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Old 02-09-2002, 04:32 PM
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Exclamation This is very true.......

I found lots of resonance for the way I feel about the state of MB today in this article...

Speaking of problems in the luxury market, I'm sure that the people down at "The Tubes" will be happy to know that they've been summarily replaced - make that kicked off - the "What, Me Worry?" Clue Train, by none other than Mercedes-Benz and their dealers. Seeing as GM appears to have stumbled upon more than a few clues in the last five months with the arrival of Maximum Bob and with their subsequent complete dumping of the Brand Marketing system as applied to the car-designing/building/selling process, Mercedes-Benz (and their dealers) are now the new Kings of Delusion.

I didn't need to see the piece in last Monday's The Wall Street Journal about how various companies that track such things are reporting that Mercedes-Benz quality took a noticeable dip downward in 2001, to already know that it's true. The "buzz" on the street is that the new M-B models are appearing far too frequently in M-B dealer service write-up areas across the country with highly annoying "little things" wrong with them - from door hinges that just stop functioning properly and electronic key problems that cause havoc, all the way to problems of a more serious nature - like the basic function of their "Comand" systems. A small sampling of real owners I know reveals that the "little things" that have gone wrong on their S-Class models are driving them crazy, and that these problems are just annoying enough to make these repeat M-B owners reconsider their purchases.

We've seen this before, of course. Every time Mercedes-Benz has set sales records in the U.S. market, they've experienced a corresponding decrease in their quality reports at the same time. Last week, the M-B dealers assembled at the NADA were basically bathing in the glow of one of their best years ever. But I would argue that M-B is headed for a bigger fall than the one they've already experienced now that BMW has passed them in the U.S. market in total sales. They're cramming too much technology into their vehicles, and they're building too many of them, and consequently, their owners and dealers end up doing, for all intents and purposes, "in-service" development of them. This trend started with the M-Class. When it was introduced several years ago, it just wasn't ready, and countless problems occurred that ruined the M-B experience for a lot of people. Now that they have finally addressed most everything that needed fixing on the M-Class with the 2002 model, there is still a large group of "former" M-Class owners out there who wouldn't consider another one. And if they continue to turn off loyal M-B owners with sub-standard quality S-Class models, they'll lose some of these people forever.

Mercedes-Benz appears to need a serious wake-up call.

There are a lot of good cars out there in the current automobile market with no problems associated with them whatsoever. They range from economy specials all the way up to super-luxury models. Most of them are Asian brands, but there are a few domestic and German brands getting dangerously close to that ideal too. Competition has made the entire market better. And serious, high-quality competition from the Japanese, in particular, has made anything less than perfect basically unacceptable.

I've said this before, and I'll probably say it again, but Mercedes-Benz has been living on past laurels for too long, and the erosion of the substance of the brand has begun - at least in the U.S. In their quest to expand the reach of the brand, they've lost sight of why people found the brand alluring in the first place. Their old ad theme, "Engineered like no other car in the world" worked because it was true. They need to get back to that ideal and concentrate on the "little things" again - before it's too late.

Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.


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Old 02-09-2002, 05:24 PM
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I do agree. MB should wake up. The quality and reliability isn't what it used to be. That's what the need to focus on, getting the overall quality and reliability of the car back to MB standards.

Not only that, the thing that really bothers me is how often MB updates their engines. Some may not agree with me, and this has nothing to do with quality or anything, but it bothers me. Other companies have slowly crept up. You can now buy a 260 HP acura cl type-s with great performance for less than a C240 which is overweight and underpowered. I know they are different cars and all that, but still. Nissan has the new maxima, and even sentra putting out serious power from their engines. BMW updated thier engines for the whole 3 series lines a couple of years ago. What's going on here? We have had no power increases for such a long time. Back in 1993 when the W124 got the M104 with 217 HP it was a big thing because no other car in it's class came close to that kind of power. They kept that engine and it came with the W210 in 1996. Then they went and updated to the 3 valve/2 spark plug per cylinder route. If they were redesigning the head, they might as well have gave it some more power, for example they should have updated the cams to have variable intake and exhaust valve timing to give it more power and torque and better fuel economy as well, but that didn't happen. Just look at all the cars out now that use this technology. Now with the W211, they are using the same engine as the one in the W210 E320. I'm not saying these engines are not good because they are great engines. It's just that the competition is heating up, and MB doesn't seem to do anything about it. Performance is also an important trait of MB's, not just quality and reliability. AMG has done a very good job with their engines, but the non AMG models have just sort of stayed the same.

