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High End Luxury Cars

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  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Well there is no doubt that Lexus tries very hard to provide one of the top upscale dealership experiences in the USA.
    The second salesman I dealt with last summer who actually got the vehicle right and let me drive the car I asked to drive, the GS430, was the best salesman I ever had the pleasure to meet.
    Compared to him, the BMW people I have encountered have a long way to go.
    He had encyclopedic knowledge of the car but was totally relaxed with no sales pressure.
    I was so impressed, I sent him a referral and he closed a deal on the GS430 with that person, even though I didn't.
    When the new LS 460 comes out, I will be calling him for a test drive, that's for sure.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Thank you. I find the sociology of marketing a fascinating topic.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Well, since the GS wasn't sporty enough for you, you are going to shock us all if you someday buy an LS.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I plan on driving the new LS because I consider it a prerequisite for me to write on this board.

    I plan on driving the A8 too. Curious to experience the Audi dealership treatment.

    The GS430 had adaptive steering which I couldn't "adapt" to and grabby brakes.
    I did really want to like that car. Major disappointment, last summer. And I really did like that salesman.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I actually agree with you on this one. Active steering and E-brakes are things Lexus should not have copied from the Germans.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    The GS300 is actually more fun to drive because it has normal brakes and steering. Just needs a more powerful engine which I guess they will be addressing pretty soon.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Lexus could have put the 3.5 in already but wants to "save" it for use as a midlife kicker for the GS. The customer suffers.
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    Toyota has a very high, almost iconic status in Japan.

    Toyota Crown models were the ultra prestige cars in Japan for years. I believe there have even been V-12 Crowns (somebody can correct me if I am wrong).

    The switch from Toyota to Lexus in Japan will be tough.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Too bad because that was the only thing that turned me off to the GS300.
    I previously mentioned the driver's seat not being very comfortable but at 6'2", this is usually a problem across the board.
    I believe the only car I had no issue with the seat and legroom was my much lamented, dark maroon 1967 Impala.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Designman:

    I'll break this synopsis into two sections. First will be a timeline capsule of the LS400.... Second (later post) will be the creation of the LS. Happy reading.

    Timeline Capsule of the LS400

    08/1983: Toyota Chairman decides it's time for a luxury arm for the company.

    05/1985: Design team and study team are put together in the US.

    07/1985: A running LS400 prototype is made

    05/1986: Autobahn testing began

    09/1986: More testing on US roads

    05/1987: Final approval for LS400 design from management

    01/1989: At the Detroit and LA auto shows

    09/1989: LS400 goes on sale

    01/1990: Named C&D 10 Best

    02/1990: Named Best Imported Car of the Year (Motoring Press Assoc)
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    "In 1989 when Toyota introduced this car to America as a 1990 model, the automotive press thought it didn't have a chance against the likes of Mercedes and BMW. Toyota knew how to build great economy cars and small family sedans but this is the big league. Jokes circulated about this folly, one of which I remember on a TV drama where a car thief who specialized in stealing expensive cars pulled up with a Lexus. When his partner saw him and gave him a look, he said "it was dark, I thought it was a Mercedes." As a matter of fact, the only LS400 that I have ever known to break down was in the 1991 movie "The Grand Canyon" starring Danny Glover (a movie I otherwise highly recommend.)

    Well, it took less then a year for everyone in the automotive industry to change their attitude and give this car the respect it deserved. Lexus became the standard by which other cars are judged. Only the Mercedes S Class and the BMW 7 Series could rightly claim to be better cars. But they cost $10,000 to $20,000 more than the Lexus LS400 which had a starting price of under $38,000 in 1990."

    Read the whole article http://www.familycar.com/RoadTests/Lexus1stGen/Lexus1stGen.htm
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,677
    There have been so many stories and in fact, many business case studies on how Toyota pulled this off starting back in 1982 or 83. The Lexus book is just one of them that gives the details. Some of the other indepedent articles heap a lot more praise on the company than anything they could write themselves. Some of the details include the design and development of the robotics that were used to build the Lexus models to the sophisticated factories and the specialization techniques used in the choosing of employees, auto parts etc that would fit the development of such a high end car. The precision used to build this car was the highest in the industry from the get go. This was a design from scratch investment and buildout of the initial car models and the planned future models, none of which were anything like Toyota had built before. The entire car design was set-up to fit the US market as the primary market and the Japanese market as a secondary. Europe was never even a thought. The reason the Lexus name wasn't used in Japan is due to local political issues and the pressures of the existing dealership network already established. Most, if not all Toyota dealers in Japan sell the high end Toyotas which came to market at the same time as the US Lexus models in a differently partitioned showroom or a different floor altogether than the more economical models. It is a cast system there and the service to the wealthier crowd mimics the difference here between Lexus service and Toyota service. The reason for the change to the Lexus name now in Japan is due to the global rollout of Lexus as a brand.

    There's a synopsis, the rest can be found in many business books and articles written since 1990. I'm sure some of it found its way into college textbooks.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Reading the Lexus synopsis was fine, but you should also check out the history of Mercedes Benz sometime. I'll save you the "copy/paste" and won't place it here.

    On a side note, there is one little slice of Mercedes Benz that is an ICON for all time. It was (and still is, although "modernized"):
    one of the most famous and fabulous FRONT GRILLS OF ALL TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!</b
    I will always admire it!

    TagMan
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    I couldn't write the synopsis any better. Great job, Len... and thanks for helping out.

    Well, Designman, between the timeline capsule and the synopsis from Len, you get the picture... The rest of the research is up to you, if indeed you'd like to know more :)
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    sedan is the Century, not the Crown: sorry about that.

