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.
#7519 of 24726 Mercedes is more history than future
Feb 14, 2005 (7:14 pm)
MB has had a great run in the automobile business. They have many patents because they were there when the technology was originally being developed. They are no longer the leader, either in total number nor new issues. Toyota has been for some time.
Unfortunately the company evolved, as do many early leaders into complacency, arrogance, and wrong-headed customer attitudes. "Vee know vat the customer vants and neets".
Failing to stay current in modern technologies, the company has begun to make products that are over-priced, rapidly rushed to markets, and problem prone. Their salesfolks got lessons in how to frame sales arguments based on 'heritage' and 'exclusive pricing' and spent a lot of time on the phone trying to stimulate more sales through rolling over the installed base. The ratio of lost customers to new customers is very high and very expensive. The cost of marketing as a % of revenue skyrockets.
It's the standard story of many companies. Arrogance with respect to your customers and ineffective participation in new technologies is a death knell thats killed many, many companies.
Mercedes was an important part of the automobile's industry history just like Ford. Both are struggling to survive and remain relevant.
Times changes. Smart sales folks left DEC and went to Compaq and Dell. It's where the customers went. It applies here too, folks.
Market share growth shows that in the car business in the U.S. the customes are going to Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura and leaving Audi, Mercedes and BMW.
Audi sales FELL 10K units in 2004 in the U.S. VW FELL 40,000. Infiniti outsold Audi by 52,000 vehicles. Jaguar FELL 10,000 unites, Landrover fell 3,500 - 10%. EVERY BMW car model FELL in the U.S. in 2004. Sure MB had a 'record year' - they were up a whopping 1% in the U.S. on the 5% sales increases of the C and E class sales, even though the C was outsold by the Infiniti G35.
German car companies are being handed their heads here in the U.S. The trade press is on them like a hungry snake on an ageing field mouse. Gobble, gobble.
It's like watching one of those old WWI movies where the 'advanced' tri-plane sputters and finally spirals earthward after being taken out by a more nimble French or British fighter. This time, though, it's from Japanese competitors.
Get used to it.
#7520 of 24726 Re: Mercedes is more history than future [footie]
Feb 14, 2005 (7:35 pm)
Agree with your post re the Europeans except for BMW. That's why I fully believe MB's number 1 spot is finished in 3 years. Don't know how BMW car sales went exactly but the X3 is a hit and canibalized the 3 series to a degree. So if you are purely counting cars, you have to take that into consideration. There are of course people on the board who only want to look at cars even though car sales are in the minority of the equation right now. VW and Audi are in horrendous and worsening shape and MB is getting there fast. The business side of things is horrendous for the Europeans right now except - again just my opinion - BMW. They have some price elasticity left and their build costs are significantly less than Mercedes though a lot higher than Lexus. No one has the price elasticity that Lexus has and that will help them weather any exchange rate problems as well. Remember all of MB's euro hedging protection just expired, which is another reason why their results will worsen. BMW has protections in place for 2 more years though not at the level the Euro is currently at.
#7521 of 24726 Re: Mercedes is more history than future [ljflx]
Feb 14, 2005 (10:12 pm)
Perception into the future is the important issue. MB has benefitted from its long history of great cars and has been forgiven many quality glitches by its adherents and those seeking status from car buying. Most MB sedan buyers don't read the car rags. But they do read Forbes, Fortune, and (last week) the Wall Street Journal which have all run negative pieces about MB's quality, reliability and profitability. If this continues it could really damage their reputation to the point where they will have to work twice as hard to turn things around.
As a Lexus fan, I sincerely hope that MB does turn things around soon though. I don't want to see Toyota get too fat and happy without competition. Besides I do have Daimler Chrysler stock...
Feb 14, 2005 (10:15 pm)
"But the 99% of the market that all MBs play in has a lot of savvy buyers who spends time checking out the facts about the car they are buying and who is behind the car. MB is losing market share because the savvy buyer has wised up to the over-priced and loss of shine of the MB badge, hence the poor financials. When the buying public rejects MBs for Lexus, Audis, BMWs, or whatever else meets their needs, then MBs financials reflect that. And if you cannot see the direct correlation in that simple fact, then I guess this debate is truly pointless.
This whole notion as to why every buyer who doesn't buy a Mercedes, BMW or Audi and buys a Lexus or some other Japanese luxury car instead is pointless and more importantly it is totally unfounded. Where is the proof of this? How do you know what every single buyer or at least ninety-nine percent of them were thinking when they bought their Lexus? There is no possible way for you to know any of this.
Please don't try to link lower sales with lower profits and tell me that is the reason why people didn't buy an Mercedes or Audi in the first place. The average buyer couldn't care less about Mercedes or any other company's balance sheet. Now if you have concrete proof, not theories or what you believe, that shows this I'd like to read about it.
"Mitsu and Isuzu are in trouble bcos their products suck (except for a few), no one wants them, and they've got bad management. If MBs follow the trails blazed by these aforementioned companies, it will go the same route. That simple.
