Mercedes Loses Stars: Meltdown After NCAP-Disaster

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
mercedes loses stars meltdown after ncap disaster

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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  • Blowfish Blowfish on Apr 24, 2013

    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.

    • Asdf Asdf on Apr 24, 2013

      That's a bit similar to why people buy Skodas, I suppose - people know that they get a Volkswagen/Audi without paying the premium.

  • Cargogh Cargogh on Apr 24, 2013

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

  • Ed Berry Ed Berry on Apr 24, 2013

    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?

    • See 3 previous
    • Ed Berry Ed Berry on Apr 25, 2013

      @whynot 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

  • Dimwit Dimwit on Apr 24, 2013

    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.