    The Century with options can top the $100,000 mark in Japan. It has a vvti 48 valve V-12 and very formal body style. See the picture and specs at thus link.

    http://www.cars-directory.net/specs/toyota/century/2001_5/5837/
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Thank you Oac and Ljflx for that response. Ljflx, I am guessing that your mention of Lexus info in business books and college text books alludes to them as a business model.

    On another note, I really like the styling of the Toyota Century and lament the fact that no company is choosing to pursue and preserve that classic look. It&#146;s all about trying to create the future these days and the only thing they wind up with is ephemeral fashion, most of which fails miserably. What a shame. I welcome the manifest destiny of technology but we cannot throw Shakespeare, Rembrandt and Beethoven into the trash. Impossible, they are immortal. Likewise, I would like to see certain distinct elements of classic styling preserved. It would seem this should fall into the hands of HELMs first, but it isn&#146;t happening. You have no idea how disappointed I am in the styling of most cars today.
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    I agree with you. A car blending current technology with classic styling would find a market niche in the USA.

    If Lincoln offered a modern version of their 1961-67 Continental (including the 4-door convertible) their showrooms would be busy!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    What I'd like to see, is Jag do a modern version of the XK150. It is in my opinion, the best looking Jag of all time, and one of the best looking cars ever made.

    image
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Agree. So cool. I had one of those in my Aurora slot car set circa 1960.
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    Will Porsche keep these margins once the Panamera sedan becomes part of the line?

    From article in Forbes about German manufacturers: worth a read.

    http://www.forbes.com/columnists/2006/01/13/volkswagen-bmw-germany_cz_jf_05germa- - - ny40_0117flint.html
  • It would seem to me that the most rational way to look at these sales numbers given this the the Luxury Marque thread is the S vrs 700 series vrs LS...compairing total sales in North America(since that is where most of us live.)

    Anyone have those Numbers? U.S. only or N. America
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Great article! Really points to many of the great strengths, convictions and attitudes (borderline arrogance) of the German manufacturers. The die-hard Lexus fans should read it, especially where it acknowledges Toyota's attempts at building a BMW for years. Thanks again.

    TagMan
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    The Toyota Century is so exclusive that not everyone can buy one. I know someone who tried and was told only royalty can qualify.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    The Toyota Century has a reasonably nice looking interior, based upon the photos, but not incredible by any means. The exterior, however, looks like a stretched out old Ford Grenada . . . nothing impressive about it. Is this a "cultural" thing? Does it actually look attractive to Japanese people? Also, please explain what could possibly make it so exclusive?
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    I can think of one reason the Century is so exclusive: in Japan's conformist society it really stands out.

    As well, the Century is the choice of many succesful business executives and politicians in high office. People see a Century and think 'that must be someone famous'.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Those interiors are really nice. I love that low forward sweep. I don't get it, why not on the US cars?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,677
    "Thank you Oac and Ljflx for that response. Ljflx, I am guessing that your mention of Lexus info in business books and college text books alludes to them as a business model."

    Yes. The emphasis of course is on a manufacturing business model. But many elements from a desire and goal to sweep qualitative awards within a short period of time for brand recognition and establishing precision and quality from the more expensive buildout to the more economical buildouts in order to distance the quality of those products (in this case cars of course) from the competion can be utilized in any industry. This is why I was saying last night that the real flow here was from Lexus to Toyota - not the other way around. Business stories I've read like to deal with the details and the step by step execution of a truly long-term plan in dealing with the Lexus achievement as a blueprint for other new product development efforts.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,677
    Tagman,

    read the article and from my standpoint the arrogance will hurt them long-term unless they adjust to market conditions which will be different across the globe. In the end the customer dictates what the manufacturer will do once there is sufficient competition in the market. There is much more competition than ever and it will increase a lot further from here. Arrogance works in monopoly or near monopoly situations but serious competition changes arrogance quiclky as can be seen by the cupholders, power windows and many other features they were reluctant to put in the cars. This fits any industry and sooner or later everyone is humbled. I don't view that arrogance as an asset, I view it as a large liability.

    Different industry topic but here's a good story on German copanies in todays NY times. Enjoy and by the way I have a great amount of respect for how Germany and German businesses unified the extreme differences between East and West Germany in such a short period of time. Tremendous achievement.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/business/worldbusiness/17comeback.html?adxnnl=- - - 1&adxnnlx=1137550442-XNiuRnGO7laIgZO+to0Iew
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    ljflx,
    The article about Heidelberg was most interesting to me. Thank you. My company utilizes Heidelberg equipment in our production facility. I will share with you a brief story about the reason we use genuine German Heidelberg equipment and not, say, Ryobi, or other Japanese equipment. Years ago, during one of our expansion and upgrade phases of our company, we purchased some Japanese equipment. It might have satisfied some, but our standards were VERY high in terms of quality. Ultimately, we rid ourselves of the equipment and purchased Heidelberg. The difference in quality was very real. I realize that printing equipment is not the same as an automobile, but I will tell you that there are very few pieces of industrial equipment that require the machined precision as that of a large commercial printing press. I will not take the room here on this post to explain, but believe me, the tolerances are every bit as much and MORE than an automobile and its engine. Price tags are seven digits and up. When we got to another point in time for another upgrade, we looked at the latest from Japan again, and the automation and technology was incredible, but once again the Japanese machinery was not as precise as the German machinery. Does this have anything to do with cars? Maybe. Maybe not. But I do know first hand every day what those German machines can do, and what those Japanese competitors can't do . . . under some of the most rigorous requirements you could ever imagine.

    Arrogance hurts, of course, but the genius lies elsewhere, and it still shines through . . . sometimes as bright as the sun itself. Thanks again.

    TagMan
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