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Discussion Starter #1
check out this article on how lexus is handling the roll-out of the new hybrid SUV

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/5941899/

From the article:

Lexus this week said it will provide wait-list customers with detailed information on manufacturing and shipment schedules. Customers will even get to take part in the birth of their car, Lexus said, as dealers will be able to assign a customer's name to a specific 400h before production and then track it through delivery.


"Although we're pleased with the early public response to the 400h, we are mindful of our need to respond to these customers in a timely manner," Clements said.


yeah toyota is a big company but it's doing this for only 9,000 units out of the hundreds of thousands they sell each year...don't tell me lotus couldn't do this for elises, the bulk of their worldwide sales.
 

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And how much is this new Lexus going to cost?

Lexus has a large budget for such things. Lotus is try to stay in business and expand it as well as they can, with a very small budget.

Lexus already has a very well established dealer network. Although they already have a waiting list that about "only" four times the number of Elises that will be produced this year, they are part of a very large company with the systems and communications already in place and working. Lotus is trying to establish them (on a small budget)

Lexus has a well established importing and transportation system already in place. Lotus is trying to establish one (on a small budget)

Lexus is targeting people that want luxury and service above all else. Lotus is targeting people that want the ultimate in performance above all else.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
quote:

Lexus is targeting people that want luxury and service above all else. Lotus is targeting people that want the ultimate in performance above all else.


If Lotus truly is only targeting people that want the ultimate in performance above all else, than perhaps they have made a catastrophic error. Judging by the emotions and anger of many on this board regarding Lotus' treatment of pre-order customers, the core of Elise enthusiasts - the type of people who post here -want more than "the ultimate in performance above all else." They also want a bit of that "service." If Lotus doesn't provide it someone else will.

With respect to the systems established by Lexus - I imagine that Lexus created this system solely for these pre-order folks and that this system does not utilize any pre-existing Lexus order system. I assume if Lexus already had the ability to perform this sort of tracking, they would do it with every customer - as you pointed out, that is the way Lexus operates. Yet I cannot go down to the dealership, order an LS 430, and get this info. This must be a new system from scratch, or at least a new operation built on an underlying established enterprise system.

Some of the enterprise software guys out there help me out...how much could a system like this cost? I can't imagine it would be much more expensive to do it for only 2500 cars than 9000. After all, specialized enterprise software usually charges per license rather than by volume of information, because these systems can handle a ton of information relatively cheaply, and the marginal cost of handling additional information is not great.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
By the way, you already have your car, don't you Tim? I'm very much anticipating the changing dynamics of this board as it divides into the haves and have-nots...my guess is, those who get their cars will quickly graduate to another site, or another foum on this site, leaving us great unwashed to complain in "news and rumors"
 

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9000 high-margin luxury SUV's is still 4 X as many cars as Lotus plans to import to the U.S. this year, as mentioned. That's why they can afford to do this. Plus it's been determined that much of the demographic for hybrids are tech-heads who would be especially impressed by such a system.

Even if they weren't high-margin items, Lexus is big enough to write off the cost as an investment in customer satisfaction. They can afford to make that investment.

If people are upset about the price increase (I'm not happy about it myself) how do you feel if Lotus raises the price another $1-200 to pay for a new tracking system?

Aston Martin lets you pick custom colors (match your color sample) and invites you to come to the plant for a week to watch your car being made. Of course they charge $125-$275,000 for their cars. I'm sure if we don't mind paying $75,000 for our Elises, Lotus would oblige.

If someone shows me that Lotus is really raking in the profits (perhaps they are) then I'd say they should provide more customer amenities. But when you consider Lotus' history, and the fact that even after that people are still lined up on waiting lists, makes me think they aren't going to do anything about it until they feel they are making good money.

I hope that at some point, Lotus, being a smaller company, will be able to overhaul its ordering system as their financial situation strenghtens, and at that time they could include tracking for little added cost.




DLY
 

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thewreck said:
By the way, you already have your car, don't you Tim?
Yep. I do. I've waited since the S1 was first announced in '96. I was one of the people at LOG 18 (in '98) trying to convince Arnie to bring it here, and offering to put down the deposit right then. I finally put my deposit down over 2 1/2 years ago.

I, like several others, also "bought" into this car knowing exactly what I was getting myself into. Lotus and LCU have actually done a lot better job at getting the Elise here and delivered than I was expecting (yes it has been slow, but that was expected). You see, I've owned my Lotus Elan for 28+ years, and I knew what I was getting into...

Yes, I was anxious to get my Elise, but I also knew that complaining and worrying about it wasn't going to get it here any faster. With all things Lotus, I learned many years ago to just be patient - things will work out...

Lotus may not be very good at communicating directly at a corporate level, but it's the only car company I know of that you can call and get answers directly. Go to the LOG and you will meet people from Lotus UK, as well as LCU. Not many car companies send people to the Owners Gatherings. You can actually ask the people who designed your car, why they did something in a particular way. It's unique. It's Lotus...
 

