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High End Luxury Cars

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  • rayngrayng Posts: 70
    Raising MSRP will certainly raise residuals on leased cars and protect the dealer network by ensuring some sort of resale value on their return lease cars. By radically discounting, MB will lower the demand for their used cars and reduce the value of their new car purchasers. I feel sorry for those who bought their 2005 s500 only to find $17k discount on a similiar '06.

    I urge all on this board to refrain from personal attacks. I enjoy this board for the thoughtful discussion about cars. Let's not fight about taste, design preference, style, or other personal preferences. We're all car guys here, not political pundits.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Rode the big satellite radio waves, but wondering about the future, since they both severely overspent in their lust for new subscribers. Watcha think?

    Why Microsoft now? The new upcoming OS is delayed.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    I urge all on this board to refrain from personal attacks.

    I must have missed out on that latest battle, but I sure do agree with you that it's better when everyone is level headed. Definately.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Just wish they would have left the tail lights alone.

    You prefer some of the pre-Bangle looks of the Bimmers?
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    I think we all see the pros and cons of raising and lowering the MSRP. Additionally, it seems that there are cycles. You know, what goes up must come down, and I think that there is some truth to that as far as the MSRP goes. At some point, it really can get too lofty and the next smart move is to reverse direction. Sometimes a model change can be the best timing excuse for a larger than typical directional shift in the MSRP.

    The market will often supply enough feedback to the manufacturers to know what the market will bear. It just makes good sense to adjust accordingly, when appropriate, which ever direction that might need to be.

    I imagine the preferred direction is up, but that is not always the smartest thing to do, as we all know.

    TagMan
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Tagman,

    Minor delay on Vista shouldn't effect anything. But they have all that product rollout coming, are growing in the internet space and Xbox is taking off. Plus I like what they are doing in the media space and they are seriously undervalued right now given their incredible earnings. With MSFT deduct the huge cash hoard on the balance sheet from their market cap and then divide it by earnings to get the real PE. I always do that and it's paid off well for me. I calc PE by market cap - cash or plus debt divided by earnings. Remember MSFT has been expensing stock options and also their cash flow always (and I check this at every quarter) exceeds their earnings. Anyway we'll see. I have been in and out of this stock for years but I still have some ancient low priced shares and I think it's time to go long on any new purchases.

    Sat Radio - I've got out of it and Google in December.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Reality is BMW trounces everyone else in the ELLPS and LPS segments.

    ELLPS, yes, but LPS not for long. Your 5-Series got lucky last year, it won't happen again this year. Bet on it.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Regarding comparing the XLR to the SC, if you want to call the SC "a loser", go right ahead, but I'd like one fact to back up that assertion. Please.

    How about the fact that it has come in dead last or next to last in every comparo it has ever been in. It doesn't have the performance or looks of the European cars in the segment, heck even the old CLK430 Cabrio beat the SC430 twice. For a Lexus that makes it a loser for sure.

    M
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    Camry has never been a comparo winner (until recently).
    Probably went 10 years without coming in 1st or 2nd.

    And it outsells ever other car, rather easily. Is it a loser?

    There is more than one way to skin a cat.

    I think of the Mazda3 as a winner, but it struggles to sell 100k units, can't even sell with a Sentra, no heartthrob itself. Same with the previous Passat.

    Dominance is relative. Sales, brand equity, dynamics. There are many ways to exhibit greatness.

    The previous Escalade was a huge sales success. Was it a great luxury SUV?

    Toyota Supra Turbo was the greatest sports car of it's day. I guess you can only be so great to some car buyers.

    Comparisons are great, for us. Makers would rather have great sales.

    The SC was (is) greater than the XLR. If it exceeds sales targets for two years, owners must be putting it over. That's "great enough" for me.

    Merc, you said if Lexus loses to a Mercedes, it's a loser! :surprise:

    DrFill
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Easy to change the criteria to hide the truth isn't it? Aren't you the one that touted comparos about the LS430 and LS400 as one way to prove that they were superior?

    In the realm of GT cars the SC430 is a loser, it can't even get a victory over the XLR you love to hate. The XLR's problem is pricing, not that it sucks in general.

    Dominance is relative. Sales, brand equity, dynamics. There are many ways to exhibit greatness.

    True, and outside of the normal Lexus traits, which you could buy a Lexus sedan for, the SC430 fails miserably on other things people would buy a GT car for. The SC does the Lexus brand no favors, so "brand equity" is out and its "dynamics" are worst in class.

