By on January 17, 2010

Dead tête-à-tête? Picture courtesy bmwblog.com

More than a year ago, TTAC reported top-level attempts of a cooperation between BMW and Daimler. At the time, we didn’t give the cooperation big odds. Our educated prediction: As much as the heads of the automakers may desire mutual aid, middle management and especially the engineers will torpedo any tête-à-tête. “If you think South Korea and North Korea have communication problems, then you should be in a meeting between Daimler and BMW engineers,” was our analysis (based on input of people who have been in those meetings.) And we wrote: “Currently, Daimler and BMW don’t share much more than common pain.”

Supposedly, they kept talking. They could agree to joint purchasing of parts, but even that didn’t progress beyond less than lofty goals. Projects which promised savings of hundreds of millions, such as the joint production of transmissions and engines, went absolutely nowhere.

Now, Der Spiegel reports that all talks about possible jointness between Daimler and BMW have been called off. “There are no new meetings,” said a top manager to Der Spiegel. “There is nothing to talk about.”

No wonder: Daimler engineers view their colleagues as boorish Bavarian upstarts. BMW engineers think Daimler is a congregation of has-beens. Even amongst customers exists a huge schism. Switching from a 7-Series to an S-Class is viewed as a worse sin than denouncing Catholicism and becoming a Muslim. Which is totally wrong. Turks in Germany show the most brand mobility when it comes to Daimler and BMW. In the olden days, an oilburning used Mercedes was viewed as THE car to bring back to  Anatolia. Now, the 3-Series BMW is called a “Türkenauto” in Germany, and drivers complain about racial/automotive profiling.

Be it as it may, Daimler is now in talks with Renault about a possible cooperation. Again, the talks are being sabotaged by middle management and engineers in Sindelfingen. “Renault? Gross, yuck, gag me with a bucket tappet.” Maybe it’s just a ploy by upper management to make the rambunctious rank&file accept the lesser evil BMW.

One indicator: As Reuters reports, both BMW and Daimler deny vehemently that their so far platonic romance has ended. “We continue to talk to BMW,” said a Daimler spokesman. A BMW spokesman said talks about a purchasing cooperation were still being held. Well, North and South Korea also have occasional talks.

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11 Comments on “The Marriage That Never Was: Splitsville At BMW And Daimler? Or Not?...”


  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    “In the olden days, an oilburning used Mercedes was viewed as THE car to bring back to  Anatolia”

    Don’t forget Thrace!

    Daimler are only talking to Renault because they need access to cheap car technology and know-how, BMW don’t have that experience. A Mini is a premium small car.

    All this talk of “part sharing” is highly unlikely (but possible). Germans are fastidious  when it comes to part sharing. Daimler bought Chrysler and the best they let Chrysler have were some old platforms which Daimler didn’t want. So, how will the market feel when there is little difference between a Mercedes-Benz and a BMW? Both companies will go down. Daimler and BMW’s best bets are:

    1. Buy a huge stake in another car company to achieve higher volumes (unlikely, nobody will trust BMW or Daimler)
    or

    2. Learn to run more efficiently.

    BMW and Daimler are two companies which will be interesting to watch in the next few years. The market is consolidating and they are starting to seem like small fish in a big pond.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Given your UK focus, I’m surprised you did not comment of BMW’s synergyless and (aside from keeping the Mini which BMW had basically re-re-engneered by itself) failed foray into Rover Group …

      I agree with your interpretation for the motivation behind the DB-Renault talks.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Daimler didn’t let Chrysler have anything – Chrysler was charged for Daimler’s cast-off designs, and they weren’t even given a family discount. 

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      @Robert.Walter
       
      PSA? You mean, Renault, right?

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      My R was doing it’s imitation of a flamingo sleeping … hence the P … text will be amended (or not, given the magically disappearing edit button… just tried, and it’s gone, so guess not.)

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      BMW is already working with PS. Matter? Mini’s engines, both petrol and diesel.
       
      And to think that before Benz (as my persian friends call them) got its hand on Chrysler,  Minis employed a version of the Neon engine.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    BMW and Daimler need to look to the east for partners.  India, China or South Korea all come to mind as having potential partners for small car production as well as sales.  Their competition is all ready there.

  • avatar

    Both BMW and Daimler have successful joint ventures in China. China is the world’s largest market for Daimler’s S-class, and the S-class isn’t even made there.  China is Daimler’s 4th largest market after Germany, the US, and the UK. This year, China is expected to  unseat the UK in Benz sales. China is BMW’s 4th largest market overall. They have China covered. Both have plants in India and are doing quite well there also.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Daimler start to talk to Jaguar Land Rover next. JLR could do with a partner and Daimler would be ideal. With Ratan Tata’s links to Daimler and Daimlers shareholding in TATA then co-operation would actually pay dividends to Mercedes (litterally). In fact I think I’m right in saying that before the talks with BMW started Daimler hinted that it may talk to JLR…. Also wouldn’t be surprised to see JLR and Daimler work together on making an all new Daimler luxury car, given Daimler’s emotional ties to the brand and Jag’s ownership of it.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “Daimler engineers view their colleagues as boorish Bavarian upstarts.”

    I see that Dumbler has not changed since their days of running Chrysler (into the ground). Look east for a partner? If they don’t think much of their fellow countrymen or Canadian/Americans, many who are of European descent, do you really think they would/could foster a working relationship with an Asian automaker based on mutual trust and respect? The world will burn up from global warming before that happens. 

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