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Daimler chairman takes selfie with camouflaged Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz really does love to tease, and now, we know why. It is because the top honcho of parent Daimler AG, chairman Dieter Zetsche, loves to do so. In fact, Zetsche was recently featured on a post at Daimler’s LinkedIn business network account, taking a selfie with a camouflaged version of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Yes, the 2018 Mercedes A-Class is finally coming and it is now being test-driven – as well as teased -- by Zetsche himself.

Teasing a new product isn’t actually the main part of Zetche’s job at Daimler. However, he can do as he pleases. Nonetheless, as Daimler’s chairman noted, it is part of his job to test drive new products like the next generation of the A Class. It is his job to make sure that a new model is good enough to pass the careful eyes of the company’s management team, and is ready for series production.

Confirming that the car that he was taking a picture with is the 2018 A-Class in a camouflaged form, Zetsche said in a LinkedIn post that Mercedes will be taking the wraps off the camouflaged A-Class in 2018. He called the new A-Class as special since it is a symbol of the rejuvenation of the Mercedes brand, which started when it introduced the current generation in 2012. He noted that since 2012, Mercedes has sold more than two million units of the A-Class.

Read the entire article Daimler chairman takes selfie with camouflaged Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Mercedes-Benz drops plans to sell 2017 diesel models in the United States

It appears that the Dieselgate scandal masterminded and perpetrated by Volkswagen AG isn’t limited with company, but also has affected, albeit indirectly, its fellow carmakers from Germany. In fact, automotive customers in the United States might not be able to buy new diesel models from German premium carmaker Mercedes-Benz (2017 model year).

Mercedes-Benz’ parent Daimler AG disclosed that it had dropped plans to have Mercedes’ diesel cars and engines certified in the US. Sans any certification, Mercedes-Benz cannot sell its diesel-powered 2017 premium vehicles in the country. Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman Rob Moran told Automotive News that the company is putting on hold the certification process for its diesel passenger cars in the US, as part of a review of the carmaker’s portfolio offerings.

Mercedes-Benz hasn’t decided if it would totally exit from the American passenger diesel market, even though it would not be selling 2017 models in the region. However, given the current situation, an exodus from the American passenger diesel market in the future by Mercedes-Benz won’t be a surprise.

Read the entire article Mercedes-Benz drops plans to sell 2017 diesel models in the United States

Ford, Daimler, BMW, VW ink agreement to build charging stations across Europe

Four main automakers have entered a Memorandum of Understanding to develop what may be Europe’s highest-powered charging network. The four main brands hope that this will signal the start of the move for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to have a more mass-market appeal. This is because under the agreement, the brands will build a good number of charging stations to ensure that BEVs will have a longer travel range. The four companies are Ford Motor Company, Daimler AG, BMW Group, and the Volkswagen Group representing both the Audi and the Porsche.

With construction slated to being in 2017, the charging network is not only expected to offer a maximum of 350 kW in terms of power levels, but to also allow for faster charging. Though there will be 400 initial sites to be set-up across Europe, the group hopes that by 2020, BEV drivers will be able to recharge on a selection of thousands of charging stations. Another goal is to allow long-distance travel using open-network of charging stations placed on major roads and highways. At the present, this has not been seen to be feasible for many BEV drivers. The end goal is of course to make recharging as easy as refueling at standard gas stations.

The entire network will utilize the Combined Charging System standard technology with the infrastructure projected to eventually use the current AC and DC technical standards. Battery electric vehicles developed to allow for full charge at these stations will be able to recharge as well at brand-independent stations but at a faster rate. To ensure that BEV will have a strong acceptance in Europe, the group will make sure that the network will able to recharge all vehicles that are equipped with CCS.

Read the entire article Ford, Daimler, BMW, VW ink agreement to build charging stations across Europe

Daimler CEO says Apple and Google are getting nearer to making a self-driving car

It seems that tech giants Apple and Google are progressing on automotive projects faster than the top honcho of German carmaker Daimler had assumed. Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche told German weekly Welt am Sonntag that Silicon Valley companies that are working to develop a self-driving car seemed to know and can do more than assumed.

He noted that these companies have more respect for Daimler’s achievements than they thought. Google is currently testing prototype vehicles and is seeking partners from the auto industry, the company car’s project leader John Krafcik recently told the Automotive News World Congress.

