Mercedes-Benz is determined to overcome recent quality problems and restore its image as a premium brand, Germany#;s Handelsblatt reported.


“Quality has become a decisive factor,” chief executive Jürgen Hubbert told the newspaper at the launch of the new E-class in Valencia, Spain.


Hubbert agreed there had been a growing number of quality problems in recent times but promised improvements and added that he would take personal responsibility for the issue in future, Handelsblatt said.


The newspaper said that Mercedes-Benz rated poorly in a quality survey by technical watchdog TÜV with only the SLK roadster appearing in the ranking of more recent models, – those between one year and three years old – and then only in 12th position.


Handelsblatt said that Mercedes only ranked well in the segment for models aged between six and 11.


The newspaper added that Mercedes also fell to 10 from six in the annual J D Power quality survey in the USA.


Hubbert told Handelsblatt that the quality problems were “complex” and that Mercedes-Benz had encountered difficulties with suppliers, which had unilaterally decided to change components. Less reliable suppliers would in future need to be prepared for quality-control visits from Mercedes-Benz representatives, he added.


“Our aim is to become market leader in quality,” Hubbert told the newspaper.


Handelsblatt said Mercedes currently reserves 1,200 euros on average for quality flaws per car produced.


Hubbert told the newspaper that this was an increase but was due to higher production volumes, in particular of the A- and M-Class.


Handelsblatt said there was also growing concern about the damage to Mercedes’ image as a premium brand in financial circles.


As early as last year, the newspaper said, US investment bank Goldman Sachs wrote in a report on Mercedes: “We are concerned that savings measures may be taken too far in certain segments.”