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Thom Moon

What Trout ignores or doesn't know is that Mercedes-Benz has ALWAYS sold a wide variety of cars. In the 1950's and 60's, the Mercedes-Benz 190D and 220D were the primary taxicabs in much of Europe - as ubiquitous in German cities as the old Checker was in New York. At the same time, they made the 220 gas engined family sedan and estate (station wagon), the 300 luxury sedan, the 600 stretch limousine, 190 SL personal touring car and the fire-breathing 300 SL "gullwing" coupe and roadster. In other words, they covered the entire GM range from lowest-end Chevy to highest-end custom Cadillac limousine - all under one brand, Mercedes-Benz. They were a luxury car brand ONLY IN THE U.S. They're doing nothing different now than in the past . . . EXCEPT: their build quality has gone down. Too many electronic gimmicks results in too many electrical system glitches. Remember GM's problems didn't really surface until they started demonstrating too well all their cars were "badge engineered" (same platform; different nose) and THEIR BUILD QUALITY FELL THROUGH THE FLOOR. That's the lesson of GM and Daimler-Benz / DaimlerChrysler.

Jack Yan

I am not a fan of Mercedes-Benz vehicles these days—after driving an SLK with 130 km on the clock and noticing its traction control was already SNAFU, or an ML 430 with a busted air vent inside—and from a consumer point-of-view it is easier to think of the range was C, E and S classes, with a few sports cars. All ranges seem to be easily understood in threes—BMW mastered this a long time ago. However, Thom has an excellent point, and I’ll add one more: the expectation of a new product to generate showroom traffic has not been greater. There was an era when a new model retained its novelty until a facelift or revision in another two years’ time. The proliferation of models and the speeding up of product life cycles has put this at six months. Mercedes-Benz obviously thinks that niche models are key. ­¶ However, there is a way to put a stop to this and the answer can be found in the past: a vehicle that is so startlingly different. In the ’50s and ’60s it was the Volkswagen Käfer: the anti-car that never changed each year, in the face of Detroit’s annual model changes. We won’t nd the answer at Volkswagen today, which has fallen into the same trap as Mercedes-Benz, but perhaps at Tata, if its dream of a 2,000 car is realized; or maybe even Toyota—it has a lead on hybrids. ¶ Whatever the case, technological progress amongst the big players has been limited in the last 20 years other in the realm of automotive comfort. If there was true innovation, there would be no need to con the customer through automotive permutations—which afflicted Detroit once, and is afflicting German players such as Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen today.

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I am not a fan of Mercedes-Benz vehicles these days—after driving an SLK with 130 km on the clock and noticing its traction control was .

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