June 24, 2008

Ja, Teutonia IS In The US Now

teutonia_spirit.jpg

A few people saw a comment by the North American representative for Teutonia strollers in the tire gunk post yesterday and were all, "Whoa, Teutonia's in the US??"

The answer is a definitive ja. Teutonia is the original Mercedes of strollers, the high-end, high-performance national favorite of Germany. They were big and smooth and expensive when Bugaboo was just a prototype made out of tent poles, wheelbarrows, and totebags.

And as with the Bugaboo, their price requires a very high-touch, dealer-like selling process. Which may explain why Teutonia's US website is entirely set up like a car site, with a custom configurator and dealer locator.

teutonia_t-100_t-200.jpg

This build-your-own approach certainly helps draw attention to the features and various components of the system--there are three chassis types; two wheel options; car seat, bassinet and seats to color-coordinate; 9 solid fabrics to choose from; 18 unfortunate prints to somehow avoid; and a pile of accessories--without quite getting to the essence of the Teutonia value proposition.

For example, both the 4-wheel t-100 and the 3-wheel t-200 chassis are described with identical language: "trimmer, sportier scale"; "light and nimble"; "handles with ease"; "nimbly and smoothly"; "the lightest and trimmest." Their dimensions and weights are nearly identical, too.

teutonia_t-300.jpg

The t-300 chassis, by contrast, is "the cornerstone of the teutonia chassis collection"; "sturdy, steady, safe and strong." In other words, a tank that buries nimble under a mountain of sausage and eats it for breakfast. If Teutonia is the Mercedes of strollers, the t-300 is the 1990's, W140 S-Class, the company's over-engineered, over-reaction to the Lexus threat.

But just as with station wagons, diesels, and manual transmissions, the German strollers that make it to the US are only a small fraction of the domestic offerings. The Teutonia line in the Fatherland has 11 models. [If you're playing at home, in Germany, the t-100 is the Fun CS; t-200 is the Spirit S3; and t-300 is the Mistral S, not to be confused with the Mistral or Mistral P.] And while it might induce a bit of domestic market envy, like how the US doesn't get even one of the 95 compact diesel station wagon options available in Europe, I suggest checking out the German Teutonia site, just to see what the damn things look like. Because even after you build and outfit your rig on the US configurator, you have little idea of what the whole thing will look like.

As for what it costs and where to buy it, that's a discussion Teutonia wants you to have with one of the handful of old-school baby retailers across the country who are launching the line. So head to Albee's on the Upper West Side, or plan your cross-country drive to stop in Lincoln, Nebraska, so you can pop into Baby Town/Kids Stuff. But don't look to buy it online, because that's apparently not how Teutonia rolls.

For now, because what's this I see on the bottom of the Teutonia USA website? "Division of Newell Rubbermaid"?? Holy crap, people, Teutonia is Graco's German cousin? When did that happen? Last summer, apparently. And while digging around for the press release, I see that Newell Rubbermaid acquired Aprica in February?? Looks like I picked the wrong week to go on vacation.

Teutonia USA [teutoniausa.com via the pram museum curator]
Teutonia Deutschland [teutonia.de]

17 Comments

Again, European stroller manufacturers try to infiltrate the fickle American market with its fare: very heavy, bulky walking strollers. Teutonia's American line is no different: by separating the stroller into mix-and-match structures (like, say, the Bugaboo Cameleon's color options) such as chose-your-own chassis/seat, the line masks in its true weight (how much does it actually weight in the end?). And, unfortunately - unlike its European counterpart (let's just say that it acquired Graco for its household name and sadly overused Graco's plastic fetish) it is not as sturdy as it could be given its weight. Like Peg Perego's Skate - Graco's (sorry, Teutonia's) line will most likely sink in the US. But, hey! Who knows...

www.StrollerInfo.com

[good point about the weight; they're all easily north of 30 lbs. But you've got it backwards on the acquisition. Teutonia didn't acquire Graco. Graco didn't even acquire Teutonia; Graco's parent conglomerate did. It's now part of the Baby & Parenting Essentials global business unit. And it's just a matter of time before we all join them. -ed.]

Thanks for mentioning teutonia Greg! In April 2008 we arrived in stores in the US and we are in 17 cities across the country, we are very small right now but this is really the beginning of things for us. As you mentioned we are not selling online, but we want people to come visit the teutonia set up in stores and build their own strollers. We have two displays placed inside the stores that highlight the fashions & accessories plus an interactive kiosk that allows you to choose what you want for your stroller.

