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High End Luxury Cars

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  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Unfortunately, the GS450h may be the "White Elephant". I'm not exactly impressed by the ad campaign for this very capable vehicle.

    Did you read the road test comparison of the GS 450h and 550i in the July R&T? Very pragmatic, stoic and unbiased IMO. One writer preferred the Lexus, the other the BMW. Among other things you can really see the difference between sport and luxury. To tell you the truth I would just love to get my hands on that hybrid GS for a week or so just to experience it.

    But there is a major hype machine behind the Next LS, and the 600 will reap all the benefits of the good pub the Prius, 400h, Camry, and other members of "Team Green" have earned.

    Toyota has to get past the novelty period with hybrids and the 600h is REALLY for novelty buyers at this point. Plus I am not so sure the Lexus market is ready for such an expensive vehicle if it comes in over $90K. That’s getting up there into rare air.

    People like to think Toyota has everything planned to the Nth detail but I don’t think this is the case. Their venture with hybrids is a work in progress. Now that they have the platform/price spectrum virtually covered, they have to observe the market’s acceptance and produce accordingly. Prius has been around for quite some time so you have to ask yourself why they have chosen not to flood the market. I don’t care how much hype there is, they can’t predict the market accurately so they have to proceed cautiously, methodically, and this is exactly what they are doing with controlled production. I think there is a lot more to this than meets the eye.

    As blkhemi mentioned, hybrid is expensive to manufacture and a tepid market will make it that much harder. But since they are obviously good at business, I think they have it figured out as well as they can at this point. Toyota has shown that they are not interested in quick pain relief, they prefer the longer-acting, enteric-coated tablets which are easier on the stomach ;-)

    We are merely at the tailgate rally in the parking lot. But yes, put the hot dogs and sausage on the grill, the beer in the coolers, hang the opponent in effigy, toss the football around and shake the pom-poms. Nothing like the fun of the tailgate parties—some think it’s the best part. Ah-h, the season is almost at hand.

    ;-)
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Toyota has to get past the novelty period with hybrids and the 600h is REALLY for novelty buyers at this point. Plus I am not so sure the Lexus market is ready for such an expensive vehicle if it comes in over $90K. That’s getting up there into rare air.

    BTW, Toyota/Lexus is well past novelty and price stage. They are pricing the GS450h close to $60K, rarefied level for the 550i/E500 midsize competitors. The new LS will come in HIGHER than the old style, and Lexus will add LWB and HSD versions. These puts the brand in upper-tier perception....

    Talking of the 600h, this car achieves 3 main goals, IMO:
    1) MPG, clean air/environment perception
    2) performance improvement, AWD, LWB, exclusivity
    3) Perceived "big engine" V12-like from Lexus

    Put all these together and you see how this car will be a huge bet for Lexus. The money people are ready for exclusivity. Lexus has already achieved a status symbol here in the US, and its reputation is rock solid as well. Now add a sexy style, state-of-the-art features, big motor (5L V8 + Battery), 8-speed tranny, AWD, LWB, MPG, Clean air, and improved performance/high TQ, etc... What's not to bet big on...
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    I’ll say it again without hype… we have to respect the differences.

    I agree... Maybe if BOTH sides feel this way there will be less rancor and name calling, eh ? My biggest beef with you, Designman, is your constant egging on of Merc1, and the cheer-leading.... This hero-worshipping must stop, IMO, cos it tends to lead to even more rancor in the tone of the debate, rather than the merits/demerits of these cars.

    I'll go out on a limb and state that, you'll be hard-pressed to find 30% of HELM buyers tell you their primary reason for buying these cars is due to their "handling" and "performance" numbers.... Far from it. These are large, full-size luxury sedans, not super sports cars... So, the 7 may be sport-biased, it is simply playing to its genre not necessarily playing to the major needs of its market. May be why its 3rd behind LS/S in sales.... And the sales distance may increase dramatically when the LS460/600hL gets here.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    BTW, Toyota/Lexus is well past novelty and price stage.

    I disagree. IMO all hybrids are still novelty purchases with perhaps the exception of Prius. I say “perhaps” because it has been around for a while and there is a certain demand. However it is nothing like the demand that needs to be created for the higher-ticket cars. Also, there are reasons why Toyota is holding back on Prius production and I don’t think anyone truly knows what this reason is.

    Put all these together and you see how this car will be a huge bet for Lexus. The money people are ready for exclusivity… What's not to bet big on...

    The only way I see exclusivity is for early adopters. Toyota and Lexus are about volume and these cars are designed to sell that way. I am not sure how many people who buy for exclusivity but I can guarantee you one thing, they are not going to come to Lexus for that. They don't even come to Porsche, MB and BMW for that.

