- New sparkle with the ‘economic miracle’
- Integrated technology group and global company
For Daimler-Benz AG, the period from the end of the war up to the introduction of the Deutschmark was described by the Board of Management at the time as: ‘complete breakdown and yet the beginnings of a renaissance.’ For with the occupation of the plants by the victorious powers, society had ‘practically ceased to exist. After the war circumstances meant that links between individual plants and even to company-owned sales and service outlets were initially impossible.’
The first company plant to be occupied by American troops was that of Mannheim on 23 March 1945. Then in April that year, French troops occupied the plants at Gaggenau and Untertürkheim. During the night of 24/25 April, Red Army soldiers entered the Berlin-Marienfelde plant, seized all available machinery and began dismantling it in early May.
But the Western Allies soon authorised operation of the production lines once again, so that Daimler-Benz could start contributing to the economic reconstruction of the country. The Untertürkheim plant was provisionally reopened on 20 May, and 1,240 workers and employees made a start on restoring the buildings and production facilities. Production of the three-tonne L 701 truck was resumed at the Mannheim plant in June – a replica of the Opel Blitz, this vehicle had been built here under licence even before the outbreak of war. In May 1946, the Untertürkheim plant completed production of the first Mercedes-Benz 170 V units, initially commercial vehicle variants. Then in 1947, production started up again at the Sindelfingen plant.
In August, the American military government ordered Board of Management chairman Wilhelm Haspel to prepare saloon car production. Then in November the Allies granted Daimler-Benz permission to produce the 170 V as a pick-up, panel van and ambulance. In August the Gaggenau plant saw production start-up once again of the 4.5-tonne L 4500 truck, with no fewer than 290 units being built before the end of the year. By the end of December 1945 the workforce at all five plants in the Western zones had risen to 12,850 employees; by the end of 1946 it numbered 17,850 employees.
Above all, there was enormous demand for commercial vehicles, which although vital to the reconstruction of Germany were anything but profitable for the manufacturer, since vehicles were allocated to customers and the prices were fixed. ‘As the pricing authority only allowed us to sell the 170 V, for example, at a maximum price of 6,200 Reichsmarks, this production start-up naturally brought significant losses. During this period a new 170 V, which we were obliged to sell at the price mentioned above, could be resold second-hand for anything between 100,000 and 120,000 Reichsmarks,’ explained a summarised annual report covering the years from 1945 to the currency reform introduced on 20 June 1948.
Necessity proved the mother of invention, however. In summer 1945, engineers from the former Daimler-Benz aero-engine development department and a graduate agriculturist formed a working party under the leadership of Albert Friedrich to develop a motorized universal appliance for use in agriculture. The result was the Unimog, short for the German term ‘Universal-Motor-Gerät’ – a universal motor appliance that remains as successful today as ever.
Growth through acquisitions and new plants
Eventually the company and its Mercedes-Benz brand overcame the years of reconstruction after a process of consolidation and successfully picked up where the company had left off before the war, with the introduction of new passenger car and truck models. During the so-called economic miracle that followed, the Mercedes-Benz brand sparkled with new lustre – and just as before the war considerable status was attached to being seen driving a vehicle with the three-pointed star. The company underwent a renaissance and embraced new plans for expansion.
And not just in Eurosope: by 1949, Daimler-Benz had made initial contact with Brazil and from there the first large-volume orders were received shortly after the war. These had an impact on capacity at the Mannheim plant, where export of around 3000 trucks meant the plant could be enlarged to create more space. However, shipping costs were so high as to make trade with Brazil appear unprofitable for the Germans, so in 1950 Daimler-Benz AG founded Distribuidores Unidos do Brasil and acquired an assembly hall in Rio de Janeiro. Local production started up here shortly after the final large-scale imports of trucks from Germany. Mercedes-Benz do Brasil was established in 1952.
Soon after the war Daimler-Benz also restarted operations in Argentina. In 1950, the German carmaker and general distributor Jorge Antonio established Mercedes-Benz Argentina. Jorge Antonio imported huge numbers of Mercedes-Benz 180 D passenger car modesl, which mostly were used as taxis and were called hormigas negras, black ants, by the locals. With the profits amassed he built a truck assembly plant near Buenos Aires. When the country’s dictator Juan Perón was overthrown in 1955, Antonio was forced to flee – and shortly after opening the truck plant Daimler-Benz AG had to fight for its property. For a government decree put the company under ‘intervention and interdiction’ – how this was to be construed was not decided either by the government or by the courts. Truck production did not really begin until 1959, following the return of the shares in 1958.
