Forget Quality, We've Got Brand
Kevin Salwen on Culture
What on earth has happened to Mercedes? The company is planning to recall about 680,000 of its E-Class and SL cars worldwide, noting that the vehicles' vaunted braking system could fail. This news comes on top of the fact that Mercedes has fallen behind Dodge, Subaru and Mazda in repair records.
Actually, none of this surprises me. Several years ago, I bought the new M-Class SUV when Mercedes first began building cars in Alabama (no snickers please). From Day One, the thing had all the reliability of a 1975 Chrysler. In just a year or so, the remote locking system died (taking 4 months to fix), the driver's side window broke in the open position (it does rain where I live) and, my personal fave, the windshield wiper stalk broke off in my hand.
When I asked the dealer about the Mercedes quality question, he contended that the problem wasn't with the vehicles. 'It's just the components.' I laughed out loud. 'Components means parts, doesn't it? Isn't a car just the sum of its parts?'
How did things get like this for one of the most impressive brands in the world? How could they have taken their eye off the basic rule of making a car -- that is, it has to run without falling apart? How do companies miss the point so easily?