There were also rumors that Apple is working on a vehicle, but the company did not confirm any speculations. In response to Google’s car project, Mercedes-Benz developed an S-class sedan that managed to drive 103 km (64 miles) sans any driver input.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO says Apple and Google are getting nearer to making a self-driving car

For Daimler AG (ticker symbol DAI), 2015 was a very profitable year with the company posting record levels in all its financial metrics. Due to the contributions from all its divisions, Daimler saw significant improvements in sales and revenues, net profit, the group’s earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) as well as EBIT of all ongoing business.

The company expects to continue the trend this 2016 and is projecting further growth in revenue and EBIT from its ongoing business. Daimler expects its position in major markets to be strengthened with an overall increase in unit sales.

These projections are based on the quality offerings in all its divisions as well as their competitive pricing structure and expanded product reach, making it possible for Daimler to post higher than the expected industry-wide increase in global demand for cars.

Read the entire article Daimler posts record profits for 2015, shareholders to get payout

The three prominent German automakers have successfully concluded their acquisition of Nokia’s HERE mapping and location services. In this digital world, the future of agile mobility lies in the hands of real-time maps that are highly intelligent services that are location-based and that offer a highly-automated driving experience.

These rich experiences can be had through HERE products and services. HERE is committed to produce first-rate maps and a newly defined range of location-based services. HERE’s products and services have been benefiting customers in different fields.

BMW Group, AUDI AG and Daimler AG are the new HERE shareholders. These premium automobile manufacturers have, on 4th December, acquired Nokia’s HERE mapping and location services after the deal was approved by all the competent authorities.

Read the entire article Audi, BMW and Daimler successfully conclude HERE acquisition

Soon, Mercedes-Benz cars that will be available in China will use software from Chinese tech giant Baidu. An announcement was made at the consumer electronics show CES in Shanghai last Monday that Daimler and Baidu have entered a deal. Baidu’s software will enable users on board Mercedes-Benz cars to access content such as music from their smartphones via their dashboards.

No details were released on when the Baidu application will be first seen in the cars. Automakers are hoping to expand the internet services available in the vehicles. They are also aiming to improve smartphone compatibility.

Meanwhile, the heat is on among automakers that are competing to acquire Nokia's maps business, which is considered a valuable asset in the development of self-driving cars.

Read the entire article Daimler to use Baidu software in Mercedes-Benz cars sold in China

Daimler Trucks’ autonomous Freightliner Inspiration Truck has taken its first trip on U.S. highway 15 in Las Vegas. Daimler Trucks now has a road license from the state of Nevada to use an autonomous heavy-duty truck on the road – the first manufacturer in the world to get one. This first journey was made by Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.

For autonomous driving, the truck features the intelligent Highway Pilot system. Two Freightliner Inspiration Trucks were licensed for regular operation on public roads. Daimler Trucks is the top truck producer in the world. With the Freightliner brand, it’s also known as the largest producer in the U.S.

The new Freightliner Inspiration Truck is the epitome of Daimler Trucks’ aspiration for future transport to be safer, more networked, and more efficient. The first demonstration took place in July 2014 of an autonomous truck --- the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025 – along a portion of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg that was cordoned off.

Read the entire article Nevada grants road license to Daimler’s autonomous Freightliner Inspiration Truck

The operating profit of Daimler for the first quarter of 2015 grew by 41% primarily due to the impact of launching new models and record-breaking sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. According to a statement released recently by the company, its overall adjusted group earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) surged to 2.93 billion euros (or $3.19 billion).

Mercedes-Benz Cars posted a 9.2% return on sales from ongoing business, considerably higher than the 7% recorded in the first quarter of 2014. The growth is fuelled by record-breaking passenger-car deliveries. Mercedes-Benz presently ranks third among luxury vehicle makers.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has set a goal for Mercedes to outdo sales of BMW and Audi by the end of the decade and increase profitability to 10% of its revenue. Quarterly passenger sales were 18% higher than last year with 459,708 units sold.

Read the entire article Daimler’s Q1 2015 operating profit is up 41%

Daimler plans to build a car plant in Russia and will choose from three potential sites -- Saint Petersburg, Tatarstan's capital Kazan, or the central Russian region of Sverdlovsk, according to Russia Today. It’s expected that Daimler will make its decision next month. Brand sales in this country are rising despite the steep downturn in its market.