But it seems as if MB is getting on the right track. Magazines are raving about the R230 SL's interior and how it reminds them of the bank vault quality of earlier MB's. I think MB has also taken note of the reliability problems.
We Benz owners should speak out more, and let MBUSA know exactly what we're thinking. After all, we are people who buy and care about MB's.

"Engineered like no other car in the world" worked because it was true. They need to get back to that ideal and concentrate on the "little things" again - before it's too late. Sam, I agree with you there.
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Old 02-09-2002, 05:48 PM
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"Engineered like no other car in the world" worked because it was true. They need to get back to that ideal and concentrate on the "little things" again - before it's too late. Sam, I agree with you there.
Thanks, but one disclaimer. I didn't write the article, merely posted it from Wish I had written it though....

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Old 02-09-2002, 07:21 PM
ymsin's Avatar
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When one considers the fact that BMW sales over the past 3 years have surpassed that of MBs in Asia, the question MBs should have asked was "why"?. Instead, they continued resting on their laurels primarily because their cars sold without much marketing.

Quality and pricing (BMW was priced cheaper) was a factor. Include in a younger mix of car buyers, you have MB assigned to the not-so-old group who are used to driving MBs all the prime.
... Kerry

126 tailed by a 203, 129 leading the pack.
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Old 02-09-2002, 07:40 PM
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Howdy All,
Do you see this lack of quality due to trying to compete or just a lack of attention by everyone down the line? Also would you be willing to pay even more for a higher quality car?
Frank X. Morris
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08 Jeep Wrangler 4 door unlimited
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Old 02-10-2002, 12:31 AM
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I think sometimes we have taken this quality and reliability a bit too far and come down a little hard on the MB. Just like LarryBible said in the other post, some of these complaints come from vehicles like the A and V Classes, and some from the M as well. MB products, are just like any man made products, will have faults. But with all things considered, look at the MB engineering achievements. There are no other manufacturers have as much technical break throughs and engineering pattens on every model they roll off the assembly line. Go to any car forum and you will find people complainting about their beloved manufacturer. People from Rennlist grip about the quality of their Porsche jsut as much as we do here. They complaint as to why Porsche should not get into the SUV business and stay strictly in racing. Those guys in Bimmer forum have the same headaches as MB, so as Corvette. Now, back to the MB power plant. Why bother to have massive hp but cannot stop on the dime? Look at the Mustang and the Cameroach, they can go straight line like a bat out of hell. But if you take it to a nice twisties, I bet you it will be a different story. Times are changing and competition is tough. MB has to do what it takes to stay alive in the market. It cannot survive by building highly reliable cars for people like you and me (which we are a minority, not too many people would keep cars longer than 5 years nowadays). I would rather see the three point stars on the road for the next 100 years than knowing it used to built cars like the Panther but now it lives only in memory. It just my 2 cents.
95 R129
04 Infiniti G35.5 BS
10 X204
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Old 02-10-2002, 01:01 AM
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I saw a copy of an old J D Power report from the late '80's or early '90's and every model in the line was in the top ten for initial quality.

I think the Japaneese have managed to copy Mercedes technology but also to push them off their game. Newer models are crammed with technical doo dads and new models come every five years or so. Remember when a body style ran for ten years? By the time the "kinks" are worked ut of a model, they are introducing a new one.

