Zetsche to try Chrysler magic at Mercedes

If there is one thing to be learned from the eviction of Juergen Schrempp from the top spot at Daimler-Chrysler, its the priority: the Chrysler unit can be in shambles, as
it was for most of King Juergen's reign, with no peril to the boss, but just a little tarnish on the Mercedes unit will bring the Grim Reaper into action. Some say, however, that Schrempp's eviction was long overdue, despite record sales at Mercedes in the early 2000s. And, remaining unanswered, is what Zetsche did right at Chrysler and how it applies to Mercedes.
Schrempp's strategy at Mercedes was simple, the same one that made Cadillac a high volume brand: reduce relative content at a faster rate than the decline of the relative perception of the brand. The ML Class is an obvious culprit, less powerful and smaller than its Asian competition, and relegated to being a toy SUV amusingly bejeweled with the Mercedes tri star. The other evident problem is the C Class, a European taxi foisted off on Americans who learned the truth when they happened to park next to a Civic.
But the biggest detriment is product quality. Mercedes has done increasingly poorly in both initial quality ratings and longer term quality measurements. And Zetsche has no experience with this, as neither was a significant factor at Chrysler during his leadership of the unit.
Perhaps Zetsche will lead Mercedes down the truck road. That is what he did at the Chrysler unit, which no builds almost no cars. The PT Cruiser is legally a minivan, the Pacifica and Magnum SUVs, and the Neon replacment will be an SUV. It would seem this strategy is inappropriate for Mercedes; it, in fact, remains to be seen if, long term, it is appropriate for the Chrysler unit.
Somehow, with existing lines, Zetsche will have to, first of all, improve product quality. One thing is certain: it will be a long time before he can bring in Chrysler pitch man Lee Iacocca to tag line Mercedes commercials with "If you can find a better car, buy it".
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Wrong, there is no legal definition in any country for a minivan. The only legal definitions are Car / Truck

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On Mon, 10 Oct 2005, David wrote:

Actually, that's quite incorrect. There are numerous vehicle definitions (or "categories") as well under US/Canadian as under international ECE auto regulations. None of them is called "car" or "truck".
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Mere technicalities for CAFE regulation.
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Comments4u wrote:

I despise Zetsche and the Daimler ownership of Chrysler for being responsible for killing some really good looking concept vehicles 5 years ago in favor of coming out with ones that have more Mercedes content.
But I can't see where (as claimed above) that the Chrysler unit was in shambles.
Chrysler was in a sales shambles in 2003 because the new (and hideous) LX chassis was still a year away from production, and Dodge dealers were screaming for new car models (yes, I was pointing out then that Dodge seemed destined to be Truck and maybe mini-van only while the only cars would wear Chrysler badges).

Yes it was, because quality was falling at Mercedes even on the eve of the aquisition of Chrysler.

Zetsche's only job at Chrysler was to trash all current new vehicle designs and start new designs that would incorporate an increasing amount of Mercedes components. And that was not his idea - it came from Daimler. Chrysler build quality was already at historic highs in 2000 and the gap between north american and japanese makers were practically non-existant by 2004.
Zetsche has some really bad blunders - like hiring Celine Dione for sales/marketing, and the Crossfire failure.
Truth is, Chrysler suceeded ->in spite of<- Zetsche.

How ironic. Chrysler was supposed to be the "volume" brand of the Daimler-Chrysler pair. Zetsche admitted exactly this in interviews.

Because Chrysler was never allowed to build models that would or could directly compete against Mercedes models. In 1999 and early 2000, Chrysler had introduced the 300M and was showing the stunning 300N 2-door concept. Chrysler was in a position to be thought of by the public has having some premium brands. Chrysler was in a position to throw some cars up against Lexus and Infinity in the North American market. But Daimler would have non of that. They myopically thought that their own Mercedes would compete in that arena. It turns out it could only happen if Merc quality fell enough to make them competitive.