Daimler-Benz also invested in a local production facility in India at a relatively early stage. In spring 1954, Daimler-Benz concluded a framework licence agreement with Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (Telco) in Bombay (Mumbai). The plant had a monthly output of around 600 vehicles by 1958. The company’s presence in India was expanded through various activities in the years that followed.
The first significant domestic acquisition of the post-war years was in 1958, when Daimler-Benz took a majority shareholding in the Auto Union GmbH, established in Ingolstadt in 1931, a purchase urged by major shareholder Friedrich Flick. This was where the DKW Junior was built from 1959 onwards. In 1964, Daimler-Benz sold Auto Union to Volkswagen and used the profits to build the truck plant at Wörth. Moreover, Auto Union was focused on the lower market segment; for Daimler-Benz AG to enjoy success in the lower mid-range would have meant too great a financial investment.
Auto Union’s Düsseldorf production facility remained in the hands of Daimler-Benz AG, however, and this plant continued production of the Mercedes-Benz L 319 light van launched in 1961. Today Düsseldorf is responsible for production of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
Another majority investment in Maybach-Motorenbau GmbH of Friedrichshafen in 1960 saw the start of activities at Lake Constance. Then, following the establishment of Mercedes-Benz Motorenbau GmbH in 1963, the two Friedrichshafen plants were merged in 1966 to form Maybach Mercedes-Benz Motorenwerke GmbH.
Acquisition of Hanomag-Henschel and Krupp to become world’s leading truck manufacturer
Berlin Wall, Cuba Crisis, the end of the Adenauer era: the early 1960s were highly turbulent years in political terms – and no less so economically. For the world began to experience hitherto unknown currency fluctuations. Although the German Mark remained very stable, other currencies such as the US Dollar showed inflationary tendencies. Moreover, in 1966/67 the boom period suddenly came to an end. For while jobs were increasingly offered to foreign labour – so-called ‘guest workers’ – and women during the first half of the decade as a means of combating the labour shortage during the economic upturn, it was not long before growth rates were sinking again, signalling the end of the ‘fat years.’ The noticeable weakness in economic activity in 1966 revealed a growing unwillingness to invest, which inevitably led to wage cuts and redundancies. For the first time the Federal Republic of Germany even experienced ‘negative economic growth’ in 1967. Gross national product fell by 0.2 per cent, whereas unemployment increased from 0.7 to 2.2 per cent.
Daimler-Benz AG came through the crisis relatively unscathed. Despite the rise in the value of the Deutschmark, vehicle export sales tripled during the decade from 1959 to 1969, from just over DM1 billion to DM3.12 billion. Domestic sales also increased from DM1.44 billion to DM4.32 billion. While the German automotive industry as a whole was forced to face a 19 per cent collapse in production in 1967, Daimler-Benz only felt the drop in demand in the commercial vehicle sector; in fact the demand for passenger cars actually rose by 5 per cent.
Once again Daimler-Benz showed the value in preparing for the future by making the most of the opportunity for new acquisitions. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, Hanomag-Henschel and Krupp – two famous competitors that had suffered as a result of the economic downturn – were integrated into the Group.
Although Krupp enjoyed an outstanding reputation as an industrial corporation and truck manufacturer, the truck division had become chronically loss-making and the mother company was also suffering financial problems. As a consequence, Krupp had already ceased truck production. So although there was no plant for Daimler-Benz to integrate in 1968, it did take over the famous brand’s sales and service outlets. The Stuttgart company was fortunate in that the economy experienced a new upturn in 1968 and once again there was steady growth in demand for trucks.
The second strategic purchase during this period was the acquisition of the two companies Hanomag and Henschel, which were amalgamated by the Rheinstahl Group in 1969. Daimler-Benz initially took a majority shareholding, before taking Hanomag-Henschel over outright at year-end 1970/71. The acquisition now meant that Daimler-Benz owned the Borgward parent plant in Bremen, the former Tempo plant in Hamburg-Harburg and the Henschel plant in Kassel
The takeover enabled Daimler-Benz to offer several all-new model series: Hanomag’s light vans with front-wheel drive and 2.4 to 3.3 and later 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight underwent minor modifications to become the Mercedes-Benz L 206 D and L 306 D. And Henschel trucks such as the tipper variants expanded the truck range. Both vans and trucks were equipped with Mercedes-Benz major assemblies; over the years, however, the original brand names disappeared altogether.
With the recent opening of the truck plant at Wörth in 1965 and the takeover of truck activities at Krupp and Hanomag-Henschel Daimler-Benz was able to take a great leap forward. From 1965 to 1973 Group sales increased by a factor of three from almost DM4.9 billion to DM13.8 billion. Commercial vehicle production even increased more than threefold from 73,000 to 216,000 vehicles, making Daimler-Benz the world’s leading truck manufacturer. Annual truck production at the 1.5 square kilometres Wörth plant and the neighbouring plants at Gaggenau and Mannheim rose to 40,000 trucks in 1965. By 1969, Wörth was already working at full capacity of 48,000 trucks per year. By steadily developing its production facilities, Daimler-Benz increased capacity to 105,000 units by the year 1975. By 2010, the plant premises in Wörth covered an area of 2.4 million square metres.
MTU Motoren- und Turbinen Union was founded in 1970, the company created out of the merger of the MAN Allach plant and the Friedrichshafen joint plant complex belonging to Daimler-Benz AG; initially both MAN and Daimler-Benz had a 50 per cent interest in MTU.
State-of-the-art: integrated technology group
In the mid-1980s, the Board of Management and Supervisory Board agreed significant domestic investments that would not only bring the size of the company to a new level but also lead to a new structure. Edzard Reuter, the new chairman of the Board of Management at Daimler-Benz AG since September 1987, pursued a strategy aimed at turning the purely automotive manufacturer into an integrated technology group. To do this would involve gaining expertise from the electronics and aviation industries, which would naturally yield benefits for the technology of Mercedes-Benz cars. The group purchased companies from several sectors of industry.
In March 1985, Daimler also acquired the holdings MAN had retained in MTU Motoren- und Turbinenunion GmbH, by this time a highly reputable manufacturer of turbines, aeroengines and high-speed diesel engines. Then in June came the majority stakeholding in the long-established aviation and aerospace company Dornier GmbH in Friedrichshafen. Pending authorisation from the German Federal Cartel Office, in October 1985 Daimler-Benz bought an initial 25 per cent share in AEG AG, whose business activities encompassed energy, industrial and rail technology, communications systems and household appliances.
As a result of these acquisitions, but also thanks to ongoing businesses, in 1985 the Daimler-Benz Group recorded significant growth over the previous year. The number of employees rose to 231,000, an increase of 16 per cent. Sales rose to DM52.4 billion and annual net profits to approximately DM1.7 billion – an increase of 52 per cent over the previous year.
Once authorisation had been received from the Federal Cartel Office, Daimler-Benz increased its stake in AEG in February 1986 to 56 per cent. The integration of AEG increased the Group’s total workforce by 33 per cent; sales were boosted by 20 per cent.
Management follows structure
That same year, a new management structure was introduced to take account of Group expansion: The Daimler-Benz AG Board of Management had overall responsibility for the Group’s five divisions – passenger cars, commercial vehicles, AEG, MTU and Dornier. Then in 1987, the decision was taken to combine several research areas into a single Daimler-Benz research centre based in Ulm.
With support from the annual meeting of shareholders, the restructuring process of the entire Group began in 1989. The vehicle business was integrated into the new Mercedes-Benz AG. From now on, only its products – in other words the vehicles – would bear the three-pointed star. The aviation and aerospace activities of Dornier and MTU and also Telefunken Systemtechnik were pooled under the umbrella of Deutsche Aerospace AG, or DASA for short. The company was renamed Daimler-Benz Aerospace on 1 January 1995.
Deutsche Aerospace was granted permission from Germany’s Minister for the Economy in late 1989 to take a majority interest in Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm GmbH (MBB), a company with over 24,000 employees. The business activities of AEG AG continued to be run on the same corporate model as previously.
Then in 1989, the decision was taken to develop a fourth Group division, Daimler Benz InterServices (debis) AG. This supplied high-end services to customers both within the company and outside, including software products, computer communication services, financial services and insurance, mobile phone and marketing services. Daimler-Benz AG acted as the holding company with responsibility for Group management functions and Group research.
Strategic development of AEG continued in 1991 with the acquisition of the rail vehicle manufacturer Lokomotivbau-Elektrotechnische Werke Hennigsdorf GmbH and the decision to pull out of office and communications technology at AEG Olympia. DASA and the French company Aerospatiale jointly set up Eurosocopter S. A., in which the two companies anchored their helicopter activities on a parity basis. In 1991, debis also bought a 34 per cent stake in Sogeti S. A., the parent company of Cap Gemini Sogeti, Eurosope’s largest software and systems company.
