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High End Luxury Cars

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  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    I have an ultra, and there are alot of things I have taken for granted over the years...One small thing is the mirrors fold in when the car is parked...I noticed the b,mw 7 did not do that nor did it have the cool seat function although it did have perforated seats with a fan ...I sure wish Lexus would introduce the new Lexus quicker than a year, and if they did so I would wait...Tony PS. The Mercedes 500s is going to be above a hundred thousand nicely equipped--imo--and it would probabley take a long time to get, and with the reliability problems I rule that out completely. I think I would just as soom have a Bentley if I could take the dings that would be coming
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    The Mercedes 500s is going to be above a hundred thousand nicely equipped

    If raise prices like that imho they'll just lose further market share to BMW and Lexus.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    I would still not buy a MB AMG for its performance, forget about regular MB. Porsche beats MB day in and day out in performance. Now you have it: Lexus beats MB in luxury, and Porsche beats it in performance. It is really tough to be in MB's shoes.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I think Porsche Panamera will be stealing a lot of CLS thunder.
  • Merc1,

    You still try to reframe the arguments about Mercedes as being one of 'buying up' or 'prestige'.

    But you are mistaken to say that Mercedes sales haven't grown as fast as Lexus because of price.

    Mercedes sales haven't grown as fast a Lexus, because Lexus outsold Mercedes in market segments where, in general, they are considered competitors.

    The fact that Mercedes cost more than it's competition doesn't make it a 'prestige' vehicle to anyone but the most uninformed of pluggerbrains. Their prices are higher because their costs are higher ... higher labor costs in Europe, old-style manufacturing processes, extrordinarily high warranty costs, high marketing to keep up the image. Every Mercedes buyer pays for this, over and over and over again.

    Go ask IBM and Compaq what the heck happened to their PC businesses. BOTH were 'prestige', high priced product lines, the original innovators of their businesses. Dell ate their lunches in virutally every segment over price, quality and distribution. IBM sold their PC business recently to a Chinese company and HP bought Compaq some time ago. Intel, Apple and OpenSource movement do most of the product innovation in the PC busienss these days.

    Mercedes is a great brand but a very so-so car company these days. The brand will probably survive for a very long time. The car company is a big question mark. Sure there is a 'new' CEO taking the reins, but we all have seen that in one company or another. Hopefully his focus on quality and getting rid of the ridiculous number of different platforms that MB produces for tee-tiny markets will help. But who knows, maybe it's too little too late.

    Getting the styling right isn't magic uniquely owned by European car companies as evidenced by the bangled butts on BMWs and the wide-mouth-frog look on Audi's. There certainly isn't anything special styling-wise about the major car lines like C, E and S, though some of the low-volume niche cars are cute, except for the Maybach - which is MB's Porsche 928.

    Shareholders and owners alike might be best served if Mercedes was owned and operated by a modern competitive manufacturing company like LG (China) or Samsung (Taiwan). Maybe there'd be a big, big market for a $25,000 fully loaded E-Class, like the new Hyundai's.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Enjoyed reading your post, though I don't agree fully with it. I liked the analogy to IBM and Compaq.

    BTW, both LG and Samsung are Korean.

    I rented a Kia Amanti a couple of months ago. Way too floaty and mushy for me...but an amazing amount of car for the money, and the interior appointments definitely beat the 300C I rented awhile back (by quite alot) . Hyundai has made big strides in initial quality, and is talking about introducing an upscale marque....I bet that 10 years from now ljflx and I will still be here, but we'll be on the defensive against a younger generation whose favorite high end luxury marque is Korean. Another 10 years on from then, and maybe it'll be a Chinese brand.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Syswei - the laws of supply and demand and checks and balances are always at work. I think Toyota will have a long run but every company screws up at some point. Don't underestimate future consolidation though. Toyota will acquire some up and coming Asian company at some point. From the consumer view you want everyone to succeed so you have greater choice. From the corporate view you want to beat out or acquire that upstart before it gets too much traction, the way Lexus did in the lux segment. It's like the power pitchers in baseball, get to them early when they are wilder or you're in for a long ballgame.
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Posts: 1,150
    Nice post . Can anyone (maybe a reader of the Automotive News?) tell us what a MB store sells for, net of real estate, these days vs. a Lexus store? That would be telling.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    What's not logical?

    The assumption that all MB owners have had or will have the same type of experience you had.

    The assumption that the only people who want a Benz are people that have never had one.

    These are just guesses at best, which was my point. Just because you experience wasn't good, doesn't mean everyone else's won't be.