We will be posting teutonia videos on YouTube very soon that should allow you and your readers to see more of the strollers, when they are up I can definitely let you know. Once again thanks for blogging about us, you are the 2nd post about Teutonia in the USA (after Kids Today). I was really excited to see it and I’ll be sharing it with my team!

Teutonia's are beautiful. We imported their basic -- Solano (only available in Germany) for our first child's second stroller in 2005. Still use it, and drives as nice as our Bee (bought in 2008 for trips). Almost as good as our Cameleon -- which is saying a lot. Sturdy, well made, good looking. Yes, heavy. But it's German.

This is exactly what I thought! I didn't like any of the prints when I saw the site, and besides the wheel configuration I didn't really see any dramatic differences between the different chassis.

[the t-300 has a reversible handle. Also, it weighs 25% more. -ed.]

Would be interested to see some fold pictures?

Yeah, they're heavy - but that seems to be the case with many (if not most) strollers that aimed at European parents. I was generally impressed with my SIL's Teutonia pram (can't remember which model), although I think I offended her when I said I couldn't imagine having four fixed wheels after enjoying the one-handed steering of my Bug.

Oh, and even in Germany, it is mix-and-match. When visiting our family while my SIL was pregnant, she showed me the Teutonia brochure and the various options (chassis, wheels, colours, etc.) she planned to order. I kinda like that approach (she types, while personally customising her Cameleon...).

StrollerInfo: "very heavy, bulky walking strollers" might not be what you want, but judging by the popularity of Teutonia and similar strollers in Europe, there are a lot of parents for whom that's perfect. Maybe not American parents, but I'm a Canadian who spends a chunk of time in Europe, so I'm in no position to guess what will succeed in the US ;-)

Saw a Brio (also Euro) stroller in Washington Square park last weekend, and decided then & there that we had to have one. Compact, industrial looking, with big wheels made for walking city streets. You could tell it was comfortable.

Checked with the Google, and it took some digging. Turns out the compact, but sturdy looking models are not strollers at all, but rather "Pushchairs."

Another snag, they're not distributed in the US!

see:

http://www.brio.net/BRIO_NET/Corporate/?url=http:%2f%2fwww.brio.net%2fBRIO_NET%2fCorporate%2fStrollers%2fGLOSSARY%2fGlossary%2f?b=3

"...Teutonia is the original Mercedes of strollers, the high-end, high-performance national favorite of Germany..."
I am german and I´d say Teutonia is more the VW than a mercedes. The price tag (comparing international) is mid-range (for example: Hauck - the german Graco - 150 - 350 €, Teutonia 500 - 600 €, Bugaboo 830 €, Stokke XPlory 900 €...). It´s solid, bulky, heavy and for my taste boringly traditional and you can see Teutonias everywhere in germany. And with the success of the Bugaboo, Teutonia started copying them (well you know, so did all stroller-companies).

[there are Mercedes everywhere in Germany, too, and most of them are boring. "wow, even the taxis are Mercedes!" was how we described it growing up. -ed.]

I'm not impressed.

I still like Bugaboo much more. This one isn't as elegant and looks more like a cheap "knock-off".

If you're trying to compete in the market, come up with a different unique design instead of copying Bugaboo. That's what makes Bugaboo and Stokke a hit.

Yes, you´re right. Even the taxis are Mercedes, haha. I thought more about the price tag and the image of Mercedes. Then what is Bugaboo? Porsche? Lamborghini?
(Did you know, in Israel there are Mercedes-taxis, too? I heard it´s part of the german reparation for holocaust... Kind of cynical in my opinion, but that´s another story.)

Mercedes taxis have nothing to do with reparations & everything to do with strong diesel engines... Thus VAG replaced Daimler quite a few years ago as the preferred taxi in Israel. Mostly Skoda Octavia's with with a smattering of Jettas/Passats/Superbs... Yes some of the early till the 60's buses we're reparation funded.

Actually, the Bugaboo might look good, but it's useless. It's a nice, expensive stroller good for cities in the summer and that's about it.
Most European parents can't afford to have one stroller for the summer and another for the winter.
The Bugaboo might be an all-year-stroller in the south of Italy, but the biggest part of Europe has harsh winter conditions and one has to be prepared for that.
And we European parents certainly don't want to endanger our children just so we would brag how our stroller looks good. Usability is more important than looks. And Teutonia looks quite good.
Also should I add that in Europe, especially in the West, public transportation is excellent and used a lot, so quite often people push the stroller/pram into the bus or tram and for that Teutonia is perfect.