In 1993, Jürgen Schrempp, chairman of the Daimler subsidiary DASA, also successfully negotiated the purchase of Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker. By taking a majority shareholding in Fokker of 51.4 per cent, Daimler-Benz Aerospace became the global market leader for regional aircraft in 1993. On 22 January 1996, however, the Supervisory Board of Daimler-Benz AG decided to separate from the loss-making manufacturer Fokker, largely because no agreement could be reached with the Netherlands Government on corporate restructuring.
But the international economic upturn slowed in the early 1990s, and even the special boom resulting from German reunification was almost over. As a result, from 1992 onwards comprehensive restructuring and cost-cutting measures were implemented in all Group divisions. At DASA the activities of MBB and Telefunken Systemtechnik were subsumed into the core business, and the microelectronics business unit was integrated into the TEMIC (Telefunken microelectronic GmbH) joint venture, co-founded with AEG. The strategic realignment of AEG led to a decision to pull out of household appliances, lighting technology and meters, and from April 1994 to change the company name to ‘Daimler-Benz Industrie AG’.
These rationalisation measures and divestments across the entire Daimler-Benz Group from 1992 to the end of 1994 resulted in the reduction of 70,000 jobs. In May 1995, Reuter handed control of the Group to his successor, Jürgen Schrempp, who radically altered the course set by his predecessor. Schrempp abandoned the vision of an integrated technology group and focused on the core business of vehicles. In 1996, the general meeting of shareholders of Daimler-Benz AG, under the chairmanship of Jürgen Schrempp, agreed the closure of AEG, which was struck from the register of companies, although the name and individual brands continued to be used by licensees.
Global company: Jürgen E. Schrempp
When Jürgen Schrempp took over as Chairman of the Board of Management in 1995, he once again restored the corporate focus to the vehicle business. He also gave the company a more international orientation. In the late 1990s, for example, he presided over Group investments in the Asian automotive manufacturers Mitsubishi Motors (37 per cent) and Hyundai Motor Company (10 per cent).
In 1997, attention then turned to a further restructuring. There was great turbulence on the international currency markets, in particular between the US Dollar and German Mark. For that reason, Schrempp opted for a globalisation of Group activities. The management and organisation structure of Daimler-Benz AG was redesigned in 1997. The chairman of the Board of Management was given direct control of all divisions and Group activities so that decisions could be implemented more quickly. In addition to the Passenger Car and Commercial Vehicle divisions, therefore, these now included debis, DASA AG and the rail and microelectronics division (Adtranz, TEMIC, EHG and MTU Friedrichshafen). As with human resources, finance, research and technology, these were all corporate departments of Daimler-Benz AG.
1998 saw the birth of DaimlerChrysler AG. In mid October 1999 it joined with the French Lagardère Group to establish Eurosope’s leading aeronautic and aerospace enterprise, the Eurosopean Aeronautic, Defence and Space Company (EADS). In the process, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (DASA) was combined with Aérospatiale Matra to create the world’s third-largest aeronautic and aerospace group. In 2007, DaimlerChrysler sold 7.5 per cent of its shares in the Airbus parent group EADS to an investment consortium. Several German states, as well as private and public banks, paid 1.5 billion Euros to acquire one third of the car manufacturer’s total 22.5 per cent share in the European aeronautics and aerospace concern. But DaimlerChrysler – and later Daimler AG – retained 22.5 per cent voting rights, in part to maintain the Franco-German balance of power among EADS shareholders.
Pan-Atlantic: DaimlerChrysler AG
The concept of a ‘Welt AG’ (World plc), as it was later dubbed by the German media, was floated in the late 1990s as a way of developing new markets and synergies as part of a larger network. Daimler-Benz created the necessary access to the US investment market – a key prerequisite for a merger – as early as 1993, by issuing share certificates, so-called American Depositary Receipts (ADR), on the New York Stock Exchange. That same year Daimler-Benz also presented for the first time a balance sheet according to the accounting principles of the United States (US-GAAP). This meant the financial reporting of the German company Daimler-Benz would be more comprehensible internationally and comparable with other companies using US-GAAP.