    I didn't say that the average buyer didn't care about surveys, we all know that they do. I said that the average buyer doesn't care about any this profit/CEO talk being thrown around here like it is on the brain of the average car buyer.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I have no problem with MB. I wish them well... These long debate is about why MB is no longer the defacto *must have* brand. I say it once again: the market has spoken, and the trends are undeniable. I do not expect MB to go out of business, but if they continue this destructive path, then they would be in danger. Who knows, maybe Chrysler may end up owning MB in the near future !!! Stranger things have happened, you know....

    Firstly, you didn't prove anything about a trend when it came to sales because you used the wrong months in your post. Secondly, you stated that the MB wasn't the choice brand for the high-end buyer and I proved that they were, even using your price range.

    Now you're free to feel what you want about MB, thats your choice, but please don't act like its the truth because it isn't. Mercedes may not be the car company they were 10 years ago, but whether you like it or not they're still the #1 choice of the high end buyer, again using your price range of 50-80K. Now if you have numbers that say otherwise I'd love to see them.

    We can go on and on about the corporate stuff all day long, but I'm not because no one here is going to convice me or prove to me that the average buyer cares about an automotive company's profits or who their CEO is. Period.

    You state that poor reliability has no great effect on sales, yet MB is not growing as much as its competition, in a growing market. And you don't see the link ?

    No, for the last time what I said was that I don't see this big downturn that keeps getting talked about here, when it comes to sales..due to reliability surveys. Does it ever occur to you that Mercedes' lineup is pricier than everyone else's in the mainstream luxury market an that despite this they have gone from 100K sales a year to over 200K from 1998 onwards, meaning that they did grow, just not at the rate of Lexus. Price has as much to do with this reliablity does. If you going to ignore price then forget surveys too, because they are both real-life reasons why MB can't be expected to win a sales race.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    OK. I can understand the latter part of your post and it's a subjective issue. So let's let it go at that. My point was/is all the negativity takes its toll and that's my subjective and gut feeling. It's like unneeded bad advertising. On the opposite end of the spectrum I never believed Audi had a real acceleration problem in the 80's yet all those news reports took their toll heavily. I actually agree with you on the CEO issue. I don't even know Toyota's CEO or even a top officer. But seeing a CEO fired and one as abruptly as Schrempp was, with a salary cutoff is a big confirmation of the quality issues. It's also a confirmation - in other ways - that MB is trying to truly fix them now as opposed to the sterile BS statement the execs made over the past 2 years.

    Ok, finally we seem to be coming to some sort of middle ground. I agree, they should have let him go a while back, but I have my own reasons for that. My reasons are more dealing with design changes that I feel aren't MB, but thats another story. That and the quality issue was too much for me to have any faith in his abilities to run DCX/MB anymore.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    But you are mistaken to say that Mercedes sales haven't grown as fast as Lexus because of price.

    Mercedes sales haven't grown as fast a Lexus, because Lexus outsold Mercedes in market segments where, in general, they are considered competitors.


    Well Lexus outselling Mercedes is twofold. First MB, to their own detriment misjudged the SUV market with the body-on-frame M-Class, which also was cost-cut to death to get it down to a Ford Explorer price, which gave it the worst quality scores in MB's history. This right here is the major reason Lexus outsells MB, because MB (and the Germans in general) were slow to spot the SUV trend and react. Score a huge one for Lexus.

    The part about price is where I will simply never agree. The LS430 outselling the S-Class, is in part due to a price advantage. I mean take away everything else and you have a car that starts at 57K going against what was until April (S350 is entry level now) of this year a 77K car in the S430. All I'm saying is that has to account for something. How much so I don't know, but to say it doesn't matter is false.

    To make a such a broad statement about Lexus outselling MB in general in segments where they are competitors isn't true either. While the ES330 is an entry-level luxury car, its mission and focus isn't really in tune with any other European or Japanese luxury car company's entry level products. In short, no one else is chasing the ES or even considers it a competitor, at least not enough of one to warrant producing such a uninvolving car.

    The IS and GS, where MB and Lexus are more of direct competitors, MB outsells them easily so that statement about where they are both competitors doesn't really hold true when you look at all the models.

    Something tells me that if MB hadn't dropped the ball in SUV, the sales race would be a lot more interesting because MB has the better sales on the car side already, in most cases where MB/Lexus prices line up more cleanly.

