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High-End European Luxury Sedans

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  • xkssxkss Posts: 722
    Funny, their all European cars. Not one Japanese or American on my list. If they could build an American car with Japanese quality and fit and finish and European looks and performance, my next car would be American. Until then, I'll stick with my BMW and Audi.

    Perhaps Panoz has the car for you.

    Panoz
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Thanks, nice to read something logical about sales for a change. Anytime sales dip for a moment its crisis central and its Lexus this and Lexus that, but ignore what those sales are based on. Its a good thing BMW doesn't depend on all SUVs and a tarted up Camry for all the bulk of their sales. For BMW to have a strong first or second place seller in most classes is impressive enough and surely enough for their bottom line. I simply don't see the panic or the point of this debate.

    M
  • Over on the LPS forum some soul (or souls) regularly posts the sales of the cars in the LPS category. My "off the top of my head" take on these numbers (US only) are that BMW's 5 and Mercedes E battle it out for the #2 and #1 spots. On the bottom end Acura's RL and Audi's A6 fight for last and next to last place month after month.

    Sales of the top cars is about triple that of the bottom cars.

    Audi's sales in the US are not a bright spot (but probably not a black hole either) in Audi's recent press release (with facts) wherein they proclaim this is their best year ever and that annual sales for the first time are expected to be 800,000 units. Audi has had steady improvements over the past 12 years in a row.

    Audi, and I need to make sure I understand this completely outsells BMW "over there." In the home continent Audi and BMW are very close to each other in terms of percentage of market share. At this precise moment in time, I believe that Audi is outselling BMW, but this is in flux and there could be a change between these two companies and no one would be too shaken either way.

    According to Business Week (Aug 15th issue) -- Mercedes has been struggling with quality issues and profits and I believe the comments suggested that Mercedes had been dethroned by BMW (which if I understand and extrapolate correctly would mean that Audi has also outsold Mercedes since it is apparently outselling BMW.)

    What happens here and there are clearly worlds apart. Three times as many BMWs and Mercedes are sold here as are Audis. Not true in the home land.

    Audi and BMW are apparently "on a roll." The BW article did say that Mercedes quality issues while not entirely behind them appear to have taken a turn in the right direction. Mercedes (DC) will soon have a new top dog (Dieter) who comes fresh from a profitable Chrysler (in contrast to a losing :sick: Mercedes?!?)

    I like the looks of the new BMW 3 series, X3, and 6. I am trying to warm to the 5 (especially since it now can be had with AWD) -- and between the Audi A8L and the BMW 7, cannot imagine even considering the 7 it is to my eye so ugly.

    BMW, in the US, seems to have been enjoying some good times (3X the number of A6's by the 5's! That's pretty impressive.) BMW clearly has been spending some energy and money on their products as has Audi (not that Mercedes has been resting on its reputation -- but when you're recalling over 1,000,000 cars you may have your focus temporarily shifted.)

    It seems to me to be almost miraculous that the E class, last month, for instance, outsold the 5.

    If I were BMW, I would wonder what will happen when Mercedes gets its quality issues firmly behind it -- for if Mercedes is able to outsell BMW even with its reputation in tatters (somewhat), look out for them when they no longer have to apologize for their products in such a public way.

    Audi and BMW are on a roll (depending on how you parse this -- globally or in specific markets), Mercedes has clawed its way from the basement of reliability issues and apparently is "getting better."

    None of these guys (well Mercedes is on the bubble) gives the other quarter -- and, despite the questions of my parentage or lineage or IQ that will no doubt arise, these cars share more similarities than dissimilarities. I'd be happy with any one of them.

    Of course, I'd probably not be upset with a new Infiniti M or Lexus GS either -- but I realize they are not high end European cars.

    For the time being, given a choice, I'd stick with the high zoot numbers from Audi, BMW and Mercedes and probably grin each and every time I got behind the wheel.

    The W12 A8L (as seen in the Transporter 2 clip) looks like the one to beat, though.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Interesting post Mark.

    I don't think a lot of people look at these issues like we do here on Edmunds. It doesn't surprise me at all that the E outsells the 5-Series. Surveys aside I'm surprised the E and the 5 are selling at the rate they are considering all the new competition in the segment.

    I think Audi's problem in the U.S. is exposure. I've seen several posts on one board or another about Audi dealerships and how they're placed. Some close minded people will never consider an Audi because of that nonsense from the 80's about unintended acceleration. Europeans know better. For some reason Audi has this second place image in the minds of most people, not being as good as a MB or BMW. Some say this is because of their link to VW. I'm not sure what it would take to get Audi up to BMW/MB in perception the U.S. IMO they already have cars that are just as capable in most areas, so I think it may be be marketing and exposure that needs serious work. I've seen/heard people say "I didn't know Audi made a car that big" when they see an A8. Which is a knockout of a car to me. I see that for 2006 all A8s get the new grille too.

    M
  • paldipaldi Posts: 210
    The Audi A8L looks small until you get close. Same problem only worse with the Phaeton. The horizontal trim lines make both cars look shorter than they are in real life.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I don't think that would help VW in this country or sell at all, the proportions are way off, imo.

    Thank goodness sanity prevailed at VW a few years ago when they decided not to put that Nardo concept into production. It was a fine car, but had no business in a VW showroom, kinda like the equally impressive Phaeton. I like VWs but they've got to get a clear picture of who their competition is, and it ain't BMW/MB/Audi, its Toyota/Honda/Ford/Nissan.

    M
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Posts: 1,150
    "If I were BMW I would wonder what will happen when Mercedes gets" their troubles behind.....

    Maybe not. Mark, all the marketing gurus that I read (Troutman and Reis, for example) claim that once the king is knocked off his throne he is done. Fini. In other words, Howard Johnson and Xerox are not coming back. Now matter what Izod does it can not recover.

    As you point out BMW is on a roll. Just like Lexus. While not an MB basher, I think that if these brands can put some daylight between themselves and MB, it will signify a paradigm change. People will talk about a steak knife or gollf club as the "Lexus of steak knives" or the "Bimmer of golf clubs."
  • vwguildvwguild Posts: 1,620
    Corporate misfortune is a troubling thing...Look at VW in 1993, Lee Iaccoca's Chrysler, and today, almost beyond belief, VIOXX could signal the end of Merck...some rebound; some do not...
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Trump is a good example of someone who came back. Remember his troubling real estate empire in the late 80's early 90's? I'm trying to remember other examples where Humpty Dumpty was shattered and put back again, but it's late in the evening.
  • ffb13ffb13 Posts: 181
    it all depends on how you position a brand or product.
    some can come back with the right management group and strategy.
    the problem lies in the positioning of the product and if it is a recovery the strategy to reposition it or re-introduce it.
    m-b may be able to pull it off.
    let us wait and see who takes charge of the company and watch his first moves.
  • bagman1bagman1 Posts: 2
    What is all this noise about MB may never recover, is lost forever, etc. It seems so many have spent so much time bashing Mercedes that they have come to believe their own spin. It's just a bump in the road for MB. They have not gone away and still make the best cars in the world - even if they are too expensive.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    If one makes the assumption they have "toppled". Those who buy their cars say no, those who point to the issues say yes. Seems to be there are more people buying their cars than analyzing their issues. Which is a good thing.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    You really make me laugh by saying MB still make the best cars in the world. Who know cars better than mechanics? Go ask them.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    How about the people that buy them.
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    BMW sales are on par with last year, and in some cases even better. Don't know about the "losing share" argument on that one. Even with somewhat goofy styling, people still buy BMW for the name, and they tend to lease out very well with subsidies from BMW.

    Mercedes on the other hand has lost 5,000 plus units this year due to an aging E class line. The C class is down as well. More ponies on this years model will hopefully help.

    http://www.aicautosite.com/editoria/asmr/svsedan.asp
  • clemboclembo Posts: 253
    People seem to forget that although BMW may be selling slightly more 5-Series cars than they did in 2002, they are losing market share to their competition. Since 1997 the high end luxury car market has grown at annual rates between 7% and 11% in the U.S. The gain that BMW may show over their previous models does not sustain that growth factor. Now look at annual growth rates of Lexus, Infiniti, and Audi during the same period and you will see their large market share gains.

    The E-65 7-Series and the E-60 5-Series may be selling better than the models that they replaced, but they are not at plan for BMW.

    P.S. - I'm no BMW basher, I still own one and I love it.
  • blckislandguyblckislandguy Posts: 1,150
    KD, Trump has not come back in real estate. I think he has lost his--and everyone else's shirt. Where he has come back is in show business because he reinvented himself as "the Donald."

    ffb has it right. It is all in positioning. Troutman and Reis, the marketing guys who developed the idea of positioning talk about the importance of being number one. We never, ever forget our first love, or our first car. The problem is that once you are toppled from the throne you have a hard time getting back on top. Will anyone ever hear something ever again described as the "Cadillac of ..."? (For those of you under 30, this was a phrase one heard daily in retail in the US up until the late mid 70's.) I don't think so.

    Jaguar builds an XJ sedan that costs 10K less and has demonstrably more reliability than anything else in the high end lux segment. Yet they can't sell them because people still think that a Jag is unreliable. SAAB was "the" winter car among the professoriat, people living in New England, and free thinkers. Along came Suburu with AWD and Volvo with more amenities and you can't give a SAAB away.

    This is the problem that MB faces.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    " I think he has lost his"

    It depends if you think some of his big current/planned projects don't mean much...

    "Yet they can't sell them because people still think that a Jag is unreliable."

    Maybe they can't see them because people do not know what a Jag-U-ar is anymore. I was a lover of the brand years, but I don't know what it is today. They didn't stick to their mission. You can't come back unless you come back stronger than what people recognized you for.

    Some people here may think MB is washed up, I don't think so. Nobody has a crystal ball, MB is a tough organization that knows what their mission is.
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    I think it to be a shame that maybe Mercedes won`t get the chance to put to rest it`s problems, as the car s500 nicely equiped cost is going to be above a hundred thousand...I would think if they were to help with the lease them maybe enough people would buy one and it work great....If a person pays for one, the number is likely to meet with resistance....We`l all see soon enough....Tony
  • paldipaldi Posts: 210
    Subliminally - this car werks!

    Image hosted by Photobucket.com

    When I spotted this, I thought someone put "Volkswagen" on the trunk. :P What are they thinking?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    In my circles, MB still has the cache of being the Cadillac of things, if you know what I mean.

    BMW is disdained for the WhaleTail look, yet, has sold more than ever since it debuted. The I-drive is a disaster both from an ergonomics point of view, and reliability - yet, they are selling more of them than ever AND, MB & Lexus are going to an I-drive of some sort.

    Lexus is the fastest growing luxury car in North America - and will likely overtake both MB & BMW combined at some point -not because they're more beautiful, as that would be a real stretch to say, but because they are cheaper, yet more reliable - what Toyota does best. Also, they do what they're supposed to do in spades.

    I remember Nickoseal (sp) engines failing at BMW not too long ago, and they survived, yet, had I had one, I'd be furious and never be back. Cadillac is supposedly making a comeback, but I don't know anybody who used to drive a Mercedes, that now owns a Cadillac. I do know some former Lexus owners who do, but mostly it's Lincoln owners who have Cadillacs in their driveways now. I guess they're back from the pathetic cars they were in the 80's and 90's, but will they ever compete with the foreign makes? I doubt it. Lincoln has decided not to try - they can't afford it, plus they have Jaguar and Aston Martin to refer people to.
  • Nice summary of the high end market. It would be hard to disagree with any of your observations.
  • dfc3dfc3 Posts: 87
    A few things:

    1. In my circles, MB is still tops. I worked at a fast growing company, where the execs were getting BIG increases in comp each year. My boss was a perfect example; he started with a Honda Civic. When he started making good money, he bought a Lexus. Once he struck it rich, he moved to a Mercedes. The CEO of the company bought a Mercedes. So did the CFO.

    2. Smart Money magazine came out with their 2006 rankings; they listed the Lexus GS 300 as the top Luxury Sedan.

    I know these comments are contradictory; I'm not expressing an opinion - just some points....
  • Take SUV sales away from Lexus and then compare. The RX is huge. Their cars are basically Japanese Buicks. Reliable, plush, comfy and as tasty as as the Host at Communion. Get the Gold package and a set of lips and rockers. I'll meet you at Denny's near the door at 4. We can discuss Vogue tires over free decaf.
  • dfc3dfc3 Posts: 87
    If it matters... the Audi A4 was rated as the best near luxury sedan. The BMW 530i as the best European luxury sedan. This is in the Smart Money article I just referenced.
  • I don't think I've ever seen photos of a new 'brand defining' car that is so ugly as the shots from the Frankfurt Auto Show of the new Mercedes S. It looks like it was designed by some goofy committee that was picking up cues from the auto junkyard.

    The wheel arches are terrible and unnecessary. The wheels themselves are available at the Lexus store for the LS400 from 1997 - 2000.

    If this the 'bet your company flagship', these folks are in deep sneakers. It's the worst looking car I've seen since the new BMW 7 a few years ago.

    No style, no sense of unity, no integrated stance like the MB S of the 'old days'. This is one porker.

    Just one person's view ....

    gb
  • xkssxkss Posts: 722
    I don't like the rear of the new S-class of the interior, but the trunk doesn't copy the 7 series because the 1998 Maybach concept predated the trunk of the new 7 series.

    I can't stand the new BMWs coming from the previous ones.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    But they are selling like hotcakes. Somebody likes them.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    In my circles, MB is still tops. I worked at a fast growing company, where the execs were getting BIG increases in comp each year. My boss was a perfect example; he started with a Honda Civic. When he started making good money, he bought a Lexus. Once he struck it rich, he moved to a Mercedes. The CEO of the company bought a Mercedes. So did the CFO.

    MB is definitely still tops in prestige, among the mainstream luxury brands. But what happens as people aquire more money depends on their personal wants, including how much the prestige factor matters to them. I went to a Microsoft meeting back in 1995 and the top guys like Ballmer and Gates had indivdually labelled, reserved spaces at the building it was at. Those spaces had 3 LS400s in a row...and no other brand. It is well known that Gates has had LS cars for awhile (among others), and I think some of the other execs followed his lead. Even back then, Ballmer was worth 10 figures.
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