The Truth About Cars » Dieter Zetsche http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:58:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Dieter Zetsche http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Dr. Z Expects a Decade of Disappointment For Fuel Cell Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/dr-z-expects-a-decade-of-disappointment-for-fuel-cell-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/dr-z-expects-a-decade-of-disappointment-for-fuel-cell-technology/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=704586 At a round-table discussion with reporters during last week’s Detroit Auto Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche proclaimed that any consumer wanting to be green with fuel cells had better be prepared for a decade of disappointment with the technology. Zetsche said there were cost issues with the process for creating fuel cells — Daimler’s three-way […]

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At a round-table discussion with reporters during last week’s Detroit Auto Show, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche proclaimed that any consumer wanting to be green with fuel cells had better be prepared for a decade of disappointment with the technology.

Zetsche said there were cost issues with the process for creating fuel cells — Daimler’s three-way dance with Ford and Nissan to bring a market-ready fuel cell vehicle by 2017 was done to help spread the cost while accelerating development — as well as a lack of vehicle volume to help further drive down costs, while the few hydrogen fueling stations around the globe aren’t doing anything to help widespread adoption; there are only 10 such stations in the United States alone, eight of which are in Southern California.

Zetsche is more optimistic on the autonomous vehicle front, however, noting the unexpectedly rapid development in the technology. Mercedes-Benz has taken the lead in the space with the new S-Class and its Distronic cruise control system with automatic braking, which can pilot a car on its own for up to 60 miles with a few adjustments to its onboard technology.

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Daimler Not Giving Up On Going After Rolls-Royce and Bentley, New “Super S Class” to Go On Sale in 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/daimler-not-giving-up-on-going-after-rolls-royce-and-bentley-new-super-s-class-to-go-on-sale-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/daimler-not-giving-up-on-going-after-rolls-royce-and-bentley-new-super-s-class-to-go-on-sale-in-2015/#comments Mon, 29 Jul 2013 21:54:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497367 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, […]

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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.

The German automaker is still going after those brands, but at a lower price point. Starting in 2015, the so-called ‘Super S Class’, as it is known internally, will instead compete with the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the Bentley Flying Spur, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in an interview with Automotive News.  Currently, M-B’s most expensive cars are its higher performance AMG models, which can run close to $200K, and Zetsche says that the new sedan will give the company a larger market share in that price segment independent of AMG branded cars.

One of the complaints about the Maybach was that it was not perceived as being sufficiently different from the S Class cars to justify the large price differential. Zetsche said that the new car will have exclusive technology and interior appointments to differentiate it from regular S Class models. Since all automaker in the segment do it, it is likely that some kind of personalization program, for ‘off the menu’ options, will be offered. Zetsche also said that the company will have a “much better cost basis” for the new high end car, compared to the Maybach.

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Papal Visit Set Zetsche On His Road To Damascus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/papal-visit-set-zetsche-on-his-road-to-damascus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/papal-visit-set-zetsche-on-his-road-to-damascus/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488749 If it weren’t for a Papal visit, Dr. Z may never have come to know Mercedes-Benz. A brief article in Automotive News mentions M-B boss Dieter Zetsche’s first encounter with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which ultimately led him to the company that he is now CEO of During the launch of the new S class in […]

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If it weren’t for a Papal visit, Dr. Z may never have come to know Mercedes-Benz.

A brief article in Automotive News mentions M-B boss Dieter Zetsche’s first encounter with a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which ultimately led him to the company that he is now CEO of

During the launch of the new S class in Hamburg last night, Zetsche said what he remembers most from a pastoral visit that Pope Paul VI made to the area where he was living as a young man was the Mercedes that his holiness was being driven in.

Mercedes’ top-of-the-line model wasn’t known as the S class at that time, which didn’t matter to Zetsche. He said he knew right then and there that he had to figure out a way to someday get behind the wheel of a car like that, “without having to become pope.”

As far as Popes go, Paul VI is a fairly controversial figure for some Catholics. I always thought the faux-Idi Amin S-Class used for the Entebee raid was the world’s coolest S-Class but that’s just me.

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Quote Of The Day: That Was Then Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-that-was-then-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-that-was-then-edition/#comments Thu, 08 Apr 2010 19:55:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=351827 That was a marriage in heaven but didn’t end up in heaven. We start on earth this time and stay there. Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, explaining the difference between Daimler-Chrysler and the new Daimler-Renault-Nissan alliance in Automotive News [sub].

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That was a marriage in heaven but didn’t end up in heaven. We start on earth this time and stay there.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, explaining the difference between Daimler-Chrysler and the new Daimler-Renault-Nissan alliance in Automotive News [sub].

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Daimler Hearts Dr Z http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/daimler-hearts-dr-z/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/daimler-hearts-dr-z/#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2010 23:38:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=345850 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 […]

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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.

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Mercedes Benz: Smaller, Cheaper, Greener http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/mercedes-benz-smaller-cheaper-greener/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/mercedes-benz-smaller-cheaper-greener/#comments Fri, 13 Nov 2009 15:55:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=335268 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 […]

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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.

Daimler is trying to cut $7.5b from its annual outlays, which includes cutting hours and freezing assembly worker pay as well as cutting back unneeded commercial truck capacity. But part of the cost-cutting includes the new compact architecture on which the four new US-bound premium compacts are based. Daimler admits that its a “low-cost” platform, and vehicles based on it will be largely produced in Hungary. Similarly, Mercedes is strongly considering bringing C-Class production to its Alabama plant. Zetsche tells Automotive News [sub] that currency exchange rates will make that decision for him. Exchange rates killed the last plan to bring Mercedes A and B Class compacts to the US, but Zetsche is confident that the underlying platforms and Hungarian production will be so cheap that the four compacts will still be profitable.

But profits aren’t everything to Mercedes-Benz. With Audi on a roll, and BMW expanding its lineup, Mercedes is playing catchup in a number of markets, including the US and China. Which, is where the four compacts of the Apocalypse fit in. “We certainly have a strong growth phase coming” Zetsche tells Bloomberg. The four compacts “would certainly give us faster growth than our direct competitors.” And its not just sales volume that is justifying this line of cheap (to build, not buy) compacts. Daimler has to reduce its average carbon emissions by 30 grams per kilometer by 2015, or face up to €3b in fines.

After a decade or so of stagnation, Mercedes is playing catchup. It can swaddle its ambitions in talk of redefining luxury and eco-consciousness all it wants, but the reality is is considerably more desperate. Volume must go up, costs must go down and emissions really have to go down: not the combination of dynamics that portends good things for a luxury brand. Though this will doubtless shake M-B out of its overly traditional brand image, it will be tough selling this transition as an organic expansion or redefinition of the brand. Execution of these four 2012 compacts will be crucial.

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