Tag Archives: Dieter Zetsche

Report: Mercedes FWD platform to last until 2018, convertible and two-seater future uncertain

By Brandon Turkus

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan - front three-quarter view, silver

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Mercedes-Benz seems to be expecting a lot of success from its front-wheel-drive CLA-Class. Automotive News is reporting that the sub-C-Class sedan could grow when its second generation arrives in 2018.

The current FWD platform for MB underpins the CLA, the B-Class, the GLA-Class, and the A-Class. The B-Class will arrive in North America as an EV for spring of 2014, while the production GLA crossover will arrive three to four months after that. The five-door A-Class won’t be crossing The Pond. Sad faces all around.

According to AN, another model will be based on the front-drive architecture, but it won’t be coming to the US market. Set to arrive next year, rumors are that it’ll be a wagon version of the CLA, sort of like the ill-named five-door CLS Shooting Brake that is also a Europe-only item.

As for the rumored CLA convertible and two-seat roadster, if those two arrive, it’s not going to be until the second-generation of the current architecture hits the market. Even then, their future is in uncertain, as Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG told Automotive News, “We are considering the final portfolio of the next generation of our compact cars. We have to define it and we may expand the portfolio.”

Mercedes FWD platform to last until 2018, convertible and two-seater future uncertain originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 22 Jul 2013 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Mercedes-Benz Execs Talk 13 New Models, Electric Cars, and Hybrid AMGs

By Eric Tingwall

Mercedes-Benz has little fear its entry-level CLA250 will cannibalize sales of its C-class.

Mercedes-Benz has never had a stronger first quarter in the United States than it has had in 2013, but the German automaker isn’t about to slow down. The company is taking strides to secure its position over the long term and to bolster its global sales with 13 all-new new models by 2020. These vehicles aren’t just refreshes and redesigns; the Stuttgart-based marque will introduce 13 new nameplates—vehicles without a predecessor. We know there will be the front-drive-based GLA-class crossover and the S-class will add coupe and convertible variants, but the bulk of the plan remains a mystery. Hoping to fill in some of the unknowns, we sat down with four of the most influential executives at Mercedes-Benz: Thomas Weber, head of R&D; Dieter Zetsche, Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz cars; Jörg Prigl, vice president of small-car development; and Ola Källenius, chairman of Mercedes-Benz AMG. Here’s what they had to say about the future of Mercedes:

Car and Driver: We’re struggling to find 13 obvious holes in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. What kinds of vehicles are coming? Should we expect Mercedes versions of BMW’s Gran Turismos?

Thomas Weber: To build such a vehicle is easy. To be successful is the name of the game. You also must be careful not to say a current trend is a trend forever. We will certainly add long-wheelbase models targeting the Asian markets. As we look at these new models, we need to beat our competitors in three areas: design, powertrains, and environmental and safety technologies.

C/D: Is there any concern that the $30,825 CLA250 might dilute the brand image in the U.S. or cannibalize C-class sales?

Dieter Zetsche: Our more-mature, more-affluent customers are very good to us. At the same time, the A-class has an average age drop of 10 years [in Europe]. It’s all about striking the right balance. The new S-class will move into Rolls-Royce Ghost territory. Just as we introduce small cars, we keep the light shining on the brand.

Jörg Prigl: If we saw that as a risk, we shouldn’t have done the CLA. We are not fighting for the loyal customers we have.

Mercedes wants to be at the forefront of EV development.

C/D: Electric vehicles have failed to take off in the U.S. Why bring the electric B-class to market?

Prigl: Technology leadership in a potential future drivetrain is a must for us. The partnership with Tesla will help us speed up and beat the competition. If you believe you can do this alone as an automaker, you will fail. The battery cell should not be done by the OEM. There should be huge competition among suppliers to get the cell right. The specific know-how for the automaker is in the packaging and the battery management. Tesla provides the complete powertrain for the B-class

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Report: Zetsche's CEO tenure extended through 2016 at Daimler

By Jonathon Ramsey

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There appear to be two takes on Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche having his contract extended for three more years, to 2016. A report in The Detroit News quotes the chairman of Daimler’s supervisory board, Manfred Bischoff, talking up the stability at the top, “With today’s extensions of the contracts of Dieter Zetsche and Thomas Weber, we are maintaining the important continuity at the top executive level.” Bischoff also stated that that Zetsche has a plan to “further enhance Daimler’s overall performance.”

Over at Reuters, though, the three-year extension was seen as a lack of complete confidence in Zetsche’s plans, since his contract was supposedly meant to be extended by five years. A spokesman said the board decided to extend executive contracts by only three years if the person was 60 or would turn 60 during the contract, but that was news to observers. Zetsche wants to make Mercedes-Benz the top selling luxury manufacturer globally by 2020, but has fallen to third place behind Audi and BMW. It hasn’t held the top spot 2005, and investors judged it valued at half that of BMW at the end of 2012 once Daimler’s truck business was subtracted.

Analysts cites the fact that Daimler stock hasn’t bested its rivals but twice in twelve years, and that the company revised its profit target downward last year by nearly one billion euros, warning of stagnant earnings this year and will miss its original margin target for 2013.

Zetsche’s CEO tenure extended through 2016 at Daimler originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 24 Feb 2013 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Daimler gives CEO three more years to chase rivals

Daimler AG CEO Zetsche smiles during the company's annual news conference in Stuttgart

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Daimler extended the contract of its chief executive by only three years in a gesture to investors concerned that rival premium carmakers are winning the race for global leadership. 59-year-old Dieter Zetsche, who wants Daimler to overtake BMW and Volkswagen to become the world's biggest premium carmaker by the end of the decade, had been expected to get five more years. Since Zetsche took the helm seven years ago, Daimler's stock has risen just over 2 percent. …

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Yahoo Business

The Continental: Best and Worst of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show

By Jens Meiners

The Continental

Each week, our German correspondent slices and dices the latest rumblings, news, and quick-hit driving impressions from the other side of the pond. His byline may say Jens Meiners, but we simply call him . . . the Continental.

Volkswagen CrossBlue concept

Detroit is the most important American auto show by far. As a German, it is endlessly fascinating to check out the American and Asian cars at the show, many of which are not sold in my home country. Those that are sold there often come with vastly different powertrains and design features. This year’s Detroit show was rife with awesome styling concepts and even a few surprises. Here is my personal take on some of the cars and technologies I came across on the show floor.

Best Concept: Volkswagen CrossBlue. Yes, I know the styling doesn’t knock anyone’s socks off, but it is well executed to the last beautiful detail—and it packs a lot of them, such as the angular, U-shaped daytime running lights. The concept’s interior is futuristic and it boasts quite forward-looking technology, such as a Schaeffler-supplied electric rear axle. Volkswagen’s MQB modular architecture is designed to incorporate this unit with few changes, and we will see it on production VW Group cars soon.

Lincoln MKC concept

Worst Concept: Lincoln MKC Concept. Ford’s design department under J Mays seems to be falling back into an old pattern. Remember the Ford Five Hundred, a blatant ripoff of Peter Schreyer’s Volkswagen B5 Passat? I can just imagine Mays ordering Lincoln chief designer Max Wolff to take an Audi Q5 and morph it to the Ford Escape’s package. From the side window opening to the wraparound tailgate, the MKC is embarrassingly lacking in originality. Several Ford designers have worked in Audi and VW design, but shouldn’t they be allowed to move on?

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Best Production Car: Chevrolet Corvette. America’s sports-car icon is taking a big leap forward. Its styling is aggressive enough to appeal not only to the aging Corvette collector crowd, but also to a new, younger set of buyers. The front grille may be somewhat unexceptional, but the headlight design is refreshing; the side view is novel and even slightly Italian; and the angry rear end is simply fantastic. Thank you, Chevrolet, for not allowing this icon to be clinic’d to death. The C7 Vette goes the extra 25 percent the C6 wasn’t allowed to go, and as a result it will be considered a great Corvette.

2014 Jeep Compass Latitude

Worst Production Car: Jeep Compass. This car is hardly worth mentioning, but it represents the mindset that prevails when “car guys” take the back seat in a car’s development. Cynically exploiting the Jeep brand, this pseudo-SUV has become a barely acceptable vehicle almost seven years after its launch. It resembled a diminutive Grand Cherokee for a few years, but now its big brother is getting a facelift, leaving the Compass behind yet again. It is a sad fact that the Compass was conceived when Dieter Zetsche and Wolfgang Bernhard were calling the shots at Chrysler, as they are now at Mercedes-Benz.

2014 Cadillac ELR

Best Exterior: Cadillac ELR. The series production ELR does not deviate far from the look laid down by the stunning Converj concept from a few years back, and I like everything about it. Slim, futuristic, and true to Cadillac’s unique design language, it brings enormous appeal to the notion of owning an electric vehicle. Let’s hope that the ELR’s on-road performance, with its boosted Volt powertrain, is anywhere near what the styling promises, so that it won’t need the VL Industries treatment (see below).

