Well I finally got the word, I'll be getting my E55 in August. The build
date is in the 2nd week of July. It will have taken only 2.5 years on the
waiting list to get one. The question that I have now is will it be a 2004
or 2005. Does anyone one know when the year changes in the MB yearly cycle?
American manufacturers generally change in Sept or Oct as I recall.
BTW I had another dealer offer me a fully loaded Silver E55 but it had $7500
worth of adds that I really don't want. I decided to wait a little longer
and get it the way I want it. Can't drive now anyway, I just had a 2 level
lumber spine fusion and my doc won't let me drive for a few more weeks.
Well German manufacturers change their production years from September
build, so any normal country has say an October 2003 built car described as
an 2004 model, yet why is it then that the yanks always seem to talk about
2005 cars early in the new year?
If so desperate to have advanced year cars, why stop there?
This is something that's peeved me about the U.S. auto
industry for a long time. I don't recall exactly when
or with which model this began (the '84 "C4" Corvette
comes to mind for some reason), but it's been going on
at least since the early 1980s. A manufacturer will
want to tout a new model as the latest thing, and so
it will arbitrarily bestow it with the next model year
rather than the current one.
I think the entire auto industry the world over ought to
dispense with all this B.S. and the confusion and decep-
tion it causes and standardize on a manufacturing year
that's in synch with the actual calendar year, e.g., if
a car as built in October of 2005, then it'd be a 2005
model, not an early-build 2006.
"Golden-haired boy on the edge of the street,
In his tight jeans, on his lone beat.
There's a little more to it than that. Sometimes the manufacturer wants a
longer than normal production run of that model (this makes sense if the
tooling changes required are very expensive), so they'll introduce it as a
model year ahead so they can produce that same configuration for more than
Other times, they'll make significant changes in a model during the model
year but not change the model year (sometimes, these improved models will
be referred to as "and a half" models).
When GM introduced the Chevy Lumina as a 1989 model, they did so in early
1988, intending to produce the 1989 model year for 18 months, which they
The problem is that model years themselves are arbitrary, but they're
easier to remember than production revision numbers for the general
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Producing a model with the same configuration for an
extended period doesn't require that it be given the
same model year designation for the duration of the
production run. The auto industry is rife with exam-
ples of cars that were identical from one model year
to the next, or minimally different in ways that didn't
require tooling changes (different grille, taillight
lenses, wheel covers, trim, etc.).
They do, but they shouldn't. Major changes should be
confined to model-year switchovers so as to prevent
consumer confusion. It simplifies things for the
manufacturers, too -- which is why significant running
changes are the exception rather than the norm.
And as my original point stated, they got to reap the
marketing benefits of selling the car as "next year's"
model for nearly a year. That verges on false adver-
tising. Rather than selling the car as an '89 starting
in early 1988, the honest thing would've been for them
to sell it as an '88 right from the beginning and through
the '89 model year. Of course, the marketing disadvan-
tages are obvious.
The whole issue could've been circumvented by following
tradition and basing the model year on the cars' dates
of manufacture: calling the cars built during GM's
usual 1988 production period 1988s, and those built in
1989's, 1989s. Why would that have been a problem?
There's no law that says a car has to be physically
different from the previous year's model in order to
qualify for a new model year designaton.
They're not arbitrary, any more than, say, fiscal years
are arbitrary. They do in fact mostly coincide with the
calendar year. Any consumer who's reasonably informed
knows that a car with a given model year was most
likely built anytime from the autumn of the previous
calendar year through late summer of the designated
model year, when the auto plants customarily shut down
"Every time you take a bong hit, you hurt Jesus."
-- Rick Gordon
The problem (again) is one of marketing. Customers would have asked what
was the difference between the '88 and '89 model years at the end of the
'88 model year. Salesmen would have had to say, "There isn't a
difference." Car magazines and newspaper car reporters would have made a
big deal out of the fact that the 1989 Belchfire was exactly the same as
the 1988 Belchfire.
And don't forget that consumers these days are conditioned to expect
bargains on unsold current model year examples when the next model year is
about to roll into showrooms. If a manufacturer is looking for a long run
of a given configuration to reduce costs and recoup heavy engineering and
tooling investments, it makes sense to introduce the car with a
deceptively-advanced model year and produce it for longer-than-normal.
And finally, let's not forget that the US government has a tendency to
mandate safety, pollution, and fuel economy standards beginning with a
manufacturer's XXXX model year. If a car is planned to be substantially
unchanged from one model year to the next, the manufacturer may still be
forced to make significant changes to the car to meet US government
requirements. Yes, those requirements are telegraphed years in advance
and manufacturers have plenty of time to plan around them, but once again,
extending a model year can have its advantages to the manufacturer.
The long and the short of it is that model years are arbitrary. It is
only custom that has led consumers to expect the 2005 model year cars to
begin production in late summer of 2004. Manufacturers have all fallen
into the same rhythm out of competitive pressure. If GM were to begin
regularly introducing the next model year in April instead of August or
September, the other manufacturers would follow suit.
I don't think that arbitrary model years are necessarily a bad thing. If
GM wants to produce a car that is 100% unchanged for 18 months, I think
they *should* be allowed to introduce it early and not change the model
year designation. I don't see any reason why they should be forced to
follow model-year-designation rules. Most people can see through such
shenanigans and don't really care. If consumers truly despised such
practices, manufacturers wouldn't use them.
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The introduction of the "new" models in about October, dates to before the
1980's in US. I recall the unveiling of the '57 Chevrolet Bel-Aire in
September, 1956. The local media was at the dealership and crowds lined the
street - this in a small Southern town with only one Chevrolet dealership for
75 miles in any direction. This hoopla probably had been going on for years
before, but maybe the media attention marked this one for me.
Why do they do it? PR is the only thing that I can think of. My '66 XKE was
about 1/2 '66 and 1/2 '67, but was called a 1966 in the documentation and on
the chassis plate. I just had to figure out if the part that I was replacing
was for a '66, or a '67, if there was a difference. My service manual covered
all of the Series II, as well as the "prior to Series II," which were not
referred to as Series I in the US. Oh well, I guess that each country has its
own ideas of how an automobile should be typed, regarding its vintage.
There is also an issue with their CAFE limits. Several years ago (maybe
1998?), GM introduced the new model year for its large SUV's in January
(i.e. 1999 models were begin sold in January 1998). The reason was that
they had exhausted their fuel economy limits for the current model year and
selling any more 199x Suburbans and Tahoes would have put them out of
compliance with federal regulations. Since they knew their overall fleet
was going have better fuel economy for that next year, they decide to just
"borrow" from its CAFE limits.
Another reason for introducing a new model year before the end of the
current calendar year is so that the factory workers are not "distracted" by
the holiday season while they are trying to learn new assemblies.
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