GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Lexus breaks the 'rule' to reign as top luxury marque
By Doron Levin / Autos Insider

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus could be an exception proving the rule that a luxury brand needs decades in the market, or longer, before it can evolve into a status symbol.

In 2003, Toyota sold 259,755 Lexus vehicles in the United States, up 11 percent from a year earlier, and more than BMW, Mercedes, Cadillac or Acura.

It was the fourth straight year Lexus has been the nation’s No. 1-selling luxury nameplate -- a remarkable feat, considering the franchise isn’t yet 15 years old.

more...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Some commentary:

You can call then dull tarted up Toyotas, you can insist that Lexus isn't a "real" luxury automaker with a real history and heritage, you can say what you want: Lexus brand cars are nearly flawless luxury automobiles offered at very reasonable prices. The market has spoken, and I can't say I disagree.

Toyota redefined the luxury market with Lexus, forcing brands like Mercedes-Benz--once out of reach to most people--to dumb down their offerings so that any average college kid could buy one.

Was that a good thing? I don't think so, but once it established itself by appealing to the masses while simultaneously offering its remarkable LS400, Lexus went on to follow its "passionate pursuit of perfection". Maybe it's just me, but every Lexus I've ever driven (after '99 or 2000 or so) deeply impressed me in terms of luxurious appointments, comfort, quiet, engine strength, and in some cases, performance. In each case, the price of the car turned out to be thousands less than what I would expect to pay.

Lexus got to where they got because they were relentless, IMO. Good for them.

Now, I prefer my Cadillacs--don't get me wrong. In fact, the article alludes to the fact that Cadillac is resurging, and implies that its resurgence is modeled after Toyota's success with Lexus. Cadillac has come back relentlessly, with one blow after another since model year '02--revamped Escalade, EXT, ESV, CTS, SRX, XLR, and soon, CTS-V, revamped STS, and soon after, V12 Escalade-V, STS-V, and so-on.

Cadillac is on the kind of product tear that Lexus built its success on.

And since we know that Lexus isn't about to allow its momentum to slow, I think we can arrive at the same conclusion Bob Lutz arrived at: the future battleground of luxury cars will be Cadillac vs. Lexus.

I think BMW will go off into its own luxury niche, focusing on "performance luxury", Mercedes-Benz is losing its way much like Cadillac did in the 80's, Lincoln seems to have given up, brands like Jaguar don't seem to be interested in being top players.

At the same time, Infiniti also seems to be on a tear of its own, and I believe Acura will wake up one of these days and realize it can be a real player, so I consider these wildcards; but I don't believe either one is as committed or as able to pursue ultimacy to the extent that GM and Toyota can with their respective luxury brands.

So again, I think Lutz pegged it: it's Cadillac vs. Lexus.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
Lexus, mexus! You know, I would buy a Lexus except I think that the vehicle line is highly overrated! Can I get a witness? I would rather drive a Cadillac. :mrt:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,047 Posts
regardless of quality, i think the lower priced IS lexus' (or is it LEXI for plural) was a good move by lexus to help sales. because now "you too can own a lexus!!". but, in terms of "Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus could be an exception proving the rule that a luxury brand needs decades in the market, or longer, before it can evolve into a status symbol". i dont think that statements accurate, I think it depreciated the image of lexus, rather then helping evolve to a status symbol.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,944 Posts
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I read somewhere that for a car to be considered a luxury vehicle, in sales categories, meant that car had to have a base price of $40,000?

More than 100,000 of Lexus sales come from a vehicle, that is neither a luxury vehicle, nor even a luxury car, its a luxury truck?

That leaves another 150,000 cars, including the GX470, LX470, IS300, and ES300, which are either trucks, or under $40,000 base.

When you look at who the luxury car sales leader is, you will see Cadillac firmly on top. Cadillac sells more the 100,000 DeVilles alone, and those are all over $40,000.

I can wait until Cadillac picks of Lexus as the top luxury brand in the land. I dont argue with the fact that Lexus makes a very fine car, but I am a Cadillac guy all the way.

