In February 2013, the contract of Dieter Zetsche as Daimler AG’s chief executive was extended by two years less than the norm in Germany, no thanks to critics that included both investors and labor leaders. Unions have also pressed Zetsche to swap two of his top lieutenants. That was after a series of profit warnings and years of slow growth gains at Mercedes-Benz.
A year later, Zetsche seemed to have proven his critics wrong. His strategy, especially for Mercedes-Benz, is working and the luxury brand is now catching up with its German rivals.
In fact, Mercedes – armed with the new entry-level CLA – managed to outsell Audi in the final months of 2013 and even gained more in the year than BMW. For 2014, Mercedes has in its arsenal a fully available S class and a refurbished C class as well as the GLA compact SUV.
"The criticism last year wasn't completely unexpected, but it was based on conditions that were rooted in the past," Zetsche told Bloomberg News in an interview.
"I was convinced we were at the beginning of an upward trend. We're seeing clear signs of that now, and there's more to come." More encouraging evidence of advancement at the carmaker are seen when Daimler publishes its fourth-quarter results.
Earnings before interest and taxes from current operations are expected to grow 37 percent to EUR2.39 billion ($3.23 billion), according to the average estimate of 12 analysts polled by Bloomberg. Zetsche has pledged three years ago to reclaim the luxury car sales crown by 2020 after falling behind BMW in 2005 and Audi in 2011.