I am all on board with the quality comments. Just a few points to make:
In 1995, my E320 cab stickered for $79,000. Today, the closest car is the CLK 320 convertible. I think they start around $50, 000 according to Car and Driver, July 2003. With MB at least, though we see diminished quality, we also see diminished price. This makes more cars available to the masses and increases the volume of sales for the dealers and manufacturer. The money is in the volume. For this I "blame?" DaimlerChrysler.
I don't know where I learned the term "planned obsolesence", but I see it around me every day. A light bulb can be made to last for years. I have 5000 hour bulbs all around the house that I bought from the blind industries. They cost more than regular bulbs, but last much longer and don't therefore have to be changed as often. But there is no sale at the grocery store. The bulb on my vent-a-hood is original equipment - 44 years!
So this quality issue is planned, not accidental. Lowering the quality lowers the price, thereby making the cars more accessible to the masses. More market share. More EPS for shareholders. More shareholders. Planned obsolesence gets you (them) back to the dealer more often for repairs, and eventually for the next car. New MBs are just as durable as any other "new" car now. They used to be much more so.