Last post on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:55 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.
Oct 07, 2003 (1:14 am)
These are used SLs. No dealer has 35 NEW SLs in stock. Most have none. The ones that have 2003s in stock have been sold and bought back by the dealer and sold at, or above MSRP. Look at Ray Catena's website: http://www.catena.mercedescenter.com/mbcenter/b/index.jhtml. You can do a search and come up with five 2003 SLs. One has 15,000 miles and is still selling for (approx) MSRP. I know that this is a concept that is hard for non-MB enthusiasts to comprehend but let me explain to you how it works: Dealers sell these cars based upon a priority list (generally you have to get on it about 18 months in advance). They are driven a few thousand miles and then sold back to the dealer at or near MSRP. The dealer is then no longer constrained by MBUSA as to what they can charge for these cars and they go to the highest bidder. MB does not allow dealers to sell NEW cars above MSRP but they have no control over the used car market.
The rare NEW SL you will see at dealers is typically an SL55 which goes for 130 big ones. The market for these cars is small, almost as small as Ferrari.
The marketplace has basically spoken. I have never seen used Lexus vehicles go for MSRP. I have never heard of an 18 month waiting list for a Lexus.
On another point my comment about 80 year olds drving Lexi was clearly hyperbole and intended as a joke. Clearly, however, the demographics of a Lexus buyer is different than an MB: he's older and less affluent. There's nothing wrong with that but it helps to explain Lexus' marketing strategy. I think Lexus' main competitor is Cadillac and not Mercedes. <JOKE>Who else would want to drive a car that looks like a coffin (and when your time comes you don't even have to get out of the car! )</JOKE>
Incidentally, studies have shown that people spend about 4 months gross salary on a new car. With this perspective Carpoints stats are right on target (which makes me believe their demographic data is accurate): So for an average yearly income of 186 K Lexus buyers purchase a 60 K car (4 months income). At an average income of 286 K MB (S 500) buyers pay about 90 K (again 4 months income).
#2995 of 24726 MB lane change
Oct 07, 2003 (5:24 am)
I caught the tail end of a commercial about MB's lane change warning system (sounding a warning tone if the driver drifts out of lane)...is this something new for 2004 or is it more a statement of direction? Anyway, a welcome innovation that I hope Lexus "copies" heh, heh.
I think it would be nice if someone made a blind-spot checking system to warn of potential collisions when a driver intentionally changes lanes.
#2996 of 24726 survey data
Oct 07, 2003 (5:38 am)
Merc1, you mention tranmission problems of the TL and ES, and ask say "none of this is reflected in these precious surveys". I think you're wrong there. Acura and Lexus are not reported by JDP to have zero or anywhere near zero defects per 100 cars (and if they were reported as such it would make the survey suspect indeed). They do have lower defects per 100 than many other manufacturers, including MB. The detail data are available to the auto manufacturers...for a big price tag. The reason you do hear of some detail data (like the Hummer stuff) is that when the press reports on JDP, they will mention a few items that contributed to the poor ratings for manufacturers that didn't fare so well in the surveys. They don't happen to mention the items that the more reliable brands had problems with. It doesn't mean, as you can tell from the aggregate problems per 100 data, that Lexus or Acura have zero problems. Nor does it mean that the surveys fail to catch the problems that show up in Lexus or Acura cars.
As for the 7 placing fifth in a survey, I didn't happen to see this. But it may have been a JDP survey that doesn't measure quality. There is one such, I can't remember what it's called.
#2997 of 24726 demographics
Oct 07, 2003 (5:44 am)
I guess I fail to see the importance of the average income level of LS and S buyers. To me it is perfectly logical that a car that has a lower average price point is going to have a lower buyer's average income.
Does that, in itself, show that it is a worse car or something?
SL buyers probably have lower average incomes than Ferrari buyers, does that mean that the SL is a worse car for the money?
Oct 07, 2003 (6:03 am)
One more thing about JDP. To my knowledge no car company has ever sued JDP over faulty methodology. Unlike CR, which I think got sued by Isuzu (Trooper rollover test) and maybe others that I don't recall (Audi?).
#2999 of 24726 Europeans behind U.S. car companies?
Oct 07, 2003 (6:11 am)
"While Japanese-branded vehicles continue to dominate in terms of long-term vehicle quality, the Europeans have lost their edge over the U.S. domestic-branded vehicles...
The 2003 study, which measures problems reported by original owners of 2000 model-year vehicles at three years of ownership, finds that although there is near parity between U.S. Domestics and Europeans in terms of initial quality, substantial quality gaps appear between the Domestics and the Europeans in long-term durability. On average, models by domestic automakers outperform the Europeans by 49 problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles at three years of ownership.