That makes no sense to me, a Bugaboo user of four years who lives in New York City which gets as cold and nasty as any good northern European city in the winter. A bugaboo with a footmuff and a windscreen can be just as cozy as a Teutonia or whatever. And if snow is a big issue, turn the Bug around so the big wheels go first, or get the snow tires. Problem solved.

As for the bus, you are talking about a dream for most US parents; we have to fold a stroller and take the kid out to ride the bus. basically impossible.

Of course, if there are people who act as if their stroller proves how stylish and wealthy they are, they are beyond help. Just tell them that it's too bad they weren't rich or fast enough to get a Marc Jacobs Bugaboo, and then they can start crying on the inside.

Well, then you probably haven't been to a Northern European city yet in the worst of winter. I live in Helsinki, Finland. A Bugaboo is absolutelly and totally useless here except for the perhaps 3-4 months of spring/summer. Not to mention that the pram doesn't seem warm enough (and from what I read, the carrycot is not insulated enough and too narrow). The problem is not so much the snow, as is the ice.
I've also read a lot of European reviews on Bugaboos, and the conclusion was basically the same with nearly every parent, that Bugaboos are nice in looks but otherwise not too good for such a price (not stable enough, etc).
In regards to cars, prams and alike, I'd ALWAYS go for a German or for example Swedish brand (in case of cars Volvo), they are just reliable. You certainly wouldn't want (if not really necessary) to drive a Renault in Finland in the winter.

The small wheels of the Bugaboo just seem so dangerous and unstable, especially for nature.
I personally also don't believe a pram should be too lightweight, after all you want your child to be safe, so in my opinion it should be stable, which means a bit heavier.
I have to say, in all these years, I only saw 1 Bugaboo in Helsinki and that was this summer. Finnish people are just too practicle to pay too much for little usability.
I also saw the Stokke pram in the store, but wouldn't buy it in a million years. Expensive, weird looking and I'd be scared for my baby's safety. Stokke does have other good products, like the Stokke Sleepi bed which we bought, but the pram is not one of them, unless you're a celebrity that doesn't have to push it around on all kinds of terrains.

So quite frankly, as I said before, I couldn't care less about design, it's the usability, stability, safety, etc that matters, so that the baby is safe. I don't think that a baby cares whether one design looks better than the other, it's more in the head of the parents. And no, I wouldn't easily push my pram with one hand. Would one drive the car with one hand?

No, I've never been to Finland, but I have been to plenty of other freezing cold European cities, with and without a stroller. And again, as a longtime Bugaboo driver, I can't disagree more with your generalizations. The Bugaboo is absolutely not unsafe, unstable, or unreliable. And I'm sure any VW owner will be happy to disprove your broad claim about German reliability.

Perhaps the most useful point here is that the cultural expectations and the particular climate, terrain, environment, and lifestyles have a very significant influence on what kind of stroller is most practical. If you live in the Arctic Circle and your baby sleeps in his stroller on the balcony, you would probably need a thickly insulated, storm-proof stroller. If you live in a city where you need to get around by subway or taxi, an Emmalunga or some other gigantic Scandinavian pram is completely useless. And if you live in the suburbs, and you drive your SUV to the mall, a Bugaboo becomes only a fashion statement with an inconvenient two-piece fold. As for babies caring about styling, of course they don't. But each person's idea of practical and useful is influenced by their own circumstances and surroundings.

I have the Mistral S (purchased in Germany) and am looking for a carseat that fits. The t-300 series is narrower than my stroller so that seat doesn't work. Any suggestions?

You can ask Teutonia. They stroller comes with an attachment that fits the teutonia carseat (Tario, super safe and reviewed very well). You can purchase an attachment so your Maxi Cosi fits. I saw all kinds of attachment in Germany.
Btw... The Bugaboo looks nice, but I think it is too flimsy. The carrycot is not insulated, wind blows, baby cold. With my Teutonia, I don't have to worry about that at all. Also, the Bugaboo toddler seat when lowered actually elevates baby's legs over his body. That's retarded... I wanted a stroller that offers a completely flat surface when lowered.
If the Bugaboo was like $200, I would buy it as travel stroller for the car since it is light weight.

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