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High End Luxury Cars



  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    There was a short article in Automotive News about Lexus. They are experiencing the rare combination of having both buyer conquest and loyalty rates rise at the same time. And both of these have been rising for the past three years.

    Loyalty (Lexus vehicles traded in on other new Lexus vehicles):
    1Q04: 48%
    2003: 44%
    2002: 31%
    Note: The article confused me a bit because it also put the loyalty rate at 54%.

    Conquest (Buyers who came to Lexus from another brand):
    2003: nearly 70%
    Every luxury brand except Saab is seeing a greater percentage of its customers depart to Lexus versus three years ago.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "MB prices are higher than Lexus (and Infiniti and others) because their cars cost more to produce, sell and service. Their production processes aren't as efficient as Toyota's nor their ability to manage their supply chain as good. "

    I agree with all of this, but that wasn't what we were talking about here. My point for the last couple of days has been that a few on this board are hyping small sales losses as the end of BMW and Mercedes-Benz or like they are in some type of galactic trouble. Yet in the same post they'll come up with all kinds of excuses as to why certain other brands (Lexus) have similar problems with certain models, but those logical reasons couldn't possibly apply to Mercedes-Benz or BMW models of the same age and/or going through a model change over. One thing of interest here, how is MB managing their "supply" chain incorrectly? They do it the same way any other luxury car maker does. In what way is Mercedes different? Please explain this.

    Everyone knows that Toyota is the production efficiency king. Everyone knows that it costs more to produce cars in Germany for the reasons you mentioned, and some others you don't. Even when Mercedes topped these reliability surveys in the early nineties they still cost way more than the competition, so all of the cost is not sheer reliability and defects.

    "Their entire marketing campaign is designed to make you think you are getting something
    you aren't."

    Really? So all of the innovations that Mercedes has and their beyond government safety standards, and in many cases much more variety doesn't account for anything. Right. Lexus' marketing slant is that of a knock-off Mercedes with their LS and a knock-off BMW with their IS and probably the upcoming GS. Just because you don't see anything more in a Mercedes doesn't mean it isn't there.

    "I don't think that MB is 'dying' but they are in serious trouble for the first time here in the U.S."

    Really? I would call serious trouble back in the early nineties when Lexus started gaining ground and Mercedes sold less than 60K cars a year for a few years. That is serious trouble. Now if you're basing this assessment on the reliability situation then your statement has more merit. If your statement is based on the sales drop of the first three months, then it is nonsense like the other posts of similar ilk.

    I agree they do have a reliability problem and the perception of the problem is getting worse. What I disagree with is the buzzards-are-circling mentality on this board in particular.

    "Their profitability is lower ( and the Chrysler-Jeep drain no help ). Their R&D is tighter and narrower and this makes them more dependent on suppliers for new technology, which is widely available to others. The technical edge is gone and often bleeding edge, not leading edge."

    I agree the Chrysler arm is a drain, but they may be starting to turn that around too. Maybe. They have a ton of new product on the way. However, tell me if MB's technology is so supplier based (like a lot of Toyota's isn't) then why is that Mercedes manages to always beat Toyota to the punch (specifically Lexus) to the market with it? I took the LS430 until 2004 to acquire certain features the S-Class back in 2001. This fact doesn't jive with your statement.


    Well not to get too deep into your post, but your posts for the most part have always had a logical/factual base, others don't. I always pay very close attention to your business minded posts and really can't take issue with anything you've just said. My problem was (in part) with people talking about sales losses for certain models (5-Series) when in fact it wasn't even true.

    You and footie shouldn't think for a minute that I don't see a problem with Mercedes and to a lesser extant BMW. The reliability issue will only get worse before it gets better. Why? Because most of these surveys look back 3 years and for 2004 they'll be looking at 2001 models and for 2005<>2002 and 2006<>2003 so it is going to take some time for MB, BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, and whoever else is deemed unreliable, to pull themselves up.

    I'll be the first one to order the closing of the water tight doors and the manning of the lifeboats.

  • The answer to you question (below) is simple..Lexus perfacts the innovation before they put it in their car. A SAFTY INNOVATION WITH an ELECTRICAL PROBLEM EITHER BREEDS "FALSE CONFIDENCE" OR TO THE WELL INFORMED OWNER...A FEELING OF DOUBT AND CONCERN, Will it work, or will it not..Is my family save? BEING FIRST DOES NOT ALWAYS MAKE YOU BEST.

    "then why is that Mercedes manages to always beat Toyota to the punch (specifically Lexus) to the market with it? I took the LS430 until 2004 to acquire certain features the S-Class back in 2001. This fact doesn't jive with your statement."
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    You know, you are master (and maybe commander) of misinformation and double talk. Don't make me regurgitate evidence here for you. It will take far too many pages and will cause edmund's to shut down its server(s) for overload....

    Suffice to say that it is refreshing to hear you finally admit that MB has problems. Isn't that what we are all saying here ? So all those excuses you have been given all amount to, what, squat ?

    Business-minded and technical-minded rationales have been given by many people here, but you find excuses around them. You are redeemable afterall... This is a good sign. Next, we'll get you to admit that Toyota/Lexus execs are far better auto business managers than MB/Chrsyler execs are. They could buy out DCX if they want to, and turn their fortunes around quicker than the Germans can I think. Well, won't that be a hoot !!!
  • edspider1edspider1 Posts: 195
    What feature did MB have in 2001 that Lexus just got in 2004? I'm suprised because back in 2001 it was between an SClass and LS because I thought the LS had more advanced features than the LS. The great NAV system was one of them. I thought the S interior had too much plastic.
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  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    There is no need to get personal here. You don't have to agree with everyone, but if you can't find a way to post a contrary opinion without disparaging the person with whom you are disagreeing, then you need to not post at all.

    The sniping at other members has to stop. I want to say this publicly because it keeps coming up here, but this necessarily needs to be the end of this conversation since it is off-topic and obviously disruptive.

    Comments about my thoughts on this subject may be emailed to me, but they should not be posted here.

    We need to keep our conversation focused on the cars and not on each other.

  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    And I've also removed some questions and speculation about where a Town Hall member works ... I'm sure if that member wants that information to be public, he is aware that he can add that information into his profile.

    If he does not want it to be public, then the rest of us need to consider it a private matter and let it be.

    In any case, that has not a thing to do with the subject of our discussion, so could we now get back on topic?

  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    Apparently we both cross-shopped the S in 2001 as well. There were two or three options I remember the V8 S-class cars having that the LS lacked (as options) in 2001. One was the ABC system and that is still the case. I would bet though that 90+% of all S-class cars are sold without it anyway. It's a fairly expensive option and there were one or two S-class board posters at that time who had opted for it and were having crazy things happening to them because of it. I remember one guy finding his car in a different position (level wise) in his garage the morning after he pulled in and the car was naturally un-drivable. This happened to him a number of times and MB couldn't seem to fix it or even find the problem. My MB sales rep told me not to consider ABC at the time I looked and after reading that guys posts later on I knew why. Another option was Keyless-go which Lexus of course now has and which both of us like very much. When I shopped in 2001 I was intrigued by the Keyless go system but none of the inbound S-class cars had it nor did any of the showroom cars. When I asked why I was told by the MB sales rep that they were having problems with it and had put a hold on it until the cause was found and cured. The third thing might have been the timeport (if that was the name) phone. Naturally the other thing they offered was a 12cyl engine if you went the S-600 route. Lastly - MB may have had more airbags than Lexus. I do know someone who totalled an E-class (the guy fell asleep at the wheel) and walked away unharmed. It was really the steering wheel air bag that saved him (so he would have been fine in most cars) but nevertheless I'll never question MB's commottmment and leadership in this area. I haven't kept track of Volvo but they were well known in the past as the mfr. at the head of the class in safety.

    On the other hand Lexus had the single based DVD nav system, the ML stereo and the 6 in-dash CD system. MB had answers to all three but they were way short of the Lexus benchmarks.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    And I agree wiith your comments on S-class plastic. The interior of the S-class - as a whole - left a lot to be desired for an $80k+ car. Misses the mark badly as far as I am concerned. Maybe MB will incorporate some Maybach goodies. That car has the best interior I've ever seen. But in sub $150k cars Lexus, Jaguar and Audi are the kingpins for me right now. I do love the antique walniut wood on the black leather custom/ultra LS.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Ok since you feel the need to shout then I guess you have the proof on one of Mercedes' safety innovations that had an electrical problem to back up your claim. If you don't then you're only doing more of the same.... Please tell me what safety innovation that Mercedes came out with that didn't work or that had electrical problems, that Lexus later perfected. I'm just dying to hear about it. I suspect this is yet another in a long line of bogus claims. Facts please.


    "You know, you are master (and maybe commander) of misinformation and double talk.

    This from the same poster that didn't know anything about the sales numbers harped on so much in their theory. Ok. What was that about the BMW 5-Series selling less than it did before the re-design?

    " Isn't that what we were all saying here ? So all those excuses you have been given all amount to, what, squat ?

    I and others have always said that MB and BMW have problems, you on the other hand went on and on about sales figures that once proven by the actual numbers, as opposed to hype, proved that you didn't have a clue about the 5-Series in particular and your claims were based on the 5 and 7-Series being "tank-jobs". Now when asked what this claim was based on you kept talking about sales, which didn't prove a thing other than an actual increase for the 5-Series and a 707 unit decline YTD for the 7-Series, hardly the end as you so loved to harp about. Face it you were dead wrong about the sales numbers and then (like your most recent post) you turn to corporate matters, since your doomsday theory wasn't supported by the sales numbers. Now you're talking about who is the better manager. More reaching for another angle it seems.

    I never said at any time on any board that Mercedes, BMW or Audi don't have problems, I objected to basing these claims sales numbers for 3 months and then on top of that not even bothering to check the numbers to see if they supported that theory, which they didn't. The others (footie included) here actually presented factual evidence of a problem. I'm done with it.

  • oacoac Posts: 1,594

    So you posit that I am wrong about my previous postings on the direction of MB and BMW ? You want facts, eh ? OK. Well, take a look at the following links and see for yourself. I leave you and others to judge the facts, rather than rants....

    Dec 2003 status report: - - - - es/120303/120303auto.htm

    As of Feb 2004 YoY comparo: es/031604/figure1.pdf

    Market Trends report:

    Just so it is clear where the TRENDS are, here are a couple of quotes from the above link:

    Honda had the biggest year-over-year gain, 8.2 percent. Fellow Japanese automakers Nissan and Toyota followed closely on Honda's tails, with formidable gains of 7.4 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. All picked up market share

    Within that segment, the Cadillac brand is making sales gains on Mercedes-Benz. The GM luxury brand finished the year with 216,090 cars and trucks sold, compared with Mercedes' 218,717. That is a difference of more than 2,600 vehicles, a gap that has narrowed from more than 13,000 vehicles in 2002

    I could pull a lot more links for you, but I think I made my point. BMW's 5-series sales growth was 8.8% over 3 months. Yipeee ! Happy ? I surmised they dipped, you showed they grew by <1,000 units over 3 months. We'll have to see by year's end who is right.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I could find even more links about sales figures for days and days. So what? Until you realize that sales fluctuate for different reasons (which you dismiss) then your point is moot with me. Until you factor in price-, product age-, hot new models+, model change over-, along with reliability- and everything else that can have either a negative or positive effect on sales, you're only repeating the same thing over and over.

    A few month sales declines does not spell the end of BMW or Mercedes. Period. Trends happen all the time, and they are just that, trends. They can change in either direction just as fast as they started.

    I guess by the end of the year if Cadillac passes Mercedes in sales, that will mean they make a better car. Let us forget that they don't even compete price or product wise with any Mercedes above the E-Class. Oh, except for the whopping 300-unit-a month XLR.

    When another brand can sell the number of cars Mercedes-Benz and BMW does covering their entire price ranges then I'll take note. Until then those brands who light up the under 50K segments and don't move nearly as much 60-120K iron as BMW and especially Mercedes don't mean squat to me.

    I love how you tout Lexus' sales when basically only 2 of their vehicles have truly outstanding sales.

