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Mercedes Benz, are you sure about that?

Yeah I saw this 2 days ago and chuckled. Because it is a clueless statement.

Because Mercedes is Clueless if they actually believe this nonsense. I'm one of his customers who will not buy another one of their cars unless it is 100% electric with similar specs to a P85.

If they keep believing his nonsense for too long, the joke will be on him. There is no way you can test drive a Model S and then get into even an S class and think that it is a smoother and quieter experience because it is not.

With their flagship S class trounced by the Model S, they can keep smoking whatever it is they are smoking or stop with their BS hybrid nonsense and actually build a proper electric car, the golf-cart B class notwithstanding.

"... he felt the infrastructure necessary to maintain and fuel electric cars wouldn’t soon stand up to mass demand. “With Mercedes, you have a whole network. You’ve got no worries.”

Really? Well, time will surely tell a lot about true value of MB dealer "network".

Here they are, "visionary" managers sitting on top of lots of billions of sunk costs in incumbent infrastructure with questionable future and assuring that "you've got no worries".

Your two weeks old car can spontaneously catch fire, but "you've got no worries".

The price for driving a mile with your car can go up 50% any time, but "you've got no worries".

Your maintenance costs will only go up, and in fact one day you may be forced to buy a new car 5 years earlier than expected, but "you've got no worries".

The resale value of your car may be a big question mark just couple of years from now, but "you've got no worries".

"how long do you think we’re going to wait and let Tesla be out there alone [selling premium electric cars]?”

How is the audience supposed to know? The question is really to MB engineers.

Tesla is out there alone. Very true. For how long? How am I supposed to know. People have come to you to ask just exactly that.

           Email: stephen.cannon@mbusa.com
       Telephone: 201-573-0600
Personal Twitter: @SteveCannonCEO

Dear Mr. Cannon,

I read your recent negative statements about Tesla in this article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/hannahelliott/2014/04/16/mercedes-head-tesla...

I must express my disappointment in the fact that you took it upon yourself to criticize one of your business partners, Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors provides drive trains for one or more of your electric vehicles and it strikes me as unseemly and very unprofessional to publicly criticize one of your valued suppliers.

I have had nothing but terrible experiences with S******, one of your dealerships in Scottsdale, AZ. They had a contract with Tesla's local service center to perform alignments on Tesla vehicles last year. S****** botched the alignment on my car three times. I posted a negative review on Yelp, after which I had one of the managers from S****** call me and threaten to report me to Tesla corporate - as if Tesla corporate has any say on what I say or write? There are also other negative reviews on Yelp regarding the service experience at this dealership from Mercedes owners.

After reading your comments, Mr. Cannon, I will never buy a Mercedes. Your local dealer has shoddy and low quality service as I have personally experienced. Just an idea… if you weren't forced to sell and service your cars through a terrible dealership, instead having the freedom to sell direct and control the service experience, you might have a higher customer satisfaction rating.

I love my Tesla Model S and I will never buy anything but Tesla as long as I live. Many tens of thousands of others feel the same way that I do. Instead of criticizing Tesla, perhaps you should recognize the areas where they are great and try to recreate that greatness within your own company. The route you are taking, unfortunately, is not going to make Mercedes a better company. It's going to cost you a lot of sales.

Have a good weekend.

I also wish to add that Tesla has the best network in the world. It's called the internet. I wonder if Cannon has ever heard of it?

I actually did send that email above, encourage others to send their own.

Isn't their motto "The best or nothing"?

Should have stuck to nothing.

This sort of reminds me of how a BMW executive once ridiculed the Acura NSX, saying it was "...just a Civic..." and couldn't compete against real, world class performance cars...

Al1: No worries, mate! As long as you drive a Tesla, that is. ;-)

AmpedRealtor: Great letter!

My take on it is - Every other automaker with few exceptions (to be very kind!) is on the defensive. The responses by Benz are in-line with that defensive mindset. Behind the scenes, they have to be working on something that can compete with Tesla. If they don't, they're signing their corporate death certificate by the 2030's.

But... what about now? They have to SPIN what they have now, because they can't sell tomorrow's technology today. They've been caught flat footed. Worse, unlike the Android competitors when the I-Phone came out, now that we are approaching two years after launch of the Model S the automakers are still unable to come up with a way to compete.

