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  #1  
Old 02-04-2002, 12:53 PM
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Uh oh! WSJ article hits MB hard

Has anyone seen this disturbing Wall Street Journal article yet? I have reprinted it below.

Zach
1992 300CE



FRANKFURT, Germany, Feb. 4 — Mercedes-Benz, famed for its engineering prowess, is suddenly
facing tough questions about the quality of its
cars, with several surveys showing that the
stately German brand may now trail some
decidedly down-market competition.

A SURPRISE BLOW to Mercedes’s quality
reputation came last week when a normally secretive study of car quality in Europe was leaked to a German trade publication. The report, conducted for the auto makers themselves, showed Mercedes quality and customer satisfaction falling since 1999 to levels below Opel, the German unit of General Motors Corp. and a brand with one of the worst images in Europe. A separate German survey ranked the German-built Ford Focus compact car No. 1 in a study of durability during the first three years of a car’s life. The survey, conducted by TÜV, a German auto-inspection and research association, put half a dozen Toyota models ahead of the first Mercedes model — the
SLK, which came in 12th.

Mercedes’s quality rankings in the U.S. have also
slipped, according to J.D. Power & Associates, an
influential arbiter of automotive-quality ratings. In a fall study
of vehicle dependability, the brand fell to 10th place in 2001
from sixth place the year earlier. It now ranks behind such
brands as Lincoln, Cadillac and Jaguar.
“My personal opinion is that a brand such as Mercedes
should be at the top. That’s what people’s expectations of
the brand are,” said Tom Libby, director of industry analysis
for J.D. Power, who lowered Power’s rating for
Mercedes’s overall product quality to “fair” from “good”
last week in a presentation ahead of the National
Automobile Dealers Association convention in New
Orleans.

The J.D. Power
study, which surveyed
some 156,000 car
owners, found that
five-year-old
Mercedes vehicles
had 296 problems per
100 vehicles, compared with an average of 285 for autos of
the same age by other luxury makers and an overall industry
average of 382. Drivers were questioned about 137
potential problem areas in nine overall categories: interior,
exterior, transmission, engine, features/controls,
ride/handling/braking, seats, sound system and
heating/ventilation/cooling. Mercedes showed the biggest
declines in transmission and features/controls.

The surveys are a blow for Mercedes and its parent,
DaimlerChrysler AG. With its Chrysler Group unit in deep
financial trouble, DaimlerChrysler has relied on Mercedes
as a cash cow. At the same time, Chrysler is counting on
Mercedes to help lift its own quality by supplying key
components like engines.
Donna Boland, Mercedes’s U.S. spokeswoman, said
the company has been dealing with volume increases and
more complex technology. Since 1997, it has gone from
four model lines to nine. Still, she said, the company is
committed to improving its quality rankings.
“Being Mercedes, quality is absolutely the highest
priority,” Boland said. “It’s what our brand is based on. We
will use every resource at our disposal to bring those
numbers up.”

Al Bedwell, research manager at J.D. Power-LMC in
Oxford, England, said Mercedes’s quality issues are a
byproduct of a decision in the early 1990s to focus more on
what consumers want, rather than engineers, and to round
out the company’s product lineup with smaller — and
cheaper — cars such as the A-Class. The moves served
their purpose: World-wide sales of Mercedes cars have
doubled to more than one million a year since 1993, and the
company has turned in repeated record profits. But it’s also
hurt the brand’s overall quality ratings, which take into
account all of its models together.



The A-class, known as “baby Benz,” for example, had
to be temporarily pulled from the market in 1998 when it
flipped over during crash avoidance tests. Mercedes’s
sport-utility vehicle, the M-Class, was also criticized for its
interior (later revamped) and, in a Consumer Reports
used-car guide, for its reliability.

“It’s becoming more evident that Mercedes-build
quality isn’t as bulletproof as it used to be,” Bedwell said.
“At the same time, the average-build quality across the
industry is increasing, closing the gap they once enjoyed.”
The most recent slap at Mercedes quality came last
week, when a portion of the normally highly confidential
New Car Buyer Survey was leaked to a German auto trade
publication. Such surveys of European consumers aren’t
typically made public because of tight privacy laws; the
results are usually intended for market research or
manufacturers themselves. The NCBS, for instance, is
conducted for auto manufacturers by survey agencies in
each geographical market. It is arguably the most thorough
ranking on the Continent, measuring quality as well as
general customer satisfaction.

According to the
NCBS survey index, the
number of negative
points per 1,000
Mercedes cars climbed
from around 100 in 1999 to more than 110 last year. At the
same time, the number of negative points on Opel cars
shrank from around 130 in 1999 to near 100 in 2001.
Mercedes and Opel verified the leaked portions of the
report, but didn’t comment on specific faults. Johannes
Reifenrath, director of communications at Mercedes-Benz
passenger cars in Stuttgart, said a more detailed version of
the survey showed Mercedes quality was at least as high as
Opel, but he declined to provide any additional data.



