The A-Class rollover debacle raises serious questions about the rapid expansion of the Mercedes-Benz product line-up. The new A-, M-, and V-classes, the SLK and the Smart, were conceived and developed in record time for Mercedes models.
No auto company has ever managed the kind of product revolution that Daimler-Benz has carried out in the last two years. It has been a shrewd and dazzling response to the market. The company has shown a willingness to change and to think what had been unthinkable.
But did Daimler go too far? Was there too much strain on people and resources?
The questions are not easily answered. They require self-examination. And the same questions can be asked throughout the industry. Has there been too much cost-cutting, commonizing and computer simulation of tests?
Some critics have accused Daimler of arrogance, the usual charge whenever a proud German company has a problem. That's wrong and dumb. Daimler's reaction to its A-class problems has been swift and substantial.
But what did go wrong?
Daimler has now halted deliveries of the car while it does $175 million worth of re-engineering and fixing - an extraordinary measure.
The stakes are enormous. Some A-class business has been lost, but more importantly there is a potential loss of faith.
The rest of the industry shouldn't gloat, it should learn.