The problem that MB may run into is perception, not matter how close/far to reality it is.
If Consumer Reports starts beating on them, and J.D. Powers ranks them low, then MB may begin to feel the effect on the showroom. More than a few people look to those reports as a key part of their buying research.
The next problem is brand loyalty. It ain't what it used to be. Take our family. I'm a Mercedes die-hard, but there is little chance that my wife will have her side of the garage filled with an MB product. Her 1998 E300 was a terrible car. Terrific to drive, and fun when it wasn't in the shop, but as time went by, those days were fewer. And she counsels everyone she knows not to buy a Mercedes. Is her car a rare event? Maybe, but it doesn't sway her. She doesn't care that my C230 is reliable to a fault.
With the cost of new cars so high, it's a risky proposition to "take a chance" on something that might not turn out to be reliable. The number of $10K repair possibilities is too high.
I met a young woman at the dealership waiting for her 2002 CL230K. She was PO'ed. The car had been back many times, and she was ready to sell it and buy back her 'ol Corolla. She was a partership-track attorney, and will probably be in E-Class or S-Class budget territory in the next few years. Think she'll be at the MB dealership? Not on your life.
Now these are ancedotal evidence at best, and not scientific in any way. That said, I see more of these disgruntled customers than I used to. Of course, MB volume is up, too. But, I don't think the dealers are ready for the new type of customer MB is attracting. They have no brand loyalty. They feel strongly that the Japanese products are of high quality, and have no memories of early Civics or Corollas.
Now, here's my wife's dilemma. Toyota has sludge problems, and in Canada you're on the hook for the bill, no help from Toyota. Well, that scares her as far as Lexus/Toyota goes. Nissan/Infiniti products look interesting, especially the new G35 Coupe or 350Z. But, the cars are untested and she won't drop $50K or more on a new model. No way. Acura? Well, our WORST car ever was an Acura, dead on it's wheels at 90,000 miles. A friend of ours has had more than a few five-speed auto box problems. The TL is a better price, in the mid 40's, but still lots of bucks to take a chance on a defective product. Mazda uses Ford bits and we hear their reliability on non-Miata products sucks.
Well, she threw up her hands! We decided to just keep the 'ol 190E and see how far she can go without needing a big cash infusion. In the meantime, we have the "new car" down-payment money in the bank and no car payment. Kinda nice.
1998 C230 "Black Betty"