Top 10 Car Manufacturers: Daimler AG
#3: Daimler AG
A brief history
Daimler’s history can be traced back to 1886, when Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler invented the automobile independently of one another. The both founded companies – Benz & Cie., and Daimler-Moteren-Gesellschaft – which eventually merged in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz AG, and the Mercedes-Benz brand was born.
During World War II the company was required to almost exclusively produce military vehicles and components for the German Army, Air Force, and Navy. After the war and under Allied occupation, the company almost ceased to exist, but was revived so that it could contribute to the reconstruction of Germany. There was a pressing need for commercial vehicles at the time, although these were not profitable for the company, as vehicles were allocated to customers with coupons at a fixed price.
With new car and truck models in 1949, Mercedes-Benz brand continued its pre-war success, and Daimler-Benz began globalising by investing in production facilities in Brazil, Argentina, and India in the early 1950’s.
In 1958 Daimler-Benz acquired a majority stake in Auto Union GmbH of Ingoldstadt, which it later sold to Volkswagen in 1964. The profits from this sale were used to build a truck plant at W÷rth, and following the acquisitions of Hanomag-Henschel and Krupp in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, Daimler-Benz became the world’s number one truck manufacturer.
The 1980’s saw Daimler-Benz branch out into different industries, and moved from being solely an automotive manufacturer to an integrated technology concern. Shares were bought in aerospace company Dornier and AEG AG, whose business activities included energy, industrial and rail technology, communications systems and household appliances.
The 1990’s, however, saw restructuring and cost-cutting, and the company’s direction was changed again with a refocusing on the core vehicle business. In the late 90’s Daimler-Benz acquired a 37% stake in Asian manufacturer Mitsubishi, and a 10% stake in the Hyundai Motor Company. In 1994 Daimler-Benz brought what would become the ‘Smart’ brand under its umbrella, providing a 51% stake in the company formed in the agreement with SMH – Micro Compact Car AG, and in 1998 the Group merged with American carmaker Chrysler.
|Revenue (2013)||$160 Billion|
|Pre-tax profit (2013)||$14.7 Billion|
|Vehicle sales (2013)||2.35 Million|
Dr. Dieter Zetsche was appointed Chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG in January 2006. He first joined the company in 1976 working in the research department, and quickly rose through the ranks.
In 1991 he moved to America to take up the position of President of the Freightliner Corporation, owned by Daimler-Benz. Within 14 months he had transformed the company and reinstated it as the leading heavy truck manufacturer in the USA. In 1992 he returned to Germany to work in the ailing Mercedes-Benz division, and helped the brand regain market position with the introduction of 10 new models in 3 years under his leadership.
After Daimler merged with Chrysler profits fell sharply, and in 2000 Zetsche was appointed CEO and President of the Chrysler Group. Over the next two years he restructured the company through a series of lay-offs and plant closures, and by the first quarter of 2002 Chrysler was showing healthy profits again. Again he was credited with turning the company around, which has led to his reputation in the organisation as the ‘turnaround specialist’.
In 2007 he was central to the de-merger of Daimler and Chrysler and became Chairman of the newly formed Daimler AG thereafter. Daimler AG posted record profits in 2012, and the company continues to grow under Zetsche’s stewardship.
Daimler’s overriding corporate goal is to achieve sustainable profitable growth to increase the value of the group. The company has set itself the target of putting Mercedes-Benz cars in the number one position in the premium segment by the end of this decade, and plans to sell 1.6 million cars under the brand in 2015. In addition it aims to strengthen its position in the commercial sector, with sales targets of 500,000 Daimler trucks, 400,000 Mercedes-Benz vans, and 42,000 Daimler buses in 2015.