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA

Worst Exterior: Mercedes-Benz CLA. Almost eight years ago, I wrote a requiem for German design in a commentary for Automotive News. Back then, I argued that restraint and simplicity have gone out the door in favor of voluptuous lines and nonfunctional styling—and that was before Gorden Wagener became head of design at Mercedes-Benz. From my somewhat purist perspective, things certainly haven’t improved. That said, taste in styling is personal, and anyone who likes the looks of the CLA, a self-proclaimed “style rebel,” will be positively thrilled by its dynamic capabilities. And I concede the small Benz’s look is functional: It has the one of the lowest drag coefficients of all series production vehicles on the market.

By the way, as we are speaking of simplicity and restraint: Why did every Audi—the high-performance 2014 RS7 included—on the stand in Detroit have chrome wheels?

Best Interior: Toyota Avalon. I opened the door of this Japanese Buick only to check if they still fitted a front bench seat; the last Avalon I bothered to peek into (some years ago) was so equipped. To my utter surprise, I was met with one of the most beautifully styled instrument panels I’ve seen in this class. It has a layered surface, soft and hand-stitched padding, and a brushed-metal center zone fitted with precisely machined knobs just like on a 1970s high-end stereo. (Which most Avalon customers likely vividly remember.)

2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum interior

Worst Interior: Any Cadillac with CUE. Actually, GM’s luxury brand has some of the best interiors in the marketplace—clever, functional, aesthetically pleasing. But for me, the CUE infotainment system ruins the experience. Not only is it slow to respond and sometimes counterintuitive, I deplore the pitiful graphics. Come on, an ancient telephone receiver to symbolize the phone function? An antique globe to represent navigation? There even are 1970s-style symbolized bodies for the climate controls and OnStar, plus a child’s drawing of a cloud for the weather. It gets worse as you move on, delving into a world of overlapping rectangles and wide, empty spaces on the screen. This inexplicable mix of shapes and styles is unworthy of Cadillac. Ford’s SYNC, with all of its shortcomings, is an application that is far more pleasant to look at.

VL Automotive Destino

Biggest Surprise: VL Industries Destino. This Fisker Karma, stripped of its battery pack and electric powertrain, delivers one of the nastiest blows to E-mobility to date. The factory Karma is built around the notion of “sustainable mobility,” and VL’s dumping a naturally aspirated or supercharged 6.2-liter Corvette V-8 into its engine bay is about as sensitive as showing up at the local co-op in a camo-colored Hummer H1. The incredulous eyes of my European colleagues upon stumbling over the Destino were priceless. Can this be allowed? Yes.

Acura NSX Concept

Biggest Yawn: Acura NSX. It seems time to move beyond the NSX sports car even before this never-ending launch is finally over. I really look forward to driving the actual car, but the new model’s surprise factor and mystique will have been squandered by the time it hits the road.



Ford Atlas concept

Best Truck: Ford Atlas. Okay, this will be another long-haul launch, but for now, this thinly veiled next-generation F-150 is bold, well executed, and pleasantly technical in its styling language. I like the look, and I like the fact that it appeared in Detroit by surprise.

2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ

Worst Truck: GM’s new-for-2014 full-size pickup trucks for GMC and Chevrolet. GM’s design leadership in trucks was last asserted with the 1988 C/K—and lost to the Dodge Ram in 1994. Since then, it has been a downhill slide for the General, with the 2014 Chevy and GMC trucks figuring as the current low point. I suppose the trucks aspire to boldness, but, in fact, the pair represents one of the most timid redesigns I have seen. Apart from a few gimmicky details, calling these rigs “evolutionary” would be an overstatement.

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver

Detroit: 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup shows its freshened face

By Jeffrey N. Ross

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Mercedes-Benz showed us its redesigned 2014 E-Class more than a month ago, but the Detroit Auto Show finally gave us a chance to see the full family of mid-size luxury cars and wagons in the flesh. Dieter Zetsche introduced the cars, including sedan, coupe, convertible and station wagon, on stage showing the stylish new design direction.

The wagon and sedan versions (shown as the E400 Hybrid above) will go on sale this spring, while the coupe and cabriolet will hit showrooms over the summer. Check our new gallery of live shots for the entire 2014 E-Class lineup, as well as the previously released press release below.

Continue reading 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup shows its freshened face

2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class lineup shows its freshened face originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Jan 2013 12:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog