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High End Luxury Cars



  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Hi Merc1:

    I wonder if you ever said the same thing about the LS and the previous S-Class. Did you ever admit that?

    I admitted nothing to that effect. My 1999 LS400 has ZERO styling cues from any MB that I can recognize.

    .....maybe VW thought that by copying the styling they'd get the Corolla's reliablity too?

    I sure hope so, but the DNA is all wrong... and that's what VW needs, a good reliability rating to turn things around. The new Jetta looks good, just too much Corolla to ruin an otherwise nice product....Of course, IMO.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    And consumers have the upper hand, because dealers must move their cars -- but we don't have to buy them. So why is there not more cross-shopping, forcing the market to be efficient?

    Good questions....My last 3 cars have all been purchased via online enquiries to Fleet depts. I'd think that many buyers of luxury cars may not care that much to save a nickel here or there. Just not worth the time to try to save $100 off the monthly lease payments going through 10 dealers cross-country, or inter-state, and having to deal with multiple sales people. Buying a can is often a very stressful thing, and some of us may just prefer to avoid the hassle altogether. Several community or Credit Union banks will help you locate and buy your car of choice, with minimal fees, and at much better discount than you can get on your own. Or you may just go back to your preferred dealer and get things done quickly and painlessly, sure you may have overpaid, but who cares as long as you enjoy the product....
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    The way a dealership chooses to move its cars comes from the top, and most dealers tend to follow one of two philosophies -
    1. Whore-up the market by selling cars at or near cost, which shows high volume numbers, tends to keep CSI scores relatively high, and keeps the dealer in high regard of the factory reps. The factory doesn't care what the dealer's gross-per-car is, as long as they're putting units in the street.
    2. Say to hell with the factory and their numbers, I'm going to take very good care of a smaller group of people, and hold gross on every car, which, in the long run is better for the brand. and if the buyer won't pay more than I as a dealer need to earn, then go get your bargain, but don't expect any favors from us if your car breaks. I, for one as a salesperson, don't tend to discount cars to people who call from outside my area looking for the best number. If I'm going to discount my car it will be to the folks in my area who have already done business with me, or will become part of my owner body, and refer others. Just my personal method, which has worked well for me.
    There has always been a healthy dose of irrationality among some of the car buying public, probably always will be. Wealth and wisdom are still sometimes mutually exclusive. Not among the typical posters here, but in the real world, yes indeed. Also, I think some of the super wealthy either don't have a lot of time to devote to shopping around, and also some tend to be wizards at running businesses, etc., but are fiscally sloppy in their personal lives. Millionares with 500 beacon scores.
  • gg107gg107 Posts: 7
    Interesting points, oac and stroudman. It may be that most of the super wealthy don't have time for shopping around, and don't much care about $100-200 per month more in lease payments. But I'd imagine the truly wealthy are shopping cars with MSRPs of $75k plus. Most of the people shopping in a lower range -- say $50-70K -- are probably not the super rich, but are affluent people who like luxury goods. They may be busy -- I am -- but as smart, educated people, one might think they would care about getting the most car for their money -- or, alternatively put, not writing an extra $3,600 check to the dealer for a 3-year lease.

    I will have to disagree with oac's point that community banks or credit unions can get better deals for consumers than they can get for themselves. In fact, I don't believe that any pre-negotiated credit union deal could approach in discounts what a savvy, opportunistic buyer could negotiate at the end of a slow sales month when the inventories are high.
  • 00boxsters00boxsters Posts: 202
    I and others continue to strongly believe that most of the folks buying an LS can afford to by an S. Not 'every single one' as you mention. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of much here when we can 'every single one' anything as you say. I included some data from a Newsweek article regarding income$ here last week that only one person acknowledged, it was not you. (#9042) You continue to use lack of data for support of others points but I have not seen Any data from You to sway the argument.

    I suspect there may be a small minority of LS buyers that are stretched just to afford it and an S is beyond their means. However, I believe most folks buy an LS over an S because of its much better value and reliability. The reasons I believe (the small number of) folks buy an S over an LS is because of the 'gotta have it' three pointed star (prestige as stated above) or to a lessor degree a feature not offered on an LS (awd for example).

    Your insistence on the higher price of an S over an LS being a major reason for the sales volume difference is weak and getting weaker. Most buyers in this market can afford either car but choose an LS more often for its better value and reliability not because they cannot afford an S.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I can think of a few factors that might account for variable dealer price-aggressiveness, in addition to what others have mentioned:

    - Some consumers may not be aware that price differences between dealers can be so large...maybe some of them assume the market is relatively efficient, and so don't bother checking with multiple dealers

    - Some consumers may be concerned that if they buy from an out-of-town dealer, they may get inferior service, or no loaner or whatever, when they go to their closest dealer for service
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    My last 3 cars have all been purchased via online enquiries to Fleet depts

    Do Lexus dealerships have fleet departments?
  • maxhonda99maxhonda99 Posts: 1,289
    You also must remember alot of people are not going to go buy a car from far far away just to save a few thousand bucks on a luxury car. Most people probably only stay within 50 miles of home when buying a car.

    Also do remember some dealers are better at SELLING the product and therefore they get the customer to pay them more for the same product than they would have elsewhere.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Do Lexus dealerships have fleet departments?

    Yes. And the price quote you get is almost always lower than if you walk into the showroom to talk to one of the sales person on the floor...
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Where do you find email addresses for these fleet managers? Or do you just call up each dealership and ask for the fleet sales manager?
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Where do you find email addresses for these fleet managers? Or do you just call up each dealership and ask for the fleet sales manager?

    Yes again. Check the dealership website first, if it is not listed, then a simple phone call to the dealership, ask to speak to the Fleet Sales Manager, and that's it. Give him/her the specs of the car/truck you want to purchase, and he will gladly give you a quote either over the phone, or in writing (via e-mail). That simple, at least in my case.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    I will have to disagree with oac's point that community banks or credit unions can get better deals for consumers than they can get for themselves. In fact, I don't believe that any pre-negotiated credit union deal could approach in discounts what a savvy, opportunistic buyer could negotiate at the end of a slow sales month when the inventories are high.

    Not every one is that savvy in negotiations, that's when you need someone else who may already have some business relationship with the dealership or certain sales person and can often get the car cheaper than if you walk in. Of course, savvy buyers, and those that have the skills can always do better than the average car buyer.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    On the hybrids I think buyers paying premiums are thinking with their hearts not their heads. More rational buyers will wait for prices to come down, unless the performance benefits are very important to them.

    Most of the cost/benefit or breakeven so-called 'analysis' completely ignores the performance angle.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Thanks, I'll try that next time around.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    ...has a couple of interesting columns.

    One is negative on the prospects for diesel in the US, saying that with higher diesel prices here than for gasoline (unlike Europe where tax subsidies make diesel 40% cheaper than gas), and 2006 clean air requirements pushing up costs further, potential diesel drivers will be looking at a 200,000 mile breakeven time.

    The other is negative on the prospects for hybrid, saying that high cost of the technology will limit adoption. IMHO, cost does matter, but the performance benefits will make hybrid popular at the luxury end of the market.
  • paldipaldi Posts: 210
    Efficient markets means access to knowledge - like dealer inventory, eBay sales history, Manheim Auction results, lists of cars coming up for auction and being able to track the sold ones to the reselling dealer lots.

    After 4 months looking, I got a demo 1 yr old Phaeton that was MSRP stickered low $70's. Knowledge, patience, good timing, a helpful salesman and cash all help make you happy. I could have done a hair better at an auction, but I'm happy! :D
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    I agree. And the emissions advantage appeals to the greenies, as well. I really only brought it up b/c ctsang was going on about the lack of hype around the M-class compared to the RX400h, and it seems to me in the short term, the buzz around hybrid will course-correct as the emotional segment of the market (which is still more than half, IMHO) "sobers up" and realizes what they've been sold and for how much. If the auto press smells a negative turn in chatter about hybrids, for any reason, they'll make a lot of hay from it.
  • As a consumer, and coming from a completely different point of view from the sales guy, I will do everything I can to get the best possible price on my car...If one dealer wants to hold the line on prices, I will find another. If I need to travel out of state to buy a car and it makes sense finincally...I'll do that. NOTE: I would rather buy the car locally and will give the dealer every opportunity to win my business but price is a key factor in the purchase.

    When my car needs service I expect my warrenty to be serviced by the local dealer who will make a profit on that service...I have never had a problem getting good service locally, No matter where I bought the car.

    Perhaps you can post a list of benefits I would get by overpaying for my car. If it makes sense finincially I would buy differently...I value an amiable relationship with anyone I do business with but I am not driven to spend $1000s more then necessary to make a new friend.

    I once bought a new Suburu and paid cash...a couple of weeks later I got a call from the dealer telling me that they had made a mistake with the paper work and they were $1800 under their break even correct price, He showed me the paper work of their orginal quote and where they had screwed up in the final transaction ...He said he couldn't legally make me pay...but it was an honest mistake so I sent him a check for $1800 (still had a great deal on the car and it was the right thing to do) got a thank you letter back with a promise to get me a fanastic deal on my next Suburu ...Two years later my son totaled the car...I did not get the fanastic deal promissed on my new Suburu from that dealer and bought somewhere else...The moral of the story is both the dealer and myself are making a business transaction we both should act with integrity but in the end it is just a business transaction and each of us must protect our own interests (in an honorable way, of course.)

    It is my understanding High volume dealers make much of their profit on the bonus they are paid based on the number of cars sold...I understand that runs from $600 to $1000 or more per car....

    Perhaps people in some professions (like Doctors) are sloppy finincially but the business people I know are not.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    You make an excellent point. I think Toyota is cashing in on the "celebrity" of the Hybrid. It's become a popular statement in Hollywood.. It's almost the "in" thing to do, hence the at list or greater pricing. I for one am far more interested in the upcoming MB e320 CDI 4 Matic. I'd rather go with the tried and true design than with something that has been around only a short time. Not to knock the hybrid, but it's been found that the mileage is nothing special in your typical stop and go driving.

    I think the negotiation tactics depend on the person. I'm used to playing hardball, it's almost a source of entertainment for me. I've had decent success on most of my Lexus cars. Normally I get about 10% which I'm told is standard. This time I did a little better at 12.5%. The dealer wasn't too happy with the deal, and I still haven't gotten the customary dealer survey. But for me, it makes sense to get the lowest possible price, given the car will depreciate. In MA the Lexus service is pretty uniform at all three main dealers. They all give new ES loaners and are willing to negotiate on the service price as well. I normally get 25% off most of the services. I think the only reason they tolerate me, is because I send both of my Lexus cars to the same dealer to be serviced. Probably my repeat buying doesn't hurt. It's a matter of perspective really. Some may not want the hassle of dealing with the salesman. It's more of a personality thing really.

    I see we're back to arguing the S500 vs LS sales figures again..I'd agree with the MB crowd that price does have something to do with it. But I don't know whether it explains the whole story. For me the clincher was reliability, resale value, and whole experience of owning the car...

    But the S430 does have a stately design, the MB prestige, and driving dynamics going for it...I was sorely tempted to buy it despite the steep premium they wanted. MB sure knows how design cars that cannot be mistaken for anything else. It just had a different feel to it. My recent experience with shopping MB is pushing me to buy that E320 CDI 4 Matic when it comes out..It's not too harsh on the wallet, looks nice, and is quite practical to boot. Hopefully MB will have resolved most of their electronic issues by then.

  • I have a an 05 Preis and get 50mpg in stop and go traffic...actually Hybrids do best in this type of traffic and when my car breaks in I expect up to 60 mpg ...

    The Technology is Japanese...that is tried and true especially when it involves electronic systems ...I would be concerned much more about new German technology.
  • rgswrgsw Posts: 333
    What would be a fair one year trade price on $64,000 LS430 with about 18,000 miles on it. Same model one year to the next year, not a lease but outright cash sale for the difference.
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    michael, most dealers who indulge the lowest bidder game will give you a great buy on all but their hottest cars, especially if they know they'll never see you again after delivery. I work for a pretty small, "mom and pop" kind of dealer, so my perspective is certainly the exception rather than the rule. There is a huge MB dealer less than an hour away from us who has really hurt our business b/c they intentionally give cars away to folks calling out of our market. They put a store so close to us in part to push us out of the market, and they may end up doing so. For now, I do still manage to sell a few cars a month to the folks who prefer the boutique to the "super center," and this is what they get.

    Personal service. I help arrange their service appointments, prep a loaner, pick up their car if need be. Make sure your wait is as short as possible. We can't afford to pay a crew of extras to do those things, and most of my clients prefer to keep getting help from me after the sale.
    Provide a loaner. My store doesn't get a single extra dime from the factory for using cars for loaner purposes. So we pay for upkeep, refueling, washing, and damage and depreciation of those cars, which eventually have to be sold at a loss. Insuring is cheap, but it is another expense as well. If we run out of in-house loaners, we rent a car from the local Enterprise folks, which costs us $30 a day, or pull one of my CPO cars off the used side, which may lose me an opportunity to sell that car. What's the use of providing a service to the vehicle for a profit (which is why we're here), whether paid by the customer or the factory, if that profit is displaced by providing a loaner to someone who spent their money down the street?
    Ever kept a car past it's warranty period? On occasion you could drive a few hundred miles past it, or a few days, and have a repair that is no longer covered. If you're my customer, I'm going to call the rep and go to bat to get the repair covered with my "goodwill" account. I have saved many of my customers lots of money this way, rather than just use it as an excuse to sell them a newer car.

    -In short, I add value to the car. I am brutally honest about my product, and you will know exactly what you're buying before you sign.

    Think of your purchase amount as a pie - a pie cut into three slices. The big one, 87% or so, goes back to the manufacturer. Depending on which state you live in as much as 7% will go to state and local in taxes. The other slice, the dealer's profit margin, in my case 6.9%, is the only variable. When it comes to ownership experience, the factory nor the state or local government is going to be there for you. The selling dealer is, or should be. Yet the "savvy consumer" comes in ready to go 15 rounds to make that slice as small as possible, but sets the bar of expectations sky high, in exchange for that tiny slice.

    Of course those buying in large, hyper competitive markets, which perhaps includes you, have a different game to play, so maybe little or nothing of what I say has meaning.

    Nowadays everyone knows about the term "holdback," and about volume bonuses. Mercedes takes care of us if we maintain an ideal CSI score, which we proudly do. Our customers are among the happiest in the region, and we deserve to be compensated for that. Holdback is NOT net profit. Holdback is not net profit...If every car in my inventory sold the day it came off the truck, it would be, but that is not nearly true. If I am compelled to sell a car near cost, then I get a very minimum commission, the rest of the monies the dealer receives are absorbed in the cost of doing business, just like anywhere else.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "I admitted nothing to that effect. My 1999 LS400 has ZERO styling cues from any MB that I can recognize."

    All this time I thought you had a LS430, the LS I was referring to.

  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    You can word it any way you like, major reason, minor reason whatever. I said that it was one factor, not the end all of every buyer's means. My point is that you're guessing so you have know way of knowing what most buyers can afford for sure, which was the problem with that ridiculous prestige angle. There really isn't any "data" to speak of on the subject just common sense imo. There is a 14-20K difference between the cars in question to me that negates the pricier car for a few, if only a few. My point.

    Secondly I don't disagree that most buyers might see the LS as a better value because in most peoples mind value = cheaper. Some might see value in getting a car unique to them or something in higher priced cars that the cheaper doesn't offer.

