By on August 24, 2010

If the German magazine Focus is informed correctly, then Dr. Z’s days at Mercedes are counted. Focus heard that Wolfgang Bernhard will run Mercedes, while Dr. Z. will run all of Daimler. „In a second step, Bernhard could succeed Zetsche 2012 as Daimler CEO,“ says FOCUS.  Currently, Bernhard is responsible for production and purchasing of Mercedes.

Bernhard is Daimler’s lost son. He was Zetsche’s sidekick during the Chrysler days in Detroit. He had been anointed as chief of Mercedes, but left in a huff after he couldn’t agree with Juergen Schrempp whether Mitsubishi should join the DaimerChrysler fray.

A few months later, her appeared as head of the Volkswagen group of brands (VW, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti.) That didn’t last long either. At Volkswagen, Bernhard quickly earned the nickname “Terminator.” He didn’t make friends with the powerful unions. When Piech brought in Winterkorn as CEO, and as chief of the Volkswagen brand, Bernhard didn’t accept the demotion as head of production, and left.

When Cerberus bought Chrysler, he became a consultant. Some thought he would run Chrysler, but three months later, he was gone again. In February 2009, he was back at Daimler with a less than glorious job: Head of Mercedes vans. Since February 2010, he is in his new job at Mercedes. Everybody agrees that Bernhard is meant for something more important. Succeeding Zetsche won’t be easy: The two of then are considered bosom buddies.

According to Focus, the Daimler two-step has already been discussed with the supervisory board and the unions. The unions already agreed, with the proviso that Bernhard will be „closely monitored“ and should first get the job as „Mercedes boss on probation.“

A day later, an official Daimler spokesperson said the story is “a fabrication”

According to Automotive News Europe (ANE), Daimler reiterated in a statement that Zetsche will fulfil his contract until it runs out at the end of 2013.

The story of Bernhard wanting Zetsche’s job has been around for a while. During the Geneva Autoshow, Zetsche denied to journalists that Bernhard is his heir apparent at Daimler, reportedly saying: “It’s no secret that we worked well together and I’m happy to have him back. But he’s not my crown prince and he’s not my deputy.”

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6 Comments on “Bernhard After Dr. Z’s Job Again?...”

  • avatar

    Well, at least he doesn’t suffer from “visions”, as Reuter and Schrempp did. Perhaps he’ll need some lectures in the art of tail-wagging?

  • avatar

    Maybe he needs to do some time learning the MB business model. You know the one where they bribe overseas officials to buy Mercs for the govt. “Head of Bribes and Govt Relations”?

  • avatar

    One has to wonder at someone who has had so many different positions in the industry. If he had perhaps accomplished good things at each place he worked, I might be more impressed. Instead, I get the feeling he’s too impatient to earn his chops, but has a sense of entitlement instead. Offhand I can’t think of what he’s accomplished in his varied career. ( not to say he hasn’t ). With his arrogance though, he’ll do well at Daimler.( Mercedes-Benz)

  • avatar

    I certainly hope Zetsche doesn’t get booted. He does’t deserve it; He in undoubabtly the most underrated CEO in the entire auto industry.

  • avatar
    Dr Strangelove

    Agree with Runfromcheney on Zetsche. Things have certainly improved at Daimler since he took over. Bernhard may be a good cost cutter but my sense is he is not enough of a car guy.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Bernhard is an ex-consultant, so he will by now (especially after all the years in the industry) know a reasonable amount about the industry but you are right, he is not a car guy.
    I also heard a very different unofficial version why he left MB the first time, much more to do with his complete lack of sensitivity than any real disagreement about strategy.
    As for his successes, again always hard to judge for an outsider but I guess the current generation S class and the improvement in success over the last one is one thing attributed to him, the Golf VI cost cutting another.

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