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High End Luxury Cars

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  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    "Luxury" car sales overall have gone up. Every month BMW, MB, Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti announce a new "record-breaking sales" month.

    I feel like half the cars on the road is some sort of "luxury" make. It wasn't like that just ten years ago.

    To me, the most interesting maker is Infiniti, trying to do their "Japanese BMW" thing. To be recognized as one of the "Big Boys", you need a successful $60k sedan. We all know that the Q is far from that. Would be interesting to see how the next Q turns out.

    Frankly, if Lexus didn't have the LS, people would not think of them as being in the same league with BMW and MB. Instead, people would think of them as a company that sells very reliable, cush riding, rebadge Toyotas with nice interiors (Camry -> ES, Highlander -> RX, 4Runner -> GX, Land Cruiser -> LX).

    The IS, GS, and SC do not have Toyota counterparts in the US, but don't really sell well.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "Frankly, if Lexus didn't have the LS, people would not think of them as being in the same league with BMW and MB. Instead, people would think of them as a company that sells very reliable, cush riding, rebadge Toyotas with nice interiors (Camry -> ES, Highlander -> RX, 4Runner -> GX, Land Cruiser -> LX)."

    Interesting point. In other words they'd be another Acura.

    As far as sales go I expect Lexus, Mercedes, Audi and Infiniti post the biggest gains over the next 18 months or so due to all the new product they all have coming up. I think BMW will cool down after the 2006 3-Series is introduced. They won't have another all new product for a few more years.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "Every month BMW, MB, Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti announce a new "record-breaking sales" month."

    Well... not quite. At least from the information I've seen in the C&D news section, VW sales are down, Audi is luke warm, BMW\Mini are doing well, and M-B is holding. I know Chrysler is up quite a bit thanks to 300, but I didnt hear anything about M-B grabbing any sales records. Lexus always has record months. Acura is way up thanks to the smash hit TL, and Infiniti is way up because they have real product to sell for the first time in their history. What has M-B just introduced that would lead to major sales gains? Most of their cars are due for redesign.

    That is an interesting point about Lexus, but you have to remember, the LS came first. It was Lexus intent to compete with the best of Europe, and the LS400 was their first car. ES250 came next. Infiniti isnt quite ready to be a "big boy player" just yet. Hell just a few years a go Nissan\Infiniti was written off as a dead company. Infiniti needs more time to fill out its product line before they introduce a new fullsize sedan. (You cant let your primary sellers grow old while you work on some super flagship with a questionable market -VW) After G, FX, QX, and now M, my guess is that their next car will be the American version of Skyline GT-R (about bloody time!) and the Q possibly after that, maybe for '08. The Q was slightly facelifted for '05, which usually means it gets to soldier on for at least another 2 years or so.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    Lexus is well differentiated from the other Japanese companies in that it has the SC, LX and now the GX as well. Acura has nothing (save the NSX which sells virtually nothing) that rivals any of those 3 on orice, let alone the LS. The next GS will be taken very seriously and Lexus will roll out V12 equivalent HP and a tunning arm shortly. They are worlds apart from Acura and the distance is about to widen significantly more in short oder. Now if the comment were about Infiniti it would have a lot more merit.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    Upon rechecking, it seems that Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti are all on pace for record-setting years.

    MB is about even.

    BMW is the only one out of the five that is down from last year (-4.6% YTD) so far this year.

    Overall, BMW Group sales are up because of the Mini, but Mini is not a BMW, nor a luxury car. VW is not a luxury make. I don't know what's going on with Audi.

    ----------------------

    The LS really does a lot for Lexus's image. No doubt about that.

    The Infiniti GTR is rumoured to come in 2007. A bit far away. We'll probably see an M based coupe before that, to go against the 6 and the CLK. Maybe a G convertible as well. I also think they'll come out with an SUV based on the 2005 Pathfinder, to go against the GX. The QX, which is basically a rebadged Armada, has sold pretty well, and luxury SUV's in general are profit mines.

    But the next Q is important.

    -----------------------

    Although Acura sells more than Infiniti, I really think of them a step below. It's hard to consider cars that MAX out at $24k (RSX) and $29k (TSX) as befitting luxury status.

