Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche Hands The Reins Over To His Successor, Marking New Era For Mercedes-Benz

Ola Kallenius will oversee the brand's transition toward EVs

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche Hands The Reins Over To His Successor, Marking New Era For Mercedes-Benz
Former Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, right, hands over the reins to Ola Kallenius, left, at an annual Daimler AG shareholder’s meeting in Berlin. [Photo: Daimler AG]

‘Dr. Z’ stepped down after 13 years at the helm.

Dieter Zetsche spoke to shareholders at an annual meeting in Berlin on Wednesday before officially stepping down as Daimler CEO. He received an ovation from the audience, as many praise his actions in steering the company out of its untenable merger with Chrysler, and building the company’s profits out of the 2008 financial crisis.

Now, 49-year-old Ola Kallenius rises to the top position, as he was formerly the head of Mercedes-Benz’ development wing. Among his other duties, Kallenius will have to guide the company through a major shift in its strategy — away from gasoline and diesel vehicles, and toward electric cars. Daimler is also joining forces with third parties to develop new mobility services, like smartphone apps.

An Associated Press report also highlighted another shift in Daimler AG’s strategy. Shareholders considered approving a new structure in which each of its divisions, such as cars and vans and commercial vehicles, would exist as their own independent entities. From there, Zetsche told shareholders it would be easier for those companies to respond to customer demands. It would also allow easier formations of partnerships with third parties that makes sense for one side, but not necessarily the other.

Right now, Mercedes-Benz is in the process of overhauling its lineup. They will reportedly cut some models from their comprehensive U.S. lineup. Beyond that, the company also plans to introduce its range of “EQ” electric vehicles, spearheaded by the EQC crossover.

Daimler AG may elect Zetsche to its board of directors after a two-year “cooling off” period.

Stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more updates, as well as new Mercedes-Benz reviews coming soon.