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High End Luxury Cars

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Comments

  • garyh1garyh1 Posts: 386
    Excellent post, lovemyclk. I hope my slight attempt at sarcastic humor in the excerpt you quoted didn't place me in the camp of those guilty of "Unabated taking of sides while damning the opposition". As someone who until a few months ago had driven only European cars for the last 30 yrs (German cars only for the last 24), and who still owns 2 MBs along with 1 new Lexus, I appreciate the positives and negatives of all these manufacturers' approaches.

    In particular, I would like nothing better than for MB to resolve its reliability issues, for BMW to drop its over-quirkiness, for Audi to improve its dealer network, etc., so I could go back to my old buying habits. I was sincerely happy to see Cordes mention that the QC issues go all the way from the "drawing board to the assembly line". Too bad he then seemingly tried to cover up for/placate MB's own engineers by putting all the blame on those pesky outside "suppliers". That was the substantive point I was trying to make-- you can't make a better omelet without breaking some eggs, and Cordes won't truly be able to improve quality if he doesn't focus his own troops on designing reliability directly into the product.

    Interestingly, just as you stated you are glad that the Japanese have set the bar for quality, I had previously stated that I was glad MB (and some other Europeans) were around to act as innovators. And hey, maybe someday we will be thanking the Koreans like Hyundai for showing how "high end luxury" only has to cost 20% more, instead of 100-200% more, than "standard". Who knows....but of course, they still won't have MB's "heritage", right merc1?

    Wake me up, I must be dreaming.
  • ron36330ron36330 Posts: 69
    MB manufacturing process is to assemble the car and correct all deficiencies after assembly. This adds to the cost of the car as they sit in post production yards awaiting QC personnel to go through each car making necessary corrections/adjustments.
    Lexus builds each car correctly and will stop assembly anytime deficiencies are noted. Hence, they do not constantly repeat the same mistake over and over as does MB. The net result is that it takes fewer people (66 to be exact) to build a LS430 with little or no QC corrections upon completion of the build cycle. Net result is fewer corrections, fewer people required to build the car and a more consistent product with highly satisfied customers.
    Yes, I am one of those 3 car, 2 driver families.
    Toyota 4-Runner
    LS 430 UL
    SC430
    Ron
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    It is reported that Porsche will show a concept of Panamera, their long-awaited 4-door sedan at the Frankfurt Auto Show this coming fall. The pix shown here are circulating around the internet but they are photochops. I would expect the concept and final version to be quite different even though it will no doubt have the Porsche styling genes that are demonstrated below.

    Here's the kicker. Don't be surprised if it shows up hybrid.

    Porsche has been dancing with Toyota and has recently announced that they are pursuing a hybrid Cayenne using licensed Toyota technology. Reportedly, the sedan will be using both versions of the Cayenne 4.5 engine, 340hp and 450hp turbo. So, given Porsche's need to economize, parts-sharing fits the picture just as it did with the 911 and Boxster, without which the Boxster could not have been built.

    Perhaps more important, there will be new and tougher emission standards in place by the time Panamera is launched. Since Porsche is a performance manufacturer who sells most of their cars in the US, emissions have been a thorn in their side. On top of their Cayenne which is a portly beast that now accounts for more than 50% of their sales, a new conventional performance sedan could negate the emissions benefit of adding a hybrid Cayenne to their fleet, not to mention the increases in engine performance of the 911 and Boxster.

    Then there is Toyota who has publicly stated that they want to bring their hybrid technology worldwide. A hybrid performance Porsche would be a coup, a marketing tool for Toyota's brainchild without competing with Lexus. It would be a poster child for their technology.

    Lastly, Ferdinand Porsche is credited with being the first to develop hybrid power early in the 20th century. This scenario fits the Porsche heritage and mission like a glove. Mission? You bet. If a 4-second hybrid Lexus is in development for a luxury format, picture that kind of performance on a Porsche suspension.

    It is very early in the process for a Porsche sedan. Rumors mean squat. It will gain credence when Porsche announces a commitment to proceed. As we know, showing a concept is not a commitment. But it appears that Panamera is in the think tank and we may know a lot more this fall.

