Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 2014 E250 Bluetec 4-Matic, 1983 240D 4-Speed
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Quoted: 256 Post(s)
The way I see things, I find the suggestion that Chrysler makes MB's and Toyota makes Lexus vehicles, so they are similarly afflicted by a mass production mentality a bit off base. MB existed before Chrysler, and the way things went down, MB bought Chrysler, not the other way around. Toyota, on the other hand, created Lexus to compete with MB. Also, for every Lexus model, there is a a trimmed down version with a Toyota badge on it, with perhaps the exception of the SL competitor Lexus offers, which has to be the ugliest automobile made that costs more than $15k. Further, the Toyota engine products are so well made, I seriously doubt any further "specification" impositions would make them materially better. I would be surprised if more than the valve covers are not identical.
As for styling, the LS series of cars has always been a near knock off of the "E" class W124 series MB. It is a slight bit larger, and smoother, but the design has always been an MB look-alike. It has been a good strategy. The American buying public is always interested in a lower priced version of whatever is hot or stylish.
Finally, when you are copying you can make sure your product is more reliable. I think as of late the pressure of the copying has driven MB to field features they have not figured out yet. But the most important safety and handling features developed in the last one hundred years by the automotive industry combined are overwhelmingly from Stuttgart. Being first used to be somewhat easier. For safety related items MB has had a remarkable record of success, with only the "Sensotronic" or whatever they were called, electronic brakes from the "E" W211 Class cars being a reliability problem.
I would be interested to know what automotive safety or performance innovations anyone can attribute to Lexus. Or Toyota. In the grand scheme of things they are consummate copiers, but not leaders. If MB were to go out of business, Toyota and Lexus would be building the same product they make today, in somewhat different sheetmetal, perhaps (but likely godawful ugly like their sports coupe) for the next century. But it would be very reliable and well made.
MB does need to tend their development practices to get back their former reputation for reliability. The present company officers should be hung by their scotums in public for driving the company into below average for the industry quality ratings. Jim