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.
#9937 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [merc1]
Jul 29, 2005 (12:27 pm)
So now is the time to quit trying to compare them to the Germans at every turn, but they aren't playing the same game at every level...
Don't ask me not to compare Lexus to the German brands. Ask MB, BMW and Audi if they compare themselves to Lexus.... Ah ! See, these companies you defend so much don't play the game you so much hold up as important - enthusiast market. MB looks at Lexus and sees in it what they used to be - solid, quality, reliable, a brand you can trust... BMW looks over at Lexus and sees what it may want to be - solid, reliable, quality and aflush with $$$ to spend on building even better cars, and Audi is simply green with envy when it looks at Lexus. These talk about enthusiast is a smokes-screen to cover up the problems your fav brand has. So you pick up anything Lexus doesn't do well, and hold that up and say: A ha.. see, they suck in this, and suck in that... and are non-existent here... Anyone can say the same about any car company.... No one provides everything for everybody. What you need is to give Lexus its due props to start from scratch and become the envy of the industry in so short a time means something....
With Jurgen gone, MB will have some time putting back its house in order... It will take time and lots of $$$. BMW is unsure which direction to go with its styling (Bangled) and electronic issues (iDrive anyone?), and Audi can't even figure out which of its brand is the lux brand ? VW or Audi ??? Lexus, OTOH, is aflush with money, promising to conquer the world, and Toyota's charge to become world's numero uno in car sales by 2010 looked unstoppable. These are realities.... Lexus goes global soon and they are gonna get it done. MB better gets its house in order quick....
#9938 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [oac]
Jul 29, 2005 (12:46 pm)
Ok, more of the same here because Lexus isn't the envy of the automotive industry by any means, especially the European automotive industry. In their home countries Lexus means nothing. No one said that MB or BMW provides everything to everyone, but the do provide more choices than Lexus by far and they're more exciting ones to boot. Lexus gets nothing from me for being the most boring and wannabe brand in the luxury car market. Until they come up something that I'd want they're irrelevant to me.
You act like no other luxury car is solid, safe and reliable. That is more Lexus fantasy than anything else. Audi is envious of Lexus? Ok, and Lexus must be envious of Audi's designs then because Lexus' look terrible and Audi is considered the industry leader in interior design and at the very least as good as Lexus in areas of fit and finish, if not better according to some.
If Lexus is the automotive industry they sure have a funny way of showing it by emulating Mercedes with their premier car and chasing BMW in two different segments, only come up short. Mercedes, BMW and Audi borrow nothing from Lexus in the way that Lexus visibly borrows from them, nothing at all.
Does Lexus lead in some areas? Sure they do. Does BMW and Mercedes lead in certain areas? Yep.
This theme about Lexus being all powerful and a leader in everything (which is how your posts always read) just plain nonsense.
#9939 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [oac]
Jul 29, 2005 (12:59 pm)
"Lexus is not for enthusiasts,"
You're telling me that yourself and lijflx are not enthusiasts? If you're both not what are you doing on these boards day in and day out? And second of all, what is a *enthusiast*? I think some people have twisted the definition of a *enthusiast* on these boards inside out. Because from experience, I know a whole lot of people who own Lexus' and would think they are enthusiasts!
#9940 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [merc1]
Jul 29, 2005 (1:43 pm)
I'd cut back on bragging about MB's varied choices because they are going to end soon. That's one part of the reason they are in the pickle they are in. Just watch the changes unfold in the next year under the new management as MB returns to its roots and cuts out a lot of the variations. Variations cost a lot of money to maintain. Not sure what you are going to say about all that once common sense business returns to MB and that is exactly what the new CEO is going to bring to the table. You think the stock market would have reacted as it did if he was going to maintain Juergen's "global everything to all people" policy? Large companies like MB, Lexus etc need to keep it simple. Simplification brings profits. That's why niche brands exist in every industry. That's the pocket change of the market. So if you want to say that a company such as Lexus doesn't excite that pocket change customer that's fine. You're right. But MB doesn't do much to excite that customer either. I've been trying to tell you this all along - you don't go after the pocket change if you really want to be a big player and you just enterred the market. It's not smart business. But if you do it does get you a lot of great write-ups in auto rags that - from a business perspective - are worthless.
As for enthusiasts I will say there are two levels. People who love cars and people who love nothing but handling on their cars and don't care much about anything else. Most of the latter enthusiasts eventually become the more conservative version. It happens naturally unless you stay single or childless all your life. Your whole argument is for the latter enthusiast type and that is also a 99+% misrepresentation of MB's true customer base. So any comment that Lexus is not competing for MB's customer base is hillarious and as big a misrepesentation.
OAC is talking about that level two enthusiast in his comments and most of those people don't crave anything from MB in their type of car for that type of driving. They crave Porsche and others. But remember Porsche is to the auto world what the NHL is to the sports world. Very tiny with a purist and extremely loyal base. If Porsche disappears most of the consumer world may not even notice it. Same thing with hockey. In fact that just happened last winter and it almost happened to Porsche 12 years ago.
#9941 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [ljflx]
Jul 29, 2005 (2:08 pm)
Mercedes isn't going to cut the C,E,S, SL, SLK, CL,ML, R or G-Class anytime soon so I have no idea what you're talking about there. When I say MB has more choice (BMW too) than Lexus I mean they have more than just sedans and suvs or a single coupe that drives like a sedan. Mercedes has already stated that after the baby M-Class there will be no more expansion. Now if you mean not so many variants of the same car like a dozen Exxx then you're probably right.
So now enthusiasts are "pocket change" customers? Mercedes, BMW and Audi all engineer the hell out of some of their cars just for this pocket change group that likes their AMG/M/RS/S products.
Your definition of an enthusiast is intesting. True I think an enthusiast loves cars in general, but the part about the other group that only likes handling is way off. That say that suggests that handling takes priority over everything else, even styling and hp. I don't know anyone that cares about handling above all else, especially styling and power. They almost always go together unless you're hardcore and want to drive an Elise. Its the total packaged that makes a car like an M5 or SL55 so appealing not just power or handling by itself. And again, you don't have to get a tuner car from MB or BMW or Audi to get a more livelier vehicle than a Lexus either. Big misconception there if you think that. Any run of the mill BMW is still sportier than any Lexus and the average MB isn't nearly as soft and disconnected like you try to imply, regardless as to who is buying them or what they crave. No doubt that latter part about your "type 2" enthusiast eventually becoming "conservative" is an attempt to give Lexus some type of "enthusiast" yet the other cars in the same segment aren't nearly as boring or unnattractive.
My point about Lexus' "enthusiasts" (which I would say that you and Oac are, nothing wrong with that) these boards is that I don't see how they could love cars in general because no other brand beyond Toyota/Lexus matters. Nor do they care about handling, styling, or big hp numbers (due to these things being deemed irrelevant because Lexus doesn't play there) so to me that is not an enthusiast, not by a long shot. All that matters is if they sell, how much money the company makes (which has absolutely nothing to do with the driving experience) and where they place on surveys. That is about as non-enthusiast as you can get imo.
No where in my post did I say Lexus isn't competing for MB's customer base. Nowhere. I said that they aren't playing the same game at all levels. Go back and read the post. Nor did I say that MB is soley about or for your definition of a "type 2" enthusiast? Where did you ever get that from? You gave your definition of what an enthusiast is and framed my post around it.
If Porsche disappears most of the consumer world may not even notice it.
I think I pretty much stated something similar about this earlier, with most people being consumers not enthusiasts so this is no news to me. People who know and love cars (not just a single brand) would miss Porsche greatly, but you're right the Consumer Reports crowd wouldn't notice.
#9942 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [merc1]
Jul 29, 2005 (2:40 pm)
So now enthusiasts are "pocket change" customers? Oh my. Mercedes, BMW and Audi all engineer the hell out of some of their cars just for this pocket change group that likes their AMG/M/RS/S products.
I wouldn't go as far as ljflx on some of these issues. But merc1, you always seem to regard Lexus as some sort of failure because it has failed to please your definition of enthusiast. Please recognize that your definition of enthusiast is indeed a relatively small part of the market. Just look at even BMW's sales:
1. YTD M3 and M3 convertible sales total only 6% of 3-series unit sales (a bit unfair but last year it was still only 8% for 1h04)
2. YTD M5 sales are 0.02% of 5-series sales (even more unfair, but last year it was still only 0.2%)
3. within the BMW product line, the bigger-engined versions almost always sell fewer units than the smaller-engined
The numbers for BMW, which I think would generally hold true for MB, Audi, etc as well, clearly show that the "enthusiast" - at least your definition of the enthusiast - is a pretty small portion of the market. Something in the area of a few percent buy AMG/M/RS/S versions, I would guess. So Lexus has failed (thus far) to deliver for that 1 or 2 or 3 percent or whatever. I guess that's a big deal to you because you're one of the small minority. It isn't a big deal for everybody.