Preliminary discussions between Jürgen Schrempp, chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler-Benz AG, and Robert Eaton, CEO of the Chrysler Corporation, on 12 January 1998 took place in Detroit with regard to a possible merger between the two automotive manufacturers. The two company leaders announced the merger in London on 7 May. The financial markets reacted very positively to the news: following the announcement of the merger Daimler-Benz shares peaked 12 per cent higher than the previous day’s trading, closing at DM205.10. Having added 18 per cent to their value the previous day, Chrysler shares rose almost a further 10 per cent following the official announcement of the merger.
Once the EU Commission and the American competition authorities had authorised the merger, the shareholders of both companies also voted in favour at the annual meeting of shareholders on 18 September. The merger was achieved by means of a share conversion into shares of the new company, DaimlerChrysler AG. This had the advantage that the merger of the two companies involved no cash exchange. For each Daimler-Benz share shareholders received 1.005 DaimlerChrysler shares, and each Chrysler share was converted into 0.6235 DaimlerChrysler shares. DaimlerChrysler AG began operating on 17 November 1998 and began trading shares on the stock exchanges. In the first complete business year Chrysler contributed around half of Group profits, making over US$5 billion.
Initially management of the new company was split equally between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler. There was equal representation on the Board of Management, which had two chairmen in Jürgen Schrempp and Robert Eaton. Board of Management meetings were held alternately in Stuttgart and at Chrysler in Auburn Hills. From the outset, the registered head office was Stuttgart: DaimlerChrysler AG was established as a public company in accordance with German law. By the end of 1998, DaimlerChrysler had a workforce of around 441,000 employees. With a transaction volume of US$92 billion, the proposed project was then the biggest industrial merger in commercial history.
Two years later Robert Eaton announced his departure, leaving Jürgen Schrempp as the sole chairman of the Board of Management.
But the financial position of the American carmaker, which had already faced imminent bankruptcy once before in 1979 and only survived thanks to state intervention, worsened. Although in the late 1990s even the stock markets were calling this the ‘merger of two giants’, since in 1998 and 1999 Chrysler had enjoyed high profits, the chickens were now coming home to roost for the Americans for having made too little provision for the future. Sales and therefore operating profit collapsed, in part because in terms of technology and fuel consumption the products were not attractive enough for American customers.
In November 2000, Jürgen E. Schrempp sent Dieter Zetsche to take over as the new boss at Chrysler. The first rescue plan cost around 4 billion Euros and 26,000 Chrysler employees lost their jobs. In addition, six plants were closed.
Chrysler recorded losses for the years 2000, 2001 and 2003, with profits in 2002, 2004 and 2005. Then, despite high reductions, Chrysler sales collapsed again in 2006. Chrysler recorded an operating loss of 1.1 billion Euros. Finally, on 14 February 2007, Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management at DaimlerChrysler since 1 January 2006, announced he would be ‘considering all options’ for Chrysler. The Work’s Council and shareholder representatives feared that Chrysler could drag the entire Group under.
And so it came to the clean break: in 2007, DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche sold 80.1 per cent of the hived-off Chrysler Holding LLC to Cerberus Capital Management LP., New York, retaining initially a 19.9 per cent holding. In addition, Daimler’s financing support for the takeover was ‘a strong sign of its overall determination to make sure that, under the majority of Cerberus, Chrysler has a good start as a successful stand-alone car company,’ as a press release of August 2007 put it.
Daimler AG gave up its remaining investment of 19.9 per cent in Chrysler in 2009 and waived the loans made to the American carmaker, which had already been written off in the year-end accounts for 2008.
When talks between the US Treasury Department and Chrysler’s creditors, represented by over 40 hedge funds (special, highly speculative investment funds), broke down on 29 April 2009, Chrysler filed for insolvency in accordance with Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. The Italian automotive manufacturer Fiat announced it was buying a 20 per cent interest in Chrysler. Fiat was only allowed to take a majority holding in Chrysler once all state laons had been repaid. In 2010, Fiat decided to merge the Chrysler and Lancia brands in Eurosope: everything that had been Chrysler hitherto, now ran under the Fiat brand Lancia. And with that, the name Chrysler disappeared in Eurosope all together.
Daimler AG: a global network
In October 2007, an extraordinary general meeting approved the change of name from DaimlerChrysler AG to Daimler AG. Approximately 99 per cent of the 5,000 assembled shareholders voted in favour of this change. The renaming of the company involved renaming also of production facilities and sales organisations both in Germany and overseas. The guiding principle behind this name change was the need to make a clear distinction between the company brand Daimler and the Group’s various product brands.