How difficult is that to understand ???"
This is the thing on this board, hype. No one ever said that anything couldn't happen to Mercedes or any other company, problem is that you're trying to pass off what Lenn said about 3 years as being a fact. Its all speculation. People said the same thing about Nissan too I bet. Quit trying to pass off speculation as facts. The key word is if Mercedes goes down the path of Mitsu or Isuzu, and guess what Mercedes unlike either of those companies has a slew of new product and they're in no where near as bad a shape as either of them. A one model company with no presence in the U.S. like Isuzu being compared to Mercedes, come on now you want me to take this seriously?
Feb 14, 2005 (10:25 pm)
My basic point with you is that there is no way everyone is into the business side like you are, otherwise Mercedes, Audi, VW, Chrysler or Nissan back when they were dying would have ever sold a car. Just because you yourself read these things doesn't mean everyone else does. Secondly what "loss of momentum" are you talking about as far as Mercedes here in the U.S? They just had their best sales year here ever. You're letting balance sheets crowd the reality of most buyers experiences because if this were all so important to everyone that bought a high end car Mercedes, Audi, Land Rover and others like Jaguar wouldn't sell anything.
The financials are a seperate issue from reliability. Even still just like last year this time there were predictions right here on this board about MB and BMW falling off, yet both of them just wrapped up their best sales years ever here in the U.S. Buyers don't care about a company's balance sheet and who their CEO is that big fallacy that is only valid on this board.
Do reliability surveys keep some people out a certain brand of car? Of course, no argument from me there. Does who the CEO is or what they earned last quarter do? Heck naw. Solid proof of anything different is eagerly awaited, not theories or what a particular circle of friends does. Aren't people in market like Cali (Semi Valley) into business stuff too? Mercedes' biggest market in the U.S. it remains.
I've said since 2001 that you're right about the business end, I've never said you weren't anything but right, but most buyers couldn't care any less otherwise all this demise long-predicted would have happened already. I mean really look at the posts from this time last year and it was the same thing, especially about sales and how they'd fall. They didn't.
"Today it's both. But the fact that so many Lexus people are former MB people makes these Buick claims by MB fans look all the more bad.
Interesting since most MB bashers here have never owned a MB either, yet the Buick references have been brought up by the press, and no Lexus buyer bought a Lexus for performance or dynamics either. There are people on these boards who left Lexus because of the driving experience was too boring so the Buick reference is valid, when talking about dynamics - not anything else.
Feb 14, 2005 (11:01 pm)
"Can you provide your views of the Chicago auto show ? I am sure you'll have a lot of interesting viewpoints at what's going on in the auto world. Looking forward to reading your report.
In the middle of all of this I've almost forgotten what I saw there!!!!
Well I must preface this with the fact that Chicago isn't what Detroit is in presentation or brands represented. Chicago is however a much larger show, physically.
This year Chrysler and Dodge had an indoor driving track. The Chicago Sun-Times had everyone hyped up because they reported that people would be able to drive the cars themselves, but nope. DCX officials drove the cars while people simply rode in them.
Naturally the only Chyrsler I wanted to ride was the 300C. I must say it is about the best American sedan I've ever been in. Solid build, quiet and a nice quality to the interior. I didn't think you'd be able to see out of the car, but visibility is pretty good, if not great. Add the 300C and especially the 425hp SRT-8 version to my likeables list.
Bentley had the Arnage Drophead Coupe (a convertible) there also. Picure the old Bentley Azure convertible with the 2005 Arnage front end and you'll get the picture.
For some reason I got the same invite from Maserati like I did last year. This year though I got to see Mario Andretti! I mean how cool is that. He was looking at a Quattroporte. I didn't want to be rude and gawk for a picture so I didn't say anything to him, I should have though. The Maseratis were also always stunning.
Mercedes, Lexus, BMW and Jaguar pretty much all had the same cars that they had in Detroit. Production and concepts.
Mercedes did however this time have a CLS that you could actually sit in. For this car to be based on the E-Class it is really low the ground and has the typical drop into type seating position, real coupe like for real. Love the CLS, I know a complete about face from when I saw the concept in 2003. Oh well. The S-Class' last hurrah model - the S65 AMG was there also. It will have a brief run from March to Jan 06' until the new S-Class arrives.
Lexus finally has GS cars that you could get in. This is a large car from the outside, but not that big inside, at least relative to its exterior size. All of their concepts were there too.
International, the truck maker has a new line of trucks for the private businessman. When I tell you that these things are ridiculous I mean ridiculous. They make Hummers look like regular trucks. I couldn't believe the prices, like 90K to 190K. They look like minature semis or something.
