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High End Luxury Cars

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  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Quick year-to-date summary:

    Lexus + 0.6%
    MB -7.3%
    BMW +.005%
    Audi -0.5%

    BMW did see a 9-10% drop in car sales and about a 30% rise in suv sales which offset it. MB saw a noticable drop in E-class sales but probably due to cannibalization by the CLS. If you add CLS to E-class, as I would, than that group is +10%.

    Didn't get the others but this is the thrust of the forum anyway.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I have no intention of getting into this thing but as far as I'm concerned both of you have to give this thing up. You'll never convince each other. IMO - status definitely helps MB S sales and lower prices definitely helps LS sales, though again the lease differentials are not as great as the purchase price differences. In highly equipped LS cars the leases may actually be more costly than a low optioned S-class. Whether these things offset will never be determinable. But one thing for sure LS prices have been rising (with added and better equipment) and MB status is declining (and their prices have declined a lot from 10 years ago). So the future may give us the answer on its own.
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    Purchased used MB in 1978, took Military BX European delivery of 300D in 1980, had to wait 18 months from date of order to delivery at factory. Traded in 1990 for a 1989 MB 300E (a lease return with some damage repair unknown to the dealer), 1993 traded for another 1993 (New) MB 300E. 1995 traded for new GMC Yukon, 1998 traded for new GMC Yukon. 2001 started looking for replacement for Yukon and concentrated on the Toyota Avalon (short road test). Went to Lexus dealer to see what they had that would compare to the Avalon in case the Toyota dealer would not give me a fair deal on the Avalon. Lexus was out of stock on ES300 (end of year), the GS & IS didn't really turn me on (difficult to enter for a tall guy). Salesman suggested we test drive a 2001 LS430. I was hooked after the test drive and traded them my Yukon and Chev S-10. I have never looked back and am on my fourth LS430. Not sure what was the trigger, prestige, overall performance and feel of the LS430, or what. I never looked at BMW, MB, Etc. I was interested in a reliable, comfortable, good performing, quiet, a good touring car, dealer service and a company that would stand behind their warranty without any hassles. I have not been disappointed. Just thot you might be interest in one customer's point of view and the history of purchases. I once viewed a Ford Motor Co movie that they show to their sales persons to motivate them. The main theme of the movie was that you (the sales person) are not just selling the car today, but perhaps several cars in the future. If the customer's sales/ownership experience is a good one, he/she may return many more times to purchase cars in the future. If the customer is unhappy, you may not see him again.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    A good story. Four LS cars in 4 years? Could be a record!
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Posts: 1,150
    Could it be that part of the reputed 7K difference in price between the TLC and an LX might be not status but customer service/loaners, etc.? According to surveys and an article in a recent Barons, Toyota is developing a bad rep on the sales floor with high pressure, come ons, etc. Kind of like an urban Chevy dealer. Surely, some of the price premium for a Lexus is not just status but also the hand holding and good customer service that goes along with it. IMHO I couldn't imagine bringing in a TLC to the average Toyota dealer for serious service.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I'm sorry but at this point I'm tired of reading the various spins:

    "Just as we can't measure how important price is to the average S or LS buyer."

    " I mean, do we know for a fact how many potential S buyers bought an LS because they could afford an LS but not an S?"

    "Just as we don't know for a fact how many potential LS buyers chose to buy an S because the LS wasn't prestigious enough for them."

    The first two are just spins on what I've said all along, of the circular talk society ilk. The last one is just plainly the same thing you've been trying to say and I still think its nonsense. Price is real thing that makes a difference. Prestige is just a perception and it depends ultimately what the buyer can afford in the first place. Prestige means absolutely nothing, nada unless the buyer can afford either car, which goes back to your points 1 and 2. Back to square one it seems!

    The LX and TLC is both a good and bad example. Its a good example because its the same truck being sold to those fooled into thinking they're getting some exclusive for that Lexus badge, yes that is Lexus' prestige at work on those who want a Toyota product either way.

    Its a bad example because their price gap isn't nearly as large as the S vs. LS and the TLC is dud anyway. I don't ever remember it selling in any great numbers until it got its wood trim and "L" badge.

    "So while we can't directly measue the impact of either price or prestige, it is indeed possible that at the S/LS level, prestige could be "worth" the 12-20k you keep talking about."

    Repeating this doesn't make it so. I guess you'll never understand that to some that prestige you speak of simply can't be afforded.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Sales as always are an interesting thing - without the hype that is.

