By on April 29, 2013

Daimler’s new China chief Hubertus Troska committed a possibly deadly mistake. According to Germany’s Automobilwoche [sub],  Troska and his lieutenant Nicholas Speeks “accuse their Chinese dealers of laziness and incompetence.”

In a letter to all Chinese dealers, Daimler said that “such a low sales volume could be achieved by a call center.” Rainer Gehmen, general manager of the German-Chinese Business Association, called the letter “a catastrophe, especially in China, where keeping face is more important than in Germany.”

Daimler loses market share in the strategically important Chinese market. Daimler lost 11.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 while BMW and Audi recorded strong gains. Letters like these will not improve the moral of the troops at the sales front.

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15 Comments on “Open Mouth, Insert Jackboot: Daimler Insults Its Chinese Dealers...”

  • avatar

    The Chinese have been hiding behind this loss of face thing for long enough. How about they man up and face the truth? Troska did not say this in public, but in an internal letter. He did not name names or point to individuals. He is criticising a system failure. If the Chinese can’t take that maybe capitalism is not for them.

    Chinese bosses are notoriously hard, demanding and suspicious, by the way, even if the dressing down usually happens behind closed doors.

    • 0 avatar

      And Chinese bosses usually chew out their employees on a regular basis if for no other reason than to remind the workers who is the boss.

      As for loss of face, my experience in China was that 99% of “can’t lose face” statements are just excuses for Chinese to act poorly and be passive aggressive.

  • avatar

    I’ve never heard of an OEM, suffering low sales because it was not offering what the market wanted, blaming its local employees and dealers.

    That said, the call center line was pretty good.

  • avatar

    Having said this does he now have the language and cross-cultural skills to get out in the trenches for a follow up.

  • avatar

    Maybe more Chinese are reading CR now.

  • avatar

    Oh those zany Germans and their brutal honesty, sprinkled with a little Aryan superiority they’re liable to be mistaken for rude

    • 0 avatar


      no buddy, you got it wrong, this is just about blaming others (the Chinese) for failure to meet sales targets.
      instead of shifting blame and pointing fingers, the dumbasses at Mercedes should have worked with the Chinese to improve the sales process (if in fact there lies the problem and not, as Bertel said, in the product that is offered)

  • avatar

    Such lack of tact would not be tolerated in Brazil either. I know a few people who have worked for VW. Their greatest complaint is usually on how Germans treat others. Yeah, it’s a German company and all and those who learn to play the game thrive, but a little sensitivity, on both parts, goes a long way.

  • avatar

    the Great Helmsman Mao bought 7 or 7 of the real 600 back in the 70s.
    The ponton 219 we had, we were told it became an undocumented import into middle kingdom during the 60s.
    The gangster who operated swift boats to china, always have 1 or 2 560sel in the back of the boat. They shaped similar to the famous Cigarette with 6 or 8 out boards in the back, when the run they go so fast even the copters had a hard time to keep up with them.
    They were kind of the quarter mile of the sea race. These folks are kind of the Schumacher, Senna of the sea.

  • avatar

    Well, if this costs Hubertus his job, he can always go work for Opel.

  • avatar

    After reading these comments I have to wonder.

    Do you guys think he made this statement in a vacuum? I’m positive after being in China that he has good reasons for saying this.

    Not the least is that if they tried to make changes to improve things the Chinese just went about destroying any positive changes the German management brought.

    China is a difficult place and believe me when I tell you the Chinese are as arrogant and rude as any German. Are they all like that? of course not, but quite a few can be. Especially when they give the excuse that “this is China we cannot do it that way” without even trying or giving any real reason other than they don’t want to change.

    ugh.. I could go on for days about this stuff.

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