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Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz
#1 of 21 Will Lexus Regain The Luxury Sales Lead In '13?
Sep 26, 2012 (7:35 pm)
From today's New York Times...
"Toyota Moves to Revamp Its Lexus Luxury Line
By BILL VLASIC
Published: September 26, 2012
DETROIT ó With a strong comeback under way in mainstream sedans and S.U.V.ís, Toyota Motor is now hoping to rejuvenate its Lexus brand by appealing to younger and more adventurous buyers.
A 2013 Lexus LS 460 F sport model. Toyota Motor is hoping to appeal to younger buyers.
The automaker has recovered most of the United States market share its Toyota brand lost last year from inventory shortages because of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Now its Lexus brand is gaining steam with a revamped product lineup, including sporty new variations of cars like its flagship LS sedan.
Industry analysts said the flashier grilles and interiors on the new Lexus models served notice that the brand was no longer aimed at older, more conservative buyers.
'Lexus is bringing passion back to the showroom by being aggressive in styling and performance with their new models in hopes of attracting a younger demographic,' said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the auto research site TrueCar.com.
Lexus sales rose 24.8 percent in the first eight months of this year. While the brand is unlikely to pass the luxury leaders BMW and Mercedes-Benz anytime soon, it is gaining fast on the German manufacturers. (Toyota brand sales are up 31.1 percent in the United States; the overall market in the United States is up 14.7 percent.)
Lexus was the best-selling luxury brand in the United States for 11 consecutive years until 2011. But product shortages allowed both BMW and Mercedes to overtake it last year. The brand also had lost some of its prestige because of consumer concerns about sudden acceleration linked to faulty floor mats and other equipment problems.
The top Lexus sales executive in the United States said Wednesday at a media event in Detroit that overtaking BMW and Mercedes was not a priority for now.
'We donít care who is No. 1 at the end of the year,' said Tim Morrison, a vice president. 'Being No. 1 with the customer is what we need to focus on.'
Toyota has moved aggressively to upgrade the Lexus lineup with bolder designs and state-of-the-art safety features like collision avoidance systems.
And because Lexus had a blander image than BMW, Toyota has added high-performance variations called F Sport.
The new F Sport version of the LS full-size sedan comes with all-wheel-drive, an 8-speed transmission and a V-8 engine that generates 386 horsepower.
The new LS sedan goes on sale in November. This year, Lexus introduced redesigned versions of its smaller GS and ES sedans and its top seller, the RX sport utility vehicle.
Mr. Morrison said the addition of the F Sport variations of the RX and LS would not only add incremental sales, but would also add some sizzle to the brandís image.
'Itís starting to change the image,' he said. 'The typical RX buyer is in their mid-50s, but the F Sport buyer is three to four years younger.'
Lexus has consistently won honors for quality and reliability from consumer research firms like J. D. Power & Associates. It has also led the luxury market in providing fuel-efficient, gas-electric hybrid versions of its models.
But its cachet has faded somewhat in recent years, particularly as rivals like BMW and Volkswagenís Audi brand have brought out better-performing cars with stylish designs.
'Lexus was traditionally a conservative choice for consumers who wanted a well-built, reliable luxury vehicle,' Mr. Toprak said.
The F Sport variations are meant to lure buyers who considered previous Lexus models too bland.
Mr. Morrison said that Lexus expected to sell about 1,000 of the new LS sedans a month in the United States, with about 10 percent of those being F Sport models.
Lexus sold 150,000 vehicles in the United States in the first eight months of this year. Mercedes, by comparison, sold 168,000 cars and S.U.V.ís, and BMW sold 164,000.
Mr. Morrison said he expected full-year sales for the brand to reach about 240,000 vehicles. That total would put it within striking distance of the German leaders, and in position to possibly regain the luxury sales crown next year when it reaches full production for all its models.
Lexus is not overhauling its refined image entirely, but the addition of the faster F Sport models should broaden its appeal.
'Lexus is going to continue to look like Lexus,' Mr. Morrison said. 'But it will have a little more performance for customers who want it.'
Lexus will likely finish behind BMW and Mercedes in U.S. sales in 2012, but what about 2013? With Audi, Infiniti, Cadillac, Acura, Volvo and Lincoln aggressivviely going after a larger piece of the action, it'll be interesting to see from which of the top four brands they take the most sales away.
