The Marriage That Never Was: Splitsville At BMW And Daimler? Or Not?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
the marriage that never was splitsville at bmw and daimler or not

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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  • Tstag Tstag on Jan 17, 2010

    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.

    • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Jan 18, 2010

      Sorry, the then Ford-owned JLR sold the Daimler name back to MB several years ago.

  • Windswords Windswords on Jan 18, 2010

    "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.