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High End Luxury Cars

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Thought of you instantly while reading this:

    http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?article=7360&sid=17- - 5&n=156

    A small excerpt:

    "Hubbert also said Mercedes-Benz is prepared to accept smaller profit margins on its luxury lines to help pay for quality improvements. Mercedes-Benz's reputation has been hurt in recent years as rivals surpassed it on independent surveys of vehicle quality. "I asked the board if they were willing to give up some profit to give quality top priority and they said to give quality top priority," added Hubbert. Mercedes-Benz' new goal is to insure that it sits at top of the quality ratings by 2006, he said. Hubbert said first steps have included putting additional test cars out in the field to find problems before they ever reach consumers. The company also is assigning more personnel to work on quality-related problems.

    Beyond that the company also is working with suppliers to fix problems that have already showed up on various quality surveys. Windshield wipers and brakes have already gotten special attention, he said. "We're doing this with a clear target of coming back to the number-one position in quality in the short term," Hubbert said. "We did it to absolutely make sure we are not accepting any defects. We want to ship products to the market with top quality from the first car," he said. "Everyone in Mercedes-Benz is committed to these targets," said Hubbert."


    Does this sound like the "right" thing to do to you? I think it is the way for them to go, quality first.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    ""What makes lexus such a great company is that they are willing to go and find the best in the world...they will take that suspension improve it here and there, make a 1000 small tweeks and by the time it is done it will be reliable..they are not limited by silly little BMW made it issues.." [End Quote]

    Ok what exactly does this mean then?

    M
  • 1) I didn't realize you spoke for everyone else on this board??

    2) You seem desperate to prove your point but the best you can do is show sales figures (probably world wide compared to my US ONLY) and you prove my point the Allante was every bit as popular as the SL 500.

    3) You should understand by now that the Allante offered a touring car that you could actually put you luggage and golf clubs in and tour...You and a friend could also take your clubs to the Golf course and actually ride together with the top down...Mercedes SL people missed out on this kind of activity.

    4) the fact that Mercedes could sell an inferior car at a much higher price proves nothing except that PT Barnam was right.

    5) Probably 1/2 the 91s and 92s were fitted with the Deville chip and generated 250 HP...I don't know what SL 500 offered in those years.

    WHERE ARE THOSE PERFORMANCE FIGURES MERC...How much faster was that over weight bardge (SL 500) with the big engine...(would like a link to the site please.)
  • Merc.

    If you can't understand the written word..I can't help you, I tried to be as clear as I could, there are many guys on the board that are much smarter then I and are multi-lingual perhaps one of them could help you. ...Maybe one of those people that YOU speak for can help...

    Mercedes manfacturing people wouldn't understand it either, hence their quality problems.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    1. Read the responses from everyone else about the Allante on this board. I don't think you'll find any supporting your theory about the Allante being superior. If you find one, please give me the post #. Nobody here has stated anything to support your theory. Nada.

    2. I can't believe you are so lost on trying to prove the Allante is superior, you won't even check the website (mbusa.com) I provided to check the data yourself. The sales figures I gave you are US sales figures. Period. You asked for proof then when it is given you refuse believe it! You brought up sales figures only to be proved wrong and then say I'm desperate for something? You brought sales into the picture! I didn't use sales as a point of reference for superiority, you did and then when the SL is shown to have outsold the Allante over a shorter period of time, 6 MY years compared to 7 MY for the Allante you can't accept it. No the Allante was not every bit as popular.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.mbusa.com/brand/container.jsp?/overview/overview_engin- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - e.jsp?spec=1&subNav=overview&yearModelCode=88_SL500CR&amp- ;amp- ;amp- ;amp- ;amp- ;amp- ;amp- ;amp- ;class=88_SL&menu=2_3&rnav=024568

    These are US sales figures!

    3. Obviously nobody cared about any of this. The Allante owners missed out on superior build quality, safety engineering, performance, top design and numerous other things the SL humiliated the Allante in.

    4. Only in your mind was the SL inferior. The market spoke as to who made the superior car by purchasing it in sufficient numbers to keep the same basic design around for 13(!) model years! The Allante was toast in just 7 and had one good (long model year) year at the end. Wow what an accomplishment.

    5. This only goes to prove what I said before about you not knowing a thing about the SL. The 1990-2002 R129 500SL had anywhere from 315-322 hp Mike. Mercedes didn't debut their car with a anemic 140hp V8, the brand-new for 1990 R129 SL started out with a 5.0L DOHC, 32V, 322hp V8. The Allante with 250hp would still get its wreath and crest handed to it by the 322hp 500SL.

    The specs: Please notice the years Mike. How can you say the Allante was superior with a 250hp chip when you don't even know what the 500SL had during those years???

    http://www.mbusa.com/brand/container.jsp?/overview/overview_engin- e.jsp&yearModelCode=88_SL500CR&class=88_SL&rnav=02456- - - - - - - - 8&subNav=overview&menu=2_3&spec=1&category=0

    Read the proof you yourself asked for.