    Well, it's just a thought. In any event, you heard it here first.

    image
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Awesome game. I saw just the last half of it while in Detroit.

    I'm am betting man so I have a lot riding on this!

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,662
    So are you betting on your homestate?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Of course!

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "Who knows....but of course, they still won't have MB's "heritage", right merc1?"

    Of course not. Mercedes' heritage is the oldest and most grand, now all they have to bring the quality/reliabilty back up to that standard again.

    M
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Everytime I see a post about 'innovation' from European car companies these days, it makes me want to throw up. You'd have to be a car salesman and an asleep at the switch buyer to believe that!

    We all know that the European car companies have some work to do getting their cars built right, but personally, I am still waiting for the European car makers like BMW and Mercedes to do something innovative other than develop terrible user-interfaces (iDrive) or add more useless gears to their automatic transmissions.

    Sure Mercedes was innovative once, but I think that not only has their quality and reliability suffered, but their ability to innovate in a significant way has fallen by the wayside.

    Sure they have lot's of "heritage" from back in the days when they were a high quality and innovative car company, but I don't think so any more.

    Toyota and other Japanese owned car companies are ALWAYS ranted about here as being copy-cats and folks that are good at refining and perfecting someone else's technology.

    I think that they have taken on the innovators mantle too. The next Lexus 400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid are to quote Wards:

    "For the record, the RX 400h is the first luxury hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) on the market, and the Highlander is the first 7-passenger HEV. Both are “full” HEVs, in that they can run in electric-only or gasoline-engine-only mode, or both. They also represent the first 4-wheel-drive hybrids, with a third electric motor sending power to the rear wheels."

    They will sell everyone they build at list or better to folks in the long lines waiting to buy them.

    This isn't derivative technology from Germany. These are independently developed, complete, integrated drive systems. I beleive that German car companies are working on marrying electric and diesel and still trying to figure out how to get some performance out of two low horsepower, high torque engine systems. Duh?

    While Toyota was developing these exciting new vehicles, Mercedes has been struggling to build a new ML off of conventional technology and fabricate it in Alabama hoping that it isn't a quality and reliability disaster like the original.

    Meanwhile, Infiniti and Acura have redefined what AWD systems are all about while 4matic is still 4 matic and Quattro, though updated, is still all-mechanical.

    I think that when we talk about these kinds of vehicles we ought to recognize where the innovation these days is really happening.

    Cordes can prattle about all he wants, but the marketplace is the measure of success.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    I don't think I could totally agree with you about Europe not innovating anymore. Because a company like Volvo still innovates many safety advances. And Mercedes has a soon to come out big new innovation-a engine with no camshafts but rather electronically actuated valves.

    But I do think people overlook Japanese innovation. Nissan is trying to bring back 4-wheel steering, which if I'm right they innovated originally with super HICAS 4-wheel steering back in the late 80s. Not to mention Honda and it's great new AWD system on the RL and they innovated variable valve timing. And Toyota and HOnda have probably the biggest innovation in years with Hybrid drive systems.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,662
    I'm in your corner on this one. Any one of the 4 teams can win but NC has to be viewed as the favorite with their potential NBA stars. But they are lucky to have survived a few tight games that they could have easily lossed. Should be another fun set of games.

    Footie & maxhonda - good points.
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    That's great about the rx400, but if it weren't for the M-class, there would be no RX, MDX, XC90, X5, etc. I think this new ML will fare better, seeing as how this time around there isn't a new factory, new staff, and new product all at once. No one can deny the 1st gen M-class was a very buggy vehicle, but some credit is due for starting an entire genre of cars, IMHO.

    -also don't forget, these are the people who brought you crumple zones, airbags(patent), auto-dimming mirrors, moisture-sensing wipers, keyless-remote, safety-cells, speed-adjusted volume, anti-lock brakes, keyless-go, traction control systems, emergency-tensioning devices(seatbelt), head curtains, watershed management design, fuel injection, diesel engines... I could go on, and I'm sure I'm missing a few.(MERC1?) MOST of the features sold on most cars today, and sometimes presented by those others as their own. The first patent on a motorcar, although a bit dated, is still noteworthy, as well.

