31 July 2008

The Coalition : Mercedes vs Perdana Saga

THE decision by the Terengganu government to purchase 14 Mercedes Benz E200 Kompressor sedans may just have been the right thing to do. THE decision by the Terengganu government to purchase 14 Mercedes Benz E200 Kompressor sedans may just have been the right thing to do.

This is based on a study Malay Mail carried out shortly after Terengganu Menteri Besar, Datuk Ahmad Said announced that its current fleet of Proton Perdana V6 cars had become too expensive to maintain and a better, more fuel efficient alternative was required.

This announcement received a lot of negative feedback.

However, it seems that the Perdana V6 is almost at the end of its life cycle. According to a Proton official, a small number of Perdana V6 are still available but the Perdana V6 Executive, usually sold to government officials and in this case, State executive councillors, was no longer in production. Proton Holdings is still to find an alternative or produce a car in the 2-litre category.

Figures revealed that apart from the E200 Kompressor, the State government could have considered two other options – the new Honda Accord 2.0 and Toyota Camry 2.0. Both cars are cheaper, with the former costing RM141,800 and the latter, about RM700 less.

However, the service schedules of these two cars vary considerably compared with the E200.

According to a statement by Mercedes Benz Malaysia, the E200 Kompressor has a service interval of 12,000km or 12 months, with each visit to the workshop, including labour and parts, costing RM700. This means that in the first 50,000km of the car's life, it only needs to be serviced four times, with costs totalling some RM2,800. Unlike other cars, the E200's air cleaner element is replaced only after 80,000km/4 years while spark plugs are only required for a change every 100,000km/4 years.

The E200 comes with a 1,796cc, 4-cylinder engine that boasts between 8.5 to 8.9 litres per 100km travelled.

Road tax would be cheaper than the Perdana V6 while the engine's 4-cylinder construction is far cheaper to maintain than a V6 motor.

The E200 is also longer by 237mm, with improvements to interior space.

The Perdana V6's fuel consumption figure of 7.5 litres per 100km is also tested based on a constant speed of 90kph and this despite the highway speed limits in Malaysia being 110kph.

Thus, based on Malay Mail's survey, the only advantage the Perdana V6 has over the E200 is its price tag.

The Perdana V6 is priced at RM101,485. That's making it RM257,403 cheaper than the German luxury car.

Comparing these figures with the Honda Accord 2.0, the first oil change is required at 1,000km after which, every interval is spaced out every 5,000km. Thus, if we take a period of 50,000km, the Accord would need servicing 11 times, which would total RM2,709.30, which is almost the same, with a difference of RM90.70. The Camry 2.0 is no different with similar service intervals and charges.

Further checks revealed that in the same segment, there was the BMW 523i, which comes with BMW's 3-year/60,000km Service and Repair Inclusive package.

Simply put, anyone buying the 523i would enjoy free maintenance up to three years/60,000km, with brake pads and discs, drive belts, oil changes, filter and scheduled inspections included free.

The wear and tear of the Japanese cars,and Proton, are obviously not comparable with the Mercedes Benz, which is why the initial fleet of taxis of Airport Limo Sdn Bhd is still left with the Mercedes Benz, with most of the national cars having been decommissioned or retired.

And so, in the long haul, the Mercedes Benz E200 may have been a wiser decision considering its durability and reliability. In any case, these cars were locally-assembled at MTB's Pekan assembly plant. The Mentri Besar's office, in a statement yesterday, justified its decision to buy the E200 for RM3.43 million. The statement said the maintenance cost of just two of the Proton Perdana V6s since 2004 amounted to RM175,229 and RM132,357.

It added that all purchases were in accordance with Paragraph 6 (II) of the Treasury Circular 1, 2008 which stipulates the requirement of purchasing all locally-made or assembled cars for government officials.


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