    Like I said before, this weekend I will dig up the issue that compared the Allante and 300SL with the 500SL being tested in a sidebar.

    Your asking for a link to a 11 year old roadtest, but won't bother check the ones above?

    M
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    "Mercedes-Benz' new goal is to insure that it sits at top of the quality ratings by 2006..."

    I guess by "quality" they mean initial quality. 2006 huh... 2006 is 2 years away. I guess it's possible if they are really meticulous about it, but they're quite a bit behind Lexus.

    "We're doing this with a clear target of coming back to the number-one position in quality..."

    When's the last time MB was "number-one position in quality"?

    In any case, what they really have to address is reliability. Their initial quality seems to be okay, better than average. However, they're struggling below average in reliability.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    This article will answer both questions:

    http://www.detnews.com/2004/autosinsider/0407/30/a01-227624.htm

    They were #1 waaay back in 1990 and a few years in the early nineties.

    They're talking about being #1 in the IQS survey, they VDS survey will take quite some time if even possible.

    M
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I think its interesting that Mercedes is going to 'give up profits' to improve quality.

    Profits fell all by themselves in 2nd quarter as Mercedes sales fell in Europe and the strength of the Euro impacted the bottom line.

    We should take up a collection and send Cordes a copy of 'Quality is Free'. High quality doesn't cost more, it costs less. Why? Because you are doing more things right, you have less work-in-progess needing repair, lower warranty costs, lower labor costs, etc. to build a given vehicle.

    To get car production to be high quality and low defects you need to implement something pretty close to the TPS that Toyota uses to build Lexus.

    Cordes talked about doing it the old fashioned way: "work with suppliers to reduce defects, test the cars better". That's not the fix. You can't test quality into a product. It's designed in by engineering in concert with a manufacturing system that can reproduce the design from defect free components.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Better quality sure does cost more when you're trying to make changes from a system that doesn't work. They'll have to spend the money upfront to do it "right" or "better" and then and only then will they be able to rake in more profits, once the defects are gone. The less costs happens once you fix the quality problems, this sustaining higher profits down the line. Right now they have to spend the cash up front. High quality does cost less once it is achieved.

    Why they don't just implement TPS or something similar to it is beyond me at this point.

    M
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    image
    I really need to drive this. Low-end torque is unreal. Very hard to get a test drive.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I should have told you I took a consulting role at your favorite company.

    Seriously - It's about time. But they should walk before they run. Just turn around the quality issues before thinking about re-claiming any number one spots in such a short time span. That's not going to happen by 2006. But it doesn't need to anyway.

    What really got them moving is the low resale values. The initial price is unsusutainable in such a situation and would kill the profits anyway. The CFO certainly knows this as they seem to have a sharp one.
  • Merc.

    When I talked about 250 HP that was for Pre 1993...Since I am sticking to comparing 93 Allante to 93 SL500 in order to try and avoid your dancing around issues by switching between models and year.

    Support for the Allante...There was a young man who wrote about his fathers Allante and how much he liked it.

    At to the sales numbers in the US...the Mercedes SL500 sold a little less then 800 and the Allante sold 6700...Your figures made my point...Prior to 93 I don't believe there was an SL500. But with Mercedes funky way of labeling their cars ...Who knows and for this comparison it really doesn't matter.

    I still haven't been able to determine the performance figures for the 1993 500SL ...Yes I did look at the chart by it doesn't give the year of the car on the chart that shows 0-60 times.

    AS SHOWN ON THE QUALITY RATINGS FROM EDMONDS BOTH CARS WERE ABOUT THE SAME ON THE LONG TERM RATINGS (THE ONE'S THAT COUNT)

    THAT COMPARESON THAT YOU KEEP TALKING ABOUT WOULD BE VERY HELPFULL.
  • livinbmwlivinbmw Posts: 120
    I met a previous customer at the BMW dealer that I sold a new M5 to some time ago. He also owns a 2000 NSX that he originally purchased in Greenwich Village. He says that when he flew out there for a chance to buy the car that he had to give them a check before he test drove the car. It's a 2000 model with some cool pricey modifications. It'll do 0-60 in 3.9. Anyway, the guy is wanting to trade the M5 for an M3Cic so, we met at the dealer. They didn't have a M3Cic there so, I arranged for another one of my old customers who has a M3Cic to be there so, he could drive one. It was fun. That Acura is scary fast and looks dynamite.