I asked a salesman at the local dealer why new models had a shorter shelf like, his answer was simple, "gotta keep up with the competition".

91 300E 120K
90 300SE 275K (sold)
92 BMW 525iM 120K
90 BMW 525iA 175K
85 300D 175K (sold)
84 300SD 245K (sold)
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Old 02-10-2002, 02:12 AM
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This article gives me one more reason to cherish my w126. As I recall, I do beleive the 126 was built when their slogan was: "Engineered like no other car in the world!"
99 C43
98 S420
99 C230K
01 C240
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Old 02-10-2002, 02:59 AM
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When I was talking about horsepower, I wasn't talking about camaro's or mustang's, that's way different. I'm talking about the audi a4, the acura cl, bmw 3-series, and the lexus is300.

Don't tell me MB can't build a engine with a lot of horsepower that can be reliable as well because we all know that they can. MB really hasn't made a lot of changes to the engines over the years. They just drop the bigger size engine in, like in the W203 C320. After 11 + years, the SL (R230) is going to have less power than the R129. It's not about HP on paper, it's about HP when you drive.

The cars are getting heavier because people want more, more of everything. The new engine in the 745i is putting out 330 HP will the S500 which has a .5L bigger engine is putting out 28 HP less. MB could easily get so much more HP out of that engine. They just have not chosen to do so. My general opinion: MB has gotten too conervative with their lower level of engines. Take the W203 C240 into consideration. 168 HP?? 0-60 in over 8 seconds? Now I know it's not meant to be an all out sports car, but you have to admit, for a 3300 lbs. car that's pretty weak. Maybe I should just keep quiet until I see what MB does with the GDI engines, which I hope will be a lot.
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Old 02-11-2002, 12:33 AM
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MB sixes are alright in terms of power output. 218 horsepower is decent for a 3.2 liter SOHC V-6. However, Audi's 220 hp 3.0 liter and BMW's 225 hp 3.0 liter and Acura's 260 hp 3.2 liter all better it.....

Now the V-8 situation is somewhat sorrier.

The Infiniti Q45: 4.5 liters. 330 hp.

Lexus LS430: 4.3 liters. 300 hp.

BMW 745i: 4.5 liters. 330 hp

Mercedes S500: 5.0 liters. 302 hp

BMW M5: 5.0 liters. 394 horsepower (possible from an NA 5.0 liter)

BMW X5 4.6 iS. 4.6 liters. 350 hp.

Ford Mustang Cobra (I know, I know) 4.6 liters. 320 hp.

Has MB lost its way with the larger engines?

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Old 02-11-2002, 12:38 AM
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When it comes to engine, one really needs to understand where MB is coming from. In Europe, unlike in the US, manufacturer has no incentive to produce more hp for their cars. The governments tax the car by its hp output. Along with high gas price, European car makers have all the incentive to make cars with less hp on the paper, but extreme performance on the autobahn. Thus the reliable engines that MB has. Another case in point, any Porsche you most likely run into is a 6 shooter, but they give a Viper with a V-10 run of the money. The R129 actually has a 4 cyclinder version made for the European market, the SL280. Now, just like anything else, there are always exceptions, ie the Audi and the M3. But that is really due to demands from the young well-to-dos with new moneys. For the old moneys they still prefer to spend wisely and choose the marque with less money. They no doubt can afford expensive cars, but they sure do not get rich by not spending their dollars wisely.
95 R129
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10 X204
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Old 02-11-2002, 01:27 AM
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My personal preference are the slightly older benzes.

I always say rather than one new benz, I'd take a few oldies. lets see for the same as a new CLK 55..

I'd take a 92 500e, 80 300TD Wagon, 1991 560SEC, an R129 500SL and maybe some others (C36 etc...) instead of the expense of a new benz.

I just like the older ones more.


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2004 C240 - 744 - C7 Wheels - Android Radio
2002 C320 - 816 - Sport Wagon
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