Mercedes to Concentrate on Luxury

jdrrco

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
1,315
Location
South Wales
Car
X218 CLS500 AMG BlueEfficiency Sport Shooting Brake - name almost as long as the car...
I don't care about "luxury". Perhaps if they returned to their roots and concentrated on quality, they would find a ready audience willing to pay extra for their products.
 

MJJ

Active Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
72
Location
Wiltshire
Car
'09 S211 E220 CDi - poverty spec
I can’t help but feel that this is a chicken v egg situation. How does an importer know how well pink Maybachs sell if he doesn’t offer them within his portfolio? It’s often been asked within this forum why MB UK has a very limited range of offers compared to most countries, with the only guess being that it’s those restricted option cars that sell. One has to question what would be the cost penalty to make the full range of colours, interiors and engines available here when so many are made to order.

One vital, and recent, contributor to the reduction in options available to the customer is the WLTP emissions certification (replacing NEDC) required from last year - Wiki link, Autocar article

What changed with WLTP is that every option/variant/equipment pack now has to be uniquely tested, and certified for WLTP. Every wheel option (which adds drag, and rolling resistance), every optional extra (adds weight, thus emissions) etc. Adding a larger wheel to your new car order can easily tip the car over an emissions banding, which raises annual vehicle tax and company BiK tax rates. A veritable minefield.

Testing a car is expensive, and time consuming, and you think about the sheer myriad of combinations that can be produced when you offer personalisation. Thus, the manufacturers are all heading toward standard 'packs' of options and only spending the money to certify certain popular extras.

Now saying all that, you would think adding a different interior colour would make no difference to all this but alas, the manufacturer still has to test the car to certify this. Now they have to test that light leather interior with every pack/option/wheel to allow it to be offered, doubling the testing.

Why Belgium (for example) seems to be able to offer more choice than the UK though, I assume that is down to sheer market economics. Perhaps there is more margin on a car in Belgium, or the market is less tolerant than the UK for standard specification.

Martin.
 

190

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 4, 2015
Messages
3,483
Location
Cheshire
Car
2009 W204 C180K
I don't care about "luxury". Perhaps if they returned to their roots and concentrated on quality, they would find a ready audience willing to pay extra for their products.

I agree although the last time MB's were real quality was when they cost double the equivalent Ford and I think few people will pay that much. What I would really like MB to do is quality and simplicty with the focus on the vehicle dynamics rather than the interior and touch screens, but there is not a chance of that happening because it doesn't seem to be what the market wants.
 

Bobby Dazzler

MB Club Veteran
SUPPORTER
Joined
Jan 21, 2005
Messages
18,510
Location
Mittel England
Car
ML AMG-line Black Series
Quality could mean different things: Built to specification; Longevity; Reliability; Looks posh; Feels posh; Smells posh; Not rusting: No rattles, and no doubt more.

Genuine open questions:

How would the average customer know that the new generation of “improved quality” cars are indeed higher quality than those which went before?

In which specific ways were Mercedes models from the golden era of quality better than Mercedes models of today, and by how much?
 

st13phil

MB Enthusiast
SUPPORTER
Joined
Nov 6, 2007
Messages
8,847
Location
North Oxfordshire
Car
His - Denim Blue A220 AMG Line Premium / Hers - Obsidian Black R172 SLK55
The UK market is so skewed by fleet purchases that it's not really a valid indicator for any automotive manufacturer's direction.

I can sort of see what Daimler have been doing with the Mercedes-Benz brand over the last few years as they needed to generate interest amongst younger consumers because they were seeing sales bleed off to BMW and Audi (in particular). However, the economics are difficult to make work because is costs a very similar sum to manufacture a small/medium size car as it does to manufacture a large car, yet the market will pay much more for the large car.

Honda is recognised for its long-term planning with the Accord in the USA. It started off as a small, relatively cheap hatchback car which would be purchased by young people. With each successive model iteration it became bigger and more luxurious and the customer base moved along with it as their needs and aspirations grew in synch. I suspect that Mercedes are intending to employ a similar strategy, but with the brand rather than a specific model.

The one bit from the article linked in the first post if this thread that doesn't bode well is the statement that:
Capex and R&D expenditure are also set to decrease by more than 20% by 2025 compared to 2019.
While I can see how capex may reduce as the business re-focusses, R&D expenditure is vital to the future of pretty much every manufacturing company and a one-fifth reduction is massive. As the old saying goes, "if you're not developing, you're going backwards".
 

clk208

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 14, 2009
Messages
1,195
Location
NW
Car
CLS
One vital, and recent, contributor to the reduction in options available to the customer is the WLTP emissions certification (replacing NEDC) required from last year - Wiki link, Autocar article

What changed with WLTP is that every option/variant/equipment pack now has to be uniquely tested, and certified for WLTP. Every wheel option (which adds drag, and rolling resistance), every optional extra (adds weight, thus emissions) etc. Adding a larger wheel to your new car order can easily tip the car over an emissions banding, which raises annual vehicle tax and company BiK tax rates. A veritable minefield.