    The 3-Series is so important to BMW because if it weren't for their SUV sales they would have come up short big time. The 5-Series has outsold the E-Class for the second straight month and it appears that its because of the CLS, but some of that is no doubt due to all the new competition in the segment, mainly the A6 and GS. The Infiniti M doesn't seem to have done a thing to the 5-Series as 5-Series sales have actually increased! That is amazing. What I was shocked to see at MB was the increase of the S-Class and G-Class, two of the senior most models they have at this point. Naturally the SLK and M-Class were way up over 4/04.

    http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2005/05/03/058090.html

    I don't think anyone here is disputing that hybrids will be hot or that Toyota is way ahead on that front, but to me this GS450h makes the current GS430 look pointless. That GS460 had better be some kind of improvement over the GS430 otherwise Lexus will be killing off one of its own models.

    Also, the Chrysler side of DCX is on a roll also, with the Chrysler division itself doing extremely well. Toyota isn't the only regular brand doing well. GM is lost, and Ford is somewhere in the middle.

    http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2005/05/03/058093.html

    M
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    How 'bout diesels? BMW is releasing their first US diesel in 2007. I personally can't wait. Gas mileage of a hybrid without the complicated electronics.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    You raise an interesting point I hadn't considered. However I would distinguish between pre-sales and after-sales customer service. The pre-sales more professional approach is worth something but imho not that much in dollars.

    The after-sales loaners etc. are worth something...but are paid for not in the 7k upfront but with higher service prices, imho. My local Lexus dealer charges $90-95 for a simple oil change. Denny Clements made a speech awhile ago saying that Lexus dealers have the highest profitability in the US. I believe that's coming primarily from service.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I am one who took the LX470 over the TLC and the reasons were simple. At that time the fully loaded TLC was only $4K shy of the LX470 in price. If you were leasing the difference was even smaller. The LX470 had a better and more luxurious interior, better and more comfortable seats, an air suspension, the up/down height adjustment switch for entering and exiting (for which grandparents are extremely grateful), the incomparable ML stereo and finally a noticably more luxurious and noticably quieter ride. The TLC rides fine and is not noisy but the LX takes it to sedan luxury quality and the TLC is no match for that. It's like the difference between a near lux ride and a lux ride. Throw in Lexus service, the first two service appointments on the house, add in Lexus prestige and it's a no brainer. They may look the same to the non-buyer and the non-buyer may think the Lexus buyer is being had but it's the other way around. Now if you want to hold down the price (which the LX doesn't allow) and go for a less optioned TLC than its another story. But the LX has (or at least had in the past) things that the fully loaded TLC lacked (for not a lot more price) and only people who have REAL experience with both vehicles or are REALLY in the market for an LX seem to know this.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I think ljflx and Pat are right, I guess I give up trying to get through to you on this point. My parting shot...

    Now that the S350 is available at dealers, we won't have to scrounge around for sales data showing how it is selling vs the S500. With a $21k price difference fewer people can afford the S500, so it will just have to sell fewer units than the S350, right? Who cares what the real numbers are?
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I posted a few days ago that the June Car & Driver has a column about diesel prospects, pointing out that 2006 clean air standards will make diesel cars more expensive in the US, and predicting that with the higher vehicle cost (and diesel fuel already slightly more expensive per gallon), drivers will be looking at 200,000 mile breakeven times. So if economy is part of the reason for buying diesel, I would look at a E320 CDI this year.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    MB is really dealing the S-class, as would be expected in a last year run. Remember they threw in AWD for free and they have priced leases as low as I've ever seen. They've dropped me a few mailers in the past year and they are (or were) doing some 2 year holdover deals to the new car. Notwithstanding that I'm not surprised that the S still holds up well. The LS and the S really satisfy the largest percentage of the buyers in this segment the best. As I said once before if the LS wasn't around I'd go straight to MB and say my prayers on reliability. I'd also say that some buyers may be worried about first year problems with the new car and some may think the new car will be a drop-off in looks from the current car. Just guessing on the latter points though.

    You have to add the CLS sales to the E IMO in evaluating that segment, But the dropoff in BMW car sales has to have them a bit perturbed in Germany. BMW is also doing some real attractive lease programs right now on the 5. They seem to have real low lease prices every year in this April-May time frame.

