Wannabe Bernhard Back At Daimler
Wolfgang Bernhard is coming home to Daimler. Not in an exalted position. He will take over Mercedes vans, Automobilwoche [sub] reports. The former McKinsey consultant who became project manager at Mercedes Benz (always a bad sign when McKinsey dumps one of their own on a client) went to Detroit with Dieter Zetsche. As COO, Bernhard was Zetsche’s hatchet man at Chrysler. Back in Germany, he was groomed as boss of Mercedes, but lost in a fight with Jürgen Schrempp. Off he went to Volkswagen, where he ran the Volkswagen brand, along with Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti. Again, he was thought to be groomed as successor of Pischetsrieder. But actually, he was axed shortly after Pischetsrieder was sent packing and the Porsche-Piech putsch unfolded. Eyebrows rose when Bernhard showed up at Cerberus. Some saw him as the new Chrysler head. But no, again. He left a few months after he arrived. A stint at ill-fated Austrian Airlines also didn’t last long. And now he’s back where he began. At Mercedes. In charge of delivery vans.
Well, in the press they say that VW is today reaping the benefits from Bernhards time at the VW post, cutting excess spending and streamlining the organization. Not unrealistic, considering the time such changes in an automotive company take. Bernhard had bad luck with the different developments at the companies where he worked. Overall he seems to be an excellent manager. Good choice for Daimler bringing him back.
Bernhard's problem at VW was that he was Pischetsrieder's guy. So when Pischetsrieder got axed for making deals with MAN without letting Piech in on it, Bernhard had to go as well.
Great product guy. But talent isn't enough when politics dictate who gets to carve the clay. Delivery vans? What kind of purgatory is that?
@Tom Both comments correct. In fact EvoBus, Daimler's Mercedes/Setra bus and coach brand have been among the few that did not cut production in December 2008-January 2009. Thinking of it, demand for buses should be recession proof. Units produced are in low 5 digit area compared to vans and other commercial vehicles but, the profit is huge. Definetely the "healthiest" among automotive products at the moment.