Yea, I've always considered the new 300C to look more like a truck than a car.
This story was obviously written by a European or German with no real knowledge of the Daimler/Chrysler merger and subsequent history in north america.
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I don't think it will be. What I see these days is a lot of new cars coming out CLAIMING to be SUV's, thus trucks, thus escaped from CAFE. The problem is that they are getting smaller and smaller!
A SUV to me is something like a Ford Explorer. It is NOT like that hideous Outback toy from Subaru. If you have to use a step ladder to get into the vehicle it's a SUV. If you can step into it from the curb it's a hatchback descendent.
I think the American public is getting sick of the SUV. The cost of gas is too high for vehicles with effective MPG of 20. If this is Chrysler's strategy it's going to fail.
One of the things that people always miss about the American car market is that because it includes a far larger slice of middle class owners than most markets, it works kind of like in reverse.
If you want to see what is going to be a popular new car seller in 3 years, look at what are the hot used cars now. People who are regular used car buyers, since they don't have the kind of money invested in their vehicles that a new car buyer does, they can move very quickly to ditch an unpopular vehicle in response to changing markets. Thus when the gas prices started rising the first people that dumped SUV's on the used market were the people who had got them used to begin with. They could afford to sell a SUV for $5K that they had bought a few years earlier for $8K simply because that's not a lot of money. And what are they buying like candy to replace them? Accords and Civics and shit like that. In other words, all that nice legroom and space in the SUV was just jolly when gas was 1/2 the cost it is now, a few years ago. But today, gas has doubled, the price of the huffing big tires needed for the SUV has gone up, etc. etc.
The new car owners of course all want the same thing the used car owners are buying, small cars that are cheap to run. But they can't sell out of their existing Explorers and such until these depreciate enough so the owners won't lose their shirts. And what the automakers are bring out today they had on the drawing boards 2 years ago, when the SUV was still popular.
Ted
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I can understand a low opinion of Toyota, but not of Honda. Ten years ago Toyota had a better car. But today Honda is a much more solid car. (Today Toyota has gone "minimalist", making the cars lighter though still reliable. Suspension and seats bother me, as well as interior character.) A new Accord has a solid ride, much akin to the 190. Its only lack may be in the OEM choice of seats for the car.
There are practical reasons I drive a M-B instead -- the seat -- comfort and height-sense the price -- A modest-mileage Accord costs almost as much, and an Acura or Lexus even more (for basically equivalent cars). the economy -- @ 29mpg hwy and oil changes every 6K miles is does as well or better than may "economy" vehicles. (Though yesterday's $35 Bosch wiper was a real eye-opener.)
Today a used M-B is a relative bargain. There are so many more of them available.
One thing I'm thankful for today is the name. It's Daimler-Chrysler, not Chrysler-Daimler. That's important. :)
Collin KC8TKA E320/97
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"Today Toyota has gone "minimalist", making the cars lighter though still reliable"
and expensive.................

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Really, then why did Honda have extensive problems with steering wheel vibrations, and brakes squeeling on the new Accord? The problem with the steering was fixed, the old fashioned way. Take the steering column cover off a new accord and look at the 50 pound weight strapped around the collar. Brakes squeeling hasn't even been taken care of, as it is only noticeable if the radio is off. And the constant squeel even when not braking is expressed " as a normal noise for the vehicle" (whcih is consistant with DC stand on alot of noise complaints).

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On Thu, 13 Oct 2005, Cheesehead wrote:

Expand your horizons.
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Ok, OK, I give! Sheesh!
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Ted you make sense, until you say shit like that about very good cars. Too bad your car experience is so limited.
From one who can't stand some of the shit Chrysler, Ford and GM are now selling.
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The European taxi is the E-Class. The C is not as widely used.
Product quality is not uniformly bad. Don't judge the whole range on the basis of early Ms.
DAS
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For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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I have seen better cars, but I'll patiently wait out Chrysler's strange car design experiments, at least while my '95 Concord continues to give acceptable service.
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