Last post on Jan 28, 2013 at 6:55 PM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ-Series, Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Volkswagen Phaeton, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, Sedan
Let's try to define this forum as being limited to luxury performance vehicles where the mainstream version in a typical configuration has an MSRP of at least $60k.
A luxury vehicle with a base price of $59k qualifies because it would typically be bought with some additional equipment, bringing the MSRP over $60k.
Vehicles like the E, 5, A6, M, or GS, even if available in certain versions over $60k, don't qualify because they are cars from companies that have higher end cars in their lineups.
#15749 of 24723 Infiniti problems?
May 24, 2006 (6:26 am)
Here's my accessment:
The G35 works. Keeping the manual. Over 300HP this fall. I like the upgrades inside, and the coupes lines due next Spring.
The FX is a great, edgy design, but it is not very space-efficient. Not good for families. Everytime I see one, a single male is driving it. I would deem it successful, but it is niche vehicle, unable to play in the RX330's sandbox. It will need to get bigger inside, and gain a less BMW interior, to have mass appeal.
OR MOVE IT SLIGHTLY DOWNMARKET! Make it a true step up from the X3-class, price it from $34k-49k, and build a larger Lexus HPX-type performance crossover in the $49k-$59k range. For the price of an X5, you get an X5 that legitimately seats 7! That would be a bold stroke!
The Q is dead. Time for a new name. If Lexus does the right thing and moves upmarket, the Q can take it's spot and it will have better sales because of that move.
They will have to show some creativity here, and some marketing savvy. They can go in any direction, but quitting on the brand above the M shows the customer you can't/won't compete, and that's worse than building something the market didn't want (Acura RL).
The QX almost works for me, and has done alright in sales (better than the Q). Not in love with the styling, but has a great engine and size. The interior needs an upgrade, still too much Nissan inside, and I'd clean up with a strong facelift. It has too much Armada in it, and they haven't learned the art of the rebadge like Toyota has. It needs to look more original, and smooth out the rough edges.
The M seems to be doing it's part, but has a lot of 3rd-world ugly to my eyes. Nothing wrong here a facelift can't fix.
I'd move the FX upmarket slightly, to be a more direct competitor to the X5, then build a more mainstream, larger, SUV under it.
If I were Infiniti, I'd target the 7-series, and make a 400HP sports sedan, make it as edgy and performance- oriented as you can, and sell against the 750 at a $15k discount. If you can make a truly sexy large sedan, with a new name, you've got a shot. But be aggressive, that's been your credo, and it works, more or less.
And the company that did the 2004 FX ad campaign, get them to do ALL of your product ads! One of Infinit's main weaknesses has always been advertising. ELIMINATE THAT WEAKNESS! Infinit has to sell an idea, an image much more than any other luxury company, because the public doesn't really know what Infinit is, much less wants to be!
Be the Japanese BMW you want to be!
#15750 of 24723 OT....A tale of 2 auto plants
May 24, 2006 (6:41 am)
WSJ article (for online subscribers)
Compares a Toyota factory in TX to a GM factory in TX. Each can produce 200k vehicles per year. Toyota takes 2.2 million sq ft, GM 3.75 million. Toyota labor cost per vehicle $800, vs GM $1800.
#15751 of 24723 Re: Infiniti problems? [drfill]
May 24, 2006 (6:47 am)
"The FX is a great, edgy design, but it is not very space-efficient. Not good for families. Everytime I see one, a single male is driving it. I would deem it successful, but it is niche vehicle, unable to play in the RX330's sandbox. It will need to get bigger inside, and gain a less BMW interior, to have mass appeal."
Agree with your points. But the point of the FX is that you don't want it to have mass appeal. You don't want it to play in the RX's sandbox. That's why I say that Infiniti is a flagship away from Lexus status. They do fine in the segments that they are in, except the flagship class.
Infiniti doesn't need to compete with the "volume" ES and RX to be seen in the same status. These 2 vehicles make up almost 60% of Lexus sales. And we all know that high sales don't necessarily equal prestige.
