Mercedes-Benz automobiles are available at dealerships in more than 129 countries and their work fleet (trucks and commercial) vehicles are available from a group of dealers worldwide as well as direct from the factory. As with several other European automobile brands, Mercedes-Benz offer a European delivery option for international customers who purchase a Mercedes-Benz automobile.
Since its inception, Mercedes-Benz had a reputation for quality and durability. Objective measures looking at passenger vehicles such as J.D. Power surveys demonstrated a downturn in reputation in this area in the late 1990s and early 2000s. By 2005, Mercedes temporarily returned to the industry average for initial quality, a measure of problems after the first 90 days of ownership, according to J.D. Power. In J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study for the first quarter of 2007, Mercedes showed dramatic improvement by climbing from 25th to 5th place, surpassing quality leader Toyota and earning several awards for its models. For 2008, Mercedes-Benz's initial quality rating improved by yet another mark, now in fourth place. On top of this accolade, it also received the Platinum Plant Quality Award for its Mercedes’ Sindelfingen, Germany assembly plant. As of 2009, Consumer Reports of the United States has changed their reliability ratings for several Mercedes-Benz vehicles to "average," and recommending the E-Class and the S-Class.
Main Article Mercedes-Benz in motorsport.
The two companies which were merged to form the Mercedes-Benz brand in 1926 had both already enjoyed success in the new sport of motor racing throughout their separate histories- both had entries in the very first automobile race Paris to Rouen 1894. This has continued, and throughout its long history, the company has been involved in a range of motorsport activities, including sports car racing and rallying. On several occasions Mercedes-Benz has withdrawn completely from motorsport for a significant period, notably in the late 1930s and after the 1955 Le Mans disaster, where a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR collided with another car and killed more than eighty spectators. Although there was some activity in the intervening years, it was not until 1987 that Mercedes-Benz returned to front line competition, returning to Le Mans, DTM, and F-1 sports car racing with Sauber.