- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

Mercedes-Benz has paid attention to the sting in recent J.D. Power and Associates quality reports seriously. (The Westlake Village, Calif., marketing and research firm had the high-end automaker ranked at and below industry average in several studies on initial and three-year quality surveys).

In a determined effort to keep a high profile and a good image among premium luxury-car buyers Mercedes-Benz has decided to replace 2,000 of its E-Class vehicles sold with a navigation system that was to be installed by dealers at a later date.

As it turns out the cost and complexity of retrofitting the navigation systems combined with Mercedes-Benz’s concern that the retrofit would not meet customer expectations led to the decision to replace the vehicles.

According to reports from the automaker and from industry journal Automotive News, as many as 1,000 additional customers who had expressed an interest in the retrofit program, but who hadn’t prepaid for the system, would receive a coupon voucher for up to $3,250 toward the purchase of their next Mercedes-Benz. There was no expiration time for the use of the coupon mentioned in the reports.

In an interview with Automotive News, Stephen Smythe, president of Beverly Hills (Calif.) Ltd., said, “It is a wonderful thing that Mercedes-Benz is doing. I have never seen any car company do anything this big.” Mr. Smythe expects that the replaced E-Class cars will end up in dealerships’ used car inventories.

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