Testing a car is expensive, and time consuming, and you think about the sheer myriad of combinations that can be produced when you offer personalisation. Thus, the manufacturers are all heading toward standard 'packs' of options and only spending the money to certify certain popular extras.

Now saying all that, you would think adding a different interior colour would make no difference to all this but alas, the manufacturer still has to test the car to certify this. Now they have to test that light leather interior with every pack/option/wheel to allow it to be offered, doubling the testing.

Why Belgium (for example) seems to be able to offer more choice than the UK though, I assume that is down to sheer market economics. Perhaps there is more margin on a car in Belgium, or the market is less tolerant than the UK for standard specification.

Martin.
I wonder why some manufacturers can get away without doing this testing though.

Look at any Land Rover product and there are a hundred different optional extra toys and any colour and trim you can think of as well as the usual different wheels etc.
 

SPX

MB Club Veteran
SUPPORTER
Joined
Aug 29, 2010
Messages
16,758
Location
Yorkshire
Car
That one
It looks to me as though Mercedes are "doing a Burberry" - Burberry to reinvent itself as a super luxury British brand where they actually change very little other than their prices to appear more upmarket..

I always found it strange how Audi (Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti) and BMW (Rolls-Royce) "bought" their way into that level of exclusivity and Mercedes never did - if anything the Rolls-Royce brand would have sat better in Mercedes line-up than BMW's IMO - and even now, when Aston Martin are ripe for a buyout, they've not committed. Seems a missed opportunity to me, especially when it seems such an obvious fit..
 

SPX

MB Club Veteran
SUPPORTER
Joined
Aug 29, 2010
Messages
16,758
Location
Yorkshire
Car
That one
While I can see how capex may reduce as the business re-focusses, R&D expenditure is vital to the future of pretty much every manufacturing company and a one-fifth reduction is massive. As the old saying goes, "if you're not developing, you're going backwards".
That part actually stood out more than the rest, as the great Bob Dylan sang "those not busy being born are busy dying"..
 

tonysmb

Active Member
Joined
Oct 11, 2011
Messages
462
Location
South
Car
MB
One vital, and recent, contributor to the reduction in options available to the customer is the WLTP emissions certification (replacing NEDC) required from last year - Wiki link, Autocar article

What changed with WLTP is that every option/variant/equipment pack now has to be uniquely tested, and certified for WLTP. Every wheel option (which adds drag, and rolling resistance), every optional extra (adds weight, thus emissions) etc. Adding a larger wheel to your new car order can easily tip the car over an emissions banding, which raises annual vehicle tax and company BiK tax rates. A veritable minefield.

Testing a car is expensive, and time consuming, and you think about the sheer myriad of combinations that can be produced when you offer personalisation. Thus, the manufacturers are all heading toward standard 'packs' of options and only spending the money to certify certain popular extras.

Now saying all that, you would think adding a different interior colour would make no difference to all this but alas, the manufacturer still has to test the car to certify this. Now they have to test that light leather interior with every pack/option/wheel to allow it to be offered, doubling the testing.


Martin.
The WLTP requiring different 'options' resulting in option packs is agreed. I haven't read the small print but having to test every different interior colour sounds incorrect. Are they testing every different external colour as well? Maybe the metal flakes in a metallic paint increase the emissions?
 

AW8

Active Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2007
Messages
212
Car
S212 E220CDI Blue Efficiency SE Edition 125 Estate (7G+Auto - 2011)
"Small cars accounted for a quarter of the company’s sales in 2019, with the A-Class representing the driving force behind its massive sales boost in recent years"

I found the above interesting. Initially when current shape A Class was launched & gave it a lot of youthful marketing I thought the brand image might be cheapened. It would appear that in terms of sales volumes the A Class of recent years has been a success. Unfortunately the article doesn't indicate whether sales of this model have been profitable ; relative to say R&D plus build costs.

I like the interior of the current A Class..................................Class leading IMO.
 

jdrrco

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
1,315
Location
South Wales
Car
X218 CLS500 AMG BlueEfficiency Sport Shooting Brake - name almost as long as the car...
One vital, and recent, contributor to the reduction in options available to the customer is the WLTP emissions certification (replacing NEDC) required from last year - Wiki link, Autocar article

What changed with WLTP is that every option/variant/equipment pack now has to be uniquely tested, and certified for WLTP. Every wheel option (which adds drag, and rolling resistance), every optional extra (adds weight, thus emissions) etc. Adding a larger wheel to your new car order can easily tip the car over an emissions banding, which raises annual vehicle tax and company BiK tax rates. A veritable minefield.

Testing a car is expensive, and time consuming, and you think about the sheer myriad of combinations that can be produced when you offer personalisation. Thus, the manufacturers are all heading toward standard 'packs' of options and only spending the money to certify certain popular extras.
I'm sorry, but this is nonsense. The clue is in the acronym - Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure. It is worldwide. Therefore, absolutely nothing to do with the lack of choice in the UK, as opposed to Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands etc.

Others have suggested this is a Brexit thing, another complete red herring.
 

glojo

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
14,209
Location
Torquay
Car
S211 Sprinter 213CDI, & the new T-class
Why Belgium (for example) seems to be able to offer more choice than the UK though, I assume that is down to sheer market economics. Perhaps there is more margin on a car in Belgium, or the market is less tolerant than the UK for standard specification.

Martin.
Hi Martin
I do hope my 'rant' has not caused you to mention Belgium?

Instead, let us mention Ireland (RHD) Australia, Japan and a shed load of other countries who offer their customers a HUGE range of options on their RHD cars most of their options are forbidden fruit to the gullible UK market who just accept what is offered to them.. We are the odd one out,

I fear that Bobby Dazzler speaks wise words and I am convinced that Mercedes-Benz UK do not give a flying fig about the requirements of the individual customer. If you eat in my restaurant you WILL eat spinach and haggis!! or.... There's the door. Yup, you WILL have a black interior, or there's the door. (Yes, some Mercedes models do offer different coloured interior, including the S-classs)

Going back to the luxury market
For me, it is a horse that has long since left the stable. If you want to cater to the luxurry end of this market, you do not set up shop in Primark (nothing wrong with that brand) Who here remembers the days when Mercedes had smaller dealerships, dealerships where the salesperson was not intrusive, you were made welcome, you were offered a nice comfy armchair, nice coffee or tea and then given a nice brochure of the car you wanted which would show all the colour and interior options that were available. Once you opted for a colour or maybe undecisive, the salesperson would have those pieces of metal sprayed in the colours of the range of car you were interested in.

Yes there would be an approximate three-month build-time but you were always kept informed of progress, then comes the big day, the sales-person would spend as long as it would take to explain at least the basic controls. Then and only when you were ready to drive off, out would come, in our case the wife of the owner of the franchise who would give you a very nice bunch of flowers. Yup, if Mercedes want 'luxury,' they need to treat those that buy luxury cars with a degree of respect.

Yes, I hear those that strongly disagree with what I am saying. To better highlight my point, look at the luxury end of the cruise ship industry. Nothing, but nothing is too much for these passengers that can afford five or even six-star luxury. To highlight my point, a passenger joined a cruise ship and only then realised they had forgotten to pack their favourite brand of cigarette. They asked the butler if the ship sold this brand, inquiries were made with the purser's office, when it was discovered they did not, an officer went ashore to acquire what the passenger wanted. This only happened a few years ago and it highlights the lengths folks will go to keep customers loyal to their brand.

Can stack 'em high, sell them quick work in the luxury market. Telling these customers what they can, or cannot have when their friends have options unavailable to them, will that work?
 

whitenemesis

MB Club Veteran
SUPPORTER
Joined
May 7, 2007
Messages
17,508
Car
Lexus RC300h F-Sport 2019
The vast majority of cars sold in the UK are fleet purchases and fleet buyers want the simplest options. Those marques that support fleet operations will not need to offer those individual colour/ trim choices. It's all about shifting SKUs and that is definitely at odds with 'luxury'!
 

PhantomF4

Active Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2015
Messages
87
Location
West of Scotland
Car
A209 CLK Tanzanite Blue + R230 Thulite Red
The vast majority of cars sold in the UK are fleet purchases and fleet buyers want the simplest options. Those marques that support fleet operations will not need to offer those individual colour/ trim choices. It's all about shifting SKUs and that is definitely at odds with 'luxury'!
Car Registrations. According to the latest data, fleet sales have fallen further below 50% of new car purchases in the current year, down from just under half in 2019.
Maybe it is time that private buyers ought to taken more seriously?
 

Senna11

Active Member
Joined
Sep 1, 2020
Messages
84
Location
UK
Car
C63S
I don't care about "luxury". Perhaps if they returned to their roots and concentrated on quality, they would find a ready audience willing to pay extra for their products.
This. Plus if MB spent as much money on building amazing showrooms on training their frontline staff, then people would be more inclined to pay a premium. Its not rocket science.
 

Wolfie1

MB Enthusiast
SUPPORTER
Joined
Oct 18, 2017
Messages
1,146
Location
Aberdeen
Car
C180 AMG SPORT+, A180 AMG LINE and an FD RX7
But with merc current strategy they are losing customers both me and my wife have mercs and we love ours but this is the first time in my life that i can afford a brand new car and was happy to have a built to order car and wait for it but the current new c class that i was looking at to replace my current c class was just lacking, i wanted no chrome on the outside but did not want black leather seats or the only wheels that came on that package, so opted for a different brand of car instead which is currently being built to order, same price as the merc but just the way i want it. There is most likely many many other folk with the same thoughts as me
 
Last edited:

glojo

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
14,209
Location
Torquay
Car
S211 Sprinter 213CDI, & the new T-class
Car Registrations. According to the latest data, fleet sales have fallen further below 50% of new car purchases in the current year, down from just under half in 2019.
Maybe it is time that private buyers ought to taken more seriously?
My own thoughts are that when I buy luxury, I want discreet, I want personal service. I definitely do not want these huge showrooms that have at least every model on display and maybe even more than just one model of each class. I do not want to be pestered by a sales person, I do not want to sit at a desk in the showroom. I want discreet :) Just like the good old days which in my opinion have gone and will never come back. We now have a Primark that sells cars instead of clothes :)
 

Bobby Dazzler

MB Club Veteran
SUPPORTER
Joined
Jan 21, 2005
Messages
18,510
Location
Mittel England
Car
ML AMG-line Black Series
The future of car buying has changed and will continue to change. When I buy a new car I have no interest in visiting a showroom, unless I want a test drive and my desire to do that is reducing over time.

So taking test drives out of the equation, what’s left for a sales person in a main dealer to do? It becomes processing an order, which doesn’t need to be done in a showroom, it’s back office or automated.

Given that @glojo has ordered a car from Belgium and October 2020 is not really
time for free and easy travel, I suspect that order was placed at a distance, without the need to visit a dealer too.

There are plenty more people who need to look at cars, touch cars, and talk to someone in order to make a big decision, but I suspect that the number of people doing that is reducing.

More people are treating cars like white goods, making decisions based upon features and cost. Many people know more about the cars than some sales people do, again making the sales process redundant.

Even when buying expensive cars, visiting the showroom isn’t really of interest to me anymore. Visiting the factory, taking the car on track and the like are an experience, but visiting a generic showroom isn’t (for me).

I wonder for how long sales showrooms - as we know them today - will continue to exist?
 

unimog

Active Member
SUPPORTER
Joined
Oct 24, 2015
Messages
546
Location
Derbyshire
Car
W203 C350, AMG GT63s Coupe 4dr
Ford have done this with the Vingale sub brand and its been very well received. As things get more expensive, folk want to spend money on occasional luxury items and endulgences and its ready market to be exploited.

I think what MB means by pursuing luxury is that showrooms are going to become exactly that. Go to look, touch and feel the products in there many iterations on offer and the level of service you require will be offered to you. Then go home and order at your leisure, or do it there and then.

Visit the showroom and be pampered when its service time (my nearest, brand new large dealership will have a wellness/spa centre in it when its finished!).

That was certainly the experience I had recently when I asked my local dealer about ordering a car 'Off menu' and was promptly referred to the centre of excellence. They will sort you out he said, come back to me with the order code when you are ready and its all taken care of. You can decide if you want it brought here or I will book travel and accommodation for you to get it. Small deposit and sign here sir. All that from the same dealer I have had the last few cars from. I like the exclusivity, I certainly enjoy the service and relationship and I'm happy to spend my dollar on it.
 

glojo

Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 15, 2004
Messages
14,209
Location
Torquay
Car
S211 Sprinter 213CDI, & the new T-class
I am still bitter about how our local dealer was treated by Mercedes Benz. Twas a family run business and yet the owner treated all the employees like they were indeed his family. Customers ended up being good friends with tyhe owner and I guess I miss those friendly conversations whilst buying our car. The business was well run, always made a nice profit BUT.... It was not anywhere near large enough for the Mercedes bosses, they insisted on a certain size showroom and lots of new vehicles on display. Because this family business was so well run the owner was given a 12-month extension but then, 'Thank you very much and there's the door!'.

What do Mercedes-Benz mean by 'luxury'? Are they talking about an A-class, S-class or Maybach? Talk is cheap but saying what you mean and mean what you say is more difficult for those who do not want to rock the boat.
.
If Mercedes want luxury thern you need to cater for luxury and look no further than the luxury motor yacht, or private jet industry!! Buyers can spend tens of millions of pounds buying their new toy BUT...... if you want this type of customer, you need to look after them.

Lots of very good points being raised by folks and I guess I have missed this forum :)
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom