MB's most expensive lemon...

http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/14/Autos/pricey_lemon/index.htm

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I wonder if there is anything more to it. DC would not want such bad publicity.
DAS
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I don't know the detail of contract, but I assume that the car was brought to the USA by the private owner. Thus, Mercedes-Benz of USA is not obliged to do the warranty work on any Mercedes-Benz not imported and sold through its distribution.
It's same with lot of Dodge Caravans, Plymouth Voyagers, and Chrysler Town & Country minivans that were imported to Germany by the individuals or people who want to make the quick profit. Many of classified ads often printed the disclaimers such as 'Keine Garantie'.
General Motors has the same disclaimer in the owner's handbook regarding its vehicles brought out of USA for holidays, business, or military tours. It states that General Motors will not service the warranty repairs outside USA. However, it might reimburse the cost if the vehicle is repatriated to the USA with its original state registration and the receipts proving the warranty service was done at the authorised General Motors centres, i.e. Opel or Vauxhall as well as Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe.
Josh wrote:

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Yes, but if it's one of Merc's five most expensive cars ever made I doubt this would (ought to) apply.
It's not in the Dodge Caravan league, it it? :-)
DAS
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OM is absolutely correct.
Mercedes Benz USA has no obligation to support or guarantee that car because it was directly imported from Germany, and it is not even legal to drive on US roads because it has not been federalised. My guess is that it cannot even be registered here, and it was brought in as a collector or race car solely (assuming that they got an exclusion from the DOT and EPA to bring it in, which if they didn't, could get the importer rather heavily fined)
Since MBUSA is not in the chain of ownership of the car, they cannot be held responsible for anything to do with the vehicle including implied or expressed warranties or any states "Lemon Law", which requires manufacturers who import to the US to either repair or take back cars that have persistent repair problems. MBUSA has been added to the suit to make sure that plaintiff has covered all of his bases, and to be sure that Daimler Chrysler will be brought into the jurisdiction of the US courts. MBUSA will simply move for removal and most likely be removed from the suit leaving its German parent holding the bag.
However, let's assume that the car was sold without an express warranty and "as is" since it is such a one off unique vehicle. There then can also come a question as to whether Daimler Chrylser, without its US distributor, falls under any state's definition of a responsible party for lemon law. So their responsibility may not lie there.
Unfortunately, there is a concept in US law called the "implied warranty of merchantability" meaning that a thing must be useful for the purpose for which it was intended when it was sold. Daimler Chrylser will still be held liable under this theory even if the lemon law does not apply and there is no express warranty (assuming that US law appies to a contract that was wholly performed in Germany, which it shouldn't. The applicable law should be German even if the United States court accepts jurisdiction which is also debatable). According to the article this car has never driven more than ten blocks without failure, which doesn't make it much of a car at all. If US law applies then I think that Daimler Chrylser will be taking the car back, but I am very suspicious as to whether US law applies in this case.
The other thing that is interesting is the argument that the car's value was diminished since they built six instead of the advertised five cars. Since the value of this vehicle is as a collectible and not a vehicle does that misstatement in the advertising materials mean a diminution of the car's value beyond the purchase price and can Daimler Chrylser be held liable for further damages for false advertising, misrepresentation or even fraud, and if so are the two theories mutually exclusive? That's more interesting.
I love this case. It speaks right to the heart of the supercar market as being less of a vehicle and more of a collectible status symbol and that all that that boils down to is MONEY.
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From a legal perspective I have no doubt that OM and you are right.
But what about the image? On the face of it the car is a 'lemon' and if I were DC I would fix it whatever the legal requirements. The fact the car does not run is irrelevant whether it has been 'Americanised' or not. Is the air different in the USA that buggers the engine? Are the roads emitting a surface chemical that makes zillion-dollar Mercs fail?
But, like I said, maybe there is more to it. Maybe the buyer was warned about something. But the oil light came on within 10 blocks of driving off the lot. Presumably this was the dealer-owner's lot in the US. Given the limited production run he could hardly ask for another car. How did the car get there? Bought 'sight unseen' from Merc and shipped untested? Or from another owner in Europe? Merc must have known where to where the car was going? Cars like that must be like expensive paintings - they don't easily disappear unless physically hidden.
The client can expect a working car and it is up to him to ensure it is suitable for the country of use. It is hardly a get-out for the manufacturer to say it is not legal for American public roads. In fact, this should be dealt with Merc Division's (if not DC's overall) CEO himself and not some local subsidiary.
It is very odd indeed.
DAS
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Oh, I am not disagreeing with you that daimler Chrysler sold this car and that it has to be useful for the purpose which it was intended. It has to be able to drive. That is obvious. Who is responsible is very clearly Daimler Chrysler itself. However, how you reach them as a legal issue is a little convoluted largely because the purchase was made in Germany and the car was sold with the intention by DC of being used in Germany. Controlling law should be German even if the court is American, and I am sure that there are implied warranty laws in Germany that would require DC to take the car back. My point about it being in the US is purely one of contract law and forcing Daimler Chrylser to stand behind its product.
As a matter of "image" for DC, I whole heartedly agree with you that fighting the repair of a car this expensive is just stupid, moronic, idiotic and just plain nasty. Unfortunately, this is how Mercedes handles all of its warranty claims. When my mother-in-law's very pricey CLK55 AMG was burning a quart of oil every 500 miles in the first 2,000 miles of its life, Mercedes insulted her, called her a liar, refused to look at the car, claimed that it was normal and fought it until we forced a compression test that showed one cylinder with wet compression of 65 PSI. The piston had destroyed the cylinder bore requiring a complete rebuild of the engine with a new block (Why this happened is still not totally clear). Mercedes refuses to admit any problem with its product and that is the difference between BMW and Mercedes. I doubt if BMW builds a much better car, but they acknowledge their problems and replace defective cars much more quickly and quietly than Mercedes. BMW looks to be a much better car even though I have heard horror stories from owners of new 7 series. It's just that the problem was taken care of so the story ends.
For me, it isn't that Mercedes refuses to repair and stand behind a singular car that costs 2 Million bucks. It's that Mercedes does all that it can to not stand behind any car that they build from a C class up. It makes it hard to own any of them, and who wants to be insulted by some jerk at a dealership over whether his car runs or not. Especially when you have paid over $90,000.
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Fortunately I have not experienced such problems with my current cars (one from 2001, one from 1993, both driven by me from new).
The nearest to your travails I had was on a 230E W124 I once had (well, as company car). It developed significant oil consumption at 60 000 miles. The local dealer (in outer London/Kent) claimed it was normal and I let it go for a bit. At one point I got really cheesed off for having to stop on a motorway to refill with oil.
When I returned to the dealer, declaring that my colleague's 60 000-mile BMW had no such oil consumption they agreed to have another look...
It was a leak somewhere, of course...it was an expensive job as the engine had to be lifted out to replace a 5-pound gasket. Their excuse was that they had wanted to save me money...(It was not a warranty job and nobody expected Merc to pay, just to repair.)
With my newer car I had the opposite -- mentioned here before so turn away now if you don't want to be bored -- with a superseded (and expensive) telephone cradle.
Within about a year of buying the car I lost the old phone that fitted and acquired a newer model from the same manufacturer, believing it would fit, too. It did not.
A hardware and software upgrade was going to cost about GBP 250 in Germany and 400 (!) in Britain. I had bought the car in Germany (from a regular Merc dealer). Although not a warranty item the German dealer found a way to replace the cradle and software under the guarantee and was willing to stretch the time until I was able to drive over. Which I did. And he did it foc.
I have other positive anecdotes about the garage I use now. Merc has taken control of all the dealerships in London, Birmingham and Manchester to try to improve the service. After all, the UK is Merc's largest market in Europe outside Germany. London is lousy with Mercs, more than in many a German town.
DAS
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Hazey wrote:

Yes, this one can be permitted to be driven and registered for the public road ONLY if it has been approved by NHTSA for the 'show and display' category. The stipulation is that the owner cannot drive more than 2.500 miles a year and must modify the motor and fuel system to comply with EPA regulations of the year manufactured.
McLaren F1 and Porsche 959 are other examples that fall in that category.
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/import/ShowDisplay/howtosd072003.html
Guess who lobbied hard to close the loophole called 'personal exemption' for grey import in 1988? None other than Mercedes-Benz USA! It made a poor decision to omit 500SEL in the early 1980s. Americans found 380SEL grossly underpowered and ridiculously expensive so they brought about 26.000 500SEL to the USA and registered them under the 'personal exemption'. It was eating the profit for Mercedes-Benz USA so it lobbied Congress to close that loophole.
Oliver
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In the early 80's I used to work at a place in Torrance California that was on the same threet as 2 or 3 grey market importers. I saw an SEC before most poeple in America and there was a daily procession on WAY cool cars from all over Europe.
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Right so your answer is a NO, it can't be registered in the US without modification and approval, and that approval may not come. Besides, the market for this car is not necessarily in the US from this dealer. All that aside, it is of little importance where it can be registered since the car will most likely never run. As lawn art, it is legal everywhere.
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This is a very good point, and proven by the negative press they are getting.
When you sell a million+ US dollar car, it should fricking run. It's got your name on it? FIX IT.
Marty
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