    Then you're left with just the TL and MDX, both of which sell in droves. But even these two are rebadged Accord EX-V6's and Pilots.

    The current RL and the NSX haven't sold nearly enough to make a mark.

    How the 2005 RL does will be interesting to see as well. Even though it doesn't have a V8, Acura really is trying to break into a new market with this car.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    "Frankly, if Lexus didn't have the LS, people would not think of them as being in the same league with BMW and MB. "

    You are probably right, but if BMW didn't have a 7-series people would think BMW isn't in the same league as Mercedes either. You remember when BMW had no 7-series up to the mid-80s? They weren't considered in the same class as Mercedes back then.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    Maybe BMW needs a 9 series to go after the Maybach and Rolls. The 7 series is just looked upon as another car here in Westchester County. Same goes with the S class and LS. Too many luxury cars sort of lessens their auras.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    We have one man saying BMW sales are up 17% in June (from May to June 04?), another says sales are down 4.6% YTD. Is this BMW brand or total? Another guy says X3 sales are good. The last time I read tables up to and including April, X3 3, 7, Z4 sales were not good. Does anyone know if current comprehensive sales figures are available? Have a link? They used to be published monthly like clockwork on various sources. Seems to me whatever modest increases, hence questionable success they may be experiencing is due to platform expansion and that's it.
  • brightness04brightness04 Posts: 3,151
    even the lowly Chevy has an entry there.

    guess you're not aware that the "lowly Chevy" engine on Ward's Top 10 is GM's 4.2L I6. You say you didn't bash the 4.2L I6, but read your own words, especially the bolded part.

    You are entirely making too many assumptions. "Lowly Chevy" is a reference to the Chevy brand; if you think Chevy is a High End Luxury Marques (the title of this board), please let me know. The fact that even the lowly Chevy has an entry in the Ward's top 10 list, makes no great bragging rights for MB, priced on average some 3-4 times as expensive as Chevy's, to have an entry there.

    I wrote: What do gearing and rear axel ratio have anything to do with that? You can make gearing and rear axel ratio choices to optimize for 0-60 (which makes 0-60 a bad measure for true performance), but as a consequence you have to compromise somewhere else due to the lack of power.

    You wrote: You seem to have answered your own question. Sometimes the car with faster 0-60 is due to shorter gearing. I don't know the gearing or rear axel ratios of the MB vs. Camry. I was wondering if possibly the Camry had shorter gearing to account for its faster times.

    Could you proofread what you type up before posting it? where did I say anything about Camry being faster than MB in 0-60? I said MB E320 is underpowered in its class (and 0-60 is not necessarily a good measurement of power). Once again, I ask, how does any of your argument regarding gearing have anything to do with rebutting my statement that MB E320 is under-powered?? What in the world does gearing have to do with under-poweredness which is a function of engine choice for the vehicle weight. The argument I made was based on power-to-weight ratio, which MB320 has the worst by far in its class.

    YOU claimed that BMW underrates its engines. I just showed you ONE example, the 5.0L BMW e39 M5 v8, where BMW is clearly NOT underrating its engines.

    I said BMW often underrates its engines. A small volume counterexample at the extreme of its product spectrum hardly rebutts my point. Care to disucss with us about the cars relevent to this discussion; i.e. 530i? or any other mainstream BMW's?

    I wrote: So you are more or less agreeing with me that the MB pedigree is about riding large in the backseat; so much for the sportiness claim ;-)

    I agree with you on some points (the ones I don't mention in posts), but not on this one. Doesn't the S-class have an AMG version? That is not a chauffered car IMO.

    More obfuscation. How long has AMG been part of MB? a couple years? What per centage of S class are AMG anyway?? TRD has been an in-house operation for Toyota for a decade, does that make all Toyotas sporty cars??

    Also, is there any point in comparing the Maybach to anything?