  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Oh, I do factor in all of those variables you mentioned - price, age, reliability, model change over, etc... Aren't all of these auto companies (Jag, Audi, BMW, Lex, MB, Caddy, etc) in similar situations ? Yet the direction remains the same for MB and BMW, according to current reports. Isn't the bottomline to IMPROVE SALES ??? And sales is not important ? OKee dokee.... In 1 yr, GM's Cadillac has shaved off >10,000-unit sales difference with MB. And you are not worried ? Glad you are not an MB exec....

    The E- is a new design and doing so-so, the S is being redesigned after only what 4 years in its current skin? The new C is going to be out soon, but the old strangely continues to sell briskly. Why ? Maybe cos it is cheap, relatively speaking. I still maintain that redos for BMW has NOT meant much. Maybe MB's new releases and redos will help their bottomline ? Maybe not. I guess we'll see, won't we ?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    We're only 3 full months into the New Year, and no all companies are not in the same situation. Some have newer models, so have older models. Some are going through model change over in the spring as opposed to the fall. Some have new products in the hottest segments of the market. Staggered model introductions etc. etc. There a jillion reasons why sales could be off for any particular brand as a whole at any given point in the year. This is why I look to look at the individual models to see who is doing what. Give the spring buying season a few months to lead into summer and then count the totals.

    VW is the only brand that anyone has mentioned here that has had a continuous drop from year to year, not MB, BMW or Audi. If I were VW I'd be worried, and they've clearly said as much. Their sales have been in a free-fall for over a year, not the others! Every one of VW's affordable cars date back to either 1998 or 1999. No other brand is even remotely in the same situation, which is their fault. The Phaeton and Touareg are new, but cost a lot of money for VWs. Complete uphill battle there for VW, especially with the Phaeton, which will never be a big seller.

    Another factor is suvs. Lexus and Cadillac, to their credit cash in big time here. Almost fifty percent of Lexus' business is SUVs. Cadillac just added a crossover to their product mix, the SRX. Nothing but pay dirt to be had there. Also like Lexus they have a hot 30-40K car, the CTS. The current Seville isn't even on the same page with the E-Class in sales. They dropped the STS version of the current Seville in preparation for the new STS this fall. See how that could affect sales for the whole brand if they didn't have the SRX/Escalade to prop the brand up???

    I'm not trying to say that SUV sales aren't significant, just illustrating a point as to why certain brands are grabbing the sales headlines right now. Just think what the sales numbers for Lexus would be without the RX330 and GX470 and Cadillac without the Escalade and SRX.

    My point is the Europeans are traditionally weak in the SUV market (which is their fault) and they tend to have model lineups that are thicker at the top end of the price spectrum. Mercedes-Benz in particular when you look at their model/price spread, frankly has no place in a sales race to begin with. I was shocked when the broke 200K units a year. The C-Class (their biggest seller) was way down last month and will probably sink even further once this month's totals are counted. The 2005 model doesn't go on sale until mid-May.

    The S-Class came to market in spring of 1999 as a 2000 model and was face lifted for the 2003 model year. The next S-Class is due to come here in the spring of 2006 as a 2007 model. This is also the oldest car in its class yet is only second to the LS430 in sales. That doesn't say anything? Before spring of 2006, which is a long time from now, of course the car will fade away sales wise, this is only natural. The LS430 is on a similar time table and will cool down after this year also.

    No I'm not worried in the least about Cadillac gaining on Mercedes in sales. Still doesn't prove who makes a better car nor is the sales race equal for all brands. When Cadillac can sell more then 300 XLRs a month I'll take them seriously. 10K cars is not a lot of ground to make for a brand with a much cheaper lineup of cars overall.

    BMW has three new models for 2004. Only the new 5-Series was available from the start of year. I was never sure why you mentioned the 7-Series as being the problem when the car is in it's third model year and is hardly news anymore, a decline here is inevitable. You do realize their new X3 and 6-Series models only went on sale in mid-March? How could you possibly base that theory about BMW's redos not making a difference when 2 of their three new models for 2004 weren't even on sale in Jan-Feb???? Another reason why I say all this hysteria over the first three months is unfounded. Wanna bet the 645Ci Convertible has not hit its stride yet? I'll eat my shoes if BMW doesn't increase their overall sales this year compared to last year!

