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Old 06-22-2003, 02:21 AM
Posts: n/a
Kestas is right. MBUSA doesn't care about the guy who is dying for the company to build another 240D. They are after the yuppies in silicon valley who think they need a 350hp ML.

Now, the problem is not DBAG! It is the people who buy MB's in the US. You can still buy stripped E class diesels from Mercedes in most other countries, just not here. American car buyers just dont want that. They are image conscious. They want toys. They want luxury, not utility. They aren't true Mercedes enthusiasts, like most of us. MBUSA knows this and brings the appropriate cars over the pond.

THIS, is the problem. You dont believe me, just check out the options list on a german spec E class.

You still can buy the modern equivelant of the 240D! Just not here!

IF mercedes imported stripped E220 CDi E classes, we would all be happy with our non-gizmo new Mercedes.

Things are VERY different in Europe when it comes to MBZ. From color combinations to engine choices, it is almost as if they are a different car company in many respects. 6 speed manual 5 Cylinder CDi engine in a w211 car that gets 40mpg? With a red exterior and blue interior? You can order it in Germany. But not here!

Great, now I am all fired up.

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Old 06-22-2003, 02:28 AM
haasman's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 3,097
A few comments, observations and some ramblings .....

With the “average” new car price above $26,000 that has over 3 miles of wiring, today’s cars are not the same as ten years ago. $26,000 is not even “near luxury” any more. As we all know, each year the “average complexity” of a car increases. The new 7 series BMWs have over 35 computers or more accurately, microprocessors that are networked. Fiber optic networks with data bus backbones are the only way to manage the volume of information contained within some new cars. It is the only way to support the abundance of functions and features that are provided.

As they say, in a previous life, I work for a German manufacturer. It is true that the importing countries determine the model mixes and options content, but it is the manufacturer that says what they are going to build.

The competition in the auto industry has broadened by more makes, brands, classes and features. It is almost impossible to find a car without AC. The features, functions and complexity must coexist.

The German auto industry has pioneered many of the systems and features commonly found on most cars today. Often their origins were mechanical with electronic assistance. Porsche’s 959 comes to mind.

In answer to when Mercedes (and other high-end luxury car owners) replace their vehicles, typically before the warranty is over OR before the lease term is over. A little over 50% of new Mercedes owners fall into this category. The higher the average price of a car the more often this is true. It is simply a function of disposable income and the inconvenience of a higher mileage/ potentially increasingly unreliable car. From the last information I read by the way, Mercedes and BMW owners do keep their cars longer than other luxury makes …. Part of the remaining 50% of owners.

Leasing has enabled more buyers into luxury cars than ever before. Leasing also has created a bloated used luxury market. Never before have their been so many off-lease vehicles in dealer’s lots. These inventories are expanding as well. It is uncommon for a used luxury car being sold by a new car dealership to not have both special financing AND warranties.

The luxury car market is driven by features enabled by a price point. Drive by wire, brake by wire, adaptive suspensions, anti-roll over devices, multi-zoned climate controls and GPS all can be supplied because of a supplier enabled industry. That industry is electronics. Microprocessors, semiconductors, sensors etc have all been supplied by the electronics industry at price points that enable these additional features to be offered by carmakers at an affordable combined price.

There is a limit, rationally; to how many different features any car can offer. Short of flying, cars are not going to get all THAT much faster, brake that much better, cool, entertain or coddle the passengers much more than is already provided. Yes, there will always be improvements to systems with smart and clever devices or attributes, but there is a limit. There will be a new interior, a thoughtfully implemented drive system, a clever suspension adaptation, but we are talking incremental refinements to a finite set of performance.

In my opinion, especially with Mercedes, for each model year, the finalization of the model run brings about the “best” of that series. We have all seen this discussed many times. The bugs have been worked out and corrected and the car seems perfected just as it is discontinued. This leaves owners with an incredibly strong perceived value. Don’t under estimate this, it is very important, in my opinion, to Mercedes. It must be since it is repeated over and over again, model series by model series.

I think a lot of us on this forum are psychologically imprinted with the concept of “the way they were made” and justifiably so. I remember the first Mercedes I drove extensively was a 1967 200. Four-cylinder, no AC or power windows, four doors and four speed. I drove the hell out of it and get this- I just serviced it….. I just serviced it. No problems ever. None. Tires, brake pads, one set of rotors. No shocks, no radiators, no alternators etc. Just serviced it.