So..if you were going to put the "reamteam" lineup together, to knock the socks off of Lexus and regain the sales crown, if you were Mark LeNeve, what would the Cadillac starting lineup be?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,853 Posts
Yes, there have been articles written about the definition of a "luxury" vehicle being one costing north of $38,000, in which case the winner would be... Chevrolet, as it sells many Corvettes, Burb's, and Tahoes (with options) in that price segment. Perhaps the data came from R.L. Polk?

Using that definition, I think it makes the luxury car wars a little deceptive [and a little irrelevant]. BMW sells significantly more vehicles than Caddy, but that lead evaporates when you exclude the many low $30,000 3-series autos that they move.

In the end, it seems to allude to what another GMI member stated in another forum on this site (GM's 2003 profits?): reporters will put whatever spin on their stories to suit their own biases.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,944 Posts
Significantly more than Cadillac seems a little strong, Cadillac did 216,000 and Lexus did 259,000. So BMW is somewhere in the middle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Originally posted by MCGARRETT@Jan 21 2004, 07:43 PM
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I read somewhere that for a car to be considered a luxury vehicle, in sales categories, meant that car had to have a base price of $40,000?

More than 100,000 of Lexus sales come from a vehicle, that is neither a luxury vehicle, nor even a luxury car, its a luxury truck?

That leaves another 150,000 cars, including the GX470, LX470, IS300, and ES300, which are either trucks, or under $40,000 base.

When you look at who the luxury car sales leader is, you will see Cadillac firmly on top. Cadillac sells more the 100,000 DeVilles alone, and those are all over $40,000.

I can wait until Cadillac picks of Lexus as the top luxury brand in the land. I dont argue with the fact that Lexus makes a very fine car, but I am a Cadillac guy all the way.

So..if you were going to put the "reamteam" lineup together, to knock the socks off of Lexus and regain the sales crown, if you were Mark LeNeve, what would the Cadillac starting lineup be?
I agree, Lexus is nice, but I will always be a Cadillac Guy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,973 Posts
I can understand why a *** would get a lexus, but... believe me, if hyundai would make a brand called "RICH-us"(with 24k gold kit, double sized lettering standard!!), and offer the same quality/reliability/style, etc like lexus, but 10k cheaper, in 5 years they will sell the most!! the same dumb guys wich buy lexus now, will buy those instead. let brands with history die, who cares?
olds? let it rot! viva saturn!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,258 Posts
Lexus may sell a lot of expensive cars, but they are by no means a status symbol to a car enthusiast. I may sound like a broken record, but Toyota builds reliable methods of transportation. They have not, for nearly a decade, built a proper automobile. They have not built a driving machine, a car, or anything other than a way of getting from point a to point b. There's very little fun, enjoyment, or pride to be had in owning a new Toyota/Lexus.

I'd much rather have a Lincoln, Caddy, Audi, or BMW than a Lexus. At least those vehicles have souls (well, it's debatable with Lincoln anymore outside the LS).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43,811 Posts
Originally posted by coolcaddy@Jan 21 2004, 11:00 AM

Lexus got to where they got because they were relentless, IMO. Good for them.

Now, I prefer my Cadillacs--don't get me wrong. In fact, the article alludes to the fact that Cadillac is resurging, and implies that its resurgence is modeled after Toyota's success with Lexus. Cadillac has come back relentlessly, with one blow after another since model year '02--revamped Escalade, EXT, ESV, CTS, SRX, XLR, and soon, CTS-V, revamped STS, and soon after, V12 Escalade-V, STS-V, and so-on.

Cadillac is on the kind of product tear that Lexus built its success on.

And since we know that Lexus isn't about to allow its momentum to slow, I think we can arrive at the same conclusion Bob Lutz arrived at: the future battleground of luxury cars will be Cadillac vs. Lexus.

I think BMW will go off into its own luxury niche, focusing on "performance luxury", Mercedes-Benz is losing its way much like Cadillac did in the 80's, Lincoln seems to have given up, brands like Jaguar don't seem to be interested in being top players.