    Lastly - is it just me or are others noticing the slugfest in advertising on 24 between Lexus, MB and BMW. I'm still bothered by the terrorists driving LS430 and GS cars.Ford and Lexus seem to be the cars on this years show run.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    One thing I found interesting in the April sales numbers is this:

    The new M-class, which I percieve as having gotten favorable reviews in the autorags, in April still sold 58% less units than the segment-leading RX330 (and to be conservative here I have excluded the RX400h from the comparison).

    The new GS, on the other hand, in April trailed the segment-leading 5-series by a lesser amount, 30%.

    Maybe another sign that MB's quality issues are having some impact...
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    I won't hold it against the market if the new M-class comes out of the gate a little slowly. Knowing what I do about the improvements in the most recent cars, I wouldn't hesitate to lease or buy one, but I don't fault anyone who says "you get one first, and I'll watch and see what happens."
    Not that I want to re-ignite this ever revolving arguement, but just curious - what does an RX330 with the basics - leather, roof, navigation, 6-disc - price out at? An M-class with that gear on it would be $46k-ish.
  • Doing this very quickly I come up with about $45,000 however I suspect a couple of 1000 could probably be saved by buying one of the packages...

    I have sun roof, heated seats, CD changer, GPS, and 4 Wheel Drive.

    With both cars priced about he same would that shoot a hole in Mercs...It's the price theory...if the RX 330 outsells the M class.
  • 00boxsters00boxsters Posts: 202
    2005 RX330awd = $45,083 with nav. package per their website
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    I think it would be harder to isolate any single factors in the mid-size, lux SUV market b/c there is a much broader range of product within a $10k price range to choose from. I do believe the RX has had a longer run, popularity-wise, as a "car-like" SUV given its car platform, which in this market has turned out to be what more people wanted. Plenty of people told me they thought the ML rode rougher than the RX, and it did. And there is no question that the RX, while having a couple of problems, was a Maytag compared to the 1st gen ML, which has certainly turned a lot of people off.(to the ML)
    Also, in the SUV market, there are more middle income, discount motivated buyers, and if what you say is true, and Lexus carries a 12-15% markup, which I would find easy to believe since it shares platforms with the camry, rav-4, highlander, and ES, then they have more room to negotiate. And I can promise you, even if it's not the way you think, lots of people in this tier of the market will buy the choice B car, if they're getting the bigger discount on that car. Just today I lost a deal on an ML500, to a cadillac SLR, which in mine and his opinion is an inferior vehicle which will also depreciate much quicker.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    "you get one first, and I'll watch and see what happens"

    That's exactly how I feel about MB. Management promises notwithstanding, I wouldn't buy one in year one due to quality concerns.
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Posts: 1,150
    Just curious, how much would a new base AWD S Class cost once all the pushing and shoving are done?

    On another note, I'm surprised that there isn't much discussion here of the Bentley Continental and that there is absolutely no mention of the Arnage. For those that don't want to spend more than 200K on a new Arnage, a MY2000 Arnage is in the same price range as a new S Class and probably has more reliabilty, more distinction and perhaps a lower cost per mile (because the big hit has already been taken). The three to five year old Bentleys that I have seen have very low (e.g., 10,000) miles on them and would be a great daily driver for the person that spends S Class money.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    ...sales without the hype ....

    Hype or fact is always in the eye of the beholder...

    ..... but to me this GS450h makes the current GS430 look pointless. That GS460 had better be some kind of improvement over the GS430 otherwise Lexus will be killing off one of its own models.

    Toyota plans to make hybrids as common as, say, an option you choose at the dealership, like a CD changer, moonroof, Nav, etc... So get used to hybrids as commodities in the US market. Now that Toyota plans to build a hybrid Camry in their Kentucky plant, look out ! Cheaper to build (local) and cheaper to purchase, they will become the de facto default choice of buyers, given the economics of benefit-to-cost considerations.

    OTOH, Lexus plans to make the hybrid versions of their products the *premium* model. So consider a GS460 with 350/350 HP/TQ, and priced at, say $55K base. The GS450h, churning out about 360-375HP/400 Ibft of torque will be priced $5-10K higher (base). The catch: Higher mileage, less pollution, cleaner environment for everyone (especially our kids and seniors), and of course MUCH FASTER than a comparable naturally-aspirated V8 GS460.
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    "My local Lexus dealer charges $90-95 for a simple oil change."
    I'm not going to take my LS to ZipLube even if it is less expensive. When I purchased the LS, I made a decision to use the Lexus Service at least until the warranty had expired. I knew the cost would be more than the GMC Yukon that I was driving, but I considered the increased cost was part of the "Pursuit of Perfection".
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "Now that the S350 is available at dealers, we won't have to scrounge around for sales data showing how it is selling vs the S500. With a $21k price difference fewer people can afford the S500, so it will just have to sell fewer units than the S350, right? Who cares what the real numbers are?"

