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Mercedes-Benz Opens First Stand-Alone Service Center

26 June 1998

Mercedes-Benz Opens First Stand-Alone Service Center; New $1.5 Million Service-Only Facility Opens in Rocklin, California
    ROCKLIN, Calif., June 25 -- Mercedes-Benz of North America,
Inc., (MBNA) today held the grand opening of its first stand-alone Service
Center near Sacramento, California.  The facility -- located at 2810 Granite
Court in Rocklin -- is one of three pilot Mercedes-Benz Service Centers.  The
Service Centers are free-standing facilities situated in convenient locations
to provide top-quality, competitively priced routine services and associated
parts for Mercedes-Benz owners.
    The Service Centers are built and operated by authorized Mercedes-Benz
dealers, and they offer solely routine service (i.e. no vehicles will be sold
at these facilities).  A typical Center will contain between six and ten
service bays, plus reception and administrative areas and will be specially
designed to encourage interaction between customers and the technicians
working on their cars.  They are typically located in areas convenient to
customers, near shopping centers, office areas and transportation hubs.
Because of their relatively small size, the facilities can be situated in
locations which might otherwise be unattainable for traditional-size
    Joe Eberhardt, vice president of marketing for MBNA explains that opening
the Mercedes-Benz Service Centers is one way the company is addressing
dramatic changes in the automotive retail environment.  "More than 80 percent
of all cars retailed by Mercedes-Benz dealers are still on the road today, and
three-quarters of these are out of warranty," Eberhardt says.  "While Mercedes
owners tend to be less likely than the industry as a whole to 'defect' to
independent shops after the warranty runs out, the remainder represent a
challenge in terms of lost business and an opportunity in terms of customer
satisfaction," he adds.
    According to Wade Hubbard, general manager of product management/service,
parts, accessories and customer care for MBNA, "We know from talking to our
customers that, all things being equal, they would prefer to have their
vehicles serviced by knowledgeable Mercedes-Benz technicians using genuine
Mercedes-Benz parts, even after the warranty period is over."
    Hubbard adds that historically, many Mercedes-Benz owners have been
attracted to independent facilities because they offered lower prices for
parts and service on out-of-warranty vehicles, as well as more convenient
locations and hours of operation.  "Over the past few years, we have taken the
bull by the horns: reduced our parts pricing, instituted menu pricing for
service, variable labor rates and now -- with the opening of the first
Mercedes-Benz Service Center -- we're tailoring our service to the needs of
our customers," Hubbard says.  "We believe that today there is no better value
for a Mercedes-Benz customer than that offered at an authorized Mercedes-Benz
    The Rocklin Mercedes-Benz Service Center, representing an overall
investment of $1.5 million, is a 7,622-square-foot facility designed to
encourage interface between customers and the service team.  A customer lounge
-- with amenities such as work stations (including phones & modems), coffee
and beverage service -- features a large clear glass window enabling customers
to watch the work performed on their vehicles.  The lounge connects directly
to the eight-bay service area and customers are encouraged to talk with their
service technicians while a vehicle is being repaired.
    The Rocklin facility is operated by George Grinzewitsch, Jr. who also owns
Von Housen Motors, a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Sacramento, California.
According to Grinzewitsch, this Service Center combines the quality of
service, parts and technical training found at our Sacramento dealership with
the convenience and feel of "neighborhood service" offered by independent
repair shops.  "The Service Center is competitive with independent shops in
terms of convenience and price.  The difference is that it is staffed
exclusively with factory-trained technicians, the work is done with
Mercedes-Benz parts, and is backed by the integrity of the entire
Mercedes-Benz organization," says Grinzewitsch.  "We're looking forward to
bringing a lot of customers back into the Mercedes-Benz family."
    A second Service Center located in Cincinnati, Ohio, will be operational
during the summer.  A third Service Center in Las Vegas, Nevada is planned to
open in the first quarter of 1999.  Based on the results of the pilot program,
Mercedes-Benz will evaluate additional Service Centers in the future.