By on April 24, 2013

Badge engineering: Kangoo, Dokker, Citan

Condition red at Daimler: Germany’s influential auto club ADAC gave the Mercedes Citan only three out of five stars in the Euro-NCAP-Crashtest. The loss of stars means “a meltdown” for the starred brand, says Automobilwoche [sub], “after all, the vehicle is supposed to excel with supreme safety.”

The Mercedes Citan is based on the Renault Kangoo, and is the product of an alliance between Daimler and Renault.  Daimler should have known better, says the ADAC: “The weak result is surprising due to the fact that the Renault Kangoo did not show convincing results during the crash test back in 2008.” The ADAC expected Mercedes to do better, after all, the Citan had been launched with a campaign that focused on safety and quality, Automobilwoche says.

The Citan, launched by Mercedes in late 2012, was its re-entry into the small city van segment, which Mercedes had not serviced for seven years. Before the devastating test, the Renault-made Citan turned Daimler into a target for derision. The Citan is not just a rebadged Kangoo, the same van is also available as the Dokker of Renault’s discount-brand Dacia. In the business, the rumor goes that the Citan actually improved the sales of the Kangoo and the Dokker. Smart shoppers take the cheaper brands, and enjoy the feeling that they drive a Mercedes without ;paying for it.

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24 Comments on “Mercedes Loses Stars: Meltdown After NCAP-Disaster...”

  • avatar

    idiots @ MB

  • avatar

    This comes on top of the C-class getting a Poor rating in the IIHS small frontal offset test. The Honda Accord Sedan and Civic both got the top score of Good. It makes me think Mercedes’ reputation for safety is in large part good marketing.

    • 0 avatar

      Mercedes-Benz was one of the pioneers of passive safety in body structures, restraints, and seats. Their reputation wasn’t just marketing, but they’re nothing like the company that once tested new designs for years before releasing them to the public now.

      • 0 avatar

        “pioneers of passive safety in body structures”

        I’ll vouch for that. Found it out the hard way when my 1960 220SB’s front bumper started acting floppy.

        I could weld, thought I’d just tack it back to the….frame?

      • 0 avatar

        That was during the late 60s, only Merc & Volvo were doing this, but this day & age everybody including skate board folks do safety researches.

        We always get what we paid for, a delivery van should be compared to what others are avail on the market, just can’t compare to a panzer wagen of S klasse.

        Perhaps the Mercs are learning quickly by spending time in middle kingdom’s accordeon architectural design.

      • 0 avatar

        Wasn’t MB the first with ABS as well? And radar cruise?

        Another MB advantage; they probably have a greater mix of large, heavy cars than anyone else. Which may not show up in tests segmented by “class” of car, but in a real world crash, all else being equal, large and heavy is generally better than small and light.

  • avatar

    If you’re going to mess around with the lower classes you could get in trouble… Past experiences with “slumming” should have taught Mercedes something

  • avatar

    i think the dacia dokker looks most resolved as far as styling goes

    the original french version is just too FRENCH

  • avatar

    Isn’t it the Dacia Dorker?

  • avatar

    That’s a shame because Renault is leading the pack with safety. That and the Kangoo is an old design by now, you woulda thunk MB & Renault had time to work on safety issues?
    Oh! Well! it’s just a delivery van so should we care about safety as much?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      In Australia a lot businesses and even the mining companies will not buy commercial vehicles if they don’t recieve a 5 star safety rating (ANCAP).

      Toyota is a bit worried with the Hilux as it is the preferred brand in the mines and the Hilux with its recent safety upgrades ie, stability control extra airbags etc can only reach 4 stars.

      I do know all of the new midsizers are getting 5 stars.

      Damlier management would have been aware of this deficiency with computer modelling.

  • avatar

    3 pointer star brand = 3 star rating. Fair enough.

  • avatar

    I already knew the so called “German Engineering” was a myth. So complex and underachieving that the real reason defend it so much is because they don’t want to tell you they screwed up bad.

    • 0 avatar

      not every german cars are bad but sometımes they screwed up very badly like Mercedes did with abc fails.(ACTIVE BODY CONTROL)including 1999-present s class, 2002-2012 sl class(2013 sl ,abc is an option finally),1999-present cl class.. ıt ıs expensıve to repair and Mercedes dont have actually any solution to resolve problem completely.

  • avatar

    Yet another indication that the three pointed star is not only going downmarket, it’s going down…

  • avatar

    Citan actually improved the sales of the Kangoo and the Dokker. Smart shoppers take the cheaper brands, and enjoy the feeling that they drive a Mercedes without ;paying for it.

    Thats an interesting way to get played out.

  • avatar

    I guess that lack of safety from having no airbags might have something to do with the Nano not selling.

  • avatar

    Mercedes of all makers should know better than dilute their brand with un-German engineering. I bet this was something bean counters came up with, spotting a “hole” in the product lineup. That kind of car is too pedestrian for Mercedes’ image anyway, are they trying to be Volkswagen just as Volkswagen is trying to be Mercedes?

    • 0 avatar

      You are looking at MB with a North American mindset too much. Mercedes is a much more pedestrian brand (although certainly not as much as VW) in Europe than over here, where many of the taxis are Mercedes, there are plenty of Mercedes vans such as the Viano, Vito, and of course the Sprinter, and where you can buy much more stripped down versions of their cars than here.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        I think the small vans are made in Korea in the Ssyangyong factory.

      • 0 avatar


        Good mystique-dissolving comment.

      • 0 avatar

        I realise that vans such as Viano, Vito etc are part of Mercedes in Europe for historical reasons, as the brand started as a general maker of cars and not only luxury. There are even Mercedes buses. It is true that you can buy small-engine “cheap” versions of Mercedes cars in Europe, but this has a lot to do with European governments taxing per engine size, and taxing cars heavily in general, something Americans are spared.

        But even as a taxi at the Frankfurt airport, a Mercedes E-class is recognised as a premium car. What I wonder about is if this recent Mercedes strategy of being all things to all people, trying to fill every niche as if they were Volkswagen or GM. Don’t they know that their brand is the most valuable thing they have? As Toyota proved, “anyone” can make luxury cars. If it was not for the star brand, Mercedes would barely have survived the quality problems they had in the 1990s.

        “A Mercedes in every garage”? Brand extension works great at first, with increased sales volume and people excited over getting a “cheap” Benz, but then an MB becomes too common, the brand too diluted, and they have to compete on price instead of prestige

  • avatar

    It’s a kneejerk reaction from the C-suite that never works. VW did the same thing here with the Routan. It’s brand suicide. And the surprising part is in both times it’s not like there was an overwhelming speed issue or something. They could have easily put out a design on a current platform but just chose not to.
    Penny wise and very pound foolish.

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