And it's easy to see why. They don't have the battery capability. They don't have the supercharging capability. And they don't have a car that is built around both at the same time.

If I were them, you know what I'd do? I'd build a better Tesla. Fast. Much as Chevy et. al. built a better inexpensive car for the masses to compete with the Model T, that's what I would do if I were them.

But... nope... they'd rather build a faster horse, so to speak.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, BENZ! See ya, don't want to be ya! (Or drive ya, for that matter!)

Andrew: Great points!

I'm certain the other luxury car makers have done their own research, and comparisons, and have looked at the numbers as well. They know full well exactly what part of the Tesla Model S ownership and driving experience is most impressive, and why that impression is lasting.

In the past, there was no replacement for displacement. They could increase the bore, lengthen the stroke, add more cylinders, throw in more valves, tweak the design of a cam, open up airflow both in and out, tack on a supercharger, bolt on a turbocharger... done. None of that helps them to tackle what the Tesla Model S can do: Activate the natural accelerometer in the seat of your pants at any time, from any speed.

That leaves transmission changes -- that they can't do because they have to meet EPA ratings for fuel economy, and meet CARB requirements for clean running.

So they are stuck. Mitigated to talking about their network, their service, their tradition, their luxury... Y'know, [BOLSHEVIK]. Unless they make a competing electric car. RealSoonNow.

As someone who got rid of a Mercedes Benz for a Tesla Model S, I think they are running scared. I had my E320 wagon for 13 years and it was relatively reliable but when it did need service it was costly. I fond it shortsighted for Mercedes to bite the hand that feeds them as they are able to release an EV relatively quickly due to Tesla's supplying them with batteries and drive trains than they might have on their own.

I could never buy another Mercedes after owning a Tesla.

We have a Mercedes with over 280K miles, so it's definitely been a good and useful vehicle. But before purchasing our MS, I did a test drive of something (other than it being a sedan, I have no idea what model it was) at the local Mercedes dealership. We'd had our S reservation for years, but I needed to be 100% positive before spending so much (for us) on car.

The salesman knew we were planning to get the MS and I had a test drive of it coming up, so this was a "for comparison" Mercedes experience.

The best advice he gave me was something like "Electric cars have great acceleration at low speeds, but not at highway speeds. Try it out on your test drive." I mentioned the comment to the Tesla test drive person, who just grinned and said "try it". Of course, we all know what happened :)

I think Mercedes better get on board with a real electric vehicle or stay VERY scared. That said, even if they had a comparable car, I would only buy a Tesla because of the great service and purchase experience.

We intended to buy an AMG GLK but our local dealer acted like I was insane to ask for a test drive before ordering. We stopped by a Tesla store on the way home and knew we had to have one. Thanks Mercedes!

And there you have it, Texas and New Jersey: Mercedes Dealerships sell Tesla Motors' cars better than anyone else!

@Red Sage - you said "This sort of reminds me of how a BMW executive once ridiculed the Acura NSX, saying it was "...just a Civic..." and couldn't compete against real, world class performance cars..."

Last time I checked, total sales of the NSX over its 15-year (1991-2005) production run was 18,000 units. Not exactly a success in BMW terms. BMW sells more than 30,000 cars EVERY WEEK of the year. It took our favorite manufacturer more than a year to do that. We're still a niche player, but an increasingly important niche.

Actually according to BMW's 2013 sales figures, it averages 5,947 per week. That's about 10x as many BMWs per week as Tesla Model S.

Wow, every single quote the guy had showed how clueless he really is. Impressive.

They are so far behind Tesla, even far behind Nissan, Chevrolet and Ford. Just plain sad. The old world of automobiles.

I thought that BM and Tesla were partners?, doesn't Tesla get the crappy turn, wiper and cc stalks from MB?

