Bernhard After Dr. Z's Job Again?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
bernhard after dr zs job again

If the German magazine Focus is informed correctly, then Dr. Z’s days at Mercedes are counted. Focus heard that Wolfgang Bernhard will run Mercedes, while Dr. Z. will run all of Daimler. „In a second step, Bernhard could succeed Zetsche 2012 as Daimler CEO,“ says FOCUS. Currently, Bernhard is responsible for production and purchasing of Mercedes.

Bernhard is Daimler’s lost son. He was Zetsche’s sidekick during the Chrysler days in Detroit. He had been anointed as chief of Mercedes, but left in a huff after he couldn’t agree with Juergen Schrempp whether Mitsubishi should join the DaimerChrysler fray.

A few months later, her appeared as head of the Volkswagen group of brands (VW, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti.) That didn’t last long either. At Volkswagen, Bernhard quickly earned the nickname “Terminator.” He didn’t make friends with the powerful unions. When Piech brought in Winterkorn as CEO, and as chief of the Volkswagen brand, Bernhard didn’t accept the demotion as head of production, and left.

When Cerberus bought Chrysler, he became a consultant. Some thought he would run Chrysler, but three months later, he was gone again. In February 2009, he was back at Daimler with a less than glorious job: Head of Mercedes vans. Since February 2010, he is in his new job at Mercedes. Everybody agrees that Bernhard is meant for something more important. Succeeding Zetsche won’t be easy: The two of then are considered bosom buddies.

According to Focus, the Daimler two-step has already been discussed with the supervisory board and the unions. The unions already agreed, with the proviso that Bernhard will be „closely monitored“ and should first get the job as „Mercedes boss on probation.“

A day later, an official Daimler spokesperson said the story is “a fabrication”

According to Automotive News Europe (ANE), Daimler reiterated in a statement that Zetsche will fulfil his contract until it runs out at the end of 2013.

The story of Bernhard wanting Zetsche’s job has been around for a while. During the Geneva Autoshow, Zetsche denied to journalists that Bernhard is his heir apparent at Daimler, reportedly saying: “It’s no secret that we worked well together and I’m happy to have him back. But he’s not my crown prince and he’s not my deputy.”

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  • Dr Strangelove Dr Strangelove on Aug 25, 2010

    Agree with Runfromcheney on Zetsche. Things have certainly improved at Daimler since he took over. Bernhard may be a good cost cutter but my sense is he is not enough of a car guy.

  • Kristjan Ambroz Kristjan Ambroz on Sep 08, 2010

    Bernhard is an ex-consultant, so he will by now (especially after all the years in the industry) know a reasonable amount about the industry but you are right, he is not a car guy. I also heard a very different unofficial version why he left MB the first time, much more to do with his complete lack of sensitivity than any real disagreement about strategy. As for his successes, again always hard to judge for an outsider but I guess the current generation S class and the improvement in success over the last one is one thing attributed to him, the Golf VI cost cutting another.

  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.