Not so long ago, at the start of 2013, Dieter Zetsche, Daimler’s Chief Executive Officer, even had to dread for its job – now, only a year later its strategy already bears a fruitful success, as Mercedes started closing the gap to its sworn enemies – BMW and Audi.
Back then, Zetsche almost had to resign form commission and only remained there after making a deal with investors and labor leaders who ultimately denied him a full contract (he signed an agreement that was two years short of the German industry norm) amid profit warnings and years of little gains at the world’s third-largest premium car brand.
“The criticism last year wasn’t completely unexpected, but it was based on conditions that were rooted in the past,” Zetsche, 60, said in an interview. “I was convinced we were at the beginning of an upward trend. We’re seeing clear signs of that now, and there’s more to come.”
Now, Mercedes looks like an entirely new automaker, finally shedding the “old man” car brand image. Thanks to the introduction of sporty and highly successful entry-level cars like the CLA sedan, it outsold Audi in the final of 2013 and grew faster than BMW for the first time since 2010. This years also looks very promising, as the automaker aims to hold on to its lead in the US (where it became number one for 2013) with the full introduction of the S-Class flagship, the outing of the new generation C- Class and the introduction of the GLA small crossover.