Tag Archives: Thomas Weber

The Continental: Professor Lenz on EVs, Schaeffler’s Hub Motor, and Product News

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.

Just hype? If so, at least one engineer thinks EV’s time in the limelight has passed.

Next week, the inner circle of the powertrain engineering world convenes at the Vienna Engine Symposium. I expect this year’s meeting will again be exciting, as further advances in the internal combustion engine could render the complex and expensive efforts at electrification futile. Professor Hans-Peter Lenz from Vienna, who leads the Symposium, takes delight in the fact that “the EV hype is over and has been replaced by fact-based reporting.” He states that “every new engine generation achieves gains of about 20 percent in terms of efficiency, emissions, and power. This means that the efficiency of conventional powertrains grows at a higher rate than the progress of electric powertrains.”

Moreover, the argument that fossil-fuel supplies will run out within our lifetimes seems to be solidly demolished by the advent of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology. (And oil is still going to be around as well.) At a recent BMW event, a German engineer roundly dismissed the hydraulic tech: “Fracking is not the way.” But this seems to be a specifically German perspective. It is the same country that’s shutting down perfectly good nuclear power stations without consulting its neighbors—because of a tsunami in Japan.

Speakers in Vienna will include Daimler’s R&D chief Thomas Weber, his BMW counterpart Herbert Diess, and Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn. Their appearance promises to provide rare insight in technological and corporate strategies. I am looking forward to this as an absolute highlight of the automotive year.

Mercedes-Benz Unimog testing

A New Unimog

Daimler is launching a face-lifted version of its Unimog truck, a commercial vehicle with both a cult-like following and unsurpassed off-road capabilities. (The former partly due to the latter.) The next Unimog will meet Euro-6 emissions regulations, it receives an upgraded electronics architecture, and revised styling inside and out. We will even see a huge, Mercedes-Benz SL–inspired grill grace the ‘Mog’s front end; testing is underway in Scandinavia.

Volvo S60 Polestar

Sporty Volvo

Chinese-owned Volvo is serious about launching its Polestar high-performance line, and the S60 Polestar is the first full-on Polestar model to make it into dealerships. It is powered by a version of Volvo’s ubiquitous turbocharged straight-six, tweaked to produce 350 horsepower at 5700 rpm. That is 50 horsepower more than the regular S60 T6 and 25 more than the S60 T6 R-Design. Maximum torque is rated at “over 368″ lb-ft from 2800 to 4750 rpm. To squeeze out the extra power, Volvo has replaced the S60′s turbocharger and intercooler with bigger units and installed a free-flow exhaust system. The sedan’s Aisin-supplied six-speed automatic is unchanged. But Volvo has upgraded

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/dhAcGtW5_qw/

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

Filed under:

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

The Continental: Movement at Daimler, News from Fiat, and Speed Saves Lives

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.

In a surprise move, the supervisory board of Daimler has extended CEO Dieter Zetsche’ s contract by three years. It had been expected that he would stay in office for another five years, which is customary in Germany. The contract for research and development chief Thomas Weber has also been renewed for only three years, despite Daimler’s ledership role in future technologies. At the same time, current production and purchasing chief Wolfgang Bernhard, formerly head of AMG (he also was Chrysler CFO and Volkswagen brand CEO), becomes head of Daimler’s truck division. He swaps positions with Andreas Renschler, whose resume includes heading up Daimler’s Smart division.

The reshuffling of the board reveals that things are not all smiles in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. Wolfgang Bernhard is being groomed as Zetsche’s successor, but he has never gotten along smoothly with the employee side of things, a faction which enjoys significant clout on the supervisory board. Now Renschler is back in the game. But it is also possible that 59-year-old Zetsche will get a new contract three years from now.

Over the next few years, Daimler needs to fix its China business, which is lagging far behind Audi and BMW. The Mercedes brand’s reputation largely hinges on the success of the upcoming next-generation S-class; the smashing success of the (fantastically engineered) new A-class will need to be sustained over the next few years. On the design front, Mercedes might wish to strike a balance between appealing to those coveted buyers who wear their baseball caps backwards, and the (currently poorly attended) rest of us.

Thomas Weber in Bangalore

Betting on India

Daimler has opened its largest research and development center outside of Germany—and not in China or America, but in Bangalore, India. The country “is one of the core markets for [the] growth strategy Mercedes-Benz 2020, and it has enormous potential,” says board member Thomas Weber. In 1996, Daimler-Benz started kicked off its research and development activities in India with ten employees. Today, India is a center of competence for IT, electrics/electronics (EE), as well as computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided engineering (CAE). The center’s opening is good news for the company and for Weber, and I was hoping to be there to report in more detail. But, alas, the Indian embassy did not process my visa application in time.

Fiat Panda

Fiat’s Present and Lancia’s Past

Fiat has lowered the price of the still-fresh Panda. In Germany, it now starts at €8,990 (including 19-percent sales tax). Fiat still sells the previous generation model, called the Panda Classic, alongside the new one. The price cut is not a very good sign, but struggling Fiat needs all the sales it can get. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Car & Driver