Last post on Dec 06, 2013 at 7:58 AM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G37, Acura TL, Lexus IS 350, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac CTS, Volvo S60, Audi A4, Acura TSX, Car Comparisons, Sedan
Sep 08, 2013 (8:07 am)
Johan de Nysschen has his work cut out for him. The new head honcho of Infiniti – formerly of Audi (of America) for almost 20 years – has to do for Infiniti what he did for Audi. He must take a run at making you think of BMW (or Audi) as the German Infiniti. Tall task? Well, based on the lethargic launch of the Q50, I don’t envy Johan.
You may or may not lend much credence to Automobile, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics or Road and Track’s gravitas in promoting [automotive] brands. If you discount these magazines’ influence, fine – I would imagine, however, you are at least aware of them (especially if you are participating in this and other car-centric forums).
The point I will hopefully make is highly derivative; indeed, without apology, the influence for my conclusions has been shaped by John Naisbitt’s 1982 book, Megatrends. Perhaps I should clarify and sharpen my focus: My point – to be revealed shortly – is based on using a technique of observation and counting how much “ink” is spread pertaining to a particular subject, story or brand or product. Moreover, once the quantity of ink has been identified, it is also of importance to identify and rank the content (or the “qualities”) of the ink.
We’ve all been hearing and reading about the new Q50 for what seems to be a long time (in automotive product life-cycles). We’ve seen full-page ads in the major automotive enthusiasts’ magazines for at least a couple of months. What we haven’t seen are test reports, comparison tests and “First Drives” – yet we’re seeing ink (for several months now) about cars that aren’t even available for purchase, e.g., the upcoming Mercedes-Benz CLA45 to name just one.
Audi and BMW, too, seem to be masters at garnering great quantities of ink about cars that are either still on the drawing boards or aren’t yet in production form, e.g., the BMW M4. Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus and even KIA (!) are very adept at keeping the volume of the buzz about their brands and products cranked up to 11.
I just got the new Automobile magazine yesterday (October 2013 issue) – the New Cars for 2014 issue. Page 38 - 40, “Driven: BMW 435i” offers up less than a review but more than a rehash of the corporate brochure – the car is discussed, albeit briefly, in terms of performance, style, ride and handling. The spread includes pictures of the car’s anterior and posterior as well as its engine and interior (in red leather). This marks at least 2 mentions (ink) of the “4 series” in this issue.
Further evidence of the virtual lack of any buzz regarding new Q50 is the “Sport-Sedan Slugfest” in the June ’13 Car and Driver – where the BMW 3, the Cadillac ATS and the Lexus IS duke it out for king of the hill bragging rights. I would have thought Infiniti would have busted its hump to get the Q50S included in the slugfest. I would argue that the Infiniti, not the Lexus would have been the odds-on favorite choice for this comparision article based on the G37 being dubbed (more than once) the Japanese BMW. The highly anticipated (and touted) Q50 being excluded from this comparison is an incredible marketing blunder – especially since Infiniti has been showing off the Q50 for several months now at invitation only dealer events where Infiniti representatives regale the invitees with anecdotes wherein the Q50S betters Audi A4’s and BMW 3’s on the track.
I was, understandably I think, eager with anticipation when I turned to page 56 of the new Automobile magazine to see the mini article, “Driven: Infiniti Q50.” Unfortunately, there is little ink devoted to a discussion of how the car performs. Indeed, what struck me was the following: “. . . the Q50 is not so much an all-new sport sedan as a refreshed and rebodied Infiniti G37.” Most of the remaining ink pertained to the Q50’s ability to [almost] drive itself.
Even an admitted gadget-geek (like me) would likely be underwhelmed by the content of this “ink.” Practically speaking the buzz potentially created by this ink is arguably not the kind of buzz Infiniti probably was hoping for – and it is certainly not the kind of buzz that is likely to retain the brand’s (or the Q50 itself) image as “the Japanese BMW.”
Although I have driven a new very high-contented AWD Q50S and can absolutely attest to its worthiness as an A4 or 3 series (and therefore IS and ATS) rival, this conclusion has been reached in spite of Infiniti’s dismal marketing efforts. I seriously doubt the majority of the market the Q50 seems to be courting will notice the Q50 until (or unless) the ink spread around about it focusses more on the performance, luxury and driving dynamics rather than its expensive technology package that seems hell bent on distancing the driver from, er, driving.
My wife – currently driving a 2011 Infiniti FX35 AWD Premium – sums it up this way, “Infiniti’s do everything well – but they don’t seem to want to involve their customers as drivers. The Germans, especially Audi and BMW somehow imbue their cars, their dealerships, their owner clubs and web sites with customers who are passionate about the brand. Indeed, the thing lacking from Infiniti is a soul or a passion to both drive and be driven.”