According to Yuri Spiridonov, the president of the Russian investment agency Invest in Russia, Daimler wants to begin construction of this plant at the end of 2015 and hopes to achieve full capacity by 2017. The report also revealed that Daimler will produce the S class, E class, GL, ML and A class at this plant.

Officially, Daimler has said that it has made no decisions yet on the issue of the local production of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in Russia. A company spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe that the company is “continuously reviewing local production” and is looking at the growth in the market and sales prospects.

Read the entire article Daimler considers plant construction in Russia

Daimler is planning to spend billions of euros in the next few years to upgrade its factory at its headquarters in Untertuerkheim, near Stuttgart. For this year alone, Daimler will invest EUR1 billion ($1.06 billion) to modernize the site that builds engines, transmissions and axles for Mercedes-Benz cars.

The German carmaker that it has agreed steps with top labor representatives to keep the site’s workforce stable at around 18,700 people. The steps are also expected to yield cost savings "in the range of hundreds of millions of euros” until the end of the decade.

Markus Schaefer, head of production at Mercedes-Benz Cars, remarked that they are not only improving their flexibility and efficiency, but also developing a site into a high-tech location for carbon dioxide technologies.

Read the entire article Daimler to invest EUR1 billion to modernize Untertuerkheim facility

Daimler needs to review its plans to expand its production in the United States if the European currency remains weaks against its trans-atlantic counterpart, according to the carmaker's top labor chief, Michael Brecht. In October 2014, Daimler said it will transfer some output of its Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans from its Duesseldorf site in Germany, to a new factory somewhere in North America.

In recent months, however, the weaker euro has rendered European plants more competitive than a year ago, according Brecht said. "If the situation stays like this over a longer period, then the question is: Do I go in now, or can I do it later," Brecht said during a roundtable discussion in Stuttgart.

The Sprinters being sold in the US are currently built kit form at Daimler’s Duesseldorf and Ludwigsfelde sites and reassembled in Charleston, S.C. Brecht remarked that some projects that have been agreed upon but are yet to be fully implemented may be amended.

Read the entire article Daimler needs to review its US expansion plan, says labor chief

Daimler AG wants to gain substantial cost savings to offset higher costs for technology to cut carbon dioxide emissions, for at least the next few years, according to Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber.

Larger carmakers have invested large amounts of money for development of fuel-efficient vehicles, but consumers are now being prompted by lower fuel prices to instead purchase larger, less-efficient models.

Ford Motor Co. has already warned its investors that consumers in the United States may not pay the full costs of technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions – mainly because gasoline is cheaper than before.

Read the entire article Daimler eyes material savings to offset high variable costs

Dieter Zetsche will receive EUR8.36 million for his role as chief executive of Daimler AG in 2014, around 1.2 percent higher than he got in 2013 at EUR8.25 million. His base salary remains at EUR2 million. His remuneration also includes a short-term bonus of EUR1.73 million, a medium-term bonus payable in 2016 that depends on share performance, and long-term variable compensation that also entails stock options.

The extra pay comes after Mercedes posted higher sales growth in 2014 at 13 percent, which beats the pace posted by larger German luxury rivals BMW and Audi. Thanks to strong deliveries for its flagship S-class sedan and the GLA crossover, Mercedes was able to deliver over 1.65 million vehicles last year, but is still behind Audi by 91,090 and BMW by 161,709.

Combined pay, bonuses and stock options for Daimler's management board, however, dropped 5.6 percent to EUR28.5 million after Andreas Renschler, former head of manufacturing and procurement, jumped ship to Volkswagen in January 2014. Excluding Zetsche, the base salary of the management board jumped an average of 5 percent.

Read the entire article Daimler raises Dieter Zetsche’s pay by 1.4 percent after record sales in 2014

Hubertus Troska will remain as chief of Daimler’s operations in China for five more years until 2020 as the German carmaker tries to benefit from strong demand in the country to boost its global ranking. Daimler Supervisory Board chairman Manfred Bischoff and chief executive Dieter Zetsche said in a statement that Troska is “successfully promoting” the company’s business activities in China.

They attributed sustainable position in China to Troska's "dedication and expertise.” With Troska on the helm of Mercedes-Benz's car and truck operations in China, Daimler was able to trim the lead that BMW and Audi has over its luxury unit. He has in charge of Mercedes in China since last 2012, and has overseen an expansion that could make the country as its largest market this year, surpassing the United States.