Disappointments: Infiniti M34/45. I was truly hurt by this. I still like the car, but after sitting it in for a while (less crowds than Detroit) I'm not all hyped about it anymore. That center console is just too in your face with large ugly buttons for me. There seems to be too much going on, wood, aluminum and leather all jocking for attention. This car along with the new GS seem to scream more expensive Nissan Maxima styling which is unfortunate because the GS had the look first, before the 2004 Maxima came out with the 1998-2005 GS' look.
Thats about all I can think of right now...I'll post more when it comes to me.......
#7525 of 24726 Auto Show...
Feb 15, 2005 (1:04 am)
I know this isn't exactly a Lux nameplate, but did you get to see the Buick Lucerne? I've seen a few pictures from the show and it looks like an interesting car..The back of the rear looks like a Phaeton, and I'm not sure where the front came from..It seems GM is getting better at building nicer interiors. Not quite Lexus standards yet, but not bad at all. It has an optional FWD Northstar 4.6L V-8..I wonder how the torque steer is on that. Any comments on the GM Offerings?
As usual we have the typical Lexus vs Germany debate going on here..I think it's unfair to label Lexus as "inferior" (You haven't said this recently, but others have) for simple prestige reasons..At least for me, it's not one of the criteria in my purchase.
For it's age, Lexus has done plenty to earn it's good reputation..After all the division is only 15 yrs old. You expect a young car company to have some growing pains in terms of a design theme.
I'm not an MB basher at all. I just think their offerings in the 1980's were much better in design and quality than what they have today. If they were to put out a retro-(Not sure the right word) Wl26 I'd be willing to pay the MB premium for it. That was one of the reasons I didn't get the S430..It didn't exude the same feel the 420SE did when I drove it all those years ago. The new car seemed to be a diluted version of the great eighties cars. Maybe the new S-Class will feel more like those "Classic" Benzes..
Feb 15, 2005 (1:31 am)
The Buick Lucerne - I'm still trying to pronounce the name correctly. I really didn't look at any of the GM cars this time around, since in Detroit GM has like more floor space than anyone else. I do agree about the styling as the rear looks much better than the front.
I do remember seeing this car for a brief moment and only from a distance it kinda looked unbalanced in its styling to me. Didn't go near it to see the interior. It sort of looks like an ES330 from the side.
Those classic Mercedes' were overbuilt and nobody can physically build a car like that anymore, especially in interior fittings and the way the switches and controls operated - too costly to do now. The Maybach is about as close as you'll get to that now and even it doesn't click and thack like the old W126 S-Class and W124 E-Class from the 80's. Stlyewise of course I think Mercedes' have never looked better. As far as "feel" is concerned if a basic Mercedes doesn't give you that feeling of sitting in the middle of road, locked in place like the older models did (they weren't too agile either) then try an AMG model like the CLS55 or E55. They had to lighten up on the controls to give them more agile handling since BMW made a point of it. You seem to want the old "bank vault" Mercedes in both styling and dynamics.....
#7527 of 24726 1980's MB
Feb 15, 2005 (4:56 am)
You pretty much hit right on..I really liked the older Benzes. You still see shining examples of those cars everywhere. It's what got me interested in Luxury cars to begin with..(I was a former Buick Park Ave driver!!) I remember driving a friend's 420 SE..It drove like a tank and felt like it was built to last forever. Absolutely solid car. And for the price you got something that really looked grand..The car STILL looks great today.
By the time 1992 rolled around I wasn't too impressed with the successor to the W126..So there was the Lexus LS400..It had a nice flair to it and sitting in it invoked the same feel I had sitting in the 420 SE..(No surprise considering the LS was based off of it!) Thirteen years later, it still looks and drives like new..It's been the best car I've owned..I feel that even the new LS430 doesn't have quite the solid feel of the original. Even the Lexus Service dept told me "They don't build them like they used to...Hold on to that car!" I guess times are changing..I understand the need to make a profit, but I miss the older cars that would last 20 yrs no problem..With all the electronic gimmicks in all of these cars, I wonder how trouble free they'll be in 13 years..
#7528 of 24726 Press the eight
Feb 15, 2005 (5:08 am)
That Lucerne is as vanilla as it gets, but is minimal and extremely well executed nonetheless. There isn't one detail that is mis-proportioned. Giugiaro influence. I wish something like that would come out of BMW instead of those harlequin designs.
Yeah Merc, both the Maxima and GS have that slovenly fatso look about them. I hope I'm wrong but I'd bet the next LS has the same countenance. Camp Lexus tends to think it will be the next coming of Marilyn Monroe. I guess it doesn't matter though—Toyota is well-capitalized.
With all of this talk about sales etc., a lot of you guys keep forgetting why people buy German cars. I'm not going to utter the reasons again. But do you think for one minute that they don't consider reliability? Many of them do, it's just that they go with the risk. Some people would never buy stocks or lay a dime on a crap table. It's no different. If you get burned, you shrug your shoulders, walk away, and get the same night's sleep as if nothing ever happened. And if you can't then it's not for you. Reminder—reliability issues are nothing new with German cars.