#9943 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [syswei]
Jul 29, 2005 (2:50 pm)
I'm going to surprise you here and agree with what you're saying in general, but another part of my point was that when you look at BMW and MB they aren't as staid and rigid as Lexus either. They offer more choice, and I don't mean just AMG/Motorsport vehicles. (The new M5 isn't on sale here yet so if they are selling any they are just left over last generation models.) Even basic MB and BMW models aren't as detached as a Lexus is. Cars like the ES, RX and LS (which define the brand and are their consistent big sellers) are about supreme and total isolation. A 750i Sport or S500 Sport does at least, at the very least offer some sort of pretense of being sporty compared to a LS430 even with its "Euro" option. Of course the BMW delivers on the premise, and S500 Sport is just a little sharper to drive, but still not on the level of the BMW.
I mean lets pretend I was a Lexus devotee for a second. I know its hard to grasp something like that but bear with me for a second. After I move up from a GS to a LS, then what? A SC430, that drives more or less like a LS430? Then what? With MB and BMW you could spend nearly a lifetime buying their products and still not have owned someting in each of their respective model lines. Ljflx says that keeping it simple is the key to profits just as Lexus is set to expand their number of choices greatly over the next few years. I mean all I read is about the many variants of the next LS and IS. If Lexus does do a IS Sedan (a given), Coupe and Convertible, plus a tuner version aren't they doing the same thing BMW is doing? Now is that too many models? Or is it ok because Lexus will do it? If they have 3 variations of the next LS is that not expansion ala Mercedes-Benz's practice in S-Class? Too many contradictions there.
#9944 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [merc1]
Jul 29, 2005 (3:16 pm)
Merc - you keep it simple in general and conservatively simple while you are developing your image. Now Lexus is ready to mix in some of that sport and tuning but they won't make that big of deal of it. Just enough to tweak the image is all they will aim for. As for the LS step-up they are bringing out a 12cyl in addition to the LS600 hybrid. Those will be big step-ups. On the sports end they'll have this LF-A. and the IS. That is still keeping it simple.The many model variations of cars like the E-class are what I was referring to.That is costly to maintain. There is nothing wrong with the MB line-up and it fits the general simplification model. But I don't think the G or R-class, particularly the latter, will cut it.
Syswei - you actually illustrated my pocket change point perfectly with the percentages you threw out there. Brands like Lexus, BMW and MB would be foolish to invest so heavily to gain a tiny sliver of what is a tiny overall market. I'd expect Lexus to throw a halo car or two out there and offer tuning options and that's it. Instead of aiming for that heavy enthusiast market they will deepen the main product line with more engine offerings.
#9945 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [merc1]
Jul 29, 2005 (3:19 pm)
Well, you know, I'm not going to disagree for a second that Lexus vehicles on average are more isolated that BMW. I say, so what? As a business strategy, it makes sense to be known for something, and to serve a market segment well. Lexus is known for luxury over sport...how can I disagree with that?
If they tried with every model to be just like the equivalent BMW model, it would hurt them as a company, because there is only a certain part of the market that WANTS a BMW-type vehicle, and Lexus would then have to split that part of the market with BMW.
It is smarter to keep the identity they have with the LS, ES, and SUVs, and, now that success has been established there, at the margin with select models or new models, try to address other segments. The IS tried to do this, not so succesfully the first time at bat, and as you say we'll see what the second at-bat brings. It looks like the IS500 will be the first attempt at an AMG/M type vehicle, and we'll just have to see how it fares. I really don't personally find it that important, since I'm not the sport type buyer, and since the AMG/M/RS types, as we discussed, are a miniscule part of the market.
#9946 of 24726 Re: Just for the heck of it here's the next level down [syswei]
Jul 29, 2005 (3:38 pm)
When Lexus joined the luxury car company they had to distinguish themselves. If they aspired to be like a BMW, they'd fail badly. Rather, MB was a fair target - the brand caters to the affluent and the upwardly mobile people. Many in the public aspired owning an MB in their lifetime. To go after this market seems like a wise decision, and Lexus gunned for it. To further differentiate themselves, they put together (amongst many other things) a world-class customer service program, the likes of which no other mainstream lux car company had. And when you design and build a world-class car like the LS, back it up with a world-class customer and dealer service, at an affordable price, with Toyota's already solid reputation, you have a winner. And hence the Lexus success. Of course, getting ahead of the competition creating a sedan-based SUV, and leveraging your Toyota heritage in SUVs (LC and 4Runner) helps to expand market share and create success.