Under Troska, Mercedes combined separate Mercedes sales organizations for imported and locally built cars – resulting to a 29-percent jump in Mercedes deliveries in 2014. Mercedes is now aiming to sell at least 10 percent more luxury vehicles in China this year to over 300,000 cars.

Read the entire article Hubertus Troska remains Daimler China chief until 2020

Daimler AG chief executive Dieter Zetsche believes that tech companies like Google would not become volume carmakers, even if they could possibly disrupt the auto industry that is becoming more focused on software and automated driving.

Just in the past few years, carmakers and tech firms based in Silicon Valley companies have become more inter-dependent, mainly because the development of next-generation cars requires development of advanced software and sensors.

Zetsche remarked that Google’s objective in unveiling an advanced self-driving car in 2014 might be to get a better understanding on how cars are used, instead of becoming a carmaker itself. "Google and the likes want to get involved, I don’t think in the first place to build vehicles," Zetsche said.

Read the entire article Daimler CEO says Google won’t become a volume carmaker

Daimler plans to introduce a new efficiency program at its Mercedes-Benz Cars division to slow down the acceleration of its cost base as it bids to post record vehicle sales, revenue and profits for this year. Daimler has tried but failed to match the higher margins at BMW and Audi. It also has more employees at Mercedes although its luxury sales are lower than BMW and Audi.

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche remarked that the measures are part of its new "Next Stage" program aimed at helping Mercedes achieve a 10-percent margin target in the midterm as well as offset the structural cost increase coming partly from EUR11.2 billion in plant and equipment investment allocated for 2015 and 2016.

He said the planned growth will be accompanied by increases in fixed costs and net assets, but the planned structural changes will limit the hikes. “We want to sustainably improve the structural competitiveness of the company,” he said.

Read the entire article Daimler bets on Mercedes-Benz to achieve significantly higher revenue this year

In order to increase production of lithium-ion batteries, Daimler will invest 100 million euros in the coming years. The carmaker will expand capacity at Deutsche ACCUmotive and a new building will be completed by mid-2015 as it is already under construction.

Deutsche ACCUmotive was founded in 2009 and currently it supplies lithium-ion batteries for the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive as well as hybrid versions of the S-, E- and C-Class. Daimler also plans to buy battery cells for the electric version of the 2015 Smart model from LG Chem.

“We are looking forward to continuous growth in the demand for Deutsche ACCUmotive batteries”, said Frank Blome, Managing Director of Deutsche ACCUmotive. “The production of battery systems by Deutsche ACCUmotive GmbH in Kamenz will contribute significantly to the growing expertise of the auto state Saxony in the area of electro mobility and battery technology. That is why I am pleased about the three-digit million investments in a company like Deutsche ACCUmotive GmbH here in Kamenz”, said Saxony's Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich.

Read the entire article Daimler will invest 100 million euros to expand production of lithium-ion batteries in Germany

German carmakers Daimler and BMW are working together to establish a network of suppliers for new plants in Mexico, according to Klaus Zehender, divisional board member for procurement and supplier quality at Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unit. The collaboration is part of Mercedes’ bid to further widen its network of local suppliers at its sites in China, South Africa, the United States and Mexico.

BMW and Daimler earlier this year each disclosed plans to make $1 billion in investments to build a site in Mexico, aiming to benefit from the country's budding industrial base as well as tariff-free access to the US. Zehender said that a cooperation between Daimler and BMW in Mexico could result to savings of around 10 percent.

He noted that the two carmakers work together where they have common interests, like setting up technical competencies among suppliers in specific plants.

Read the entire article Daimler and BMW collaborate to set up supplier network in Mexico

Daimler is not planning to increase its 5-percent stake in Aston Martin or participate in operational matters at the British sports car maker, according to Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche. He remarked that the huge difference in size between Aston and Daimler is a reason why the German carmaker has no plans to take part in running the UK company.

He remarked that Daimler could not make a better job “in running a 4,000-units-a-year company” than Aston‘s management,” Zetsche said. Aside from being a stakeholder in Aston, Daimler is also supplier the UK carmaker with electric and electronic parts and V8 engines from Mercedes’ AMG performance unit.

There have been reports that the carmakers are holding discussions on using Mercedes technology to develop an SUV that Aston Martin would roll out by 2017. Zetsche remarked Daimler paid nothing for the 5 percent stake in Aston Martin in exchange for technical cooperation.

Read the entire article Daimler not planning to increase Aston Martin stake or become involved in operational matters
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