Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche to step down next year

by Jimi Beckwith, Autocar UK 26 Sep 2018


Dieter Zetsche will step down next year from his position of chairman of the board of management at the automotive giant and will be replaced by group research and Mercedes-Benz development boss, Ola Kallenius. 

Zetsche, who has been on the Daimler board since 1998, chairman of the board since 2006 and head of Mercedes-Benz cars since 2005, will step down after Daimler’s annual shareholder meeting on 22 May 2019. A two-year cooling-off period will follow, before Zetsche’s transfer to the supervisory board takes effect. 

In his future role on the supervisory board, Zetsche will replace Manfred Bischoff after the 2021 annual shareholders’ meeting.

Zetsche has been at Daimler since 1976, when he joined the research division. He has never worked outside of Daimler. Under Zetsche, Mercedes-Benz has become the best-selling luxury car maker in the world, outselling rivals Audi and BMW. Currently, the C-Class and A-Class are the ninth and tenth best-selling cars in the UK. 

Zetsche’s successor Kallenius has been appointed as chairman for five years. “In Ola Kallenius, we are appointing a recognised, internationally experienced and successful Daimler executive as chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. At the same time, we are relying on the proven dual responsibility of the chairman of the board of management as the head of the largest division, Mercedes-Benz Cars,” said Bischoff. 

Swedish-born Kallenius has been at Daimler since 1995, although had a two-year stint as executive director at McLaren Automotive between 2003 and 2005. He was appointed in his current role at the helm of group research and Mercedes-Benz development at the beginning of 2016, having joined the Mercedes-Benz board in 2015 as head of marketing and sales. 

Kallenius will be replaced by head of production and supply chain management Markus Schafer.