Perhaps that it why even a “pull ahead” deal Infiniti offered her couldn’t compel her to be a two-time Infiniti owner. She went to Audi, BMW and Volvo and drove a like-priced ($50K) Q5, X3 and XC60 and ended up ordering a “passion inducing” supercharged 2014 Audi Q5. Pity, the Infiniti brand (and most of the products individually) can’t seem to catch a break.
The “Megatrends” methodology seems to indicate BMW is unlikely to be known as the German Infiniti any time soon.
Drive it like you live.
#16602 of 16984 3-series August sales
Sep 08, 2013 (5:57 pm)
I just read an article about sales of 3-series going gangbusters. Basically another piece of evidence that enthusiasts don't matter, at least in short run. People are lining up to buy this "sports sedan" probably for reasons why the same people didn't buy them before - it's big, comfy, easy to drive. But it's a BMW, so it must be sporty, right? Since they've never sit in a true sporty car, if they had, they thought it was uncomfortable crap, how would they know the difference, anyway.
Looks to me BMW cashed the chips and they bought huge sale boost. It will be interesting to see long term effects of this. VW made a similar gambit with Jetta and Passat by decontenting them, stripping all those good suspension components and making barges out of them. It worked until it stopped. After couple of years of initial huge boost they hit a wall and sales stalled, even fell at some point. I wonder if same could happen to BMW. Maybe not, who knows. One thing is certain, my not liking (hating actually) the new 3 steering doesn't matter.
#16603 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [dino001]
Sep 08, 2013 (6:49 pm)
well, maybe it is no longer "sporty" to old school BMW types, but for anyone coming out of mainstream cars (Camry say) or a Lexus it is certainly a major step up the sports sedan spectrum.
#16604 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [stickguy]
Sep 08, 2013 (7:36 pm)
Exactly, it is all relative. All they have to do is convince enough people it's better than the alternative. The funny thing is their competitors are moving toward that point from the other side, making it very crowded market with small differences. I guess that's inevitable in world of mass production, one has to cater to least objectionable rather than try to stand out. It's the price for going from niche to global.
#16605 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [dino001]
Sep 09, 2013 (5:10 am)
dino...stickguy....I think you both hit the nail on the head with the 3 series. BMW did cash in their chips on the new one. But, they've been moving away from sports sedan into more mainstream waters for a while now.
I think the thing that BMW has that VW did not, at least in this country, is the cachet of their brand. VW lost their "cool" factor a long time ago.
Now, does BMW retain the cool factor after moving their cars into more mundane territory? Remains to be seen and we probably won't know for another decade or so.
markincincinnati.....I think what kills the Q50 is that drivetrain. It's getting long in the tooth. And the NVH factor has never been its strong suit. It might be OK in an Altima or a Maxima. But, in a $50K lux sedan? Not so much!
I'm thinking you did the test drive up at Kings Automall? Those guys used to send me stuff all the time. But, sounds like they had something of a management shakeup as the previous GM who had been there for years, is no longer there. One of the sales people (whose name I did not recognize) must have dug up my email info from their files. I got an email from him towards the end of last month touting their HUGE selection of Q50s and their willingness to "deal" on them.
No sure what that means with a car that just hit the streets.
#16606 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [graphicguy]
Sep 09, 2013 (7:14 am)
"No sure what that means with a car that just hit the streets."
Have you ever got something from a car dealer that said anything different???
#16607 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [m6user]
Sep 09, 2013 (7:55 am)
"Sells like hot cakes", "We can't get enough of those", , "The supply is very tight" "Everybody is asking about this color/trim (of course it happens to be one you want). All to make you believe you need to pay up to get one. This is especially true with "all new" models that just arrived. The supply shortages may even be real, whether they are due to demand, or ramping production, a well-trained salesman will always spin it into "c'mon buddy, you're paying the sticker today".
If the car is new and they already say "we have huge inventory waiting just for you", things are really slow.
#16608 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [dino001]
by Michaell@Edmunds HOST
Sep 09, 2013 (8:01 am)
Couldn't you use the dealer's website to see how many of a particular model are available?
Then you would be armed with better information as to whether a model is 'hot' or not.
#16609 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [dino001]
Sep 09, 2013 (8:20 am)
I didn't mean specifically, just in general they always use some kind of come on like that. In the Q50's case, I don't think they are desperate yet as it just hit the dealerships a few weeks ago and from my few drivebys of the the local Infiniti dealer it didn't look like they had that many Q50s in stock. I think you are reading way too much into into an email from a car salesman.
#16610 of 16984 Re: 3-series August sales [m6user]
Sep 09, 2013 (8:44 am)
You may be correct. It may be as simple as a relative "we have large choice and the guy across town does not". It was Mark that planted the thought in me that Q50 may not be selling. It certainly is too early to tell.