Ola Kaellenius has been named as Daimler’s new head for sales and marketing, replacing Joachim Schmidt. Kaellenius leads the AMG unit of Mercedes and used to be the head of its factory in Alabama. Schmidt, a 34-year veteran of the company, is set to retire next month. In a statement, Daimler said that the changes will be effective on Oct. 1.
Schmidt, who celebrates his 65th birthday on Sept. 7, has led Mercedes’ sales and marketing department since 2009. It was in 1979 that he became a part of Daimler-Benz. He first started in passenger car development. He then went on to spend over 20 years in different sales and marketing management positions. According to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Mercedes was able to penetrate significant growth regions and make major progress in quality and customer satisfaction during his tenure.
In the statement, Zetsche said that Schmidt also played a central role in the automaker’s strategy to attract new, younger customers. Since April 1, 2010, Kaellenius has led AMG, the performance unit of Mercedes that builds the exotic SLS gullwing supercar. Previously, he served as the plant manager at the Mercedes' U.S. factory in Vance, Alabama. In 1993, he became a part of Daimler-Benz.
Zetsche described Kaellenius as “someone with cars in his blood taking over the reins" and as a brand expert who has a deep knowledge of Mercedes customers. Kaellenius has a challenging time ahead of him, particularly in China where Mercedes has dropped behind its two larger competitors because it lacks dealerships.
Mercedes will also have to go up against two competing local sales subsidiaries. In 2012, Mercedes’ sales fell behind BMW by 200,000 vehicles throughout the world. On the other hand, Mercedes was overtaken by Audi in 2011 sales, selling around 100,000 more cars worldwide than its Stuttgart-based rival last year. Daimler said that the successor of Kaellenius' successor at AMG will be divulged in the near future. [source: Daimler]