Reifenrath said Mercedes has been working hard to
address the quality issues. “There are a lot of indications
from our plants that some of those models that have been
criticized are improving,” he said.

Despite the surveys, Mercedes’s reputation remains
solid. With U.S. consumers, it trails only Rolls Royce in
quality perceptions among auto makers, ahead of Bentley,
Porsche, Lexus and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG,
according to the EquiTrend study by Harris Interactive.
Lexus, meanwhile, ranked at the top of the J.D. Power
quality studies, well ahead of its competitors. A
Europe-wide survey conducted by German magazine Auto
Motor und Sport, a bible in the industry here, showed
Mercedes had the third most favorable brand image,
following BMW in first place and Porsche.

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  #2  
Old 02-04-2002, 01:07 PM
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Al Bedwell hit the nail on the head with what he said.

Mike McKinney
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  #3  
Old 02-04-2002, 02:18 PM
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yal yal is offline
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Location: New York, Long Island
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If they had just listened to owners on websites such as MercedesShop instead of trying to legally ban this site of the net they would have understood what was going on

If my W124 dies in the next year or two I'm getting a VW.
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  #4  
Old 02-04-2002, 10:46 PM
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Posts: 4,712
Hello?> I have been telling them that for years, Yal. I hoped that Mercedes would contact me and use some of our information to improve their product.!!!!
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  #5  
Old 02-04-2002, 11:05 PM
3 MB's and counting!
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 1,825
IT IS ALL CHRYSLER'S FAULT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They should have never gotten together!!

My parents are thinking of getting a new benz because they said they want a car that could last 20 years!!

I said to them, there aren't no more w126's!!!!!!! A new c class is lucky if it see's 200 000km.
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  #6  
Old 02-05-2002, 03:03 AM
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CHRYSLERCEDES?

Mark
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  #7  
Old 02-05-2002, 03:31 PM
94 E320
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Fairfax, VA
Posts: 437
how is it chrysler's fault?

remember MB bought them...not the other way around

i think the problem is selling too many cars than your capable of and too many people leasing their cars (to some degree atleast) but for sure the first reason i gave!

the whole industry is flooded with cars and since product cycles have quickened its gotta hit build quality

could u imagine another 10yr product cycle? like my w124?
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  #8  
Old 02-05-2002, 10:04 PM
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935
I saw the article. Actually, not only did I see it, but I cut it out and framed it and it's now on my wall. Just a testament as to why I still prefer the vintage ones!
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  #9  
Old 02-05-2002, 11:15 PM
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Location: CT, USA
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Hey, Aaron, when'd you slip that newbie ML into the stable?
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1995 E500 street car
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  #10  
Old 02-06-2002, 12:24 AM
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935
Michael,

I got it about a month ago now. If you search the ML forum, you will find my posts about the load of trouble I had with it right after I first bought it. Fortunately for me, it was still under warranty and I had everything replaced that I found wrong. If MB hadn't covered the repairs, it would have totaled somewhere near $5,500!

The ML isn't for me, it's for She Who Must Be Obeyed. I drive a 1970 280SE every day, thank you
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  #11  
Old 02-06-2002, 08:09 AM
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Gotcha, Aaron. Couldn't get her into a TE, eh?
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1995 E500 street car
1986 Porsche 944 Turbo S track car
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  #12  
Old 02-06-2002, 09:03 AM
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If DC listens to everyone on this site, every Mercedes on the road will be a 124 or 126, or the model before this one which obviously "isn't built as well as its predecessor."

Kuan
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  #13  
Old 02-06-2002, 11:31 AM
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Posts: 5,450
Gee, My old 114-115 'Taxicabs' are starting to sound pretty good.

Happy Motoring,
Mark
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  #14  
Old 05-30-2002, 09:50 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Hollywood Hills, CA
Posts: 891
OH WELL...doesn't matter to me about the newer benz's being crap..cause i've got my baby!!!! 92' w124 300CE
love her
love her
love her
love her
love her
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1984 300CD Turbo Diesel (soon to be "powered by VEGGIE") - dolphin silver

1999 e430 Sport blk/blk, my sexy ***** ;-)

(my other girls)
1992 300CE 24V 3.0L (w124) (R.I.P. "she was killed 7/12/03 by some ricer kids speeding in a honda accord")
1990 Acura Integra RS (w/94' engine)
1966 Cadillac Sedan de Ville (Hardtop)
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  #15  
Old 05-31-2002, 12:59 AM
NoDubs
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VW uses VWVortex to get information from their customer base, and they rewarded them by giving first dibs on the 337, a car more like a "real GTi."

Mercedes seems to be doing the opposite and suffering because of it

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