[ASIDE:] The quote from the BMW guy really amazed me back then, because at the time, they didn't offer any two seater sports cars at all. He spoke as if he thought the Acura NSX was less capable than BMW sports sedans. The truth was that in 0-60, 1/4 mile, skidpad rating, fuel economy, etc. the BMW 5-series lagged behind the Acura Legend -- the slowest car that Acura made. That's why, when I rode along Olympic Ave to my job in Century City, pretty much every driveway in the neighborhoods that were Beverly Hills Adjacent, had a shiny new Acura parked next to their Mercedes or BMW. The same neighborhoods that sport shiny new Teslas today.

Pungoteague_Dave chastised, "Last time I checked, total sales of the NSX over its 15-year (1991-2005) production run was 18,000 units."

Yet, it was the wondrous beauty of the Acura NSX that allows me to realize the wonders of the Tesla Model S. Both were made primarily of aluminum, stem to stern. Both feature powerplants that are more than a generation beyond their competitors. Both have made their doubters sit up and take notice, no matter their biases to the contrary. That is what I meant: the statements by this gentleman from Mercedes echo those of the guy from BMW. By dismissing the best a competitor had to offer, he mistakenly allowed his own bias to blind him to its brilliance.

The Acura NSX was a halo car. Tesla has already had their first halo vehicle with the Tesla Roadster. The Acura NSX was never meant to light up the sales charts. Neither was the Tesla Roadster. Each was meant to give notice that a new player had arrived with strong intentions to prove their worth.

Now the Tesla Model S gives notice to yet another segment of the car buying populace, and the competitors therein. I remember what naysayers said about the Acura NSX. It was too easy to drive fast. They say the same about Model S. It was so willing to do the right thing, almost on its own. They say the same about Model S. It lacked the passion, the mystique, the tradition, the legend, that certain... 'something' that its competitors had. They say the same about Model S. It sure was fun to drive though. Yup. They say the same about Model S.

BMW will be expanding their plant in South Carolina, increasing their production there by 2017 to 350,000 per year. Meanwhile, they are looking into opening another North American Plant, likely in Mexico. So they will very possibly go from manufacturing 300,000 cars in North America to around 700,000 or more, before Tesla Motors reaches 500,000 units per year in production. You know what? That's OK. I'll still be driving a Tesla instead. So will you.

having owned a Benz, in my opinion they make the best looking cars in their price range... inside and out. Have yall seen the new S Class Coupe? Beautiful. Service was great as well but i have a S on order due to no gas.

Well, before I lodge any critique of Mercedes, I first want to thank them effusively for stepping in on Christmas Eve a few years ago, with $90 million that saved Tesla from extinction. That investment was pivotal.

I don't expect Elon will ever forget that act, and he will do whatever he can to help Mercedes navigate the transition to EVs.

That said, it is not surprising that MB is now attempting to provide a narrative that forever type-casts EVs as a niche market. They need to maintain such a world in order to avoid a capital infrastructure hemorrhage.

The only problem is the genie is out of the bottle.

Those of us who've bought more than a dozen high end Mercedes cars (I'm one of those buyers) ... we now have incontrovertible primary data that EVs perform far better. We leave our Benzes in the driveway and drive our Model S.

It is inconceivable that I would buy another gasoline car. We have two Model S's, and there isn't any current Mercedes model I would even consider at this point.

Mercedes can remain viable and prosper if it does two things:

1. Make compelling EVs

2. Rearchitect their service network in the Tesla model.

You can't market a premium car with inferior drivetrain technology. And you can't keep customers loyal if dealers abuse them as is practiced now.

I know Mercedes is struggling with this reality, but it is the hard truth.

Marketing positioning cannot fix the underlying problems with the old system. They have to fundamentally change their products and service.

If they don't, they will ultimately collapse. Yet if they do change, they can rise to new heights.

If Mercedes makes a compelling premium EV, and cleans up their service act, I would be happy to buy a car from them.

Right now, they have lost me as a customer.

Wake up Mercedes, this is real.

As a sometimes-complaining fanboy, I agree with all the flames directed at this loose Cannon.

However, since Tesla doesn't really do marketing, it's a very simple thing for the other manufacturers to start controlling Tesla's message.

They have the money to pull a Fox News on Tesla: it doesn't matter if it's true... if you say it loud and often, people will start to believe it.

This article, while ridiculous to the informed Tesla fan, actually poses a subtle but insidious existential threat to Tesla. If Tesla doesn't step up their marketing machine, they (and we shareholders) will regret it.