    As far as it being a big bet, I say it is no bet. I would think Toyota has a lot of smarts and enough resources to withstand a hybrid failure, not that I am saying this will happen. The point is they have eggs in plenty of baskets. It’s probably like any one of us around here taking a hit on a stock that is a small percentage of our portfolio. We’re not going to lose our homes on such a move, it’s a small calculated risk, an investment, not a “huge bet”.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    My biggest beef with you, Designman, is your constant egging on of Merc1, and the cheer-leading.... This hero-worshipping must stop, IMO, cos it tends to lead to even more rancor in the tone of the debate, rather than the merits/demerits of these cars.

    Before I respond to that comment and the rest of the post, let me ask you to clarify. What is this “hero-worshipping” you are referring to? Are you suggesting that Merc1 is my hero?
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Are you suggesting that Merc1 is my hero?

    Well, I see the pomp-pomps rolled out after his downloads and rants on Lexus and Lexfans. I've also seen the adulation he gets for, shall we say, stomping on some of our posts... With the Eurofan cheerleading each other, you refer to Lexfans as "kool aid drinkers". All we do is give our opinions of our fav brands. None is any more important than the other. I'd hope we ALL (me included) tone down the volume of our rhetoric... It'll benefit all, IMO.
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    But you guys are afterall such good writers, with different points of view, and speaking for myself, I certainly enjoy the posts...Occasionally someone gets miffed, but not that often, so don`t dispair....IMO for a good many years now, I have thought Merc to be the most articulate about Mercedes, and to be that way he has to know alot about other brands...But blkhemi, tagman oas, hpowers and several others probably know just as much therefore a lively discussion..As for writing skills you guys are the best, and you know it. Tony
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    As far as it being a big bet, I say it is no bet. I would think Toyota has a lot of smarts and enough resources to withstand a hybrid failure, not that I am saying this will happen. The point is they have eggs in plenty of baskets. It’s probably like any one of us around here taking a hit on a stock that is a small percentage of our portfolio. We’re not going to lose our homes on such a move, it’s a small calculated risk, an investment, not a “huge bet”.

    Toyota's got more cash than anybody else in the business, and they definitely will survive if hybrids other than the Prius don't really work in the market. However, I think Toyota is betting quite a bit that they will, certainly much more than Honda, and much more than everybody else, who are all still waiting at the shallow end, dipping their toes in the pool.

    Honda and VW have eggs in plenty of baskets. Honda is actively developing clean diesel engines for the US market, and VW is working on those funky super-turbo charged engines. Toyota on the other hand seems to be all in with hybrids, at least for now.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Hey Tony!

    Your writing skills are just fine and I enjoy reading your contributions.
    Looking forward to your next post.

    Regards,

    hpowders
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I don't know too many people willing to cut their trunk room by 41% and give up a sunroof for a little better mileage and pay a big price premium for the inconveniences. ($3500 more for the GS450h over the GS430). (7.5 cubic feet of trunk space for the GS450h, 12.7 cubic feet for the GS430.)

    I don't think this will make much sense to most people.
    This technology will be doomed to the fringes and never be a big seller, IMO.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I agree that trunk space is a big problem with the current hybrids. I am personally VERY disappointed that the LS460 isn't going to come in an AWD version, because I really need/want AWD and don't want to give up trunk space by going with the LS600hL.

    However, when you write "This technology will be doomed to the fringes and never be a big seller" you are basically assuming that the technology isn't going to improve over time. I differ with you there. Toyota has already stated that reducing size by 50-75% and reducing cost is a priority with hybrid tech.

    Personally I believe that 10 years from now, the majority of the people on this board will be driving around in diesel-electric hybrids.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Here is a new twist, courtesy of the WSJ:

    The Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a "hydraulic hybrid" delivery truck that it says will boost fuel efficiency by 60% to 70% in stop-and-go city traffic.

    The truck has a system, patented by the EPA, that turns the energy from braking into stored energy that helps to turn the rear wheels. The test models will be delivery trucks used by United Parcel Service Inc., which helped design the prototypes. The U.S. Army, Ford Motor Co. and International Truck & Engine Corp., a unit of Navistar International Corp., are among those interested in pursuing the technology....

    EPA Administrator Steven Johnson said the system could save companies as much as $50,000 over the 10- to 20-year lifetime of a delivery truck....

    The EPA's system is different because it stores the energy in a hydraulic system that compresses nitrogen in a tank. When the compressed nitrogen is released into a second tank, it pushes the hydraulic fluid through a pump motor that turns the truck's rear wheels....

    He added that the system also reduces brake and engine wear.


    Sounds a little too kludgy for use in a sedan, but who knows?
  • cyclone4cyclone4 Posts: 2,257
    Do we know for a fact that the trunk space will be diminished in the LS600HL? And if so, how much smaller will it be?
  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    Lexus has a long way to go if they even want to attempt Europe. The IS is a great start, and hopefully the new LS will be enough to compete with Europe's finest.

    I don't have to "gussy" up Audi as the company does that on it's on. I don't know what radar you've looked at but Audi's mainstream cars sell quite well, better than Lexus vehicles of the same price range(A4/IS v. A6/GS).

    And all this talk about Audi's demand is nothing short of blasphemy. The A8 is shorted by export, not by demand in the US. Some have said they see A8's on the lots frequent, I've never seen an A8 sit very long. And the cars I named aren't limited by choice as the QP sells are not nearly what Maser wanted them to be. The FS has a 2 year wait due to material shortage, and the XJ sales have plummeted worldwide. By choice?? No, you try again and bring a "bigger" difference...

    BTW: When you say that Audi isn't on people's radar screen then turn around and say it measures up shows exactly where your views are often slanted and unfortunately mis-informed
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I don't know too many people willing to cut their trunk room by 41% and give up a sunroof for a little better mileage and pay a big price premium for the inconveniences. ($3500 more for the GS450h over the GS430). (7.5 cubic feet of trunk space for the GS450h, 12.7 cubic feet for the GS430.)

    I might be willing to make certain sacrifices if the real world performance of hybrids was much better than it is now. I do a lot of highway driving, and a hybrid makes almost no difference there. Current Euro market diesels on the other hand can get mpg peformance similar to the Prius, but without the need for an ultra low drag "pod" body, zero grip tires (the video of the Stig on Top Gear trying to get the Prius to go around a corner is hilarious), and a hamster wheel engine.

    I for one am definitely not going to buy a sedan with 7.5 cu. feet of trunk space. The SC400 coupe from '91 had 9 cu. feet.
  • emaussemauss Posts: 151
    In this case, Blkhemi (as you know) you are preaching to one member of the choir, but...
    When I was ready to buy my last car and wanted a HELM, I was unsure what car to buy. I did the research and ended up with a short list of BMW, MERCEDES AUDI and LEXUS.
    The point is that IMO anyone who cares to "check it out" will find that ALL these vehicles meet similar standards. The choice of which one to buy is nothing but personal preference.
    A similar situation exists with motorcycles. I have a BMW 1200C cruiser. When I got rid of my Harley to get the Bimmer, a lot of my fellow riders couldn't understand how I could buy such an inferior bike. But the reality is there are no bad choices at this level, just different preferences.
    Eric
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I haven't seen Lexus officially state anything, but batteries are big. The only question is whether the 12 months between the GS450h and the LS600hL are enough for Lexus to make some technology changes that save some room. It wouldn't surprise me if the answer turns out to be no.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    DaimlerChrysler AG plans to announce next week that it will launch its tiny, two-door Smart car in the U.S. in 2007, a bid to turn around the unprofitable small-car unit, people familiar with the matter said....

    The unit has been unprofitable every year since its first model in 1998....

    In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in January, Mr. Zetsche said that if DaimlerChrysler brought the Smart brand to the U.S., it wouldn't set up a separate dealership network for it, as it did in Europe -- a costly decision intended to help Smart create its own brand identity, but one that many industry analysts now fault.

    Instead, DaimlerChrysler has sought a partner, such as a dealership chain, to help sell the car in existing Chrysler and Mercedes showrooms. BMW AG used a similar strategy when it encouraged its BMW dealers to add showrooms to existing facilities to carry its Mini line.
  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    That's the point I'm trying to make. I've stated several times that EVERY last car of topic has respect in it's own right. Each car is so different from each other that they'll never be equal, which is a good thing as this makes the class even better.

    About bikes: I ran into the same prob when pursuing my next fun toy. I had a H-D Fat Boy(still got it), but I was interested in buying a bike that was easier to maintain, and decided on Star Roadster, an unproven brand that has now become one of the most requested brand of bikes.
  • emaussemauss Posts: 151
    I believe that anyone who really thinks about it will agree. There are no bad choices at this level.
    Yes, I would have added dual pane glass to my car if I had thought more carefully about it, and the new rear-view camera looks great. But my car will serve me quite well for 4-5 years at 8K-miles or so per year.

    As for the bikes, my Dyna-Lowrider was great...and the V-Rod is quite impressive....but for in NYC (which has been 30K of the 31K on my bike), the Bimmer cruiser has been unbeatable.

    ...but again, personal preference....
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