    The Z4 outperforms the boxster, the 350Z and the S2000 on the circuit and in the slalom according to speed channel evaluations. The Z has ALOT more torque at much lower RPM and much better HP at low RPM even though the honda has a higher peak horsepower @ 7800 revs. Plus, the BMW has better fuel economy. Of course, the 'bimmer is more $$$, but it should be. Very cool cars!!! That supra is still tremendous but you wouldn't get 40 grand for one out me.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    "I should have told you I took a consulting role at your favorite company."

    Oh Jeez, does this mean we have to listen to more MB spin? I guess if we see Merc2 popping up around here, we'll know who it is.

    Kidding ;-)
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    I don't know man, trying to compare a Allante to a SL500 is pointless. Despite what C&D may have said, the SL500/500SL was far superior of a car. The SL-class of that day had really no rivals. It was alone at the top. The Allante may have been as quick but that really doesn't mean much. I remember reading plenty about the Allante's shoddy quality, poor fit & finish.

    The last generation SL(running from I think 89 or 90) always had a 5.0L V8, in it's early days it was called the 500SL and then in the early to mid 90s it turned into the SL500. Also when it came out they had a 320SL and later with the name change a SL320 model, which was dropped I believe in the late 90s.

    You say the SL500 sold 800 vs 6700 for the Allante. Is that for any one year? I would bet in any given year the SL-class sold more than 800, in fact, way more than 800 units. Also, it's hard to compare the sales figures of the 2 since the SL started about about $90K vs. the much lower price tag of the Allante. It's like comparing the current Lexus SC430 to the SL500-it's a very pointless comparison because of the price variance between the 2.

    Let's not forget that even though the Allante may have been quicker or as quick as the more expensive SL500, the SL500 was built like a rock. Everyone always commented on it's rock solid platform. No convertible of the early 90s was anywhere near as solid as the SL-class and none to compare safety-wise to the SL-class.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Sounds like it's going to be pretty expensive in that they will have to 'fix' more of the defects in what they are currently producing, which will cost labor, parts and increase inventory, while they also have to 'change' their system to another approach.

    I remember a PBS show from a few years back called Amercian Century. One particular episode compared the differences between assembly methods at Toyota's Japanese Corolla factory, Saturn's highly automated factory in the U.S. and Mercedes somewhere in Germany. The host mentioned that approximately 1/3 of the cost of building a Mercedes was the rework done to the car AFTER it came off the production line.

    Perhaps over the years, MB has been doing less of this rework and this has pushed up the defect levels. Sounds like they will go back to this approach while they figure out how to compete with Lexus and Infiniti from a quality point of view.

    Of course (tongue in cheek) MB could also just outsource the construction of their products to Toyota, which I am confident could build one that would have a lower leverl of defects at a lower cost that MB can. ;=)
  • MAX

    If you go to the Edmonds Used car site you will find that the Allante rated just as high as the Mercedes SL 500 in build quality...That is what the experts say...

    The sales figure was taken from the Sales numbers that Merc provided..500SL or SL500 is a bit confusing for me, maybe they thought changing the ID of the car would make it better?

    Edmonds says the 93 allante was every bit as Rock Like as the SL...Go to Used Cars and look it up...I have previously posted their ratings. TERMS LIKE "EVERYONE" SAYS DO NOT MATCH UP WITH THE JUDGEMENTS OF EXPERTS THAT DO THE RATINGS.
  • pathdocpathdoc Posts: 126
    As someone who has owned a 1986 560 SL and a 1991 500SL and looked at the allante at the time I don't know how anyone could think the allante was in the same league as the 500SL. They designed the allante to compete with the old SL (pre 1990) which like the allante had a manual top.It also had less hp even though at 5.6 Liters it had good torque. By the time the allante came out Mercedes had moved onto the 500SL with 322 hp and a fully automated top. From personal experience I can tell you that in a luxury convertible a manual top is just plain unacceptable.

    With respect to trunk room I had no problems with the 500SL in packing for a week's trip up the coast to Monterey evey August or driving to the beach for a weekend with luggage. The rear shelf also provided additional room.

    Although I now drive a Jag. XKR convertible (which has an even larger trunk) I have kept the two SL's and when I drive them I am still amazed at how rock solid they are when compared to the Jag.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    As I said I remember reading plenty of the Allante, and most of it was not as good as the reviews for the SL.

    I believe by "Experts" you mean car magazines, in which case, see above.

    I also can't believe Italian build quality being up to German build quality or for that matter Italian reliability being up to German reliability.

    Also, there is no way you can compare the solidity of the SL to the Allante. The SL was untouchable in this regard. The closest any car has come to the solidity of the 90s SL is the C5 Corvette Convertible, and that was a full decade later. And plenty of magazines have stated the solidity of the 90s SL was unmatched for a long time. I'm sure a ton of people can back that up.

    The 500SL was changed to SL500 for simplification. YOu remember those days? The S420 used to be the 420SEL, the S500 used to be the 500SEL, then you had the 500SEC, 300TE.

