Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is optimistic about 2012, despite risks and challenges

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 19, 2011

Despite the upcoming risks and challenges, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche is optimistic about 2012. In a year-end letter to employees, Zetsche said that the company continues to be in “good shape” and is “growing.” He acknowledged the threat of economic difficulties just two years after the global crisis in 2009. He cited the debt crisis in Europe and the sluggish recovery of the U.S. economy.

However, he asserted that the company is prepared for any type of scenario. He said that the company’s goal is to “achieve steady growth in a volatile environment.” He said that Daimler’s "Mercedes-Benz 2020" plan is for the premium brand to reach No. 1 in the luxury segment in unit sales, revenue and operating profit by 2020 or even earlier.

Next year, six new models will be launched by Mercedes-Benz. These include the SL roadster, third-generation A-class entry-premium model, and full-electric Smart ForTwo. It will also be launching a new family of Actros commercial vehicles. A new truck joint venture in China with Foton is about to start as well. Zetsche ended the letter by writing that Daimler is poised to record “another successful chapter” in the automaker’s history.

The sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is the carmaker’s newest interpretation of this terrific athlete and trendsetter. Offered initially with two engine choices, the new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class offers impressive dynamic and agile performances. Serving as core of the new SL350 and the new SL500 are new BlueDIRECT V6 and V8 engines, respectively.

Both engines are more powerful than their predecessors, with the V6 developing up to 225 kW (306 hp) of output and the V8 providing 320 kW (435 hp) of max output. The superb performance of the new Mercedes-Benz SL-Class is also attributable to the fact that it features all-aluminum bodyshell, which is around 110 kilograms lighter than a comparable bodyshell made from sheet steel.

While lighter, this aluminum bodyshell is also more rigid and safer than its predecessor. This is all thanks to the a systematic and intelligent material mix of aluminum alloys and aluminum components – each made for their respective requirements – blending with a few portions of magnesium and high-strength steel. Interestingly, the sixth-generation SL is lighter overall than its predecessor – the new SL500, at 1,785 kg, is around 125 kilograms lighter than its predecessor, while the SL350, at 1,685 kg, weighs 140 kilograms less than the previous model – even though it is loaded with more comfort feature and more safety devices.

This can be attributed to the addition of an array of intelligent enhanced details that allow the SL to become lighter than before. Since the new Mercedes SL is now lighter, there is a corresponding surge in longitudinal and lateral dynamics, allowing the newest Sportlich-Leicht to perform superbly on the road, especially during cornering. The new SL is also more agile, lighter and safer to control thanks to its wider track – plus 38 mm on the front and 77 mm on the rear.

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