I think this all boils down to the classic line, "What did they know and when did they know it?" The FCC first ruled on April 9, 2004 according to the document found here
. (Thanks Google and OnStar.) I'll cite what I think are two relevant examples. First, the background: I have a 2005 E320CDI, which I believe was an early production model, so it was built sometime in 2004. That means it was designed, probably, no later than the end of 2003. There are at least two items in my car that are, or will shortly become obsolete.
1) Tele-aid. IF (a big if) it's true that MB has known that the termination of analog service will render this useless PRIOR to the production of my car, then I believe this is actionable in a court of law, because MB was knowingly putting obsolete technology in the vehicle. That would of course have to be proven, and even then it's a pretty fine legal hair to split - after all, what technology isn't obsolete these days? :-) At the very minimum, if they knew about this in the interim period between my car's production and the time I purchased it, I would expect to have signed a waiver telling me that the service will be discontinued in 2007 and disclaiming MB's warranty about it, or something like that. Since I signed no such document, and I'm reasonably sure that somewhere in this timeline MB was aware of the cessation of analog service, I believe we could make a case that they at least share some liability, and could seek some monetary damages. At the very least, since my vehicle is still under warranty, I would pursue a warranty claim.
2) Sirrus Satellite Radio. IF (another big if) the merger between XM and Sirius goes through, there will likely be an upgrade of some sort required to keep the service usable, and/or to start receiving additional content from XM. But it's pretty obvious that MB had no clue about this until the merger intention was announced earlier this year. And, there's really nothing they can do unless or until the merger is approved. At that time, let's say it's sometime in 2008, they should start 2 things in my opinion: a) inform current vehichle purchasers that there will be a change to the Sirius radio in their vehicle that may require an upgrade in the future, or that may have the effect of rendering it useless, and b) plan the integration of the new satellite radio technology in new vehicles. At the earliest, that would probably make the 2010 model year. But in the mean time, now that they "know" about the technology requirements, they start sharing some responsibility.
MB makes design choices every day about what is being offered in their vehicles. So, for every item they put into the vehicle, they have some accountability to the people that purchase them. That's what warranties are all about - holding the manufacturer responsible for what they have produced. I think the market is also doing a good job in holding them accountable - I recently received the notice about what it would cost to do the upgrade on my Tele-aid. The second sentence of which reads, "In accordance with a recent
" (emphasis mine) "Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling..." If nothing else, we can certainly dispute the meaning of the term "recent." But, the price is listed at $1500. As we see from other posts in this thread, the market is balking at that cost, and there are deals to be had for well below that price.
Bottom line - instead of a lawsuit, the market is taking care of the problem. A lawsuit may in fact make it worse. Just don't pay the relatively high price - don't settle for a cost that you think is unfair. Negotiate. That's the way you win.