Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said a recent trip to Silicon Valley revealed that tech companies such as Google and Apple were making significant progress on autonomous cars, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported (via Reuters).
“Our impression was that these companies can do more and know more than we had previously assumed. At the same time they have more respect for our achievements than we thought,” Zetsche said, according to the report.
Zetsche said he and other managers from the automaker met with tech companies in Silicon Valley, but didn’t disclose what those companies were. (Read More…)
Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.”
Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s ability, urging its fellow automakers to develop automotive data platforms that would secure sensitive customer information from the Mountain View, Calif. tech giant.
Though Daimler shuttered its Maybach ultra-luxury brand, it isn’t giving up on selling cars in the $200,000+ price range. With the $470,000 Maybach, Mercedes-Benz tried to compete with ne plus ultra cars like the Bentley Mulsanne and Rolls Royce Phantom. In the ten years that the Maybach was produced, Daimler sold about 3,000 of them, about how many Phantoms Rolls-Royce sells in a year.
Reuters reports that Daimler are so smitten with Dieter Zetsche, they’ve extended his contract until 2013. By then, Zetsche will be 60 years old, and will have worked for Daimler for 37 years. “Promote the insiders” was the cry in Daimler’s headquarters, as Thomas Weber, a board member responsible for group research, also received a contract extension to 2013. In the excitement, Wolfgang Bernhard was elected to a newly-created seat on Daimler’s board of directors as well. But these votes of confidence shouldn’t be taken for granted. Daimler have some big challenges in front of them, chief of which is a lack of scale and cost competitiveness in the compact segment. Herr Zetsche did start talks with Renault, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Another big problem, particularly in the ego division, is that Daimler are falling behind BMW (and, gasp, even Audi) globally and in emerging markets like China and India. It seems that if Dieter Zetsche wants to retire at 60, he’s going to have to earn it.
Ever get the feeling that the car game is dealing with some malaise? Dieter Zetsche sure seems to. “The definition of luxury will be somewhat different,” Doctor Z tells the Wall Street Journal. “It will be fewer CO2 emissions and more modesty in appearance.” And this from the company that sells cars on the back of a brand dripping with immodesty and ostentation. But no matter, the decision has been made: Zetsche wants to chase what the WSJ terms “Americans’ growing interest in downsized models that offer upscale features and finishes.” Wait, growing interest? The MINI sells decently, but the A3 (fewer than 3k units sold year-to-date) and 1 Series (fewer than 10k units year-to-date) are hardly setting the luxury segment on fire. Damn the torpedoes, people want green modesty, and Zetsche’s going to give it to them with four compact models planned for the US sometime after 2011.
For sure, there will be another B-class, which will be pretty similar, address the same customer as the B-class today. The three other body styles clearly intend to target additional and different segments from the one that we can target today, including gender barriers.
Smaller, greener and more identity-politics-y. That sounds like just what the luxury market has been begging for! And we haven’t even started in on the cost-cutting yet.