55 and wonder how silly that would look in the lot - worrying about a "Feeling your oats, Charlie?" comment as if they were 23 again and dumping their paychecks into NOx upgrades for your Civic.

    So the real issue here is to put some facts and figures out there that talk about the 'buyers' financial profiles and where the money comes from that actually pays for them. Last time I checked with my MB/BMW friends, more than 75% here in New England were leasing.

    Small money from $65K to $80K in a lease.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    merc1,

    If having multiple models in one product range doesn't help sales then what is the point?

    I mean if Mercedes sells only a S430 and sells, for example, 20K units annually, or sells a S430, S500, S600, S55, and still sells only 20K units annually, why would they spend the millions of additional dollars in development, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, legalizing(engines & names) if they end up selling no additional units of the product? Mercedes would essentially end up making less money per car(a lot less) by having multiple engines in the same body style car for no reason.

    It's quite obvious Mercedes having a S430, S500, S55, S600 helps it reach a larger potential buying audience. Such as the S55 helps the S-class reach a buyer who wants a the room of a S-class but wants a much sportier car, without the S55, Mercedes would probably lose that sale to BMW, or now Maserati.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    Good points except the ownership factor. Most people buying or leasing these cars are doing it with their own money. Direct payments by companies for cars are almost unheard of now and car allowances as part of salary are usually in the $500-$700 a month range (pre-tax). They are also less and less common than in the late 90's. Unlike salaries, once they are set they are not adjusted for inflation. I would bet that the Lease-buy ratio is 50-50 up front and some buy the cars at lease end as well. My experience is that it is better to lease and buy at lease end with these cars rather than buy up front - in most cases.

    Maxhonda99 - The S55 and S600 are halo cars as far as I'm concerned. The S600 only sells about 1,000 units a year in the US. Only 15,000 AMG cars are sold annually worldwide and the S55 probably is a small percentage of those cars. But sometimes when you read these boards those AMG's are represented as if they are mainstream MB's rather than cars that represent 1.5% of their worldwide sales. Though the S55 and S600 represent miniscule sales numbers by themselves their halo effect helps sell mainstream S-class cars. But again that is a gap Lexus - even more so than BMW - intends to close in the next few years. Right now there is no halo effect for the LS430.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    And it's still small money...
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    Just my CFO experience and professional contacts of what is going on. In all the acquisitions I've done I also didn't come across anything more than an average $500-$600 a month car allowance - usually for salesman. The biggest car allowance I've ever seen was $1200 but that was a standalone.

    Lease/buy ratio - read a statistic like that somewhere recently but I'm not sure where. In fact it may have been more weighted to the buy side. However in the larger, higher wealth zip codes I would think that leasing is a 60%+ factor in the ratio. But that's just my gut.
  • Merc:

    In this Luxury Car Class the S Series...The 700 series and the LS..The discussion to revolve around the price of the car seems silly to me..

    Which is the best car, which handles best, which has the best ride is the most quiet, handles better, is safer, is most dependable..etc.

    To say one of these cars is better or worse then the others because of price or even total sales (although total sales does indicate people voting with their pocketbook) does not tell the story of which is the BEST.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    You are probably correct, AMG sales probably make up only about 1.5% yet everyone makes it seem like 50% of sales or something. I did some quick stats on BMWs M-lineup last year and their total M-lineup sales in the US in 2003 came up to just a tick under 1%. I would think Mercedes numbers would be similar.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    "Cant say that I have, the TT has never interested me so I havent bothered to try. If it is as good as you say though, I just may have to give it a look. Does it do as good of job as the M3 SMG?
    "

    No, the Audi DSG is better -- not that the SMG is bad, but the DSG is another forward step in this kind of technology.

    If your lack of interest in the TT is styling related or size related, so be it. If you have a spare couple of hours some day, however, take a nice long test drive in a 3.2L DSG equipped TT -- they're pretty sweet.

    Too small for my tastes (our TT's have all been my wife's) -- but worth a shot to enjoy the marriage of the engine and transmission. Makes me long for a higher performance version perhaps in an S4 or an A6! Heck why not in an STS even!?!
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    You know, the whole tenor of discussion around here is centered around getting Merc to admit that the Lexus is better than Mercedes, and the LS is better than S. He already acknowledges that Lexus makes a quality car. But you aren’t getting him to say the LS is best or better than the S, or that Lexus is better than Mercedes. AIN’T HAPPENIN’ GENTS! Give up, move on, go polish your LSs, or light a votive candle with the hope that the next LS doesn’t go the way of cheesy cars like the ES, GS, Camry, Celica and the rest of the styling disasters that Toyota/Lexus is foisting upon us.

    :-)
  • Designman:

    Actually the tenor seems to me to be responding to Merc's little lexus digs in his messages. Rather then the other way around.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Styling disasters from Toyota/Lexus ? Toyota is not alone in styling disasters are they ??? Methinks BMW ain't doing any better either!
  • mbukukanyaumbukukanyau Posts: 200
    I am of the opinion that all cultures are equally capable of developing whatever technology they set their minds to. Who would have thought that a Rebadged Toyota Crown of 1990 sold as Lexus LS would be an S Class fighter it is now?
    Likewise the problems Germans are having now might silence the Nay sayers two models down. Same for those saying that Cadillac is not probably up to the Challenge. Perhaps in 2006 when the next generation CTS hits the market, a more compact car, the mighty 3 might not be so mighty after all.
    But its highly unlikely that other cultures could beat Kenyans on the Track. Highly unlikely.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    Styling disasters and 10.2bln of profits don't go together. If they do what will Toyota earn with great styling - $20bln. They already make more money than the rest of industry combined. Sales volume and profits speak at an astronimically louder volume than people's opinions. Money talks. Opinions are sometimes just wishful thinking or rejection of reality - on everyone's part
  • mbukukanyaumbukukanyau Posts: 200
    That is just an opinion fortified by the Market place. Nascar cars are driven as hard as any race car out there. If the MB's of this world were that good, they might as well show up for one season, show people the dust and move one.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    My uncle owns a 2002 S500 and he curses that car every single day. He said that the day he bought that car was the biggest mistake of his life. Second would be the day he married my aunt. They are still together after 31 years. That car has been to the shop numerous times for mechanical and electrical problems. On quite a few days the car simply would not start. He lives in East Hampton, New York where most of the snobs seems to prefer this 85 grand POS although he told me that he is seeing the LS 430 quite frequently now. He told me his next car would definitely be the Lexus LS430.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    michael_mattox:

    “Actually the tenor seems to me to be responding to Merc's little lexus digs in his messages. Rather then the other way around.”

    Listen, some people throw more than digs at him. Merc is doing what Merc does—defending the brand he loves. Some people take this stuff a little too personally. We’re talking about hunks of metal here, not human beings. Merc doesn’t seem to get personal, even when he’s painted into a corner (or sometimes appears to be).

    Oac:

    “Toyota is not alone in styling disasters are they ??? Methinks BMW ain't doing any better either! .”

    They’re both pathetic. If you’ve read my posts in the BMW threads over the past year, you will know that NO ONE has denounced the new BMW styles more vociferously than me. Furthermore, I have owned four Toyotas and am a staunch fan of their reliability just as I am a fan of BMW’s superior drive qualities. Styling is another story. All I ask is that designs are tolerable. They both fail miserably on my scorecard. At least there are one or two I can pick out of the Toyota/Lexus mess. BMW? Zippo with the Bangle-era designs.

    Ljflx:

    “Styling disasters and 10.2bln of profits don't go together. If they do what will Toyota earn with great styling - $20bln. They already make more money than the rest of industry combined. Sales volume and profits speak at an astronimically louder volume than people's opinions. Money talks. Opinions are sometimes just wishful thinking or rejection of reality - on everyone's part.”

    Indeed, I firmly believe Toyota would jack up their sales even further if they had butt-kicking designs. Their profits may impress you, but I wouldn’t buy a car based on a company’s profits no more than I would choose a wife based on how much money she has. Kudos to Toyota and their profits, but said profits will not come from my check book until they can sculpt something that pleases me again. Could be the next LS, could be SportCross if they throw AWD into, or it could be a Toyota in the ilk of my 1988 Corolla All-Trac wagon (long gone). Doubt we’ll see the latter though. And if they do to the LS what they did to the ES and GS it’s not going to happen. Can’t believe some of you make ex cathedra acceptance of whatever is spit out by them. But hey, it’s your dough. Can’t argue with that.

    :-)
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I agree with you that Toyota/Lexus are lacking compared to some of the competition when it comes to styling. Personally, exterior styling isn't among my very highest priorities, but I can certainly understand how others may feel differently.

    I don't think manufacturer's profits should be used to decide what car to buy, but I do think that popularity, or unit sales, within a particular class, are indicative of something. If there were a model that I knew absolutely NOTHING about, other than the fact that it was selling well vs its direct competitors, then I would be motivated to at least look into it.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    I don't think anyone buys on the profiability of the company. Most probably don't even know the company's profitability in the first place. None of these guys - save Mitsubishi possibly - are going bankrupt or out of business so there's no fear of any auto mfr not being there for service or warranty needs in the future. But to have the #1 seller in the premium lux market and the #1 seller in the mainstream market speaks volumes about where people are spending. So I have to interpret your styling point as meaning the LS will completely bury the rest of the field (being first isn't enough) if it had better styling and the Camry will sell a few 100k more cars than its competition if it were styled better. I don't think bolder styling will accomplish either though I think the hybrids may play a role in putting more distance to the competition. Some realism is needed here as - to Syswei's point - the styling is plenty good for those buying the cars and they are many. It doesn't have to please everyone just a good percentage of the profiled buyers.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040526/ap_on_bi- _ge/japan_lexus

    Does anyone know the specific 4 Lexus models to be launched in 2005 in Japan ? I'd assume the GS will be one, but which are the others since the new LS and IS are not due until 2006/2007, while there's been no mention of the redesigned LX or GX.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Whew, thats some name you've got there. To a certain extent, I agree with you. However, you've got to agree that all of the electronics powerhouses come out of Asia. There's the stalwarts from Japan: Sony, Pioneer, Denon, Yamaha, Hitachi, Toshiba, JVC, etc. with the Koreans LG and Samsung hot on their heels. When's the last time you bought a German TV? Or stereo? Or digital camera?
  • Designman:

    I disagree with you...Merc constantly throws in his little digs and eventually people like me (me specifically) get tired of it and respond (to those specific digs)....I don't believe any of the responses have been of the personal attack nature...If any of mine have please point them out and I will work harder at more proper responses.

    Others have provided very factual responses to issues Merc has raised....I think their responses are especially helpfull to the discussion and keep the board lively.

    Both their responses and mine have however almost universally been in response to merc...Not the other way around.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    The quote is "Toyota will roll out four models in the first year"...which is open to interpretation, but imho doesn't really state that the models will be new, though that's a possibility. However August would mean model year 2006...so, if the new LS is indeed a 2006 model, that might be one of the four. Also, I have seen speculation of a Sequoia-based replacement for the LX, for MY2006.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    I can't see Lexus pushing out the old models in a worldwide debut (excep maybe the SC) that touts its new styling direction. So I think you get a 4 vehicle debut because you only get the new designs (and maybe the SC). I also can't imagine Lexus debuting without its flagship sedan. But the existing LS already sells in Japan as the Toyota Celsior so that's out of the question. So I'd bet the 3 new designs are the IS, GS and LS (as re-designed and fits with CR's report). The 4th vehicle is a mystery. It could be the SC. I think they already have a Toyota version of the RX and the GX so its probably not those. Could be the new LX but its not a volume seller nor is it something to lead with. So is it a new ES kept very secret, the old SC or this highly touted $150K sportscar?? Whatever the new modela are they arrive in the US right afterward.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Please keep your messages focused on the vehicles themselves and not the perceived intentions of other members.

    And for heaven's sake, doesn't ANYONE want to talk about ANYTHING but Lexus vs. Mercedes? I'm not really seeing the need for this discussion to continue under this pretense of a topic definition if no one has anything different to contribute.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    We have another discussion that probably has belonged here almost from the beginning -- it is now joining us. :)

    Have at it!
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