    What does Camry have to do with Lexus? Maybach is the epitome of MB marketting
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "Maybe BMW needs a 9 series to go after the Maybach and Rolls"

    BMW already has a 9 series, its called Rolls Royce :) VW got Bentley, and BMW got Rolls.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    "BMW's automobile sales dipped slightly in June, to 17,710 versus 18,560 in the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, sales were down 4.6 percent, to 97,606 automobiles compared to 102,353 in the first half of 2003."

    http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2004/07/01/201922.html

    Meanwhile,

    "Sales of BMW's Sports Activity Vehicles were exceptionally strong, contributing to BMW's record sales. Year- to-date, sales of BMW's SAV models were up 64 percent, to 28,228 vehicles compared to 17,215 for the same period in 2003."

    This basically means that BMW sedan/coupe/convertible sales have dropped significantly YTD, compared to 2003. This is partly due to the fact that the 3 is near its model run.

    The above figures are for the US only.

    *"BMW Group" includes the Mini, which went from 3000 YTD in 2003 to 18,000 YTD in 2004.

    ------------------

    Worldwide, BMW Group (which includes Mini and Rolls Royce) have had record sales YTD, beating out MB as the "number one luxury maker." Of course, including the Mini in to figure the "number one selling luxury manufacturer" is rather silly, but sales of the Smart is included in MB sales as well.
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    designman,

    Best place to look is on PRnewswire.com website and do a search for BMW. You will find the YTD sales figures for Jun-04 released on July 2, 2004. BMW sales are definately not up 17% this year if you take out Mini sales. The 3-series is down slightly, the 7-series is down drastically, but it doesn't effect overall BMW sales too much because the 7-series sales make up a small slice of their overall sales. The slack in these 2 lines has been taken up by the new X3.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    So in sum (YTD sales change):

    BMW (excluding Mini): +5.2%
    BMW (excluding Mini and SUVs): -4.6%
    BMW SUV: +64%

    When you think about it, it's not that bad. The X3 probably took some sales away from the 3 series as well.

    They made up stale sales of some models with the intro of new models such as the X3 and the 6.

    I guess SUVs are the way to go these days. Lexus sells more RX330s than the entire Audi brand combined.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Thanks guys. Would be interesting to know exactly where the SUV sales are coming from and how much of these are from repeat BMW car buyers, which could help to explain at least some of the decline in their auto sales. However, auto sales look horrible in SPITE of a stellar reliability ranking, new models and redesigned models. BMW has always enjoyed stable sales curves, like no other manufacturer. Funny how they needed the SUV cash cow to maintain them. This indicts iDrive and the new design direction as far as I can see.

    ljflx... did you notice I mentioned the Quandts and not just Bangle, giving them top billing?

    ;-)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    No - but now I did. By the way the sales report of +17% was for June only (not YTD) and was reported on CNN business. I don't even know if it was worldwide or just US. I have not seen it in writing. The data on the cars definitely bears out the poor styling as far as I'm concerned. People may be turning to the SUV's (oops SAV's - how stupid that is) out of desperation.

    Did you see the comparo of the STS vs. new 5 in Motor Trend? Again they had a hard time knocking BMW but if you read between the lines they appear to prefer the Cadillac. Better combo of lux and sport. Some of the comments about the 5 styling are comical. As far as I am concerned BMW's need to go on a diet but the new 3 series is about to gain weight and look motly like its siblings.
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    You are a better hairsplitter than I am. Instead of doing more of that, let me just summarize my opinions on your posts.

    1. MB is NOT comparable to the Camry/ES330.

    2. MB's v6 is a fine engine IMO and the opinion of Ward's 10 Best.

    3. Every engine on Ward's 10 Best including MB's v6 and GM's straight 6 is a fine and worthy engine.

    4. You seem inherently unable to separate cars from engines, which I believe is the reason for your confused responses to my posts.

    5. You are some guy on the net voicing opinions (such as Camry/ES330 is comparable to the MB E320) and making comparos (RL vs. just about anything) that NOBODY agrees with.

    6. Ward's 10 Best is a respected publication and provides sound reasons for each of its choices, yet you continually disparage Ward's 10 Best on the sole basis that they picked a "lowly Chevy" engine, which you've never even tried out. Do you even have ANY PROOF that Ward's 10 Best is biased?

