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Why is Mercedes-Benz storing these brand-new cars on an airport runway?

Apparently, it has something to do with quality issues

This is not a vehicle production facility. PHOTO FROM BUTEN UN BINNEN

Residents of the the German village of Ahlhorn near Bremen are currently being treated to a rather strange sight. Parked on the runway of a local airport are thousands of brand-new Mercedes-Benz cars—including many GLE-, GLS-, E-, C- and even S-Class units—with more vehicles seemingly arriving every day. Locals and journalists have been wondering for a while what’s going on, and now we want to share how the answer to this riddle seems to have been discovered. Thankfully, this Chedeng Cemetery doesn’t have anything to do with emissions-cheating diesel engines.

The cars look like discarded secondhand units at first glance. Or repossessed ones. PHOTO FROM BUTEN UN BINNEN

The main runway of the Ahlhorn airport is around 2.5km long and currently resembles a giant car park. An estimated 9,000 factory-new Mercedes-Benz vehicles are sitting under the late-summer sun, and the reason for this massive Merc collection lies in quality issues that the automaker seems to be battling at the moment. In particular, issues with the seats and the bumpers have surfaced on some vehicles in recent times, and the cars parked up on the runway are awaiting rectification work before they can be delivered to customers.

Issues with the seats and the bumpers have surfaced on some vehicles, and the cars are awaiting rectification work

While the car manufacturer has a factory in nearby Bremen, the faulty vehicles did not originate from there. Instead, all of them were apparently built at the firm’s Tuscaloosa plant in the United States, found to have faults, and then shipped to Germany. According to information being circulated in the German media, the faulty parts may have been the work of two particular suppliers, and specialist workers from the Mercedes factory near the airfield have been tasked to fix the cars and make them ready for customer delivery. Daimler itself only issued a short statement to the media, in which the company said that it was working with existing and new suppliers, and that it had implemented measures to overcome this challenge and to deliver cars to its customers as quickly as possible.

The stockpile may still increase in size in the coming days. Hopefully not, though. PHOTO FROM BUTEN UN BINNEN

Some news sources claim that up to 40,000 cars may have been affected, and delays in the delivery of models like the GLE had already become known back in June, when a smaller number of cars were spotted parked up in the port of Bremerhaven. All of this will just add to the many challenges that Daimler chairman and Mercedes-Benz head Ola Källenius currently has to tackle, and having customers return cars because of bad build quality (when your company slogan is “The Best or Nothing”) sure doesn’t look like an easy problem to solve. Let’s hope the Germans get it all under control or that stockpile of cars will just be getting bigger.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.