Curious about the history of my '88 300e, I went to the library and found an edition of "auto guide" from 1988 featuring the "new" cars from that year, descriptions, the whole shot. The production history for MB and the 300e was featured and may have a bearing on the current state of MB quality control.
Apparently, the first 300e's to roll out of Stuttgart met with excellent sales and the decision was made to increase production to 600,000 units. MB had "prided" itself in traditionally limiting, not increasing, production inferring that the faster they crank them out the crappier they get (and lower in cost, higher profit). This would not bother most car manufacturers who might cover it by either generous warranties or lowering the price, afforded by the $$$ savings of a productivity gain, but when MB began getting an unusual number of complaints on the 300e, "draconian" measures were introduced to ensure that every car was up to MB standards, and that production would never be incresed after the fact again. This was 1988.
If the history is true, then Id surmise that internicene warfare broke out between the upstart MBA's coming into MB and the old guard. The old guard is now retired or dead. The great MB tradition of quality persists, but few to defend it at the top levels, hence MB must now re-learn from bitter experience? TYhis is all speculation, of course, and does not solve new MB owners problems save voice your disgust and make MB repent!