At the same time, Infiniti also seems to be on a tear of its own, and I believe Acura will wake up one of these days and realize it can be a real player, so I consider these wildcards; but I don't believe either one is as committed or as able to pursue ultimacy to the extent that GM and Toyota can with their respective luxury brands.

So again, I think Lutz pegged it: it's Cadillac vs. Lexus.
:lol:
The relentless pursuit of perfection. That's what Lexus called in in the 1990's. It really didn't catch on until the mid/late-1990's. But they "relentlessly" kept pushing and pushing and pushing. People didn't like the original ES cause it was a Camry in a Sportcoat and tie. So they made it a Camry with a 3-piece suit. The original LS was a trim competitor in a 3 piece suit. They improved it and gave it a tux with tophat and tails.

Then they caught on with the SUV revolution. They have by far the most complete lineup of luxury SUV's of any luxury manufacturer... and they weren't even the first to have a luxury SUV. RX, GX, and LX. RS is the best selling luxury SUV (followed by Rendezvous). GX and LX are both competent, but Escalade has it all over the LX. Without a baby Escalade, Cadillac will never have the most complete lineup of luxury SUV's.
Then there's the SC. First iteration wasn't bad at all. Definitely gave the El Dorado a run for the money. The new SC... is really a beautiful machine, but it now pales next to the SL and the XLR. Then there's the IS. A great car with tires that lasted 10K miles. Interesting. Meant to be a 3-series competitor. Pretty popular too. And there's an IS430 in the works!!

If Cadillac wants to be a Lexus, it has to do a number of things:
1) ALL platforms must be of extreme high quality. No more cost cutting. No more "we used high quality materials, but they look cheap" crap.
2) Ergonomics and design have to be the priority.
3) If Lexus is going to have a Mark Levinson speaker system, counter with a Bose 6.1 system.
4) If the LS is going to use suede for the headliner, then use suede as well, not "faux-suede."
5) Every single detail must be meticulousy thought out.
- If Cadillac's going to use Bvlgari instrumentation, then it has to appear on every single model.
- If STS is going to use LED tail lights... bring it to CTS and DTS and Escalades.
6) Instill some pride in the factory workers that make these Cadillacs. Kind of like a "Cadillacs aren't made, they're crafted!"
7) Every single Cadillac must exude luxury. Every single V must stand on its own against the best in the world. Who cares if the CTS-V or STS-V is going to out perform the Vette?!
8) Cadillacs historically have been at teh forefront of new technological innovations. Bring it back to Cadillac!! Put every single bell and whistle and innovation in the cars!

Make Cadillac the epitome of luxury!! Come on GM!! Give the go ahead to Cien and Sixteen!! We're Waiting!!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
50 Posts
Without a doubt, Lexus does build finely crafted automobiles. They are smooth, quiet, luxurious, and seemingly reliable. A "driver's car", not really (especially the first generations), but the later ones with more power and upgraded suspensions might qualify, although not quite to the same extent that Infiniti has been more "driver oriented" in their designs and equipment all along.

Having the less expensive Lexus helps sell the higher priced models and vice versa. At least when you go to buy parts, the Lexus Jr. parts are not the same as a similar Camry, from which it is based. I'm not sure why the smaller Lexus brake pads need to be different, but they allegedly are--different part numbers and all.

The definition of "luxury" is quite different now than in the past decades. Used to be that "luxury" meant power assists everywhere (including the radio tuner), leather interiors, plus something called "size" in all aspects of the vehicle. Now, it's more related to price for all of the various sales segment nomenclatures. Many American "luxury" brands are not labeled that way any more, under the "price related" nomenclatures.

Mercedes has always built less expensive cars in Europe, just that we didn't see them over here. What was exported to the US was just a small portion of their model range in the home market. Ever see an early 1980s E-class 190 that did NOT have a MB Tex perforated vinyl interior?

