U.S. dealers were shocked when Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb was fired last week. Lieb, who was well regarded by the dealers, ended a five-year run wherein the U.S. sales arm was definitely strengthened. His removal came amid the "zero tolerance" crackdown on ethics breaches at Daimler AG.
Nothing official has come out from the company or from Lieb but sources say that he was let go for spending the company’s money on his personal expenses. These violations were discovered as part of the company’s attempt to eliminate corruption after Daimler was able to resolve a bribery scandal last year.
A source said that Daimler will not tolerate things that people committed in the past. The source also said that in the past years, a few other executives were removed but Lieb is the only U.S. official to be discharged. He further said that there won’t be any more dismissals at Mercedes-Benz USA.
Another insider said that Daimler found that Lieb had charged a personal trip to Australia. Daimler named Herbert Werner, the vice president of finance at Mercedes-Benz USA and the only German on the U.S. executive team, as interim CEO. Lieb had been instrumental in pushing Mercedes’ U.S. sales to a figure that almost closes the gap with BMW.
In 2007, BMW sold more units than Mercedes by around 40,000 units. In 2010, BMW sold just 3,728 more. From January to September 2011, Mercedes had sold 170,058 vehicles – just 7,500 units lower than BMW’s sales. This figure does not include Mercedes' Sprinter commercial vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz SL550 Night Edition is now being offered as part of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz SL lineup. The exclusiveness of this limited edition is underlined by the fact that only 100 units are up for grabs in the United States. It is wrapped in specially-developed designo Magno Night black paint that further emphasizes the dramatic lines of the SL body. Further distinguishing elements on the exterior include darkened headlights and tail lights and two-tone 19-inch AMG five-spoke light-alloy wheels. Also included are silver front brake calipers with "Mercedes-Benz" script.
Meanwhile, the interior of the Mercedes-Benz SL550 Night Edition features a stunning contrast of dark black premium leather and bright chrome trim. Likewise, the interior features newly designed seats with arrow-type stitching and contrasting silver accents. The vents of the AIRSCARF system, which gushes warm air on occupants' neck area during cooler weather when the convertible top is down, also features silver accents. Meanwhile, the sports steering wheel, shift lever and roof lining of the Mercedes-Benz SL550 Night Edition feature black trim.
All coupe/roadster models of the 2011 Mercedes-Benz now boast of HD radio and a satellite navigation system with SIRIUS real-time traffic information as well as an improved tire-pressure monitoring system. Non-AMG SL models now come with the Direct Steer system that employs variable-ratio gearing in the steering rack for a more remarkable on-center steering feel as well as higher responsiveness beyond the first five degrees of steering angle.
Mercedes’ current SL roadster line-up includes the SL550 powered by a V8 engine with 382 hp of max output and 391 lb.-ft. of peak torque; the SL63 AMG backed by a V8 with 518 hp of max output and 465 lb.-ft. of peak torque; and the SL65 AMG driven by a V12 powerplant that delivers 604 hp of max output and 738 lb.-ft. of peak torque.
The latest roadster lineup for the Mercedes SL is provided with expressive design, featuring fenders with sharp, angular headlights as well as modified gill-type air outlets located just behind the front wheels. Its front hood features two power domes as well as a bold single-lamella grille – providing a visual link to the 1954 300SL. AMG versions of the Mercedes SL features a large, single dome. The latest roadster lineup for the Mercedes SL is also specified with larger side mirrors with built-in arrow-shaped turn signals.