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Roadfly Magazine
Issue Eleven
Table of Contents

Past Issues Index
Roadfly Magazine
Aston Martin at Detroit Auto Show
Issue Eleven
March 30, 2004
Live, From Detroit, It's the 2004 NAIAS!
Detroit Auto Show Awards
Keeping things in Balance
60 Seconds with Henrik Fisker
Windshield Dyno: The Beltronics GX2
Nissan Altima Facelift
WORK Wheels Introduction
Cadillac Merchandise
Not The Record To Be Proud Of
Open Wheel Racing in the USA: Big Changes
Bear Market in the Auto Business?
Coming Next Issue
NYC Auto Show

Not The Type Of Record To Be Proud Of
By John Henley
Staff Writer

(Monday, Jan. 12, 2004 10:15 AM EST)

Juergen Schrempp, Chairman of DaimlerChrysler

Mercedes-Benz S Class

The fall from grace is never a pretty one, and Mercedes-Benz has the rust on its doors to prove it.

For the first time, Mercedes-Benz ranked second behind BMW in satisfaction in a survey by ADAC, the largest German motorist's organization. Rusting doors in the E class, poor corrosion control in the M class, defective airbags on the C, E and S class, and a plethora of other problems has put Juergen Schrempp, chairman of DaimlerChrysler AG, on the hot seat.

Schrempp's image as head of the world's preeminent automaker has already been tarnished as of late in a trial brought by Kirk Kerkorian, which seeks to nullify the 1998 merger between Daimler-Benz AG and Chrysler. The latest results from the ADAC survey won't do much to help polish the image.

"Suppliers say Mercedes-Benz has lost its engineering focus as it [has] emphasized cost control," wrote Jens Meiners in a story in Automotive News dated Dec. 15. Stateside, there have been rumblings from various owner groups about the decline in quality control as well - most rumor mills attribute it to the Chrysler merger placing more emphasis on cost control issues.

Others claim DaimlerChrysler "has weakened its image by spreading a limited number of ultra-expensive automobiles over different brands," wrote Meiners. A fact that may be supported by the recent influx of additional upscale DaimlerChrysler products such as the Crossfire, Pacifica, and new 300-series automobiles.

Problems at Mercedes-Benz are nothing new as consumers have always been forgiving as the automaker rushed to right its engineering wrongs, but their patience now appears to be wearing thin. Readers might recall a problem concerning the navigation units on certain Mercedes-Benz from earlier this year in which the automaker graciously offered to buy back entire vehicles to resolve the problem.

Currently, the effects of owner dissatisfaction have only begun to surface in consumer surveys and not in sales. With Acura, Lexus and others in the luxury car industry making considerable inroads in a booming market, Mercedes-Benz has to find a way to address current problems with its autos and restore consumer's confidence.
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