I highly suspect that many Lexus owners do not know that their vehicles are built by Toyota (which seems to have been not admitted to in many areas by THEM). One Lexus dealer was using Camrys in their rental/loan fleet and they got complaints from owners of the smaller Lexus cars because they were not a Lexus, but still the same car.

In the beginning, Infinity went more for the performance end of the segment as Lexus went for the smoooth luxury end. Lexus seemed to have hit better sales with their styling, though.

They were also deep into selling their used Lexus trade-ins as "certified pre-owned" cars, using some reconditioning orientations from what I understand Rolls-Royce used--meaning it had to be OEM spec in all aspects before it would go on the lot. Lexus got to be such an aspirational brand that a market for used Lexus vehicles (with new car financing rates and extended warranties). So, Lexus broke new ground in that area too.

When Toyota invented Lexus, the timing in the market was "right" for it to happen. Nissan didn't quite "get it right" with their Infinity until a few model generations later, so they were always in 2nd place to Lexus (in spite of their really inexpensive factory lease promotions). Mazda was going to get into the market too, but declined and gave us the 9 series sedans instead. It was a completely new area for Toyota and no one really suspected it would become what it did, but skillful marketing and positioning were very important too.

I'll concur that driving a Lexus is more "cruise and profile" oriented than in a BMW, for example, and also that I am not a big fan of "appliance vehicles" for the reasons mentioned above. I WANT to hear a little engine noise when I throttle into the engine plus a little coarse road road noise so I know there's still a road down there. Getting a vehcle's interior as quiet as Lexus has claimed they have might be a little too quiet in some respects. And where did they find those "high end" stereo people that we hadn't heard of before?

Just when Lexus was adjusting to Nissan evolving Infinity into a better player, here comes Cadillac. Driving the SRX against an RX300 is NO comparison in performance or handling or other aspects. DeVille's might still be "traditional Cadillac", but they could easily outperform the larger Lexus with the CTS coming up on the smaller Lexus models.

The Lincoln LS is a great car, but is more comfortable in orientation with the Jaguar S-Type and other similar vehicles. The Olds Intrigue, with a little repositioning, could have been a great player against the S-Type or LS, even if it was front wheel drive.

If you want to consider how much profit margin might be in a Lexus sales transaction, consider that those fancy dealerships are getting paid for somehow--and it's not all from oil changes or car washes. All of the other amenities from the factory are folded into the purchase price of the car to the dealer too. End result, it might well cost Toyota about another $2000.00 (max) factory cost to build a Lexus instead of an Avalon (which isn't "cheap" either!).

I know, the typical Lexus owner isn't worried about those things as they just "occur naturally in nature", so to speak. A special car deserves a special dealership and ownership experience, even if they pay for it themselves (one way or another). As long as they're happy . . . and come back for another car in a few years and about 60,000 miles later--plus it's their money and not mine.

The higher end car market segment is a constantly evolving area with much competition. Perception is everything whether the product is deserving or not. I sometimes wonder if anyone that had just bought a Lexus would really admit they ever had any problems with them--publicly or privately--as to do so might indicate that their "perfect" car really wasn't? This one psychological aspect might be further proof that whatever gains GM is making in the JD Powers surveys are significant. But then Saturn's been at the top of many of them for a long time and they aren't "luxury" at all!

I somewhat suspect the next generation DeVille will get the larger Lexus vehicles more in their crosshairs. Plus a few others too. The SLS will probably aim for Infinity with the CTS and SRX having their own respective target areas. Where will we be in 5 years? We'll have to wait and see, but the Lexus operatives will be making their own course adjustments, too, due to the American brands "uprising".

It will be interesting to see how Lexus is received when it's introduced in Japan.

Just some thoughts,
NTX5467
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,258 Posts
If GM wants to have Caddilac compete with Lexus, it will be their downfall. Lexus may be an image brand for uninformed buyers, but I do not see a Lexus, and think, "hey, that's a nice car." For many, I suspect owning a Lexus is about saying, "I own a Lexus, aren't I special?" They don't catch your eye as a great luxury vehicle, but it's not because they're a sedate vehicle such as a BMW 5 or 7-series that can blend in with traffic very easily (yet still seem unique). Caddy has always been about a luxury vehicle that people are envious of the owners for. So it has to have great eye-catching styling, plenty of power, world-class road manners, and comfortably seat five NFL defensive linemen.