My wish for Mercedes is to simplify. They are not going to de-content the cars, they have to stay feature competitive. My dream is for every system that is created and designed by Mercedes, that the engineers go back and re-design it again to reduce complexity and improve reliability. That this becomes their new corporate culture. My wish is that this becomes their obsession. That each part, which is a member of a system that provides a feature, is over analyzed to reduce complexity while providing outstanding reliability. If this were the engineering culture within Mercedes, they could charge whatever they want for a new car.

Historically, Mercedes were always sold at a premium but in return the buyer received a car that was “Engineered like no other car”:

-I would gladly trade a GPS system for an AC evaporator that didn’t fail, ever.
-I would quickly give up a multi-zoned climate control system for a radiator whose neck didn’t crack and fail.
-I would trade the self-closing doors for ones that have insulated sound deadening mats between the plastic vapor covers and the door panels.
-I would quickly surrender a complex anti-roll/dive electronic suspension system for the 5-link where the rubber components and shock absorbers have a minimum life of 200k miles.
-I’d love to exchange the brake by wire system for pads and rotors that last commonly over 100k miles.
-Hey, I will even take a dipstick over an electronic oil level sensor any day.

Sorry this is too long - My point is the value proposition: Mercedes historically has always prospered when there was a strong value.

'03 E320 Wagon-Sold
'95 E320 Wagon-Went to Ex
'93 190E 2.6-Wrecked
'91 300E-Went to Ex
'65 911 Coupe (#302580)
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Old 06-22-2003, 05:10 AM
ksing44's Avatar
1995 E320 SE
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Downingtown, PA
Posts: 658
Thumbs up Keep it simple


You are so right about "simplify". Part of the reason I love my 1995 E320 is that it seems simple compared to the newer cars and it is even missing some of the options that were available at the time my car was made. No heated seats, headlight washers, or remote door locks. I use my key to lock the car and I can open my trunk by just pressing the push-button release on the trunk. With my wife’s car, I have to go look inside the car to find out how to open the trunk or go ask her for the keys to push some button on the remote. Why did they make it hard to open the trunk? Certainly some of the electronics are OK. I like that the car lets me know when my brakes are worn or when things are out of whack with the engine, but I don’t need a computer to try to make it 2 degrees colder on the passenger side of the car. Some of the new stuff is just ridiculous. Sure enough my air conditioning broke, so I would love more effort devoted to making things that don’t break instead of adding more gadgets that will certainly break in the long run.

I am fixing the air conditioning and I will continue to fix things as they break in my marvelous automobile. I can’t imagine giving up my car for one of the newer models. In my mind, there is just no comparison.
I just couldn't give up on my 1995 E320.

I think it might be like always going back to that same bad relationship with an ex girlfriend.
You feel you love them too much, or you are just too stupid to know any better.

Flickr slideshow of my 1995 E320
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Old 06-22-2003, 09:34 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Dallas
Posts: 330
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.
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Old 06-22-2003, 10:48 AM
I told you so!
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Motor City, MI
Posts: 2,804
Actually, if you follow the pricing trend of MB cars over the years you'll find a couple of interesting trends. Prices started coming down when more luxury cars were entering the market - most notably the Lexus - providing competitive pressure. Also, back in 95 I believe the US Dollar was rather weak against the German Mark, requiring more dollars to buy German cars. It would be interesting to dig up the prices in German Marks for those examples you gave.
95 E320 Cabriolet, 140K
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Old 06-22-2003, 11:22 AM
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Location: Florida / N.H.
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Actually, Planned Obsolesence is the act of a manufacturer making a product knowing full well that it will need replacement well before the quality/longevity factor due to technical advances or system/parts changes..
This happen regularly in the Electronics Industry..
Some of this stuff is obsolete on the drawing board, but they still make and sell it ..

Last edited by Arthur Dalton; 06-22-2003 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 06-22-2003, 11:29 AM
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Location: Dallas
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Internet is amazing. The dollar would buy 1.40998 DM on 11/16/95. On Thursday last week, a dollar would buy 1.67473 DM. So rounding to the nearest thousand, $79,000 in '95 would equal 111,000 DM. Today it buys 132,000 DM.

Is this right? Is this interesting? Does this support or refute your post. Numbers I get, global economics are a little over my head.

Here's the link to the tables:
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Old 06-22-2003, 11:30 AM
Mr. BILL's Avatar
Ghoulardi Rules!
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Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 576
95E320CAB and Kestas are on the right track. I looked at the window sticker from my '91 E300. It was a "base" model meaning the only add on was the paint. Sticker price, $47200. I looked up the MSRP on a '03 and it's $47670. Then I pulled ot the sticker for the '85 300D I used to have, MSRP, $34680. Mercedes had a 50% increase from '85-'91, but a 1% increase from '91-'03? Granted there is a significant difference between a 124 and a 123, but I think it shows a major shift in thinking.