    I think if you truly did factor in everything you wouldn't have made nearly as much fuss about any of this, especially based on a mere 3 months worth of sales numbers.

  • Was The S class 2ond to the LS in sales...BEFORE THE NEW 430 CAME OUT..

    By your theory, because an updated model was on it's way Lexus LS sales should have been way off last year compared to the beautifull S class.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    You can't do what you say regarding sales and popular models. Every business has an 80-20 or 70-30 rule or some majority dominating products in which much of the revenue comes from a handful of products. You would have to remove the two highest sellers from each brand if you did what you propose. In the case of MB and BMW you'd have to drill down to the platform level. Plus I'll maintain that most people don't view the RX as an SUV anyway. The GX and LX - absolutely - but the RX is much more like a car and comes from a car platform.

    Can you imagine Coca Cola sales without coke and diet coke?
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    Here's some stats about sales proportions as relates to the overall product line-ups sales:

    Mercedes thru 1Q04:
    C-Class and E-class sales totalled 28,209 out of a total of 49,159 in sales. That means about 57% of Benz sales come from just 2 classes of vehicles out of 9.

    BMW thru 1Q04:
    The 3-series range(Not including Z3/Z4) totalled 27,430 units vs. total BMW of 52,970. that equates to the 3-series carrying 52% of the sales load. That's right one model range out of 8.

    Lexus thru 1Q04:
    The ES and RX range totalled 41,449 vs. total Lexus of 65,392. That equates to 2 product lines making up 63% of total Lexus sales. Or 2 model ranges out of eight.

    And I know another claim leveled against Lexus a bad thing is that Lexus sales are mostly SUV(which BTW is not Lexus fault if other companies can't design proper SUV that will sell).

    Thru Q104, Lexus SUV sales have come out to 51% of total Lexus sales.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    To me the above stats mean luxury and status have more significance to the lower-end buyer than they do to the manufacturers. The lower-end buyer wants a piece of the upper end. The manufacturer wants the supermarket bucks. Can't blame them, but this is helping to drag down the quality, reliability and mystique of the high-end luxury marque. As the world creeps toward economic parity, I see a world rife with mediocre products.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    I think a couple of things are going on.

    1. As the lux brands (maimly MB and BMW here) go down market they get more buyers and hence have to mass produce. This wasn't their planned business model so they don't do it so well. They were designed to be a boutique shop and venturing away from the initial business plan is always a problem - in any business.

    2. The involvement of sophisticated electronics in cars also is a move away from their engineering prowess and is not a core strength and in fact is a pronounced weakness.

    3. Both of the above play strongly into the Japanese hands because they are very well versed in mass production since that was their original business model and they are masters of electronics. The Lux car building move was made on top of that business model. It is easier to go from A to B than from B to A.

    4. Many of the German car fans point to the things that have made the brands famous as still being great. I agree with them and don't think for a second that German engineering or the core of their automotive strengths have declined. They probably have gotten better. It's just all the electronics built around them that don't fare well. Unfortunately car building isn't as simple today as in the past and the competition is fiercer than ever - particularly at the lux end.

    I don't think you will see an NFL in the car industry. I think you will see a continued strive for high quality everywhere. I just don't think everyone will get there. The Japanese are there already though with their leading brands.

    VW - different set of problems. Something has gone wrong there.
  • lexus0622lexus0622 Posts: 27
    Weak profits from core brand sales doesn't seem to be stopping VW's pursuit of new cash deals. Witness today's Wall Street Journal: "Volkswagen sait it and two investors plan to buy Dutch fleet management firm LeasePlan from ABN Amro for $2.38 billion."

    Should customers be worried if VW appears not to be?
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Made here by Ljflx and Designman.

    My posts and links speak to ANNUAL sales, not mere 3 months sales, as many others are talking about. Check out the links again. They are annual sales and trends. DCX is down 0.4% in market share, and BMW is up 0.2%. Toyota, OTOH is up 0.7% in market share. Troubling, I am sure to Detroit, is that Toyota threatens to become #2 in US, ahead of DCX, which, IMO, is the real point I am driving to. DCX needs a wake-up.

    But ljflx's points are right on the money, and may help rationalize some of what the market trends foretell today...
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    "3. Both of the above play strongly into the Japanese hands because they are very well versed in mass production since that was their original business model and they are masters of electronics. The Lux car building move was made on top of that business model. It is easier to go from A to B than from B to A."

    Your premise is correct, however mass production gave way to Lean Production long ago. What was developed as the Toyota Production System (TPS) is now a management philosophy across all companies in the Toyota corporate empire. Toyota insiders refer to TPS as the "Thinking Production System". Problem solving at the value-added worker level is their core asset.

    These concepts are at work throughout the Japanese Automotive world in one form or another.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    I said it before - let's see how Q2 develops before jumping to any conclusions. My take thus far is that VW does have some serious problems on their hands and BMW may have problems developing. I think MB is fine for a simple reason. They do have a number of new models coming out and it's typical to slow production in an older model for two reasons. Changes in the assembly line and slowing demand in anticipation of a new model. That's typical and the reduced sales is more tied to the business process rather than market demand. MB should be pretty hot a year from now. If they aren't then that will be indicative of a real systematic problem.

    merc1 - we may have said it differently but I think you and I are in agreement on MB sales.
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    I just came back from enjoying the 1st Albuquerque, NM International Car Show. Almost all the major/popular brands were present and well displayed. I observed that Lexus had an area marked off on the display map next to Toyota. Lexus was a no show and Toyota units filled in the display area. All those nice cars and Lexus was a no show.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    It amazes me that sales success continues to be as an argument here, as if sales numbers indicate excellence. In that case, the VW Golf is the best euro car, and something like the Honda Civic probably exemplifies Japanese perfection. Which to a certain degree they probably do, it's far tougher to produce excellence at a premium.

    But luxury ought to be naturally about *small* volumes. If it becomes the norm with high sales, it's just the standard, and those with aspirations merely set their sights higher...

    By the way, these days I find Jaguar interiors over-rated. I think the perception of them still being interior leaders shows that the perceptions around these cars are quite emotional, and colored by brand history and reputation. People *want* the Jag leather and wood to be supreme. In my experience with my last XJR, it was very nice, but it had some cheap touches. Vinyl armrest and such. People criticize Mercedes interiors, but Mercedes has always gone for a more spartan interior design. It's part of the brand. They're fixing the tactile aspect of the materials, which have by the way always been extremely durable. In world dominated by leasing, how these cars will look like after 10 years of daily use doesn't seem to matter much anymore, which is a bit of a shame.

    Best luxury interior in my mind these days goes to the Range Rover. A friend has one, and it is awesome. I am a snob when it comes to car interiors (and interior design in a house!)... :-)
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I think so too. I was just making the same point you've already stated, that this first quarter panic is hype and unfounded when you look at the actual facts. Even yearly we're talking about tenths of percent here! The only brand in real trouble is VW and their problem is mainly having an old model lineup and not offering American and Japanese car level incentives, until now. The next year will be very tough for them since the new Passat, Jetta and Golf don't get here until at least this time next year.

    DCX as a whole needs to wake up, true. I would call all the new product at least a sign of them waking up, and I'm talking about the Chrysler side. Mercedes-Benz isn't nearly the trouble the Chrysler brands have been in. Mercedes-Benz never stopped making money and for the record DCX has decided not to bail out Mitsubishi.

  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    Perhaps there ought to be a "Luxury Car Brand Business Update" topic? The argument here seems to have shifted exclusively to which brand makes the most profit. It's like buying a gas guzzler and being happy about it because Shell is posting record profits... :-)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    Took a good look at that new Audi schnoz and it looks to me like a person walking around with their mouth open. Audi took a perfect grill (at least the way it looks on the A8) and ruined it. Who made that decision and what were they thinking? As said on this board by others - we have BMW leading a growing group in wrecking rear designs and maybe now we have Audi trying to do the same to the front. Does anyone like that new grill?
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