As for the sound systems.... Mark Levinson is one of the best designers of audio equipment there is. Unfortunately, my understanding is that Toyota just licensed his name (which he no longer controls, thanks to some bad business deals), rather than actual ML audio equipment. While the public at large still seems to think Bose is the cat's *** when it comes to sound quality, I think a growing number of car buyers don't want Bose. Bose is the single greatest marketing scam in the history of audio. I'm not going to waste my time arguing with anyone who's still under the impression that Bose is great, so read these links:

http://www.intellexual.net/bose.html
http://www.fiendation.com/300zx/bosefaq.htm
http://www.geocities.com/p_iturra/Misc_HT_...T_Speakers.html

To me, the only thing Lexus has ever done right is to use some quality audio equipment in their vehicles. Unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers group things into option packs. That's great for consumers who aren't very picky, but when you have to pay $5000 extra for a package that includes a navigation system, heated seats/steering wheel, and Bose, that's a bit rediculous. If you really want the heated seats/steering wheel, and wouldn't mind the nice navigation system, you should be able to get those seperate. But forcing a Bose system in (and jacking up the price $3000 because of the name Bose) is retarded to an extreme. Sorry, I know of no other simple way to put it.

I got off on a bit of a tangent there, but anyway... Lexus is not a brand I would ever consider owning, despite their one good move in car audio.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43,811 Posts
Mark Levinson are the "higher end" brand of Harman/Kardon.
Bose actually have decent audio systems. The thing with Bose is that they have to be engineered to the car's interior to do any good. Most car manufacturers don't do that. And I hate the Bose system in my Mercedes... too much treble, zero bass. Pathfinders have the same prob. But the Bose system in the STS is quite a different story. Audio quality is in the ear of the beholder. Unless you are one of those people who can actually hear the audio minutae from different speakers, it won't really matter if you've got a B&O, a Bose, or speakers from Radio Shack. 'Nuff said.

The only thing I find redeeming about the Lexus are the interiors... especially in the LS. It is very impressive. Too bad the exteriors aren't. But the moment Toyota figures out how to design a car... the world better watch out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,973 Posts
Originally posted by mgescuro@Jan 22 2004, 08:32 PM
The only thing I find redeeming about the Lexus are the interiors... especially in the LS. It is very impressive. Too bad the exteriors aren't. But the moment Toyota figures out how to design a car... the world better watch out.
they have the capabilit to make nice cars, look at the celica...

and lexus waits that mb starts doing weirdo stuff like bmw, while they keep the wannabe mb approach :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43,811 Posts
Originally posted by johnd89@Jan 22 2004, 05:51 PM

they have the capabilit to make nice cars, look at the celica...

and lexus waits that mb starts doing weirdo stuff like bmw, while they keep the wannabe mb approach :lol:
:blink: :blink: :huh: :huh: :blink: :blink: The Celica?? <_<
To each his/her own.
The only design I like of Toyota's in the 4Runner.

I actually like the new BMW's.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,714 Posts
Originally posted by MCGARRETT@Jan 21 2004, 02:43 PM
When you look at who the luxury car sales leader is, you will see Cadillac firmly on top. Cadillac sells more the 100,000 DeVilles alone, and those are all over $40,000.
Last year, Cadillac sold 82,076 Devilles in the US (down from 84,729 in 2002).

The luxury market is obviously moving toward SUVs and SUV-like vehicles. The LX, RX, and GX are luxury vehicles just as the SRX and Escalades are considered luxury vehicles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
You know don't worry, Lexus will fall, their cars are boring and I read in an article that they want to sell 500,000 in North America, where is the exclusibity in that? Dooms day is coming...
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top