Do they even need to yet ? what is the state of their supply line versus what they produce
you don't advertise when you have more work than you can already handle
there's really no need and if you hold back when the time comes you can blitz the market extremely hard with all kinds of good interesting stats

TFMethane, I believe everything FOX news says. But I did lose my doctor from my insurance and my health insurance morphed into a crap high deduct able HMO last month. Lucky for me it's not a big deal and now I just pay cash for medical care. So maybe they are pulling an Obama.

A large company such as MB is essentially like a nation. You have government and disputes and parties in it, but it does tend to appear more unified from outside, since that is actively maintained. Foreign policy, if you will. You can bet that many within Mercedes want EVs, want to be leading the sector in them,.. but then you have politics, "political" realities and a spin machine which needs to do what it can to make it all appear somehow rational. This guy is basically "mounted" on the thingies of dealers. It is what they want and expect him to say. For all we know, he could be a fan of Tesla, but he needs
to peddle what his primary customers in US want him to say (dealers). That is not the same as what consumers actually want. So far, great for Tesla. Tesla
is getting the best of two worlds that way. It got the financial injection from MB which saved Tesla and it also has the market to itself, without any
competition so far from Mercedes.

While they may be naively hoping the EV reality collapses again, the simple fact that China cannot afford to grow at current pollution rates, should push them to become relevant in BEVs.

What I like about Tesla Motors is that they took the 'Field of Dreams' principle to heart... "If you build it, they will come..." They don't advertise in traditional media at all. They have a website, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel. That's about it.

The fun thing is that magazines, newspapers, radio shows, and television programs still cover Tesla, because the cars are awesome. There is also the fact that anything they write, say, or show that mentions Tesla brings eyeballs and ears their way. So they get great ratings for those who are advertising with them. That's all the media really care about anyway.

When I watched 'Who Killed the Electric Car?' yesterday, I realized it provided a sort of road-map that makes it clear as to why Tesla Motors has taken the route they did at every point in the development of their cars. Every single point that the naysayers bring up in the video is fully addressed with the Tesla Model S. Every single place where manufacturers pulled back, to prevent the proliferation of electric cars, Tesla has gone forward instead.

BTW... Has anyone else noticed how often YouTube videos that cover the Tesla Model S are preceded by PENNZOIL commercials?

So, I'm not talking about advertising to directly sell cars. Why does Boeing run ads on TV? Do you think that actually sells more planes? They do it to affect public opinion about their brand.

If all the ICE companies start harping on the "low quality" of Tesla, or even just touting their inferior EV's as "better than the competition," Then the overall public impression of Tesla will erode.

Marketing isn't just for the customer. It's for the potential customer's neighbor (who will oooh and ahh when the customer pulls up in a MS85) and for the constituent of the politician who is opposing Tesla's direct sales model.

A savvy marketing strategy looks at the PR goals of a company and designs a campaign to achieve that goal. Tesla may not be trying to drive demand for their vehicles right now, but they certainly are trying to drive other goals. They need savvy marketing to do that.

If they don't, someone else will beat them to the punch.

Capitalism is cutthroat. Tesla plans to make >500K cars/year eventually. To get there, they need to play the big boys' game... sooner better than later.

Tesla does NOT need paid marketing now. Maybe never.

You work in advertising, right?

I've never seen a product with so much brand loyalty. Makes Apple users look like microsoft users ;-)

As long as Tesla is production constrained then let the press coverage be all the marketing they need.

Nope. I'm an ICU doctor.

With respect, brand name loyalty doesn't build a bigger customer base. Neither does it influence public policy in favor of the direct sales model, for example.

If the other companies create a coordinated campaign against Tesla: Mercedes chips away the MS image on price, and the Lexus chips away on reliability, and BMW chips away on the public image of the MS interior... pretty soon you have a public narrative that is ONLY that the MS is inferior to ALL those cars.

The best defense is a good offense, here. It's idealistic and ultimately wrong to think they don't need to focus on marketing. They're letting their enemies and naysayers write the copy!

I'd say between China, model X, gigafactory and superchargers publlc relations is still somehwhere at the bottom of the list.

Lot's off very good comments.


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