    I would go back to my stash of C&D issues but I recently tossed out every issue I had of C&D from 1986 to about 1998.
  • doc:

    The compareson was between the 93 500SL and the Allante...The Allante had Cady's new Northstar System generating 295 HP and weighed 400 lbs less.

    when you went on you week long trips were you bringing luggage for two and were you also able to bring you Golf Clubs?

    It is true that you needed to manually lower the top but it was just a matter of pushing it down...All the hook ups and releases were done electronically I easily did it in 30 Sec. or less including the hard cover boot....It was the price you paid for a true touring car with enough luggage space to really tour...With a pass through from the Trunk you could even take your ski's and all ski equipment and luggage on a trip...The front wheel drive with Snow tires was great on bad roads....MUCH BETTER THEN THE SL OF THE TIME.

    I also favor Jags...would have loved an E type but they were too narrow for me....I still think it was the perhaps the most beautiful sports car ever made.
  • By experts I mean the people who do the rating on the Edmonds used car site. I have to admit I trust them more then your memory.

    The Italians made the Body that was flown to the US where the Allante was assembled at a special Allante facility.

    Edmonds compaired the durability. It would be a good thing for you to go back to your stash of C&D issues I believe they rated the Allante in a head to head over the SL500 or 500SL whatever...But then that would be relying on my sometimes faulty memory.
  • By experts I mean the people who do the rating on the Edmonds used car site. I have to admit I trust them more then your memory.

    The Italians made the Body that was flown to the US where the Allante was assembled at a special Allante facility.

    Edmonds compaired the durability. (I used the 5+ yr. ratings) It would be a good thing for you to go back to your stash of C&D issues I believe they rated the Allante in a head to head over the SL500 or 500SL whatever...But then that would be relying on my sometimes faulty memory.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I bypass most of these posts but, by my wisdom the SL reigns as king now and the allante is long dead. So I'd bet the ranch on the SL and not lose a second of sleep over it. Let's see how cadillac fares with the XLR. I think that car also will prove to be ahead of the cadillac fold in trying to break in here. They really need something along the lines of the LS, S etc and then a car like an XLR follows it up.

    designman - funny. But merc1 casts a long shadow and MB still has a lot to correct.
  • pathdocpathdoc Posts: 126
    Take a look at the trunk with the top down and compare to the SL. I was at a car show where someone asked the Cadillac salesman how he would get his golf clubs in the trunk and the salesman told him to put the top up. The potential customer replied that if he wanted a car that he couldn't put the top down on while driving to the golf course in such beautiful weather he wouldn't be looking at convertibles. I think they will lose customers over this issue.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    It's not like Mercedes has no quality process whatsoever and they have to start from scratch. Quality often is about painstaking enforcement of existing process, of never falling prey to the usual "we can get this out faster if we shorten the test cycle". It often is about reinforcing it as part of the company culture.

    Process is something that most large companies have, and do well. If not, call in the consultants, like ljflx, and have them say you need to implement something that's unpopular more stringently :-). Process enforcement is something that management teams sometimes forget in the heat of the moment. Toyota is legendary for religious process enforcement, and constant process improvement.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    I couldn't find any reviews of the Allante period on Edmunds.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    IMHO, at Toyota, the process, the TPS, is the Way. It isn't something that's unpopular, it's their road to success, improvement and continued profitability. Intrinsic to it is respect for people, their ability to contribute and grow. Lot's of good info on the web regarding how it came to be. It's benefits are evident.

    Companies that invite in consultants to implement something that is unpopular more stringently, don't get it and neither do folks that think that's the Way. That's the Old Way.

    If Mercedes is going to ever catch up with Lexus they are going to have to swallow their Germanic pride and figure out how to implement something approximately equivalent to TPS. It may not be culturally possible. Time will tell.

    They (and BMW) are already price uncompetitive for equivalent functionality and features across the board. If it weren't for a lot of heavy duty merchandising, their share and profits would be falling even faster.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Think I recall reading about some real-world Sopranos character being found stuffed in an Allante trunk some time ago. Are you sure you can’t fit four sets of golf clubs in that thing?

    “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

    Who said it? First responder with correct answer wins this week’s Yoodaman Award. Don’t forget, you need the name of the character AND the movie.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "They (and BMW) are already price uncompetitive for equivalent functionality and features across the board. If it weren't for a lot of heavy duty merchandising, their share and profits would be falling even faster."

    Yes, and you could say Tavern on the Green is price uncompetitive to the local diner as well.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Clemenza. And remember - there'd be no Clemenza if it wasn't for his mother. You know where that one comes from.

    Now what state did he say it in?

    kdshapiro - problem with your analogy is that tavern on the green and the local diner don't offer comparable quality. This is a little more like being upstaged by a new "high quality" restaurant with equal or better food at a cheaper price.
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