Reliability. What if MB cut back on the fancy dohickies that seem to be the major pain points - focused on reliablity and keeping with their style, interior and driving experience?
MB has, in fact, begun this approach. It is not only for cost cutting. They have removed items on newer models that have plagued them or that people simply don't use to reduce the complexity of the cars.
For instance - the rain sensor thing - I learned that there is no intermittant wiper option and that if you get snow - frost - dirt etc on the windshield the wipers go bizerk. I'll settle for the tradditional intermittant wiper set up. Also friend has a Gwagon said that he has two rock chips in the windshield - $1200 to replace it!
I can't speak for other models, but the new C Class does have a speed sensitive intermittent wiper setting.
Most folks don't get their auto glass replaced by the dealer due to high cost. They use an auto glass shop for that purpose. One can buy the sticker that is located in the lower right corner from the dealer for about a buck.
Right now the one and only reason I will continue with my MB research and interest is the diesel engine. A friend just dumped his R320 06 (granted it was first year) he had it two years on lease they went through $10,000 worth of warrenty repair on a car that had less than 35,000 miles. They loved the car - hated the reliablity issues including the failed transmission. They couldn't get rid of the r320 fast enough. Guess what they own now? They paid cash for a 2008 Toyota Sienna. They said never again will they think of buying a MB.
EVERY car company, including Toyota, makes lemons. My 2002 MB C230 Coupe, a car known for "iffy" electrics, was the most reliable car I ever owned.
MB is missing out on a whole new generation of people who can afford their cars, like their style - but will not put up with non functional stuff or major equipment failure in a vehicle thats hardly broken in.
MB is making strides in this department. I believe Consumer Reports, for the first time in years, has the C Class as a recommended model. Other newer
MB models are also improving in quality. How badly MB was hurt by the glitches and quality woes of the late 90's and early 2000's remains to be seen.
I'm starting to have visions of MB ending up like Cadallac -aging customer base and little to no new customers being developed. MB is missing out huge in the US!!!
With its newer products over the last 5 years or so, Cadillac is now one of the few bright spots for GM. They are attracting a younger base and the cars receive very good reviews. Many times, in cars like Caddy & MB, you see older drivers behind the wheel simply because they are the ones who can afford them. For instance, the average age of a Corvette buyer is around 45. Most twenty somethings can't afford a $50,000 car. Most (but not all) kids behind the wheel of a new Vette are, more than likely, driving the parents' car.