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High End Luxury Cars

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Ok since you feel the need to shout then I guess you have the proof on one of Mercedes' safety innovations that had an electrical problem to back up your claim. If you don't then you're only doing more of the same.... Please tell me what safety innovation that Mercedes came out with that didn't work or that had electrical problems, that Lexus later perfected. I'm just dying to hear about it. I suspect this is yet another in a long line of bogus claims. Facts please.

    oac,

    "You know, you are master (and maybe commander) of misinformation and double talk.

    This from the same poster that didn't know anything about the sales numbers harped on so much in their theory. Ok. What was that about the BMW 5-Series selling less than it did before the re-design?

    " Isn't that what we were all saying here ? So all those excuses you have been given all amount to, what, squat ?

    I and others have always said that MB and BMW have problems, you on the other hand went on and on about sales figures that once proven by the actual numbers, as opposed to hype, proved that you didn't have a clue about the 5-Series in particular and your claims were based on the 5 and 7-Series being "tank-jobs". Now when asked what this claim was based on you kept talking about sales, which didn't prove a thing other than an actual increase for the 5-Series and a 707 unit decline YTD for the 7-Series, hardly the end as you so loved to harp about. Face it you were dead wrong about the sales numbers and then (like your most recent post) you turn to corporate matters, since your doomsday theory wasn't supported by the sales numbers. Now you're talking about who is the better manager. More reaching for another angle it seems.

    I never said at any time on any board that Mercedes, BMW or Audi don't have problems, I objected to basing these claims sales numbers for 3 months and then on top of that not even bothering to check the numbers to see if they supported that theory, which they didn't. The others (footie included) here actually presented factual evidence of a problem. I'm done with it.

    M
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Merc1:

    So you posit that I am wrong about my previous postings on the direction of MB and BMW ? You want facts, eh ? OK. Well, take a look at the following links and see for yourself. I leave you and others to judge the facts, rather than rants....

    Dec 2003 status report:
    http://www.andersoneconomicgroup.com/Publications/autodata_releas- - - - - es/120303/120303auto.htm

    As of Feb 2004 YoY comparo:
    http://www.andersoneconomicgroup.com/Publications/autodata_releas- es/031604/figure1.pdf

    Market Trends report:
    http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/sales6_20040106.htm

    Just so it is clear where the TRENDS are, here are a couple of quotes from the above link:

    Honda had the biggest year-over-year gain, 8.2 percent. Fellow Japanese automakers Nissan and Toyota followed closely on Honda's tails, with formidable gains of 7.4 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. All picked up market share

    Within that segment, the Cadillac brand is making sales gains on Mercedes-Benz. The GM luxury brand finished the year with 216,090 cars and trucks sold, compared with Mercedes' 218,717. That is a difference of more than 2,600 vehicles, a gap that has narrowed from more than 13,000 vehicles in 2002

    I could pull a lot more links for you, but I think I made my point. BMW's 5-series sales growth was 8.8% over 3 months. Yipeee ! Happy ? I surmised they dipped, you showed they grew by <1,000 units over 3 months. We'll have to see by year's end who is right.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I could find even more links about sales figures for days and days. So what? Until you realize that sales fluctuate for different reasons (which you dismiss) then your point is moot with me. Until you factor in price-, product age-, hot new models+, model change over-, along with reliability- and everything else that can have either a negative or positive effect on sales, you're only repeating the same thing over and over.

    A few month sales declines does not spell the end of BMW or Mercedes. Period. Trends happen all the time, and they are just that, trends. They can change in either direction just as fast as they started.

    I guess by the end of the year if Cadillac passes Mercedes in sales, that will mean they make a better car. Let us forget that they don't even compete price or product wise with any Mercedes above the E-Class. Oh, except for the whopping 300-unit-a month XLR.

    When another brand can sell the number of cars Mercedes-Benz and BMW does covering their entire price ranges then I'll take note. Until then those brands who light up the under 50K segments and don't move nearly as much 60-120K iron as BMW and especially Mercedes don't mean squat to me.

    I love how you tout Lexus' sales when basically only 2 of their vehicles have truly outstanding sales.

    M
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Oh, I do factor in all of those variables you mentioned - price, age, reliability, model change over, etc... Aren't all of these auto companies (Jag, Audi, BMW, Lex, MB, Caddy, etc) in similar situations ? Yet the direction remains the same for MB and BMW, according to current reports. Isn't the bottomline to IMPROVE SALES ??? And sales is not important ? OKee dokee.... In 1 yr, GM's Cadillac has shaved off >10,000-unit sales difference with MB. And you are not worried ? Glad you are not an MB exec....

    The E- is a new design and doing so-so, the S is being redesigned after only what 4 years in its current skin? The new C is going to be out soon, but the old strangely continues to sell briskly. Why ? Maybe cos it is cheap, relatively speaking. I still maintain that redos for BMW has NOT meant much. Maybe MB's new releases and redos will help their bottomline ? Maybe not. I guess we'll see, won't we ?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    We're only 3 full months into the New Year, and no all companies are not in the same situation. Some have newer models, so have older models. Some are going through model change over in the spring as opposed to the fall. Some have new products in the hottest segments of the market. Staggered model introductions etc. etc. There a jillion reasons why sales could be off for any particular brand as a whole at any given point in the year. This is why I look to look at the individual models to see who is doing what. Give the spring buying season a few months to lead into summer and then count the totals.

    VW is the only brand that anyone has mentioned here that has had a continuous drop from year to year, not MB, BMW or Audi. If I were VW I'd be worried, and they've clearly said as much. Their sales have been in a free-fall for over a year, not the others! Every one of VW's affordable cars date back to either 1998 or 1999. No other brand is even remotely in the same situation, which is their fault. The Phaeton and Touareg are new, but cost a lot of money for VWs. Complete uphill battle there for VW, especially with the Phaeton, which will never be a big seller.

    Another factor is suvs. Lexus and Cadillac, to their credit cash in big time here. Almost fifty percent of Lexus' business is SUVs. Cadillac just added a crossover to their product mix, the SRX. Nothing but pay dirt to be had there. Also like Lexus they have a hot 30-40K car, the CTS. The current Seville isn't even on the same page with the E-Class in sales. They dropped the STS version of the current Seville in preparation for the new STS this fall. See how that could affect sales for the whole brand if they didn't have the SRX/Escalade to prop the brand up???

    I'm not trying to say that SUV sales aren't significant, just illustrating a point as to why certain brands are grabbing the sales headlines right now. Just think what the sales numbers for Lexus would be without the RX330 and GX470 and Cadillac without the Escalade and SRX.

    My point is the Europeans are traditionally weak in the SUV market (which is their fault) and they tend to have model lineups that are thicker at the top end of the price spectrum. Mercedes-Benz in particular when you look at their model/price spread, frankly has no place in a sales race to begin with. I was shocked when the broke 200K units a year. The C-Class (their biggest seller) was way down last month and will probably sink even further once this month's totals are counted. The 2005 model doesn't go on sale until mid-May.

    The S-Class came to market in spring of 1999 as a 2000 model and was face lifted for the 2003 model year. The next S-Class is due to come here in the spring of 2006 as a 2007 model. This is also the oldest car in its class yet is only second to the LS430 in sales. That doesn't say anything? Before spring of 2006, which is a long time from now, of course the car will fade away sales wise, this is only natural. The LS430 is on a similar time table and will cool down after this year also.

    No I'm not worried in the least about Cadillac gaining on Mercedes in sales. Still doesn't prove who makes a better car nor is the sales race equal for all brands. When Cadillac can sell more then 300 XLRs a month I'll take them seriously. 10K cars is not a lot of ground to make for a brand with a much cheaper lineup of cars overall.

    BMW has three new models for 2004. Only the new 5-Series was available from the start of year. I was never sure why you mentioned the 7-Series as being the problem when the car is in it's third model year and is hardly news anymore, a decline here is inevitable. You do realize their new X3 and 6-Series models only went on sale in mid-March? How could you possibly base that theory about BMW's redos not making a difference when 2 of their three new models for 2004 weren't even on sale in Jan-Feb???? Another reason why I say all this hysteria over the first three months is unfounded. Wanna bet the 645Ci Convertible has not hit its stride yet? I'll eat my shoes if BMW doesn't increase their overall sales this year compared to last year!

    I think if you truly did factor in everything you wouldn't have made nearly as much fuss about any of this, especially based on a mere 3 months worth of sales numbers.

    M
  • Was The S class 2ond to the LS in sales...BEFORE THE NEW 430 CAME OUT..

    By your theory, because an updated model was on it's way Lexus LS sales should have been way off last year compared to the beautifull S class.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    You can't do what you say regarding sales and popular models. Every business has an 80-20 or 70-30 rule or some majority dominating products in which much of the revenue comes from a handful of products. You would have to remove the two highest sellers from each brand if you did what you propose. In the case of MB and BMW you'd have to drill down to the platform level. Plus I'll maintain that most people don't view the RX as an SUV anyway. The GX and LX - absolutely - but the RX is much more like a car and comes from a car platform.

    Can you imagine Coca Cola sales without coke and diet coke?
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    Here's some stats about sales proportions as relates to the overall product line-ups sales:

    Mercedes thru 1Q04:
    C-Class and E-class sales totalled 28,209 out of a total of 49,159 in sales. That means about 57% of Benz sales come from just 2 classes of vehicles out of 9.

    BMW thru 1Q04:
    The 3-series range(Not including Z3/Z4) totalled 27,430 units vs. total BMW of 52,970. that equates to the 3-series carrying 52% of the sales load. That's right one model range out of 8.

    Lexus thru 1Q04:
    The ES and RX range totalled 41,449 vs. total Lexus of 65,392. That equates to 2 product lines making up 63% of total Lexus sales. Or 2 model ranges out of eight.

    And I know another claim leveled against Lexus a bad thing is that Lexus sales are mostly SUV(which BTW is not Lexus fault if other companies can't design proper SUV that will sell).

    Thru Q104, Lexus SUV sales have come out to 51% of total Lexus sales.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    To me the above stats mean luxury and status have more significance to the lower-end buyer than they do to the manufacturers. The lower-end buyer wants a piece of the upper end. The manufacturer wants the supermarket bucks. Can't blame them, but this is helping to drag down the quality, reliability and mystique of the high-end luxury marque. As the world creeps toward economic parity, I see a world rife with mediocre products.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    I think a couple of things are going on.

    1. As the lux brands (maimly MB and BMW here) go down market they get more buyers and hence have to mass produce. This wasn't their planned business model so they don't do it so well. They were designed to be a boutique shop and venturing away from the initial business plan is always a problem - in any business.

    2. The involvement of sophisticated electronics in cars also is a move away from their engineering prowess and is not a core strength and in fact is a pronounced weakness.

    3. Both of the above play strongly into the Japanese hands because they are very well versed in mass production since that was their original business model and they are masters of electronics. The Lux car building move was made on top of that business model. It is easier to go from A to B than from B to A.

    4. Many of the German car fans point to the things that have made the brands famous as still being great. I agree with them and don't think for a second that German engineering or the core of their automotive strengths have declined. They probably have gotten better. It's just all the electronics built around them that don't fare well. Unfortunately car building isn't as simple today as in the past and the competition is fiercer than ever - particularly at the lux end.

    I don't think you will see an NFL in the car industry. I think you will see a continued strive for high quality everywhere. I just don't think everyone will get there. The Japanese are there already though with their leading brands.

    VW - different set of problems. Something has gone wrong there.
  • lexus0622lexus0622 Posts: 27
    Weak profits from core brand sales doesn't seem to be stopping VW's pursuit of new cash deals. Witness today's Wall Street Journal: "Volkswagen sait it and two investors plan to buy Dutch fleet management firm LeasePlan from ABN Amro for $2.38 billion."

    Should customers be worried if VW appears not to be?
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Made here by Ljflx and Designman.

    My posts and links speak to ANNUAL sales, not mere 3 months sales, as many others are talking about. Check out the links again. They are annual sales and trends. DCX is down 0.4% in market share, and BMW is up 0.2%. Toyota, OTOH is up 0.7% in market share. Troubling, I am sure to Detroit, is that Toyota threatens to become #2 in US, ahead of DCX, which, IMO, is the real point I am driving to. DCX needs a wake-up.

    But ljflx's points are right on the money, and may help rationalize some of what the market trends foretell today...
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    "3. Both of the above play strongly into the Japanese hands because they are very well versed in mass production since that was their original business model and they are masters of electronics. The Lux car building move was made on top of that business model. It is easier to go from A to B than from B to A."

    Your premise is correct, however mass production gave way to Lean Production long ago. What was developed as the Toyota Production System (TPS) is now a management philosophy across all companies in the Toyota corporate empire. Toyota insiders refer to TPS as the "Thinking Production System". Problem solving at the value-added worker level is their core asset.

    These concepts are at work throughout the Japanese Automotive world in one form or another.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    I said it before - let's see how Q2 develops before jumping to any conclusions. My take thus far is that VW does have some serious problems on their hands and BMW may have problems developing. I think MB is fine for a simple reason. They do have a number of new models coming out and it's typical to slow production in an older model for two reasons. Changes in the assembly line and slowing demand in anticipation of a new model. That's typical and the reduced sales is more tied to the business process rather than market demand. MB should be pretty hot a year from now. If they aren't then that will be indicative of a real systematic problem.

    merc1 - we may have said it differently but I think you and I are in agreement on MB sales.
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    I just came back from enjoying the 1st Albuquerque, NM International Car Show. Almost all the major/popular brands were present and well displayed. I observed that Lexus had an area marked off on the display map next to Toyota. Lexus was a no show and Toyota units filled in the display area. All those nice cars and Lexus was a no show.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    It amazes me that sales success continues to be as an argument here, as if sales numbers indicate excellence. In that case, the VW Golf is the best euro car, and something like the Honda Civic probably exemplifies Japanese perfection. Which to a certain degree they probably do, it's far tougher to produce excellence at a premium.

    But luxury ought to be naturally about *small* volumes. If it becomes the norm with high sales, it's just the standard, and those with aspirations merely set their sights higher...

    By the way, these days I find Jaguar interiors over-rated. I think the perception of them still being interior leaders shows that the perceptions around these cars are quite emotional, and colored by brand history and reputation. People *want* the Jag leather and wood to be supreme. In my experience with my last XJR, it was very nice, but it had some cheap touches. Vinyl armrest and such. People criticize Mercedes interiors, but Mercedes has always gone for a more spartan interior design. It's part of the brand. They're fixing the tactile aspect of the materials, which have by the way always been extremely durable. In world dominated by leasing, how these cars will look like after 10 years of daily use doesn't seem to matter much anymore, which is a bit of a shame.

    Best luxury interior in my mind these days goes to the Range Rover. A friend has one, and it is awesome. I am a snob when it comes to car interiors (and interior design in a house!)... :-)
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I think so too. I was just making the same point you've already stated, that this first quarter panic is hype and unfounded when you look at the actual facts. Even yearly we're talking about tenths of percent here! The only brand in real trouble is VW and their problem is mainly having an old model lineup and not offering American and Japanese car level incentives, until now. The next year will be very tough for them since the new Passat, Jetta and Golf don't get here until at least this time next year.

    DCX as a whole needs to wake up, true. I would call all the new product at least a sign of them waking up, and I'm talking about the Chrysler side. Mercedes-Benz isn't nearly the trouble the Chrysler brands have been in. Mercedes-Benz never stopped making money and for the record DCX has decided not to bail out Mitsubishi.

    M
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    Perhaps there ought to be a "Luxury Car Brand Business Update" topic? The argument here seems to have shifted exclusively to which brand makes the most profit. It's like buying a gas guzzler and being happy about it because Shell is posting record profits... :-)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,661
    Took a good look at that new Audi schnoz and it looks to me like a person walking around with their mouth open. Audi took a perfect grill (at least the way it looks on the A8) and ruined it. Who made that decision and what were they thinking? As said on this board by others - we have BMW leading a growing group in wrecking rear designs and maybe now we have Audi trying to do the same to the front. Does anyone like that new grill?
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