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thewreck said:

Some of the enterprise software guys out there help me out...how much could a system like this cost? I can't imagine it would be much more expensive to do it for only 2500 cars than 9000. After all, specialized enterprise software usually charges per license rather than by volume of information, because these systems can handle a ton of information relatively cheaply, and the marginal cost of handling additional information is not great.
depends on who is doing it.

a bar code scaning system, a few web cams, a database, and a secure web server + the labor to put it all together would probably cost Lotus the profit of 4-5 Elises (assuming it's true that their margins are small). Up keep on a system like this is cheap.

If you get a Lotus enthusiast in there with a bit of an incentive & that number drops pretty quick.

Not that I'm trying to say Lotus is slacking - there are a lot of variables, but it's certainly doable, especially considering that we're not looking for super fancy layouts, write-ups, or fabulous web pages - just a mail and/or a link to a web page that shows a place in line, a quick image (if available), and a percentage complete. Of cours, that will open up a whole new complaint dept of "I can see that my car was finished 8 hours ago, but it's still not on the boat!! What gives?!" ;)
 

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Some of the enterprise software guys out there help me out...how much could a system like this cost? I can't imagine it would be much more expensive to do it for only 2500 cars than 9000. After all, specialized enterprise software usually charges per license rather than by volume of information, because these systems can handle a ton of information relatively cheaply, and the marginal cost of handling additional information is not great.
It depends.

Lexus is not all by itself. It is part of a much larger automaking company that has a LOT of information services built to handle a much larger volume of business. I am certain Lexus is leveraging that infrastructure to do this. This greatly reduces the overall cost because you can mine databases a lot cheaper than you can build them and then mine them. I can pretty much guarantee that there isn't a canned application for this - you would have to custom build it instead of just install it. The business case for the 400h also matters - if it doesn't have to make money on it's own in the first year, bells and whistles like this are much easier to get approval for.

Lotus is experiencing some growing pains. In the past, you could get information about your car because there juse weren't that many customers that Lotus had to deal with. Their experience with Opel and Vauxhall improved their manufacturing quality, but they did not have to build the "front end" information capacity because the cars went to another manufacturer for sales to the end customer - not Lotus dealers. Lotus is a little "in between". They are getting too big for a person or two to keep track of all of the builds and shipments anymore, but they are not big enough to be able to amortize the cost of an IT system that can do that for them.
 

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thewreck said:
By the way, you already have your car, don't you Tim? I'm very much anticipating the changing dynamics of this board as it divides into the haves and have-nots...my guess is, those who get their cars will quickly graduate to another site, or another foum on this site, leaving us great unwashed to complain in "news and rumors"
So, the wreck,
I guess you take the view that once people have their car they can no longer post on the subject??

As Tim says, lots of us have waited many years for this cars (since 97 for me). Many have gotten their cars, many more have not. I actually hope that "the haves vs have nots" as you characterize can continue to coexist. Look at how helpful some of the "haves" have been with taking pictures (yelotus and lnzyello are especially prominent on that list)

Chris
Who will continue to post if/as/when/what he sees fit. If my statements annoy you as they do JML please post me on your ignore list and you won't be subjected.
 

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thewreck said:
quote:

Lexus is targeting people that want luxury and service above all else. Lotus is targeting people that want the ultimate in performance above all else.


Judging by the emotions and anger of many on this board regarding Lotus' treatment of pre-order customers, the core of Elise enthusiasts - the type of people who post here -want more than "the ultimate in performance above all else." They also want a bit of that "service." If Lotus doesn't provide it someone else will.

Do not let the "vocal" minority sway your opinion of elisetalk opinions :)

I do not have a car yet. My car will come in due time. I've been to the factory. It is small. The cars are practically hand built. It's not Lexus. And I can only imagine what kind of profit margin is made on the new lexus :rolleyes:

I'm just glad Lotus has remained in business this long so that I will, finally, have my dream car. I can live without knowing exactly where my car is in the production process. It will get here, eventually. Hopefully sooner than later :)
 

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Like I've said before:
I don't see Lotus hiring some programmer off the street to hack together a solution. Hiring a firm like IBM is more like it. If you had a multi-million dollar business, you wouldn't trust security implementations to just anybody. A lot of the cost is from labor, and if it's anybody good with guaranteed SLAs, that's hundreds per hour per consultant. Minimally, that includes a project manager and a programmer.

A firm implementing a proper solution would at least deal with:
* an assessment of current systems (this alone will be $thousands)
* how is the laptop built?
* how is the scanner software installed?
* how is the laptop rebuilt in case of failure?
* what is the support for the scanner hardware? what happens when the scanner hardware becomes obsolete?
* programming time for custom configuration of the "free" software
* documentation for the laptop build and scanner software configuration
* how does the laptop connect to the backend system? wired? wireless? is that kind of network already in place?
* documentation for how the laptop connects to the backend system
* how do the scan results integrate with the existing inventory database?
* can the existing inventory database be modified to include this additional data?
* do we need to find (and hire) the person/firm who designed the system to modify it?
* is there a support contract in place for the existing system that limits the scope of support to only the existing system as implemented? if so, that means lawyers need to be involved.
* once the data is in the system, now what? how do the dealers get the data? do the dealers already have a system in place to track VINs of customer orders? do they even have the VINs before the car arrives at the dealer? is this network/access mechanism already in place, or does that have to be engineered?
* documentation for the above access mechanism
* training for the people who will do the scanning
* training for the people responsible for maintaining the systems
* training for the dealers who will access the data
* ongoing, what is the support/maintenance agreement for the implemented system?
* etc., etc., blah blah blah

Maybe that's not a big deal relative to other I.T. projects, but it's not trivial.
And guess what? I didn't even mention testing! Lotus is ISO certified, so this new system will have to be rigorously tested (expensive) to make sure it passes any audits, and documentation of pretty much everything is required.

Lotus probably won't risk hiring anyone that is not from a large I.T. firm, and large firms won't be interested in implementing such a system if it's "cheap."
 

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As for Lexus, you already know they are part of Toyota, the #2 biggest car company in the world, and the #1 most profitable car company in the world.

Toyota makes BILLIONS of dollars in PROFIT each year, and they have tens of billions in cash. Toyota is synonymous with efficiency. They invented the Toyota Production System that most car companies try to emulate.

As for Lexus, unless things have changed, the RX line is still their biggest selling model. And I'm sure Toyota has learned a lesson or two from dealing with people on the 6-month waiting list for the Prius.

Investing in a system like this was probably an easy sell to management. The cost to Lotus would be significant. To Toyota, not much money at all.
 

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thewreck said:
By the way, you already have your car, don't you Tim? I'm very much anticipating the changing dynamics of this board as it divides into the haves and have-nots...my guess is, those who get their cars will quickly graduate to another site, or another foum on this site, leaving us great unwashed to complain in "news and rumors"
Yep.

http://www.ihavemyeliseandyoudontneenerneeenerneener.com/

Seriously... really? [mike myers]I mean ...honestly[/mike myers]

All I have seen is some people able to now categorize people in a cubbyhole that explains away disagreement.... because they are one of "them." It fails to deal with those that don't have cars and also don't agree with them... but that is ignored because it does not fit.

I have never changed at all my perspective of what I post about Lotus, the dealers, or anything having to do with the Elise because I became an owner and they gave me a free hat. :)

Note to self... register www.elisetalkelite.com :)

P.S. Is not the bigger picture that people here are all fans of this car? All of us, or most of us, are on waiting lists and becoming owners. So what? I started this forum with the intention of creating community, so we can discuss the cars, have cool meets, autocrosses, track events. So we can provide some leverage and have a voice (and we all do). That is where it is heading. Not to a two tier system. I post on other forums and I don't even have a Miata or whatever... I do not ever think that influences the way I am perceived.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Iappreciate the enlightenment form the guys with the systems know-how!

I did not intend for my post re: haves and have-nots to be snarky or at all flame-worthy. I of course do not support any division or propose that owners be segregated. In fact, the owners - the haves - are what keep me interested in this car! A board of angry wait-listers alone would not be tolerable; but then again neither is a board of owners lecturing the have-nots for complaining about this eccentric company which simply can't be bothered to provide some services we take for granted from other vendors.

I merely meant to say that I fear the interests of owners will diverge from those of non-owners. I should have added "that would be a shame." I need to see the photos of recent deliveries!

As for Lotus/Lexus, the question is not so much what Lotus can afford to do but what it must afford to do. whether or not its fair to judge Lotus by what Lexus does, it is clear that if Lotus doesn't measure up to other car companies it will go out of business yet again. It's not fair but capitalism isn't fair. I am a bankruptcy attorney and see plenty of companies go out of business. Usuaully, it's not because they are inferior - it's because they lacked the will to do what they had to do to compete. A better comparison would be Porsche - although larger than Lotus, they too had to go out on a limb in the late 90s on new products, dealers and suffer huge losses just to stay in the market, and now they prosper. Lotus needs to make that leap of faith or it will be poof on a few years.
 

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I think everyone would agree that the Lexus/Toyota systems are to expensive and would not be practical for Lotus, but Toyota didn't always have those systems and they were able to be responsive to the customer. We can debate the need for having these type systems in place, but it appears to have helped Toyota as their sales haven't been hurt by their product line becoming more mundane.

It wouldn't take much for Lotus to communicate better to their dealers which is the main frustration I've had with this whole experience. Yes certain dealers have communicated well, but when my dealer doesn't know anything it doesn't matter how good they are. It also doesn't matter to me how good the car is when I don't know when I'm going to be getting it.

I compare it to a beautiful woman who constantly teases you with sex. After a while you say what the heck and decide to go looking elsewhere as there are other good looking women out there.
 
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