My feeling is that Infiniti needs to do something real special for the next Q. No one can out-lux a Lex, so benchmarking the LS is out.
And I wouldn't target the 7 series either. What I'd do if I were Infiniti would be to target and market a "poor man's" Aston Martin sedan. Svelte, revolutionary styling is key.
#15752 of 24723 Re: Tag [drfill]
May 24, 2006 (6:59 am)
The LWB car will range from $68K to $80K based on what I was told with most configurations in the $74-75K range. Does that do it for you? The hybrid will be $10K more in most configurations and range to $100K - supposedly - though I would think that strong demand for that car may effect market prices. Does that do it for you?? These are quantum jumps for Lexus vs the current car. I guess you could argue that Lexus has added a lot more to the car but guess what - MB has brought a lot more to the table with the S (as has/will everyone else) and hasn't raised prices at all. The incremental cost to add many of these new features is nominal - unless - it doesn't work right as then it shows up in truly incremental warranty repairs. The costs of much of the added features is easily offset, sometimes entirely and sometimes more than entirely with increased efficiencies. But if warranty costs pop up then thst is a real incremental cost paid to dealer repair men.
Finally all this price nonsense is a joke. Lexus will do the smart thing and price vs their build costs inflated by what their market research shows the market will bear. In the latter they have an advantage as they have a lot more room to inflate prices vs their competition. But the smart move is to do that in measured steps rather than all at once. Imagine what would have happened to the US and world economies if the Fed moved its rates uo 4% in one shot vs in 20 or so measured steps.
The S-Class isn't overpriced because sales have virtually doubled, without the new LS to check it.
This cannot be determined by initial sales. The real determination will be made in the ensuing years when pent-up demand slackens and competition increases. This is the case for all cars. Lexus will probably have stunning sales numbers for 6 months but the real issue of pricing success will be a year later. Same for MB with the S and all other cars that follow these two.
#15754 of 24723 Re: Honda to offer diesel in the US [ljflx]
May 24, 2006 (10:24 am)
Diesel is a great technology. In Europe 50% of all new cars sold are Diesels. It's not a perfect solution, but a practical one to the current gas woes.
This talk about Lexus hiking prices is crazy. Lexus has always appealed to the "Objective" buyer. Oppressive price hikes would simply eliminate the Value that the LS has over the S Class. I would have bought a S Class a long time ago, had the LS430 been priced at that level.
Lexus has done the right thing, in gradually raising the price. The consumer doesn't take kindly to a sudden price hike. However, as Lexus has raised prices, the LS has gotten even better. People will pay for increased functionality.
Given that Lexus is trying to compete in Europe I doubt they'll be able to price themselves at the Germans level. I was just in the UK and had an opportunity to read some of their car mags..
Their view of Lexus is almost OPPOSITE of what we read in US Publications. Can you believe it? I read a brief review of the LS and they downgraded it on driving dynamics.
It seems to confirm my view that Lexus appeals to the objective buyer, and Mercedes, BMW to the subjective buyer. I don't think Lexus buyers are looking for something that will provoke emotion. On the other hand, Euro car buyers want something that provokes emotion. It's just a difference in perspective I think.
The LS460 looks great, I have no doubt it will be a winner. I wish they had made AWD an option on the gasoline car, though. At least for the US market it's an important option to have.
As for the L-Finesse theme, I'm not a big fan. While the LS looks great, the ES is a total letdown. The new car barely has any wood in it..The older car had a much nicer cabin to it. From a drivetrain perspective, I'm sure the new ES is a big improvement, but from purely a style perspective I find it disappointing.
My 1992 LS400 is nearing 100K miles. I replaced the tires with Bridgestone Turanza LS-V's and the car's ride is amazing. Quiet at 100 MPH and handles well.
The S430 hasn't broken down yet..lol..It's a great car, I'm really enjoying it. It's the kind of car where you deliberately take a longer way to go home. You really don't want to put it back in the garage. I miss some of the technology the Lexus had: Bluetooth, Backup Camera, and Parking Radar, but the S430 has enough toys to keep me occupied.