    I guess you do. The S350 is a last minue addition and isn't going to just soar past established models in the last 7-13 months of the current S-Class. Mercedes didn't even tell anyone that the S350 was coming, heck I didn't even know until I checked their website. They aren't even promoting the car, its a place holder.

    "The new M-class, which I percieve as having gotten favorable reviews in the autorags, in April still sold 58% less units than the segment-leading RX330 (and to be conservative here I have excluded the RX400h from the comparison)."

    So what? Talk about hype. The ML just came out during the month of April, like towards the middle. They wouldn't have had that many built to outsell the segment leader in the introductory month.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    But the dropoff in BMW car sales has to have them a bit perturbed in Germany. BMW is also doing some real attractive lease programs right now on the 5. They seem to have real low lease prices every year in this April-May time frame.

    Why would they be worried about a dropoff in sales when their main car, the 3-Series is doing a model change over? This is what happens all the time. Nothing for anyone to worry about. The 5-Series was way up and come this month the newly facelifted 7-Series goes on sale. Not that this applies to you in particuar, but this board never seems to be able apply basic logic to sales numbers. If they drop its a crisis and if they don't shoot through the roof there is a problem, yet all of this only applies to BMW, MB and Audi, not any of Lexus' previous duds. A vehicle comes out in the middle of the month and yet its supposed to overtake or catch the existing sales leader, yet because it doesn't there is an issue. Totally Ridiculous.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "So consider a GS460 with 350/350 HP/TQ, and priced at, say $55K base. The GS450h, churning out about 360-375HP/400 Ibft of torque will be priced $5-10K higher (base). The catch: Higher mileage, less pollution, cleaner environment for everyone (especially our kids and seniors), and of course MUCH FASTER than a comparable naturally-aspirated V8 GS460."

    So in other words the GS450h makes the GS460 pointless then. Good luck on the GS450h producing those kind of hp numbers. When a company says "over 300" they usually mean like 320 or so. The hp/torque numbers your guesstimating aren't going to make the GS450h that much fast than the regular GS460. If the GS450h is only 5-10K more why would I want a GS460? The rest reads like like Lexus Service Announcement.

    M
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
    That article is really starting to get me excited about the upcoming E320 CDI. Sounds like MB has a real winner on their hands. Unfortunately I can't get it here in MA because of the emissions laws. I wonder if it is possible to sneak a used one in somehow. I can't imagine MB discounting this car too much because of the limited numbers. What is the typical discount on a MB car? (I know this varies from model to model) When buying a Lexus I wouldn't even consider it unless I'm getting 10% off. When I was shopping for the S430 the guy was only giving me about 5-6% off on a new one, and even less on a used one.

    The 5-10K Premium on a GS hybrid is crazy...I'd pay 3K maybe for the hybrid drivetrain..Maybe that is where the market exists for a gasoline GS460. 5-10K is a pretty significant amount especially in that price range. If they can manage to sell the hybrids at a 5-10K premium, then Toyota must be laughing all the way to the bank.

    SV
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Talk about hype. The ML just came out during the month of April, like towards the middle.

    That's odd, on another Edmunds board someone posted:

    Yeah I'm reading in other MB forums that the new ML is due like on March 19th or so?
    merc1, "2006 Mercedes-Benz M-Class" #18, 13 Mar 2005 6:33 pm

    Guess who posted it? Some fellow named merc1. Guess that Germans-are-supermen attitude caused a little mixup on the dates? ;)

    If you want to let the M-class season a little before seeing if it has re-captured segment leadership, fine by me. We'll check again down the road.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    You should be able to get the new V6 diesel in your state once low-sulfur fuel is madatory in 2006.

    Hard to say what the discount is on a Benz until you talk specific models. AMG and hard to get models are less so than final run models of course.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    You're right on the dates, I was thinking March not April.

    Either way it still doesn't make a bit of difference as there is no way the ML is going to catch the sales leader in 40 days or so on the market. To even suggest that there is a problem because it didn't is like I said - ridiculous. The ML will probably never sell in the volumes of the RX anyway, I really don't expect it too. Doesn't mean its a failure either.

    M
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