LAS VEGAS -- A senior DaimlerChrysler AG official said Friday that the company was "working like hell" to address quality problems at Mercedes-Benz.
"We actually are working like hell to come back to a No. 1 position," Mercedes chief Juergen Hubbert told an automotive conference sponsored by research firm J.D. Power and Associates.
The Mercedes brand ranked far below average in the 2003 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Survey, which polled 55,000 U.S. car owners. Mercedes owners said their vehicles had 318 problems per 100 vehicles, below the industry average of 273, and below some U.S. nonluxury car brands such as Dodge, Pontiac and Ford. The top brand in the study, Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus brand, scored 163 problems per 100 vehicles, about half as many as Mercedes.
Hubbert said that the luxury automaker was determined to be rated the best in quality by no later than 2006. He did not specify whether he was referring to U.S. quality scores or global. He also did not say what gauges would be used to measure quality, but J.D. Power is one of the industry benchmarks.
Despite its problems, Hubbert insisted in his speech that Mercedes was still "the most valuable automotive brand" worldwide.
Mercedes spokesman Geoff Day said he could not elaborate on what measurements would be used to verify Hubbert's assertion that Mercedes would become the quality leader.
"He (Hubbert) was talking about our general commitment to making sure that Mercedes is back on top of the quality tree," Day said.