    7. You claim that BMW underrates its engines once again WITHOUT ANY PROOF. The only proof offered so far has been mine, where I show BMW not underrating its v8 in the e39 M5.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Hmmmm... I guess sales does matter afterall :)

    Just came back from a trip and found over 60 posts in only 4 days away. Phew ! So much pics from Merc1 in an attempt to stage-manage this forum to his interests.... Well, here is my response: The CLS is tame in design, the low roofline will give some poor shmuck a headache trying to get in without looking. The rear is just terrible as well. Who are they trying to sell this car to ? A bunch of 30-something ? Don't think it will sell well at all, imo.

    BTW, the BMW designs pre-Bangle (3, 5) are, IMO, the best looking cars on the road today. Period. Far more timeless than the wanna-be slick new MB designs post MY1999. Prior MBs are, of course, very spartan, uglified edifices, but very solidly built with high quality materials, and excellent safety gadgets. The electronics work as designed too. Can't say the same for today's MBs. Poor build quality, unreliable electronics, and un-MB-like poor grade on reliability. What's Schrempf smoking these days ?

    Did I mention the LS yet ? Nope... No need to. It already trumps/whacks the competition so no need to rub it in

    Taking a much deserved 2-week vacation to the Bahamas, by way of Miami, FL. See you all in 2 weeks and I hope you'all be nice to each other.... Especially, you Mr Merc1.

    :)
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    I don't think that lowered sales of BMW cars (especially 5 and 7 series) is a sign that BMW is suffering.

    All manufacturers are losing car sales to SUV sales and BMW is no different in that respect.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I think the "BMW underrates its engines" is a bit of a common misconception, and has mostly to do with the 325 and 330i. For example, the 330i runs neck and neck in stop light races (roughly 6 seconds) with TL and G35, and yet its got "only" 220hp. An A4 3.0 with the same 220hp needs about 7.5 seconds, as do most other similar cars with around that amount of horsepower. I believe the answer to the BMWs mysterious speed isnt "underrating" the engine, but a combination of engine, a small, reasonably light weight car, and gearing and axel ratios honed to perfection through 25 years of 3 series cars.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Just so you know, I've criticized the Quandts pretty hard in the BMW forums. At one point I even expressed sympathy for Bangle, speculating among other things that he could have gotten caught up in a design-by-committee situation. I don't think this is the case though. From what I have read, it seems he was given and extraordinary amount of power that was unprecedented in the auto industry. He even had power over engineering. This goes to show you how much importance they placed on styling.

    I indict Bangle because of his management of the think tank. If he indeed had the power that reports suggest, then he is ultimately responsible for styling even if he never put pen to paper, hand to mouse. In any design scenario, options must be presented to the ultimate decision makers. The design director can accept , reject or finesse anything he pleases before it even gets presented. When I'm in this situation I make damn sure I am happy with all options, otherwise I run the risk of something inferior being chosen… and I find this hard to stomach.

    Yes I read August Motor Trend. I actually thought the comments on styling were innocuous but believe they came down pretty hard on active steering as I have. What also caught my attention was the knock on the 545's automatic transmission. But the thing I really walk away with from this review is that Cadillac seems have come to the table with a very respectable luxury performance sedan in the STS. Don't forget, this is a BMW sport package that it goes up against and I think comments in the review like the following are pretty profound:

    "Unless your commute includes 150-mph blasts on the autobahn, the STS's ride/handling balance is better than the BMW's."

    Now, sorry but I just have to mention this. Did you happen to catch the roadster comparison in the same issue? I just lo-o-ve when my car comes out on top. The Boxster S beat up pretty good on the Z4, Audi TT and 350Z. How's this for spectacular quotes…

    "In the art of driving, not one of the competitors here can touch the Boxster."

    And my absolute favorite…

    "With a bottomless well of power, planted chassis, fluid steering, tireless brakes—damn, the thing is just brilliant ."

    If anyone needs help in validating the premium paid for Porsches, read this comparo, it's all there. Cheap interiors? No problem. How's this for perspective…

    "The cabin doesn't seem luxurious for $59K, although you can feel the money in the performance hardware."

    Rah rah Porsche. There is no substitute. And what a surprise... it's actually German, not Japanese.

    ;-)
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      Well, the latest JDP Long Term Rankings are out..As some can guess, Lexus leads the pack again with 146 problems per 100 cars. No surprise really is it? However, I was surprised to see Jaguar dip below the industry average..I thought they had improved in recent years. BMW actually faired pretty well, and finished only 3 spots or so behind Lexus..

    Buick, of all nameplates finished Second..I did have a 1989 Park Ave and it was quite a reliable car..Mercedes continued to struggle, and finished towards the bottom of the pack. This survey was of Three year old cars, so whatever recent improvements MB has made won't show up in this survey. Hopefully things get better for them.

    SV
  • quemfalaquemfala Posts: 107
    Does anyone really believe these JDPower rankings? If they were able to dig into the actual repair history of these vehicles, then I might give them some credence. I may be totally incorrect on this, but my understanding is that these rankings are the results of a survey! Does everyone tell the truth?????? How many people do you know, who have spent gobs of money on their "favorite" car, then are too embarassed to 'fess-up to the problems they're having with it.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    They're not the definitive word, but they are pretty useful. They are the results of a survey. But if year after year, certain manufacturers (Lexus, Infiniti) consistently come out on top, then there is some credibility to that.

    They're not fessing up to their friends. It's a survey. If they had a problem, no real reason to hide it. It doesn't really matter anyway, as long as there is no bias. In other words, unless there is some reason that Lexus owners are more likely than say MB owners to underreport their problems, the results should not be skewed.
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    I agree 100% with all your conclusiosn on BMW underrating its engines.

    I think the rumor that BMW underrates its engines actually started with the 323i, which actually had a 2.5L engine. Because the 2.5L engine in the 323 was so close in power to the much more expensive 328, BMW underrated the 323i to make it seem like you were getting a lot for your money when you forked up for the 328.

    With the move to the 325 and 330 designations, I don't think there's any underrating anymore.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Buick traditionally does very well in JDP stats. Whats interesting is how GM is all over the map in that regard. Toyota\Lexus and Honda\Acura do very well. Buick has done well for quite awhile, but Cadillac has improved only more recently, and other GM name plates like Pontiac rank well below industry average. Whats going on with that?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    Saw that story as well. I like the Boxster very much. The only Porsche I don't like is the Cayenne but not for the reasons of the hard core Porsche enthusiasts. I just don't like its looks even though its essentially the same platform as the Tourag.

    The interesting thing about the articles with respect to BMW is that they both consistently say the cars are overly-designed, overly complex (with things no one wants let alone needs) and ride harshly. The "look at me" styling they say the 5 has would imply that it is a great looking car (if you didn't read anything else) but its quite obvious from the story that no one thinks that at all. The STS looks quite interesting and to me is the better looking car by far. I think the move to a more luxury ride once you have more handling than you'll likely ever need is the way to go in that segment.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,690
    Does anyone really believe the JD Powers reports? Yes. Every auto manufacturer does and most consumers do. Will anyone identify they made a mistake in buying an expensive car or any car or suv for that matter. Absolutely - because you're not identifying yourself. That's what makes the survey so powerful and believable to auto mfrs. If you had to identify yourself you'd be quite hesitant to put down the vehicle you bought. If the data weren't accurate the mfrs. would bring out the service records of their dealerships to disprove it as well as their own internal surveys of their customers. The data you see is summary level. It is actually sliced and diced beyond zip code level down to block codes on a local level for those who buy the data.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      I buy into the whole JDP scheme. That was the rationale for buying my first LS in 1992. Lexus had topped the rankings, though MB was a close second..JDP is a very powerful marketing tool.

      On further thought I guess I'm not too surprised at Buick's fine showing. The Park Avenues I had were superb cars. I do wonder whether a 10 yr old Buick would do as well as a 10 yr old Lexus. Do they have a longer term survey?

     I also find it strange that GM brands vary so much in reliability. With the use of common platforms you'd think they'd all be in the same range.

      Does anyone know what's up with Jaguar? They'd been fairing reasonably well in the past few years. Weird..

    SV
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    JDP has a long term reliability survey which I believe is 5-7 years. Lexus sweeps that one every time.
  • Ford has helped Jag.

    Maybe Ford should buy Mercedes...
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