  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,860
    As I have already stated, `` You appear to be what a good representative should aspire to be`` I as a customer would not want to bother you as I may make you miss a sale...The service department is whom I would phone with the problem or regular service... My experience has been that the dealer that has the integrity will satisfy the customer...If your dealership does not fully stand behind you, then you have a difficult time doing what you feel is appropriate....If you get discouraged by the failure of the dealership, then you depart taking your customers( who probably have become friend) to a better pasture..Again I admire your dedication....Tony ps Mercedes does have a culture steeped in tradition, but it would seem to me that when they began introducing much cheaper priced cars, then the selling experience would change....
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    All this time I thought you had a LS430, the LS I was referring to

    Not yet. But my '99 LS is long overdue for a change after 100K+ miles on the odo.... The plan is to upgrade to the MY2007 LS460. At least there won't be any insinuation that the new LS will resemble any MB known to man :)
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    At least there won't be any insinuation that the new LS will resemble any MB known to man

    Probably not and it would be about time. I'm guessing a larger GS/IS look, if that looks good to you. The GS doesn't, but IS does imo.


    That has not been my experience with Lexus...When I bought my LS 430 Ultra (they are very hard to find)...I saved several $1000 by traveling from seattle to LA to get the car ...the dealer had the car prepped and ready to go, they picked my wife and I up at the airport bought us lunch spent all the time we wanted with the car and it's features...Made a couple of changes to the open and close settings (I can't remember the other changes)

    We stayed in LA for 3 or 4 days and discovered there was a blmeish we discovered on the drivers seat...They brought their leather guy in on a Saturday to fix it for us because we were headed to Arazona the next day...

    When we got back to Seattle ...I chose the closest of the 3 Dealers in the area and I have used them for the little service I have needed...(A rock broke the Lazor Cruse unit and that was replaced and I drove over a Parking thing and broke the headlight wipers feed line) Both were paid by insurance.

    I get Loaners whenever I go in ...Usually SUVs.

    I am assigned a Service tech so don't need a salesman to arrange my appointments....My car goes in immidately and the problem is looked at and I am told when to bring the car back if a part is needed and how long the fix will take. They even will help with the insurance if I want...and they give me the appropriate forms for the insurance company...Or will fax them directly to the company if I wish.

    I don't have to worry about going past the service date by a few 1000 miles or a month or two past...Lexus fixes it without hassel (or would if I ever had that kind of problem which I actually haven't)

    Taxes on every car I have ever purchased are on top of the sales price...The lower the SALES price the lower the taxes...I don't understand what you are trying to say....The sticker price generally will represent 12-15% Markup for the Dealer...

    Volume Dealers survive on that Unit price bonus for volume sales...Your dealership takes a different approach apparently... It is my understanding most dealers make a significent protion of their profit in the Service dept. OR maybe Lexus is just totally different from other dealers.
  • 00boxsters00boxsters Posts: 202
    "That ridiculous prestige angle" is the cornerstone of many an up market car company (Audi/Volkswagen etc). That was the main point of others so I'll let them follow up on your opinion of their argument.

    I'd bet that there is in fact specific data to demonstrate my (or much less likely your) point but it is not readily available to the public. (I did a google search and turned up some interesting, if not entirely specific, income data for high level car brand buyers published in Newsweek and listed it above.) I am certain that Toyota, Mercedes and the like research their product price points and their customers incomes very, very carefully. They will milk their cows for as much as they can.

    You do a discredit to "most consumers" of high end luxury cars by discounting their ability to distinguish value from cheaper. I believe that most consumers that can afford a $65K or costlier car did not obtain the means to do so by said ignorance. Your love sick admiration for Mercedes blinds you just as it has blinded many in the car industry itself. Currently overall, Lexus does the LS better for most consumers than Mercedes does the S. The proof is common sense. The LS sells better because of it and not simply due to a lower price. The pudding will be when the '07 LS prices are closer to the S and the LS will still trounce the S in volume sales.

    For the record, I have owned and like Mercedes vehicles and hope the (evolving) whippin' they are getting will motivate them to do better (unlike GM so far).
  • xkssxkss Posts: 722
    The pudding will be when the '07 LS prices are closer to the S and the LS will still trounce the S in volume sales

    What is the current sales volume of the LS in Europe?
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