    Does MB face an uphill battle of catching up because of the recently acquired rep for poor reliablity? Yes. Back in 1998 the word hadn't got out yet so they would have really had a chance to maintain their lead over Lexus in sales, if they had a better SUV and didn't wait until the 2006 model year to add a crossover.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    But here's what I've been trying to put across to Merc1. You read a story like that and you still have no hesitation to drop $60-100K on one of their cars? Merc's point is historic MB buyers will not be influenced or may not even know. How? It's everywhere. But let's just say you are one that has been hit by the recalls, the repair bills and the inconveniences of seeing dealer serrvice too often or know a few too many people who have that experience. Still no hesitation? I doubt it because the capital requirement is far too heavy. I think a hidden problem in all this is that MB has lost some core customers at the top end and gained some entry level lux customers who always aspired to own a Benz at that low end. But now its not the quality brand of its past legacy. Proof - I have none but I'd bet a lot of money on it.

    Here is the thing though...people have been buying European cars for years and they aren't all "performance buyers" either. MB had their share of buyers that would put up with little things to own one, whether it was for prestige, gadgets, or to simply have an "SL" or "S-Class". MB, while traditionally attracting the type of buyer that wouldn't go near a Jaguar because of reliablity, has it share of these buyers too. Ones that just want a MB, despite the bad press.

    The statement about low-level buyers doing the buying isn't true either when you look at the numbers. The S and E respectively are still the #2 and #1 selling cars in their classes, despite the bad press. Especially the press about the E-Class. The SL has its market sewn up as does the CLK, so it isn't just entry-level buyers who still buy or want a Mercedes. Did you look at sales numbers from the 50-80K segment, its over 100K for 2004. These are not entry-level buyers.

    At some level, some buyers want what they want and don't care about all of this as much as others. How do we measure who does and who doesn't? I really don't know, but at some level this type of buyer exists for MB too otherwise their sales would have really dropped on a level like VW's have over the last few years. I agree that for some folks all the bad news is a big reason for pause, but for others it isn't. The new product launches, under a cloud and all are either selling up to the level expected or beyond in the case of the CLS. The key is for MB to fix this before this type of buyer is gone, like in the case of Jaguar. I think you would agree with that??

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Syswei - this is why I made the statement last year or last winter that MB would lose its throne status position in the future. I still think both BMW and Lexus will pass them in a few years.

    Status is made up of many things. BMW has never, ever been as strong as Mercedes when it comes to the status cars. BMW has always been stronger than Mercedes when it comes to the bottom end. This is why these two have co-existed for years and years, with MB always having the higher postion.

    BMW had the chance to knock Mercedes off with all new designs since 2002 for every sedan that they make. However when you look at it the 7-Series was too controversial to knock the S-Class off, even in the final years the S-Class outsells the 7-Series both here and worldwide. That is stauts my friend.

    An even bigger drop for BMW is the new 5-Series. While I like the car well enough, it isn't nearly the class leader the old one was when it came to driving. I still think it is the best handling/driving car but the design changes have made the press go cold on it, combined with a new M from Infiniti and it hasn't been all wins like the previous 5-Series. The E-Class, while not marketed as a "sports" sedan continues to be just as popular if not more so (I haven't looked the numbers this YTD), and has placed ahead of the 5-Series in any of the comparos I've seen both compared. Do I agree with that from a driver's standpoint, no, but still the comparo was BMW's strong hold.

    The 3-Series will contine its traditional ways of beating the C-Class, but this is where BMW has always been the superior car, for those who want more sport.

    The only image builder that BMW has at the high-end is the 6-Series, which is far more successful than the Z8 or 8-Series ever were, but at it costs much less than they did too. The 6 and of course the M versions of the 5 and 6-Series, they've always been red-hot cars for BMW. Mercedes on the other hand has a dozen ga-ga cars to counter this and open up for more wallets and open them much wider at that.

    When you look at the real high-end BMWs like the 90's 8-Series and recent Z8 BMW doesn't even begin to have the "status" of MB at the upper end, they can't even get a foothold in in the specialty markets where MB builds a lot of their image. BMW is the only one of the 3 high-end German makes that doesn't have a supercar in their lineup like MB's SLR, Porsche's Carrera GT. Even Audi has one on the drawing board.

    BMW being king on the lower half and MB at the upper and overall due to much more successful high-end products like the SL and CL, is pretty much the way it has always been, and I don't see that changing. This new S-Class according to those who are into European cars and post on the pro-European boards elsewhere say the new S is poised to demolish the only high-end car BMW has, the 7-Series.

    The way I see it BMW has had their chance, only Lexus remains with a chance to knock of MB. This will have to take place on a worldwide scale and it will require more than just a super LS to do it. MB has many attractive products in all sorts of niches all over the world.