"Conventional wisdom said that dependability was the property of the Japanese and Europeans," said Joe Ivers, partner and executive director of quality/customer satisfaction at J.D. Power and Associates. "While thatís still true for automakers like Toyota and Honda, itís no longer the case for many of the Europeans. Porsche, Jaguar, Saab and BMW perform well above the industry average in dependability, but many other European brands are bought based on a reputation for long-term quality and fall far short of even the average. This is in stark contrast to the results of the first VDS, conducted in 1990, when Mercedes-Benz led the industry.""
To see the full press release, go to http://www.jdpower.com/cc/auto/releases/index.asp?catid=1 and click on Acura, and then click on the blue icon in the upper right of the grid (i.e., 2003 Vehicle Dependability Study / Press Release).
Personally I had no idea that MB fared so well back in 1990 (they are well below average now). If they can get back to number 1 status, I'll certainly consider them very seriously for my next purchase.
#3000 of 24726 From the Peanut Gallery
Oct 07, 2003 (7:51 am)
The last car I would buy as a sedan replacement is an S-class, LS or 7-series. My space needs and driving preferences would have me spend $75k on an M5 (or even E55) before any of the above.
That said, the demographic generalizations being made above suggesting an older, less afluent Lexus buyer don't hold true within my circles. Examples: A 45 year old business school classmate of mine sold his company in March, 2001 and personally cleared $440 million. Drives: LS430. A 65 year old real estate executive with 6,000 apartment portfolio - S430; his 41 year old son, S500. I could go on.
My former classmate with the LS430 also has a 911 Turbo in the garage which is his "fun to drive" car. His opinion, the LS430 is 90%+ the luxury auto of the S500, with 0% of the maintenance headaches and hassles. He values his time very highly and if he's going to have hassles, it will be over a sports car like the 911 rather than his daily driver luxury sedan. In spite of his success, he has no apparant ego need to flaunt it.
In my circles, the number of people who buy an LS430 (or Q45) because they can't afford an S500 is less than the number who have drifted away from the Mercedes brand over quality control and reliability issues over the past few years. I'm glad I don't need the size of the S or LS or Q. I'm not sure what I would do.
Oct 07, 2003 (8:43 am)
Thanks for your anecdotes, and welcome to the board! It is certainly true that some LS buyers made their choice despite the car's value pricing, not because of it. Bill Gates is the most famous example, and as far as I know he still uses an LS as his daily driver.
An interesting calculation: with his net worth of $46b, if we included EVERY LS and S owner in a demographic analysis, Bill would, all by his lonesome, skew the LS average (mean) net worth upward by $230k! (I am assuming 200k LSs on US roads, which is just a guess based on a 2003 run-rate of 20k or so cars. I am also assuming that he no longer owns an MB...I know he once did, before the LS, but don't know if it was an S or if he sold it.)
Steve Ballmer's $12b would skew the LS430 mean upward by another $60k. Steve is another LS driver, though it is conceivable that he also owns an S.
#3002 of 24726 habitat1
Oct 07, 2003 (9:55 am)
Excellent comments. The oldest LS430 driver I know is 56 years old. When I bring my car in for service most others dropping cars off are in their 40's to early 50's in appearance. In my town which is a wealthy one you see plenty of LS430's and S-class cars and it's probably a 50-50 ratio. It's the 7 and the Jag that you see only upon occassion. There are plenty of LX470's and TLC's at every school and sport event and uncountable ML's and RX's around that you see at every turn. Since I see many of the LS430 and S-class cars at school and student affairs, and since most of them come from homes in the $1-5mln range it's obvious boo20's demographics don't work around here. They are not even remotely close. Anyone can put out a financial tool linking car price to some income threshhold but that hardly means that is who the car is being sold or marketed to. Secondly as syswei states why does it even have any relevance. For what it's worth someone I know well in the $100mln+ wealth range has an LS430, an LX470, 3 old MB's from the late 70's to the late 80's (two of which are SL's) and a VW beetle. He's 55 years old.
Oct 07, 2003 (10:36 am)
"The average yearly income of an LS buyer is 186,000. The average yearly income of an S class buyer is 284,000."
These stats have little to do with who can afford what car. Income should not be confused with wealth, which are two different things.
Somebody may have an income of $300,000 but also have two mortgages, car payments, credit card debt, very little in the bank, etc. They may only be able to afford an Accord. They have a big income but would not be considered wealthy.
On the flip side, somebody may make $100,000 but have no mortgage or any other debt with lots of money saved up. This person could easily buy most any car with cash.
The true measure of what somebody can afford is their wealth (money saved up), not their income.