#2 of 21 From Today's Detroit Free Press...
Sep 27, 2012 (5:34 pm)
"...This year, Lexus is on track for a 20% increase in sales, said Tim Morrison, vice president of Lexus sales and dealer development.
'We had a huge August,' Morrison said, with 24,237 sales compared with 22,686 for Mercedes and 16,835 for BMW. 'I thought they would be up near us and they weren't.'..."
#3 of 21 Re: From Today's Detroit Free Press... [hpmctorque]
Sep 27, 2012 (6:57 pm)
Lots of new (or facelifted) product, all at once. Not too surprising to me.
#4 of 21 Re: From Today's Detroit Free Press... [fintail]
Sep 28, 2012 (6:34 am)
Of course, the Germans are not a static target. When the 1990 LS 400 was introduced, with stellar reviews in terms of product and value, the press gave the impression that Mercedes' dominance of the luxury market was probably over. Well, it didn't quite turn out that way, in that MB improved quality and adjusted its pricing. Lexus fought its way to #1 in the U.S., but not worldwide. It could be argued that, from global perspective, the LS400 was the best thing that could have happened to MB. That's may be an exaggeration, but it points out the benefits of competition.
Going back further, who, in the '60s, would have thought that any brand would have seriously challenged Cadillac? If Lincoln couldn't, who could?
Now, much more than then, we have to think internationally. MB, BMW and Audi comprise ~75% of the Chinese luxury car market. The incremental volume from China helps reduce unit prices in other markets.
#5 of 21 Re: From Today's Detroit Free Press... [hpmctorque]
Sep 28, 2012 (8:08 am)
I think the quality issue came immediately after Lexus. The Germans went into a panic, and brought out some iffy products with cost cutting that really left a mark. But the pricing point is very true - adjusted for inflation, a new S550 is significantly cheaper than a new 500SEL in 1992.
The first LS was like a reverse engineered and updated W126. Many of the design angles are virtually identical. It took some of the edge off MB executive arrogance, perhaps. They have learned smaller profit margins are a new reality. Also it was at a time when the US market was more important, and the LS was definitely tuned to US tastes.
#6 of 21 Mercedes Leads
Oct 03, 2012 (6:49 am)
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- "Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, after a 7 percent sales gain in September, extended its lead over BMW to 5,221 units after nine months in the race to be the No. 1 U.S. luxury auto brand.
Mercedes, helped by updated versions of the C-Class compact sedan and GLK compact sport-utility vehicle, sold 23,156 vehicles in the U.S. last month, the automaker said today in a statement. BMW's U.S. sales rose 0.1 percent to 21,761 in September compared with the same month a year earlier. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus rose 36 percent to 20,386."
#7 of 21 Re: From Today's Detroit Free Press... [fintail]
Oct 04, 2012 (8:04 am)
If M-B kept going in its pre-Lexus direction, you'd have an E-Class that was built and engineered as solid as a Tiger tank and cost $150K!
#8 of 21 Re: From Today's Detroit Free Press... [lemko]
Oct 04, 2012 (8:13 am)
I do have to credit Lexus with price competition. Sadly, it created a period of quality issues.
1992 500SEL based at roughly 85K, 2012 S550 bases at roughly 95K. 1992 190E based around 30K, 2012 C250 bases around 35K. That says something.
#9 of 21 looking like third place for 2012
by steve_ HOST
Dec 03, 2012 (6:32 pm)
Lousy sales in Europe means more buys for US luxury consumers.
"Germany's three big luxury auto makers racked up record U.S. sales in November, fueled by aggressive holiday promotions and new models.
The German brands have used a combination of incentives to woo customers, including cash rebates, early lease buyouts and cheap leases. BMW and Mercedes are pushing aggressively to claim the crown as the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S.
Boosting U.S. sales is especially critical for the German luxury brands because demand in Europe is declining, and is expected to remain depressed for some time, according to industry executives.
BMW and Mercedes both are on track to beat the Lexus brand of Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. for the second year in a row."
German Luxury-Car Brands Surge in U.S. (WSJ)