Meanwhile, a Lexus LS 400 went from $42000 (est) in '91 to $55700 in '03. It appears Mercedes did make a decision to sell to the masses. The problem I see is they are no longer the value they once were.

I say that because my definition of value is, "when reality exceeds expectations". I think the majority of first time buyers think they are getting the fabled Mercedes reliability. They are not, therefore, they don't meet my definition.

To blame this on Chrysler is incorrect. This change in philosophy happerned years before Chrysler entered the picture. I do think however, Chrysler has benefitted greatly from their hooking up with MB. I own a PT Crusier and the build quality is outstanding. It's the first new car I've ever owned that hasn't had a single problem. It is interesting to note that PT's are built in Mexico. I'm told those jobs are so coveted that the employees know if they don't do good work, there's a long line outside of folks who'd love to take their place.

Hmm, sounds like the USA 70-80 years ago.

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 06-22-2003, 11:59 AM
I told you so!
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Motor City, MI
Posts: 2,804
95E320CAB, thanks for digging up those numbers! Global economics isn't my strong point either. If I look at those numbers correctly, it supports my post and what my german friend told me about trade back then. But it doesn't account for the entire difference. The rest of the difference must be either increased competition in the luxury market or cost cutting by Mercedes.
95 E320 Cabriolet, 140K
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Old 06-22-2003, 01:07 PM
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It is much simpler than that. The E320 Cab is built on a much more expensive platform than the C-based CLK Cab. The 124 was one of the best built cars in the world and in crash tests performed better than the new 210.

It was much more competitive to develop a C-based Coupe and Cab than from the E-platform.

But; In Auto, Motor & Sport they just revealed a new E-Coupé with four doors(!), it will not be cheap I think. Coming up Dec 04.

Meanwhile we should stick to our well built 124 machines, even the design is coming back in fashion when all the bubble shaped cars disappears. If it wasn´t for the exhaust emission rules we could easely put in good old engines without all the electronics and run them forever...

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Old 06-22-2003, 01:15 PM
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Location: Vernon, CT
Posts: 1,846
My '83 TD cost $34,612 in 1983. In today's dollars that is something like $65,000. I have a copy of the original invoice, thanks to MB. At the bottom of the invoice it shows what the dealer paid for the car, $27,606. That is a $7,000 profit for the dealer. One of the other ways MB has trimmed their prices is cutting this enormous profit margin the dealers were making. My '87 TD cost something in the neighborhood of $42,000. Just comparing the price of my '83 to '87, the price jumped $8,000 in just 4 years . Shortly after Acura, Lexus and Infinity came out, MB admitted that they were on their way to pricing themselves out of the market. It's another way of saying they were charging way too much for their cars. So they had to quickly back pedal to match the prices of the Japaneese cars. I think that Mercedes is now going down the same road that Jaguar did, selling cars based on a reputation from the past. People would get lured into a Jaguar based on the company's racing history and the elegant interiors. Over time people who knew the real story wouldn't tough a Jag with a ten foot poll. I am afraid MB may be going down the same road.
1999 MB SL500 (101,000 mi)
1983 Porsche 911SC (149,000 mi)
2004 Volvo V70 2.5T (205,000 mi)
2014 Tesla Model S 85 (75,000 mi)
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Old 06-22-2003, 01:53 PM
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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Originally posted by AMG CE 36
The 124 was one of the best built cars in the world and in crash tests performed better than the new 210.
The intial W210 chassis cars performed as well as the W124, and were tested using more stringent methods. The 2000- W210 cars are some of the safest cars ever to roll down a road. The W203 C-Class is easily one of the safest cars EVER built, regardless of manufacturer.

It is a misnomer that older somehow means safer. Technology has been the driver behind safety, not the "strength" of the structure. People believe falsely that cars that don't show signs of damage in collisions are safe, and ones that crumple up are not. Completely the opposite.

In it's day, the W123 was one of the safest cars built. The same was true for the W124, and now the W211. Time has marched on, and technology has brought us safer cars. Crumple technology, better materials, and airbag/seatbelt tech have all worked to make cars safer.

It's pointless to compare the W220 to the W126 or the W140 or the W116. Why? We're not going to start building those old cars again. Mercedes' contemporary models should be compared to cars like BMW, Lexus, Acura, Infinity, and so on. That is the key! How do they stack up in relation to the alternatives?

BMW? Well, except for the aging 5-series, their product quality has been dropping in relation to non-German models, and word is also out.

Audi? Great looking cars with incredible interiors, but like Mercedes, they are beginning to earn a reputation for being service-seeking garage queens.

Lexus? Boring in my book, but people buy them. They have built a reputation for building high quality cars that deliver years of flawless service. Sales have been flat, thanks to:

Infinity? Idiotic product line and homely cars meant years and years of slow Infinity sales. The Q45 was the fastest depreciating car in the world, and people knew it. Somehow, they've come back in a big way. FWD is being phased out, and performance and value are the Infinity traits everyone is talking about. Style and value, baby.

Acura? The funny "not quite there" luxury car player. The RL never offered a V-8 or the panache of an E-Class or LS Lexus, but was lots less dough, too. Un-interesting "low end" Civic based products that are out of line for a "top line" brand. However, they also reinvented themselves after having Lexus hand them their hat, and the new TL is a raging sales success. The Acura quality rep seems intact despite some initial problems with the TL.

Right now, Mercedes has a very broad product line and many models. Rightly or not, their reputation for quality is flagging, and no one knows why. Is it picky consumers that take every flaw as a major manufacturing error? Is it products rushed to market? Is it shorter product life-cycles? Maybe even Mercedes execs don't know.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 06-22-2003, 04:19 PM
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"It is a misnomer that older somehow means safer. Technology has been the driver behind safety, not the "strength" of the structure. People believe falsely that cars that don't show signs of damage in collisions are safe, and ones that crumple up are not. Completely the opposite."

Hmm, true but, a truck is always a truck...

The issue on W124 versus W210 was a hot one back then, because the factory statement was that the W210 was a lot safer than required in the German tests. But the press revealed that in the same test the W124 was even safer. Not stronger, but on average safer for the "dummie" inside.

Another testimony to the quality of W124 is that Taxi drivers in many European citys kept their cars for many years after W210 arrived. Some are actually still driving these old reliable cars!

This is what happens when you produce too good cars, so I doubt that the manufacturers want their cars to last forever...
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Old 06-22-2003, 04:52 PM
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
Originally posted by AMG CE 36
Hmm, true but, a truck is always a truck...
A friend of mine was involved in a very serious collision involving his 1997 E320 and a fuller-than-full-size Dodge pick up. Carmen, his wife, and his two teen sons walked away from a severly crumpled E-Class Mercedes. The Dodge pick-up driver was severely injured, as the firewall in the footwell severed his leg. The rear seat passengers in the truck were also injured severely thanks to poor seatbelt design and lack of energy absorbtion.

The pick-up looked to be in much better condition that the Mercedes, as the Benz was folded all up around the passenger compartment. However, none of the passenger cell in the MB was compromised. In the truck, key areas of protection were lacking. The footwell gave way and the A-pillar and roof folded enough to cause intrusion in the passenger compartment. The truck had at least 2000lbs on the car, higher bumpers, and so on. It lost. Design and proper use of HSLA (high strength low alloy) steel won the day.

In the event of a rear-end collision, the Mercedes' have strong seatbacks designed to keep the occupants in the car. Most makes do not do this. The seatback gives way, and you go flying out the back window.

Ever take a close look at a Mercedes head rest? Adjustable fore/aft and up and down? Lots of padding? Notice many other cars flimsy POS headrests? That makes a HUGE difference! If you don't have your headrest adjusted properly, you're missing out on using one of the most effective pieces of protection in your car.

Take a look at MB's starting with the 201/124 cars. The huge pillars that run from the A into C pillars? Integrated roll bar system.

How about side impact protection? Legislation mandates that side-impact-beams be built into the passenger side onlt, as it receives a disproportionate number of side impacts. Mercedes? ALL doors. Did you know that MB added side impact beams years and years before they were required by law? Only Volvo and BMW did likewise.

On safety, Mercedes has not stood still. ABS, BAS, ESP, front/side/window airbags, better materials, better interiors, and so on. No matter about rattley sunroofs on CL230 cars, I still believe that Mercedes makes the safest cars made, period. There is no better combination of passive and active safety.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 06-22-2003, 05:04 PM
Lockman's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Seattle, WA.
Posts: 8
BLACKMERCEDES- You stated some poinant insight as to some of the other luxury cars, but I really wonder if we have to go with one of the "foreign" autos to get the what we want in an automobile. I would welcome your input (or anyone else who wishes to comment) on the following domestic product:

Lincoln LS
Lincoln Town Car
Jaguar S series (LS platform)
Audi A8 (oops!)
Ford Crown Victoria/Merc Grand marquis

All I really want in a car is a smooth ride, air and power assists, with lots of metal around me for protection.

With all the negative "press" the new Mercedes seem to be getting, what are you going to get if you lay out $300,000+ for the new Maybach?
Mike T.
Snohomish, WA.
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