    Status isn't just this stuff we talk (argue) about when it comes to corporate matters, the cars have an equal part in building status and that is where the others, BMW and Lexus don't cut it at the high end, because both of them have been doing much better than MB on the corporate side for years, yet even certain everyday MB products are still in control of their market segments, both here and overseas. Not to mention all the high-end models that you see in one form or another every month somwhere being compared to this and that. That is also status.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    It's like unneeded bad advertising. On the opposite end of the spectrum I never believed Audi had a real acceleration problem in the 80's yet all those news reports took their toll heavily.

    Yeah that was really something, and it was based on a problem a lot of Americans still have, not knowing how to drive. Right after that everything from Camrys to 300Es were claimed to have the same problem, yet not one car from any brand was found to have a default. Such nonsense nearly killed Audi in this country. They sold a little of 12K in 1992-1993 I think, but they hung in there. Now I think their problem is exposure, and of course bad rep in the reliability surveys. We were having a discussion about Audi's dealerships on another board. They never seem to have one in the same areas with MB/BMW/Cadillac/Lexus you know the usual "dealers row" area of your average metro area. I think Audi has an exposure problem that is just as big as their reliabilty problem. I actually think Audi could sell more cars if they had more dealers in strategic places, or at least in more places where other luxury cars brands are represented.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I have had to acquire a taste for the new S, but I can say I have gone from thinking it was o.k. to liking it pretty well. I've seen better photos more recently, and I guess seeing it in the flesh will determine my real opinion. Late jan early feb is what I'm hearing for availablity, plus the saks 5th ave., or whatever limited edition cars they're making only 40 or so of, that will be sold in october, if I remember correctly. The 450 is either mid model intro for '07, or maybe '08. I'm excited about the car, and we're starting to take orders for them, which is good to see. I'm not too proud to admit that I'm a little nervous about all the new tech going into this car...I hope it's not a repeat of the 220.

    Well I like everything except that rear fender arch, so I too will have to see the car in person before making final judgement. In some pics it isn't as bad as in others. Of course darker colors hide it, but a Mercedes has to look good in silver so that is no good if they have to be in darker colors all the time. The interior appear to show a level of quality and detailing not seen in any Benz since the previous SL or W140 S-Class (at the beginning of its production, not the latter years). Yes it appears that the S500 will be a 90K car to start with 100K easily attainable, with the 335hp S450 being closer to 79-81K.

    M
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Yes it appears that the S500 will be a 90K car to start with 100K easily attainable, with the 335hp S450 being closer to 79-81K.

    OK, I'm too lazy to go look on other boards...what are the major innovations that the new S is going to introduce (not counting the fenders ;) )? Stroudman talked about the car being loaded with high tech.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    For the money one pays for MB, even one, ie. me, gets stranded by the side of the road is unacceptable. And let me tell you, the dealer didn't treat me nice either. That's why Bussinessweek says MB is now a "quality has-been". Please read the article "Dark Days at Daimler" in BW before you post again. We all want MB to get back to "one of teh world's most-admired premium rands" again.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    Survey after survey says MB's status is nowhere what it USED to be and you are the only one that stills says it's the same. Is this the power of ONE?
  • Merc:

    Have you just acknowledged that Lexus outsells Mercedes in the Luxury Sedan LS vrs S....and SUV markets....but Mercedes outsell lexus in TAXI's so they are the better company?

    This is the high end Luxury Marque board...Shouldn't the Mercedes Taxis and Mercedes As and Bs and Cs...be compared to ...Fords and Chevies and Kias?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Disagree. I for one still believe MB is number one in status but it slipped badly and they now have challengers that are getting so close to it in stature that it may not mean much anymore. As far as I am concerned MB pushed the status advertising the past few years because it needed to re-enforce something that had slipped so much in people's perceptions. I doubt it worked and it was probably a big waste of ad money. You never saw ads pushing status so hard in the past because MB quality spoke for itself and its customers certified it by selling used cars for such super high residuals. That was true status, but those days are over.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I read somewhere that back in the 60s, high-hp, high-displacement engines were fairly common, but then the high gas prices brought about by the embargo in the early 70s put an end to "gotta have a big engine".

    Is all that generally true?

    Do people think that if gas prices continue to head higher, big-engines will fade a bit? I still remember that BMW used to sell a 735 in the US (I know that they also once had a 728, but don't know if it was sold here), but now the smallest they sell here is a 4.8 liter 750i.

    Maybe in a few years we'll look like Europe...lots of small-engined versions being sold.

    Maybe high gas prices will cause some of the performance-lovers to change what they drive, and the way they drive.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    Disagree. What was the last time you see Rolex ads by the company, not by watch dealers? For my household who own one or more Rolexes each, MB is NO LONGER number one in status. Rolls Royce is still number ONE.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I had a 350HP 74 Monte Carlo and a 430 or 450 was available. A buddy of mine had either a 430 or 450 grand prix. But it didn't have the 0-60 power or the torque that lower powered V-8's have now. I got 15-17 mpg on the highway. Those engines were set to get best gas mileage at 55-60mph. In those days A/C was a drain on gas , costing you 3-4 miles per gallon. Sometimes I see some real oldtimers still driving around with windows open on highways in hot weather. I'm convinced they still think A/C performs like it did 30 years ago. So now that A/C is efficient they are killing their mileage by increasing drag.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
    I'd say that MB is still the top "marque" in this field. I think Rolls is far beyond most Lexus and MB buyers means. Perhaps the Rolls should be considered an Ultra High End Lux marque. Merc1 and some of the other posters are correct when they say people still aspire to owning an MB...I'm one of those people. Despite all of the bad press, I'd still be willing to buy one, and in fact will seriously consider the new S Class when it comes time to replace my new 05 LS. The sole qualifier will be the state of MB's quality at that time.

    Mercedes still has the edge when it comes to allure over Lexus. People all over the world still think of MB as the Number One brand..Not everyone is as well informed as we are..I venture a guess to say that we are in the minority. Sure some people have heard about MB's quality issues, but they're still selling them at a decent clip..Keep in mind the S Class is a fairly old car now, so it really isn't fair to compare it to a recently refreshed LS430. A better comparison will come in 2006-7 with the release of the new S and LS460.

    It's fair to say they've dipped in resale and quality, but it's hardly the death knell for them. It's clearly hurting their bottom line as well. But the one strength they do have is their brand name. At this moment, I'd say this is Merecedes' greatest asset. Imagine if this were some lesser brand such as Infiniti..I'd doubt they'd still manage to survive.

    Competition is good for owners of all marques. Lexus is pushing MB on quality and other economics, while MB is pushing Lexus on designing cars that provoke an emotional response instead of a purely rational one. It'll be good to see what the '07 looks like..

    SV
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    I still remember that BMW used to sell a 735 in the US (I know that they also once had a 728, but don't know if it was sold here), but now the smallest they sell here is a 4.8 liter 750i.

    BMW did not have a V8 until the early-to-mid 90's. The 3.4 liter block in 735 and 535 was the largest they had (called "big six"). For a time, they welded two "small six" 2.5 liters together to make the V12 in the old 750i in the end of 80's and early 90's. People forget that a decade and a half ago, BMW was like Acura, a performance car maker without any V8 under its name. Market perception change quickly.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    People forget that a decade and a half ago, BMW was like Acura, a performance car maker without any V8 under its name.

    Thanks for the history lesson, I actually didn't know that. Maybe there is hope for Acura yet...it seems to me that people really look down on them because of the lack of a V8, but since they're supposed to have a V10 in the pipeline, maybe the view will change in time.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Unlike Acura though the 3.5 engine revved to 9000. So even though they didn't have a V8, they had high revving performance engines. It's not market perceptions that change quickly, it's the market itself.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    Not sure what you are talking about. The 3.4 liter in the 735i/L delivered only 225hp. Only the Acura NSX engine revved to anywhere close to 9000rpm (7100rpm peak power to be exact) and delivered 290hp in that time frame for production cars.
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    My hat`s off to you..Always try and keep an open mind.....My delema is that my Lexus is about four yrs old and it is time for a new car...For the enthusiast imo the Mercedes or BMW have a certain mistique and the Lexus has the rest...I would get the Lexus if the new design were available as I believe the value is there..I would particularly get the H , but probably not the ultra (which I now have) as the price has soared.....I`m seriously thinking of the bmw for the next two and a half yrs, but am hesitant as I don`t understand the lease details which I think would enable me to cap the depreciation for that short a time.....This would enable Lexus to introduce the new model and then maybe get it a year after introduction...If the Lexus were to continue to increase in price to where it were to be comprably priced to Mercedes, BMW then I would have to take a new look...If say the price of gas were to be four dollars or so, that would also make me think twice about any of them...

    To chime in on the financial well being of the brands, imo it is logical that if the manufacturer is financially well off the lowly customer is going to be treated better as the dealer is able to get more support from the manufacturer....You can take that to the bank...The dealer associations are very powerful with the different state legislations and they get many bills passed that limit what a consumer can sew over Everyone keep the opinions flowing Tony
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