First Message Received, Clarification Not Required.
WARNING: This is a long-ass post, if you.re not up for it, then skip it and go to the next one, or just scroll to the end for the wrap-up...The rest of us are on an away mission.
Understood. And no insult or slight intended against you or anyone. Your points are well stated, and contain reasonable examples to support them.
However, Mercedes is not Rolls Royce, Bugatti, Dusenberg, nor any of the long list of other car companies who "narrow casted" to a very small niche market.
Point-in-fact: Rolls Royce did not make either a well-made, or an affordable car. Their engines are legendary, and their coachwork and creature comforts are, as well. However, everyone I have ever met who owned one, owned it for the prestige associated with the nameplate. And all of them hated the amount of problems that they had with them, as well as the cost of maintenance. Bugatti and Duesenberg, IMHO, were cars made before their time. Dusenberg specifically fell prey to national economic struggles that they were not equipped to handle. What all of the niche market cars had in common with each other, and do not have in common with Mercedes was that they did not make ANYTHING (with the exception of the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines) but niche market cars that only the very wealthy could afford.
On the other side of this coin rests Mercedes. How could a motor car manufacturer survive the devastating losses that Germany was laboring under after the Second World War? Aside from the fact that this country pumped billions of dollars into our former adversaries' industries to help rebuild their countries, in the case of VW, it was by making a very easy to repair, inexpensive product that appealed to the common man who would not be able to afford a Mercedes. Again, IMHO, Mercedes simply made the best quality product in that country, and was recognized by experts and consumers for doing so. Of course, it didn't hurt that Mercedes made different types of vehicles that appealed to buyers in various income brackets. After all, during the war, the Vermacht had travelled, and hauled supplies and equipment from battle to battle in Mercedes trucks and other vehicles. And to this day, Mercedes continues to make commercial class vehicles of all kinds. It is no coincidence or slight on the car that the 300D is nicknamed (and known by many people around the world as) "The Beirut Taxi".
If Mercedes only made 500 series sedans, limousines, and niche market sports cars, they might very well be classified under your description without argument. But they have always made very well-made, albeit unglamourous vehicles like delivery trucks, truck tractors, and yes, even entry-level affordable (reasonably affordable at least) motorcars.
And as for marketing, Mercedes has always, as long as I can remember, made the fact that they were the "long distance", "high mileage" motorcar company the major thrust of their marketing campaigns. The fact that you could expect more from a Mercedes. And, that it's not all glamour and luxury. It is dependability. Remember, they give out awards in the form of grille badges for achieving each "level" of mileage plateaus. I can't think of one other company in the world that does that. Well, Chevy had a brief campaign focused on their pickup trucks, but that hardly compares.
In fact, I would go so far as to propose that it was Mercedes that started the whole "Made In Germany" quality hyperbole that companies like Krups, Braun, and all the others rely on to sell their products in this country. (Hyperbole does not always equate to B.ravo S.ierra)
Now, I would never say that German engineering is in any way exaggerated. But, I will agree with you to this extent: every marketing pitch made by a company in today's marketplace, including German companies, is carefully calculated and the German companies have adopted a version of what I refer to as the "Country Club" or "exclusivity" marketing angle. Simply put, the attitude conveyed is one of "Are you uniquely qualified, and truly sophisticated enough to recognize, and fully appreciate the high quality of our products?". You see? It's like asking, "Are you Man enough to measure up?". Who would say no to such a question?
Also, all companies now sell entry-level or "trial" products, as well as their top-of-the-line ones. If you buy a lower priced Braun shaver, for instance, and you like it, they are calculating that you will later buy either a more expensive one, or at least try another one of their other products. That, coupled with the increased affluence and sophisticated tastes of the American consumer, is why the German manufacturers will continue to gain ground in the U.S.
The marketplace continues to grow, as the population continues to grow. Products that have longevity benefit their manufacturer, as the continued existence of these products only serves to promote their quality; and through the hand-me-down process, those older models afford people who aren't prepared to purchase a new product the opportunity to buy a good quality used one that will lead them to purchase new at a later time. The only real argument for "planned obsolescence" are those products that you cannot have repaired, and therefore must have replaced.
Call it comparing apples to oranges, but Apple Computer is a fine example that I am familiar with. There is no such thing as a truly obsolete Apple computer. They can all still do what they were designed to do, parts are still available, they can all be repaired and upgraded, and even the older ones have now become collectible. Also, to point out another issue you brought up earlier about sticker prices not changing on your model Mercedes, the Apple III came with a green screen monitor, 256K RAM, an external 5MB HD, ran on a DOS-like OS, and could be used for spreadsheets, databases, word processing, and to write programs in Cobol and Fortran. That computer cost $5,000.00 in the early 1980's. Compare that to the current Apple G4 that comes with a color monitor capable of millions of colors, 128MB RAM, an internal 10GB HD, runs on its own proprietary GUI-based OS, has a velocity engine processor that is classified by the government under restricted weapons protocol, and sells for about $2,000 with the monitor. Both were top of the line at their time. Das ist gut, ja?
This is a discussion that has evolved from contentions that the oil change intervals recommended by Mercedes Benz are in some way intended to intentionally cause premature wear of engines so that the owner will be forced to purchase a new replacement. Or, at the very least, that those recommendations are only a guide to be used by people who are not concerned with obtaining the optimum serviceability from their vehicles before the eventuality of an overhaul.
While I feel that trying to argue in favor of longer oil change intervals is illogical, and therefore a futile excercise, I am nevertheless intellectually stimulated by the discourse, and find that these exchanges always yield additional valuable information to both the expert and novice Mercedes owner alike.
However, I personally feel that the most important thing to remember is just to change your oil regularly, and within the manufacturer's recommendations. Whether you do that every 3,000 miles, or 7,000 miles, use a TopSider, or a drainpan, or use dino gravy, or synthetic is not as important as just simply remembering to consistently change the oil and filter within that period. While doing the most thorough and scientific job of vehicle maintenance appeals to my anal-retentive nature, I recognize that the human factor enters into all things, and that sometimes a strict regimen is affected by outside influences.
[Edited by longston on 01-06-2001 at 11:51 PM]
"We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror."
- Marshall McLuhan -
Northern California Wine Country...
"Turbos whistle, grapes wine..."