    -and with regards to salesmen, some of us aren't hucksters, but enthusiasts who care rather deeply about our product and the happiness and satisfaction of our clients.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,662
    "That's great about the rx400, but if it weren't for the M-class, there would be no RX, MDX, XC90, X5, etc."

    If you are a betting man hold your bet to less than a dollar on that comment. Don't want to see you lose your money.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    if it weren't for the M-class, there would be no RX, MDX, XC90, X5, etc.

    Your comment is symptomatic of the "world revolves around Germany / Germany innovated everything" sort of attitude that is sometimes exhibited here.

    Just what are you saying the M was first at? Not the first luxury SUV, certainly...think Range Rover or maybe TLC. Not the first luxury crossover either, since the original M was a body-on-frame design.

    The RX is pretty clearly more innovative than the M. The RX was the first luxury crossover. And the RX400h the first luxury hybrid drivetrain.

    There has been a whole lot more industry copying/emulation of the RX than of the M, imho.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,662
    5 year plan and $88mln. in spending. Long way off to the real thing.

    http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/30/news/fortune500/gm_fuelcell.reut/index.htm?cnn=yes
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Agreed, I think it is going to be FIFTY years before we see mass usage of hydrogen-powered vehicles. I might be dead of old age by then.
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    Fine. So there are no absolutes. If you look at the C-pillar on the M-class and it's coupe-like line, and at the overall profile of the M-class, it's not the least bit derivative of the rover vehicle. No three-box truck lines. It was also the first midsized luxury SUV that was noted as much for its low center of gravity and car-like handling as it was for offroad capability. Comparable vehicles such as the rover were many things, but carlike they were not. The design of the RX and MDX in particular are much more of a "me-too!" reaction to the m-class, than the m-class was to anything before it. They are also-rans that were rushed to market by raiding the parts bins and platforms of the camry and oddessey, and performed accordingly. I'm also not sure the term "crossover" was even being thrown around back in '98-'99 when the RX first hit the pavement. I think most people would tend to refer to the RX as an SUV, the pacifica is a cross-over.
    -As far as hybrid is concerned, it is a very meaningful chapter in the evolution of the car, and toyota is certainly writing it. I just don't think it's quite enough on its own to overshadow what others, be they German or otherwise, have accomplished prior.
    Other than being a sales leader for toyota, I don't know what the RX stands out for in innovations, but I'd be glad to know.
    I don't care to wager, but I do believe the M-class started a trend, and would have argued that long before I began selling them.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    If I recall correctly the RX first shipped about 6 months after the M. So I guess in your view Lexus copied styling elements and the whole idea of a carlike-riding SUV and trailed MB to market by only 6 months? Somehow I thought development cycles in this industry were just a tad longer than that.

    Since you're asking how the RX represents innovation, I'll repeat that it was the first luxury unibody SUV (which is what I meant by crossover and is what most people, pre the Pacifica, meant by crossover). Isn't MB now "copying" the unibody idea with the new generation M?
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    The RX was introduced as a concept vehicle as early as Feb 1997...well before the M first shipped.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    "That's great about the rx400, but if it weren't for the M-class, there would be no RX, MDX, XC90, X5, etc."

    Huh. the M-class came out about 2-3 months before the RX. Not really much of a trend-setter.

    "I think this new ML will fare better, seeing as how this time around there isn't a new factory, new staff, and new product all at once. No one can deny the 1st gen M-class was a very buggy vehicle, but some credit is due for starting an entire genre of cars, IMHO. "

    Yeah, the new ML will definately fare better. It's taken a hint from the competition that crushed it(RX300) and gone to a unibody frame. Not to mention it's getting a real Mercedes interior this time.

    One of the biggest flaws with the first ML had nothing to do with a new factory, new staff, new country. It had to do with interior and that goes straight back to the drawing boards in Germany! The plastics rivaled those that GM uses for it's cars. The glove box lid felt like a flimsy piece of plastic, the wood was nonexistant. Let's not forget some exterior miscues-how about those bumpers they forgot to paint? I think it reminded customers of those base Corolla's you used to be able to get with matte black bumpers when you bought the base of the base model.
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