I'm watching the prices of the 2003 Jaguar XJ8 fall to the mid 20K range..It's a great value, especially since a lot of those cars have only 25-35K on them. It's the last of the timeless design style cars. My wife will really kill me this time if I bought one.
I got away with the Mercedes because of my son, but I can't blame the Jag on him!
#15755 of 24723 Re: Honda to offer diesel in the US [ljflx]
May 24, 2006 (11:18 am)
lj - liked both of your posts. Always seem to agree with and appreciate most of your business analysis. On this one about the diesels, the increasing advantage that diesels will have is the bio-fuel trend that seems to be gaining larger corporate and political attention. The smoother and quieter and cleaner fuel-efficient diesels will definately yank in more market share, but again, this bio-fuel thing may end up to be much bigger than anyone would have thought. To be seen, but certainly an added potential advantage.
While I support both hybrid and diesel alternatives, I am now more and more leaning towards diesels, and as soon as the right product is offered I will purchase a new generation diesel powered vehicle.
I was not aware as your linked article pointed out that Honda's reliability of their diesel was so good when compared to the German's diesels. Impressive.
It's the waiting that is sometimes painful.
#15756 of 24723 Re: DOC, and Toyota [tagman]
May 24, 2006 (11:25 am)
OK, I'll explain it to you. The Japanese have a mixed success with sports cars, don't they? Gosh, the original Z was a smashing success only to become too fat. So the Mazda RX7 rekindled that fire, but only for a while cause they killed their own car as well. The Supra was a semi-lux sports cruiser, but never had the top notch handling it deserved. Honda could only come up with a Prelude, so there was NOTHING from then until the more recent S2000, which sells in small numbers. Mazda hit paydirt with the gutless but cute Miata, but ultimately never evolved the car. The Toyota MR2 project never had the proper corporate support. The NSX was one of the most revolutionary of all of the Japanese sports cars, but it barely sold. The replacement will likely be a V10 super sports car, but will it sell any better? The RX8 is goofy and the newest Nissan Z is still fat, although not bad looking. Nothing from Lexus at all, how 'bout that!
The SUV's were HOT HOT and it made enough business sense to capture the market. Interesting is the evolution within that segment. And it keeps changing. The little RAV4 is now bigger and more powerful and the Highlander will be replaced with a BIGGER one (maybe based on the new Camry). The FJ Cruiser is an unknown, because it was developed to compete with a vehicle that died during the FJ's development, namely the Hummer. It may possibly steal away ALL of that type of market and end up competing directly with Jeep. The Sequoia was hot until gas prices shot up because it is a gas-sucking V8 with seats that won't fold flat, but still a poor man's TLC. The 4-Runner is stuck in a time warp.
Basically, Toyota's SUV strategy is like this: "Circle the wagons . . . we'll surround 'em!"
You or I might not like the sports car to SUV ratio, but Toyota's bottom line sure does.
Been lurking for awhile and found this post of yours to be such an excellent summation I couldn't resist acknowledging !!! Pure genius, Tagman.... If you were on the Lexican side, we'd cream the German fans club all the time in debates on this board....
#15757 of 24723 Re: DOC, and Toyota [oac]
May 24, 2006 (12:49 pm)
If you were on the Lexican side, we'd cream the German fans club all the time in debates on this board....
No way. We got my anchor man Merc. He goes yard with all of the batting-practice fastballs you Lexicans throw at him. Tagman's on our side. Hands off, buster!
#15758 of 24723 Re: Honda to offer diesel in the US [tagman]
May 24, 2006 (12:54 pm)
Still bullish? Personally I've never seen valuations this low in such a great economic climate. Market is badly oversold but I can see why. Bernanke needs experience, better public diction and he may overdue the rate hikes and oil remains too high. We need relaxation in one of those two items and then we should move up strongly again. I don't think we'd have had this late setback if Greenspan was still in charge or if it happened it would have been much milder in size and scope.