    Touting that the SC430 outsells the XLR pretty much goes back to what tagman said earlier. Isn't Lexus supposed to be the one that takes on the established leaders in any class and outsell them? That would be the SL or XK, and the SL has never had anything to worry about with the SC and starting this month neither does the XK. Forget talking about a 911. Outselling the XLR is non-accomplishment.

    Merc, you said if Lexus loses to a Mercedes, it's a loser!

    No, what I said was that even the mid-level, previous generation CLK430 Cabrio beat the SC430, meaning it wouldn't stand a chance against the current CLK500, or the upcoming CLK550 Cabrio much less the SL500->550. The SC430 update/replacement or whatever is next for it couldn't come soon enough.

    If sales are so important that means the previous generation Escalade was "great" too right along with the Camry. Can't point to sales one minute and comparos the next to put different models over. Its either a combination of the two (and many other factors) or nothing at all. You can't exclude one just because it doesn't help your case.

    M
  • lexus_jnlexus_jn Posts: 102
    "Lexus will be the Mercedes of the 21st Century! Build it slow and steady."

    I think records speak the volume. While I still consider Mercedes as #1 luxury brand (not by sale figures or quality), it seems losing ground to Lexus in recent years (espcially among the elite buyers)and the gap will be widen if Mercedes does not improve its quality program or keep their customers happy.

    http://www.roadandtrack.com/article.asp?section_id=14&article_id=3193

    January 2006

    According to the Luxury Customer Experience Index survey from New York-based Luxury Institute, Lexus "trounced" the competition as the luxury brand that delivers the best customer experience coming in ahead of the competition by five percentage points. Lexus also posted the highest ratings in the critical Customer Retention and Customer Referral indices. Second place went to Porsche and Acura came in a close third. Mercedes-Benz and BMW failed to rank in the top four.

    Survey officials said Lexus won every category of Customer Experience Drivers, including brand effectiveness, brand attitude and top scores in most enthusiastic, most polite and most trustworthy representatives. They said Lexus also outshone its competition in dealerships.

    For the survey, wealthy customers rated the top 11 luxury brands based on their direct individual experiences. The brands rated included Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes, Porsche and Volvo. The Luxury Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of some 2,100 households with a minimum of $200,000 gross annual income and net worth of $750,000, including home equity
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I prefer the Bangle 5 to its previous incarnation.
    The E39 always reminded me of a stretched 3 series and was in serious need of a re-design,
    You will get no argument from me that the pre-Bangle 3's have all been handsomer than the E90.
    A disappointment.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Yes. I notice the E climbing up the sales ladder into second place.
    Plenty of room at the top. Should give a jolt to BMW to try and do even better.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I suspect it will do more than climb into second place, it will be back at #1 by year's end, #1 being its traditional place prior to 2005. ;)

    M
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Let's see if MB can get its quality control house in order.
    BMW has made a significant improvement in this area over the last several years.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I have to go with drfill on this one. You are the one that turned the talk of the SC430's "loserness" from sales to magazine comparison tests, not him.

    I didnt like the SC430 when it hit in 2001, and I still dont like it. From a pure business stand point though, it HAS been an overall success for Lexus. The XLR overall has not been a success. The SC300\400 combined struggled to get 4-digit sales in their last few years on the market.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    No actually Tagman called it a loser and Dr.Fill asked for something to back up that claim, hence my post about its dubious distinction of being a laggard when compared to the competition - something a Lexus isn't usually guilty of.

    A GT car, more than a sedan is supposed to be about more than touting sales and if that (and the other usual Lexus traits like reliability) are the only things the SC offers instead of an actual driving experience and some style then that makes it a loser in my book, don't care how many of them they sell. For some sales make a Lexus superior, then a minute later it is a mag comparo wherever it fits best.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    LG - This is the exact attitude of all the Lexus owners I know. They are constant repeat buyers and are as satisfied as it gets. It's only on this board where performance rules as greatness (or in auto rags) that I can even find a negative comment on Lexus. The auto rags are getting more and more guarded about those comments lately because they see the popularity, sales success and future rollout which begets ad dollars. From a business pov you'd have to be suicidal to turn off Toyota and it's huge vault of money given all the ads that will pour in from retooling of the Lexus brand and the added promotions of all the coming hybrids Toyota is planning. In the real world of auto buyers Lexus rules, not only on quality and reliability but on customer satisfaction - even besting Porsche. Now when you add in the spice of added sport and added choices of cars (including cars that will start to run $150K+ prices) that is coming in the next 5 years this consumer satisfaction differential is going to widen further. If you notice it has been widening all along even while sport luxury has been the envy focus in the niche enthusiast world. That world is what it is - just a niche and not a representative of buyer choice. Others keep wnning the duels in the artificial world of car mags but on the real playing field Lexus is running away with race. I think some of the posters on this board are going to be shocked at the re-ranking of lux leaders 5 years from now. Like you I still vote MB No.1 in the space but it's days are numbered.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The only problem with this fantasy is that it bascially assumes that Mercedes and others will stand still. For Lexus to attain the status of a Mercedes or BMW they have to appeal to that "artificial" world (as you call it) in some way that they don't now.

    This pending date for Lexus' toppling Mercedes and BMW at the top of the image pile keeps getting pushed back. I seem to remember this same prediction at least 3 years ago.

    Lexus will never replace BMW in the hearts and minds of driving enthusiasts and all Mercedes has to do is get their reliability/quality back because design wise Lexus still can't make them look or drive as good as a Benz, or BMW.

    M
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Let's not fight about taste, design preference, style, or other personal preferences.

    Indeed, no fighting. Be nice. NICE!

    But aren’t luxury and performance personal preferences? If people didn’t debate styling and design preferences I’d be out of a job. If I couldn’t adapt to other people’s design preferences, again, I’d be out of a job. And lastly, if I couldn’t apply my own personal preferences … you got it… I’d be out of a job.

    Designing and discussing styling is one of my jobs. Please don’t try to put me out of work :cry:

    While we’re on the subject of jobs, I’m wondering what happened to Monday Mornings with Merc. Heavens, it’s Wednesday morning and Merc is coming alive… he’s ALIVE! Merc, you are throwing my whole daily routine out of whack, kind of like when there is a solar eclipse and the birds go nuts. What’s with it, man! I guess I’ll have to adapt.

    ;-)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Nope - you are twisting facts here. As early as 2002 I said MB would go red in profits in a few years (something you couldn't believe at the time plus you argued that the quality/reliability issue was way overstated) and I said in 10 years the luxury playing field would be re-oriented. That script is playing out to the letter right now. Merc - my business success in life is being able to read the tea leaves on a going forward basis and I get paid a lot of money by people for my advice. The mistake almost everyone always makes is looking at the past and thinking heritage will win out. In a rapidly changing technological world - heritage can't win.

    MB is hardly standing pat. They have more model choices than ever, a wide fleet, engine choices galore, a greater cost structure than ever to support all that (and one that needs to seriously be reigned in) and yet it's not getting them anywhere. They need to add more and more cars to hold sales where they are or have modest 1-2% increases or recently to keep from slipping - in an expanding market no less. All that means is that their share keeps slipping and their costs keep rising. They've also tried to reach into the younger and much more fickle customer base and that customer base is much more prone to move onto the next greatest thing rather than stay loyal and easily be retained. I see mistakes almost everywhere I look when I view MB's moves the last 10 years.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    While we’re on the subject of jobs, I’m wondering what happened to Monday Mornings with Merc. Heavens, it’s Wednesday morning and Merc is coming alive… he’s ALIVE! Merc, you are throwing my whole daily routine out of whack, kind of like when there is a solar eclipse and the birds go nuts. What’s with it, man! I guess I’ll have to adapt.

    Too funny. It has been a while since the usual debate hasn't it?

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well Lenn I'm sorry, but all of that really doesn't matter to the average person, again to take nothing away from your business smarts. However you have been predicting doom and gloom for Mercedes for quite a while now and while your predictions about their profits may have been right on the money, the predictions you and another departed member gave about sales/image and what not haven't come true. First it was 2 years and now its 5 more. Oh and for the record I never argued about whether or not Mercedes would lose money or at least I don't remember arging that specific point. My point of debate was with you predicting that MB would be finished imagewise and their sales would all of a sudden evaporate. That isn't happening.

    Lexus already has a seat at the table with Mercedes and BMW but I think Mercedes will remain in the lead seat for several reasons.

    Firstly Lexus doesn't have the range of cars to fully compete with Mercedes (or BMW) when it comes to the image and status race. They don't have the niche models, performance models or sheer diverse number of offerings to topple Mercedes or BMW, IMO. I don't see Toyota breaking Lexus out into so many niche models like Mercedes or BMW either.

    I mean Mercedes has had the worst reliabilty/quality rankings for more than a few years now and yet they've been able to maintain their position by diverting attention away from that via more models and mega hp. The time for Lexus to take Mercedes' spot is now, not in the next five years. I expect Mercedes to have removed the reliability problem by then and if they manage that Lexus had better have something truly mind-blowing in terms of style/performance and sheer appeal to compete with. One hybrid, no matter how fabulous it will be and a V10 sports cars won't just instantly give Lexus the top spot. For Lexus to get the top spot Mercedes would have stand still in several areas while at the same time failing to improve quality/reliability. They've already gotten rid of the complaints about build quality being on the cheap side with cars like the CLS, SLK and new S. It is just a matter of time before they show at least some improvements in reliability too. Lexus has wiped the matt with Mercedes in those areas for years now and yet people still don't consider Lexus #1 that is why I say it will take something special, not just surveys or mega-hybrid sedan.

    Oh, and this needs to be global, not just in the U.S. for Mercedes-Benz to be soundly surpassed and that is going to take a lot longer than Lexus would like considering tha in Europe and in even in their own homeland they aren't even major players yet.

    M
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    ljflx,
    I agree with you for the most part. It is undeniable that MB is having it's share of problems. At least Dieter Zetsche their new CEO understands that being complacent is not a long term strategy. He argued that MB needs to be more like the Japanese and adopt more efficient ways of production. There is no doubt they need to make changes to generate the synergies that the Chrysler merger was supposed to create. The last thing they want to do is become like GM with 20 different engine and drivetrain combinations.

    Part of it is a cost issue. Back in the pre-Lexus era, Mercedes could charge what they wanted to. You could argue the Engineers built the car and the accounts merely marked it up accordingly. That isn't the case anymore. In order to compete they had no choice but to try and match Lexus. You know better than anyone the power of Toyota's vast resources and their efficiency. Mercedes has to undergo a structural change if they wish to regain their dominance of past years.

    However, their brand is still the strongest out there. This isn't an IBM or even Pan AM sort of thing where people made their decision on costs. The luxury car market does not cater to the "Rational" crowd. If we, the HELM, owners where purely rational, then we would all drive Toyota Camrys. I'm hardly rational in my car buying habits, I've got a S430, a LS400, and a Toyota Corolla.

    All of these cars are supposed to tickle our emotions. They cater to a crowd that really isn't that price sensitive. When you make >200K you aren't as price sensitive as that young teacher who is buying a Corolla. No doubt, the "more rational" crowd will opt for the LS430 given the advantage the car has objectively. I was one of those people, having owned Lexus LS400/430 for over 12 yrs. In the end, the "Emotion, Style, Safety, and Performace" of the S Class provided me a reason to make a change. No doubt my very bad experiences with Lexus Customer Service was the final push.

    But consider Europe and the rest of the world. They demand high performance machines that can cruise at >120 MPH. Mercedes still builds that kind of car. They still built cars that turn heads and set the car for style. I had never seen anything like the CLS 500 before. It truly is all about style, something the SC430 cannot even begin to compete with.

    Reliability is a problem, there is no doubt. But they still are selling well. The S550 is selling like crazy. If Lexus were to encounter reliabilty issues, they'd be in serious trouble, moreso than Mercedes. Lexus is built around Quality and a slide in that area would be disasterous for them.

    Mercedes is built around much more than that. They continue to lead the industry in innovation, safety, style, and of course image. After all, a Mercedes Benz is still a Mercedes Benz. That kind of Brand can weather a short term drop in quality. If they started to build poor performing and boring looking cars, I'd argue that would be more of a threat.

    Look no further than Skoda if you want a real world example of something like this. Prior to the VW takeover, they were the laughing-stock of the world. I personally remember laughing at one while I was in the UK some 12 yrs ago. Now, they are the ones laughing at us. Skoda is well regarded these days.

    I do think MB's problems will take time to resolve. But they aren't the first auto company to face problems. Look no further than Chrysler both in the late 1970's and post Daimler Merger. Look at Cadilliac, once derided as the Florida crowd car, they are attracting young buyers in droves. Even the new Buick Lucerne is selling like crazy.

    It can be done. The question is whether Dieter Zetsche will have the mandate to make the changes Mercedes needs.

    -Sam
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    Boy, you guys can't get to sleep, can you?

    As my last post illustrated, or so I thought, you can be a "winner" many ways.

    You kind of sidestepped the question: Are Toyota Camry, Cadillac Escalade, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Ford Exploder, etc., "losers"?

    If you sell big, but don't get critical acclaim, are you a "loser"?

    XLR did neither, so I feel confident that the shoe fits.

    With regards to replacing Mercedes in the image pantheon (Lexus seems disinterested in competing with BMW), anyone who thinks they can do that in just 15 years is fooling themselves. I certainly never forcast that!

    And yes, until Lexus prices their cars as high as Mercedes, or Mercedes repositions themselves to compete with Lexus, and at that point, Lexus is still the preferred choice, Mercedes is still the King of the Hill.

    Where was Toyota Camry 20 years ago? Where is it today? I have every confidence that Lexus has a similar plan, and will reach whatever lofty goals they have set. But they are never in a hurry. It may take 30 years, but they'll climb that mountain!

    At the same point, just because Lexus offers a better value, like the Lexus LS, doesn't mean it is a lesser car than a S-Class, for example.

    This topic couldn't be more subjective or less tangible.

    Mercedes will not become Jaguar, at least not anytime soon.

    Lexus really can't do anything more than what they're doing. The only question is how far can they go? Same with Toyota.

    Asking Toyota/Lexus to, in essence, replace GM/Ford/Daimler-Chrysler, as they car/SUV/luxury marque of choice, is based upon potential. Toyota has that much potential. NO OTHER COMPANY DOES!

    In that regard, such a incredible expectation ,akes Toyota a victim of it's own success. Now if they don't replace Mercedes or if Tundra doesn't sell 300k units next year, if Camry doesn't go to 5000k units a year, or if Prius stops selling 100-125k units, then it's "What's wrong with Toyota?".

    Many luxury car shoppers, MANY, wouldn't consider a Mercedes, only a Lexus.

    At 300k sales a year, and still climbing 10% a year, I think it is time to start raising prices, if only to prevent diluting the brand through excessive volume. That's not easy, but it maybe time for Lexus to leave it's comfort zone, give up a couple of sales crowns, and reposition themselves directly against Mercedes, in some classes.

    DrFill
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I think Lexus will rapidly expand their range by the end of the decade. They'll have a new small SUV, an IS coupe, convertible, and possibly an IS500, along with a new SC, and new SUVs based around the Tundra. I dont think that Lexus will try to come up with something like an AMG division, as it just doesnt make sense for their cars other than the IS to have a million horsepower.

    For Infiniti though, a performance division would be a brilliant idea, as it would show that the G and M really can go head to head with Benz and BMW. I cant imagine it would be difficult to implement, simply have the Nismo guys work over the FM platform, and then install the motor from the GT-R, and you'd have an "M"M.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Hi drfill. The topic of this discussion really doesn't include all those models you mention.
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 5,960
    I recently got a service bulletin on my LX 470. Of all things someone, in their wisdom, decided the day time running lights were a tad too bright. I took it in this morning for the regular scheduled oil change/tire rotation and also to take care of the running lights.

    When I picked it up a couple of hours later all the work had been done and they said, "Oh, by the way, for your inconvenience, we topped off your gas tank". Well the tank had been on empty so this cost them over 50 bucks. Do you think I will keep buying these cars???

    2013 LX 570 2010 LS 460 2002 Tacoma 4x4

  • rayngrayng Posts: 70
    IMO, the SC430 is not a gt car. It's a comfortable hardtop for
    cruising not racing. I think it's a nice car for going to the opera or taking the wife out to a nice anniversary dinner. Is it "loser"? It depends on your perception and metric. I know several friends who's dream car is the sc430. Although I don't care for it nor would I ever own one, I would admit it is a nice car and fully fulfills its purpose as a luxury two door cruiser like the sc300/400.

    The XLR is a great car too, and one I'd buy over the sc430 if my wife would let me. It's like having a luxury 'vette.

    The Lexus strategy of outselling other car-makers is simply the business objective of any successful company: to outsell your competitors. I agree with most in this group that performance and handling is lacking in most Lexus cars compared to its German rivals. However, Lexus does well in other areas such as luxury, value, and service. Perhaps it's Toyota's strategy to differentiate itself in the marketplace? Perhaps Lexus is successfully selling cars that are high on luxury with a bit of performance and fun thrown in? Whatever it's doing, I have to admire its success and profitability.

    I'm not sure nitpicking one's metrics makes the point for the purpose of advancing the discussion of this group. I think those who engage in disparaging others embarrasses and discredits himself.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    Life is unfair. She was final three material and easily one of the best voices in the group. Bucky, Taylor or Elliot should have been bottom three off last nights performances. If Bucky survives Queen it will be amazing.

    The Fusion commercial was great.
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