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  #1  
Old 05-26-2004, 08:54 PM
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In Today's Wall Street Journal

another article on benz problems. if you didn't see it, you can read it here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB108551905592020994,00.html?mod=pj%5Fautos%5Fhs%5Fcoll%5Fleft

comments?
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  #2  
Old 05-26-2004, 10:59 PM
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The link takes you to a login page.

I think you need to be a subscriber to read the article, which I'm not.

Can you paste and copy the article, or at least parts of it?
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  #3  
Old 05-26-2004, 11:01 PM
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I had no problem clicking through. Here's the story:

Another Glitch at Mercedes

Recall of 140,000 U.S. Models
For Brake Trouble Compounds
Quality Issues That Plague Brand
By STEPHEN POWER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May 26, 2004; Page B1

Mercedes-Benz owners weary of quality problems are headed for another bump in the road.

The luxury division of DaimlerChrysler AG is preparing to notify U.S. owners of about 140,000 Mercedes passenger cars that their advanced "electrohydraulic" brake system could fail and must be brought in for service.

Touted by Mercedes three years ago as "nothing short of a revolution," the system was designed to improve braking in dangerous conditions. But it can be foiled by air bubbles that may develop in the brakes' hydraulic tank. Mercedes says the cars have a backup hydraulic system that activates the brakes if the electronic technology fails.

The U.S. recall will be announced in letters to customers over the next few weeks and is part of a wider recall affecting 680,000 E-Class and SL cars world-wide that also have the braking system, which the company calls Sensotronic. It is the biggest recall in Mercedes history and an unpleasant distraction at a time when the German company is trying to put to rest questions about quality.


The recall illustrates what has become a persistent problem for Mercedes, one of the most admired names in automobiles. In seeking to maintain its reputation as a leader in cutting-edge technologies, the company hasn't always been able to deliver the innovation it promised, or found that customers didn't always appreciate the improvements.

Last July, for example, Mercedes took the unusual step of offering new cars to about 2,000 owners of the 2003 E-Class cars who paid for but never received built-in navigation systems. Because the systems weren't ready at the time of the vehicles' launch, the company planned to allow the new owners to come back later to have the systems installed -- only to decide that such retrofits would be too complex and time-consuming.

Over the past few years, several Mercedes models have been riddled with glitches in increasingly complicated electronics systems. And in January, Mercedes announced it was recalling 33,000 vehicles world-wide to check potentially faulty seat-belt buckles.

In several quality studies, Mercedes has slipped. A study of vehicle reliability by J.D. Power & Associates last year found Mercedes had 318 problems per 100 vehicles in the 2000 model year -- worse than such middlebrow names as Dodge (312 problems per 100 vehicles), Subaru (266 problems per 100) and Mazda (288 problems per 100). Earlier this month, Mercedes improved its performance on the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which measures defects in the first 90 days of ownership. With 106 defects per 100 cars, Mercedes rose to 10th on the survey, from 15th a year earlier, when it had 132 defects per 100 cars.

But that improvement came too late for some car buyers. Merrel Wilkenfeld, of Charlotte, N.C., bought a $52,000 2003 E-Class but found that after a few months, the radio wouldn't shut off, the windows wouldn't close properly, and something was wrong with the brakes.

"I'd pull up to a red light, and other drivers would look over to see this beautiful Mercedes squealing to a halt at 10 miles an hour," Mr. Wilkenfeld says. In January, he traded in the E-Class for a 2004 Jaguar S-Type.

Mercedes officials acknowledge they have received complaints from buyers about quality and say they have taken steps to address the complaints. Among the steps: increasing product testing by 50% and sending employees to parts suppliers such as Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp. and Siemens AG to gain more expertise on integrating new technologies into vehicles.

Other complaints, Mercedes officials say, involve less grave issues and are limited to the U.S. market, such as gripes about the size of cup holders and noise generated by windshield wipers at high speeds.

"Mercedes customers should have very high expectations about their vehicles, but in many cases, Mercedes customers have absolute quality expectations, which means 'no failure' or 'no quality problem whatsoever,' " says Mercedes spokesman Johannes Reifenrath.

In the case of the advanced brake system, Mercedes bet on a technology that had won over many outside safety experts. An association of international experts in the field of brake technology honored the system in November 2001 as "an important contribution to increasing active safety in motor vehicles."

Developed by German car-parts maker Robert Bosch GmbH at a cost of nearly $150 million over six years, the "brakes with an electronic brain" use microchips to sense when a driver is braking in an emergency, and can draw on a high-pressure hydraulic reservoir to apply maximum braking force instantaneously.

Based on the car's speed and direction, the brakes apply different braking pressure to each of the four wheels, which helps maintain control even in emergency stops. Compared with conventional brakes, they can reduce a vehicle's stopping distance by as much as 3% -- a big difference in an accident. If the electronic components fail, the car still can be stopped, thanks to a backup hydraulic system that activates the front brakes.

But to some customers, the improvement wasn't apparent.

"Even the salesperson could not feel a difference," Joseph Testa, 39, of Tampa, Fla., says of the Bosch system in his 2002 E-430 sedan. Mr. Testa wound up buying the model but says the dealer agreed to shave a few thousand dollars off the price after comparing it with an earlier model that lacked the system and noticing no major difference. "It killed him to have to admit it," Mr. Testa says.

Mercedes officials themselves aren't so bullish about the system's future. Although the company plans to keep it in the models that currently feature it -- including the E-Class, the SL-Class, Maybach and SLR McLaren -- Mr. Reifenrath, the company spokesman, says the system is "very costly" and that conventional braking technology has improved to the point that "we can look at other systems."

He declined to say how much the Bosch system costs. A Bosch spokesman says Mercedes officials have told his company the system "is too expensive and in newer models they wouldn't apply it."

Mercedes says it didn't receive any complaints about the brakes from U.S. customers, and that most complaints involved vehicles with high rates of usage, such as taxis. Mr. Reifenrath wouldn't say what the recall would cost the company, but said reports that it would be 25 million, about $30 million, "sound reasonable."

"When you're an innovation leader and you introduce developments like air bags and [electronic brakes], the others can watch and see you develop the system and see you invest the money and time, and then you've done the work for them," Mr. Reifenrath said. While some customers "may not appreciate" certain safety improvements, he adds, "If you want to be an innovation leader, you have to invest in these things."

Two other German car makers also recalled high-end vehicles. Porsche AG said yesterday it is recalling more than 40,000 Cayenne sport-utility vehicles world-wide to check for potential faults in rear seat belts, while Volkswagen AG recalled some 60,000 of its Touareg SUVs to address the same problem. Porsche and Volkswagen jointly developed the two SUVs and they share some parts.
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  #4  
Old 05-27-2004, 12:29 AM
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EUROPEAN BUSINESS NEWS

ON THE ROAD


Another Glitch at Mercedes
Recall of 140,000 U.S. Models
For Brake Trouble Compounds
Quality Issues That Plague Brand

By STEPHEN POWER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
May_26,_2004;_Page_B1

Mercedes-Benz owners weary of quality problems are headed for another bump in the road.

The luxury division of DaimlerChrysler AG is preparing to notify U.S. owners of about 140,000 Mercedes passenger cars that their advanced "electrohydraulic" brake system could fail and must be brought in for service.

Touted by Mercedes three years ago as "nothing short of a revolution," the system was designed to improve braking in dangerous conditions. But it can be foiled by air bubbles that may develop in the brakes' hydraulic tank. Mercedes says the cars have a backup hydraulic system that activates the brakes if the electronic technology fails.

The U.S. recall will be announced in letters to customers over the next few weeks and is part of a wider recall affecting 680,000 E-Class and SL cars world-wide that also have the braking system, which the company calls Sensotronic. It is the biggest recall in Mercedes history and an unpleasant distraction at a time when the German company is trying to put to rest questions about quality.

The recall illustrates what has become a persistent problem for Mercedes, one of the most admired names in automobiles. In seeking to maintain its reputation as a leader in cutting-edge technologies, the company hasn't always been able to deliver the innovation it promised, or found that customers didn't always appreciate the improvements.

Last July, for example, Mercedes took the unusual step of offering new cars to about 2,000 owners of the 2003 E-Class cars who paid for but never received built-in navigation systems. Because the systems weren't ready at the time of the vehicles' launch, the company planned to allow the new owners to come back later to have the systems installed -- only to decide that such retrofits would be too complex and time-consuming.

Over the past few years, several Mercedes models have been riddled with glitches in increasingly complicated electronics systems. And in January, Mercedes announced it was recalling 33,000 vehicles world-wide to check potentially faulty seat-belt buckles.

In several quality studies, Mercedes has slipped. A study of vehicle reliability by J.D. Power & Associates last year found Mercedes had 318 problems per 100 vehicles in the 2000 model year -- worse than such middlebrow names as Dodge (312 problems per 100 vehicles), Subaru (266 problems per 100) and Mazda (288 problems per 100). Earlier this month, Mercedes improved its performance on the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which measures defects in the first 90 days of ownership. With 106 defects per 100 cars, Mercedes rose to 10th on the survey, from 15th a year earlier, when it had 132 defects per 100 cars.

But that improvement came too late for some car buyers. Merrel Wilkenfeld, of Charlotte, N.C., bought a $52,000 2003 E-Class but found that after a few months, the radio wouldn't shut off, the windows wouldn't close properly, and something was wrong with the brakes.

"I'd pull up to a red light, and other drivers would look over to see this beautiful Mercedes squealing to a halt at 10 miles an hour," Mr. Wilkenfeld says. In January, he traded in the E-Class for a 2004 Jaguar S-Type.

Mercedes officials acknowledge they have received complaints from buyers about quality and say they have taken steps to address the complaints. Among the steps: increasing product testing by 50% and sending employees to parts suppliers such as Motorola Inc., Nokia Corp. and Siemens AG to gain more expertise on integrating new technologies into vehicles.

Other complaints, Mercedes officials say, involve less grave issues and are limited to the U.S. market, such as gripes about the size of cup holders and noise generated by windshield wipers at high speeds.

"Mercedes customers should have very high expectations about their vehicles, but in many cases, Mercedes customers have absolute quality expectations, which means 'no failure' or 'no quality problem whatsoever,'_" says Mercedes spokesman Johannes Reifenrath.

In the case of the advanced brake system, Mercedes bet on a technology that had won over many outside safety experts. An association of international experts in the field of brake technology honored the system in November 2001 as "an important contribution to increasing active safety in motor vehicles."

Developed by German car-parts maker Robert Bosch GmbH at a cost of nearly $150 million over six years, the "brakes with an electronic brain" use microchips to sense when a driver is braking in an emergency, and can draw on a high-pressure hydraulic reservoir to apply maximum braking force instantaneously.

Based on the car's speed and direction, the brakes apply different braking pressure to each of the four wheels, which helps maintain control even in emergency stops. Compared with conventional brakes, they can reduce a vehicle's stopping distance by as much as 3% -- a big difference in an accident. If the electronic components fail, the car still can be stopped, thanks to a backup hydraulic system that activates the front brakes.

But to some customers, the improvement wasn't apparent.

"Even the salesperson could not feel a difference," Joseph Testa, 39, of Tampa, Fla., says of the Bosch system in his 2002 E-430 sedan. Mr. Testa wound up buying the model but says the dealer agreed to shave a few thousand dollars off the price after comparing it with an earlier model that lacked the system and noticing no major difference. "It killed him to have to admit it," Mr. Testa says.

Mercedes officials themselves aren't so bullish about the system's future. Although the company plans to keep it in the models that currently feature it -- including the E-Class, the SL-Class, Maybach and SLR McLaren -- Mr. Reifenrath, the company spokesman, says the system is "very costly" and that conventional braking technology has improved to the point that "we can look at other systems."

He declined to say how much the Bosch system costs. A Bosch spokesman says Mercedes officials have told his company the system "is too expensive and in newer models they wouldn't apply it."

Mercedes says it didn't receive any complaints about the brakes from U.S. customers, and that most complaints involved vehicles with high rates of usage, such as taxis. Mr. Reifenrath wouldn't say what the recall would cost the company, but said reports that it would be 25 million, about $30 million, "sound reasonable."

"When you're an innovation leader and you introduce developments like air bags and [electronic brakes], the others can watch and see you develop the system and see you invest the money and time, and then you've done the work for them," Mr. Reifenrath said. While some customers "may not appreciate" certain safety improvements, he adds, "If you want to be an innovation leader, you have to invest in these things."

Two other German car makers also recalled high-end vehicles. Porsche AG said yesterday it is recalling more than 40,000 Cayenne sport-utility vehicles world-wide to check for potential faults in rear seat belts, while Volkswagen AG recalled some 60,000 of its Touareg SUVs to address the same problem. Porsche and Volkswagen jointly developed the two SUVs and they share some parts.

Write to Stephen Power at stephen.power@wsj.com5
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  #5  
Old 05-27-2004, 10:53 PM
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Call me a Luddite

Call me a Luddite, but things like brakes and steering should be mechanical. IMHO
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  #6  
Old 05-27-2004, 11:38 PM
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I'd bet 9/10 of the problems are stupid crap that shouldnt be complained about, and have something to do with a moron not reading the owners manual. Still though, Benz is slipping, the new brake system is OK, its still got the same old system as backup which begs, why have the new one at all? Oh well, the old cars are cooler anyway.
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  #7  
Old 05-28-2004, 03:10 AM
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The number 680.000 says it all Mercedes used produce a much smaller number of very high quality car per year. Dose anyone know their total all models out put per year now?

William Rogers......
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