Today Daimler AG is one of the world’s most successful automotive companies. With the divisions Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses and Daimler Financial Services, the automotive manufacturer is one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. In addition, Daimler Financial Services offers a comprehensive range of automotive financial services, including financing, leasing, insurance and fleet management.
Dieter Zetsche is Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and at the same time Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. He has consolidated the Group, creating a kind of network in which the visions of both Edzard Reuter and Jürgen Schrempp have been eradicated. Daimler AG continues to pursue its traditional business model – that of producing safe and high-quality vehicles that fascinate and inspire customers – as a pioneer of innovative technologies.
Under Zetsche the company also succeeded in establishing a presence in the mobility-hungry but – from the economic and political perspective – not always straightforward Chinese market. In March 2010, for example, Daimler AG announced a comprehensive technological partnertship with BYD Company Limited for the development of electric vehicles; moreover, in July 2010 the Group entered into a joint venture with the Chinese truck manufacturer Foton Motor. The Group is therefore continuing to develop its market present in China in all segments of the automotive industry.
In April 2010, Daimler AG also agreed a far-reaching stratgeic cooperation with Renault-Nissan Alliance. The two companies aim to develop rapid benefits from a series of concrete projects, including a common architecture for small cars, expansion of the engine portfolio and further development of the van segment. Moreover, the the two Groups also agreed a mutual equity exchange that will give the Renault-Nissan Alliance a 3.1 per cent stake in Daimler and Daimler a 3.1 per cent stake in Renault and a 3.1 per cent stake in Nissan.
The Group completed its network with a series of strategic investements and joint ventures. The manufacturer of Formula 1 engines, Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines Ltd., formerly Mercedes-Ilmor, became a 100% subsidiary of Daimler AG, and the company also acquired 45 per cent and one share in Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.
Through Daimler Financial Services AG, the Group also took a 45 per cent stake in Toll Collect GmbH, which collects truck tolls in Germany.
The Stuttgart company kept a 28.4 per cent stake in diesel engine manufacturer Tognum as well as 3.56 per cent in Indian vehicle constructor Eicher Goodearth. It also established a joint venture with Sutlej Motors, an Indian bus manufacturer.
Daimler also has an interest in the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. (EADS), the parent company of Airbus and Eurocopter. The Stuttgart company retained a 15 per cent stake in the aerospace company for itself as well as the voting rights for a further 7.5 per cent on behalf of a consortium of investors.
The Group also took a 5.46 per cent interest in Tesla Motors, a Californian manufacturer of electric vehicles. The Stuttgart company retained a 50.1 per cent stake in the Automotive Fuel Cell Corporation (AFCC), in which the American carmaker Ford Motor Company and Ballard Power Systems Inc. are also investors.
In a joint venture with Evonik Industries AG from Essen, Daimler AG aims to develop the ‘energy storage of the future’. For this reason the company kept a 49.9 per cent stake in Li-Tec Vermögensverwaltung GmbH, and Evonik Industries the remaining 50.1 per cent. The two companies established the Deutsche Accumotive GmbH joint venture, which develops and produces battery systems for automotive applications. Daimler AG will hold 90 per cent of this joint venture and Evonik Industries 10 per cent. The partners are currently building Europe’s largest facility for the production of battery cells based on lithium-ion technology in Kamenz, Saxony. Production start-up is scheduled for early 2011, and from 2012 the first lithium-ion battery systems are to be offered in vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Cars. Once again, Daimler is seen to be breaking new ground when it comes to the series production of electric cars and therefore alternative drive systems.
Daimler has also invested in the development of alternative drive systems with a view to enabling zero-emissions mobility in the long term. At the same time, the inventor of modern mobility is not putting all its eggs into one basket, becoming the only carmaker in the world to invest in both the hybrid and electric motor and the fuel cell.
‘One could say that we make exciting cars greener and green cars more exciting,’ said CEO Dieter Zetsche in the 2009 Annual Report. ‘This can only be done with pioneering technologies – and we have them. At Mercedes-Benz Cars, we were able to reduce the average CO2 emission value for our fleet by a full 13 grams to 160g/km in 2009.’
The compnay also continues to invest in new plants. In 2009, for example, Daimler Trucks North America LLC (DTNA) opened a new production facility in Saltillo, Coahuila, in northern Mexico, built and run to the latest environmental standards. And the next generation of Mercedes-Benz A- and B-Class vehicles will no longer be built solely in Germanty but also in Hungary: the company is investing around 800 million Euros in the new plant in Kecskemét, Hungary Puszta, with the topping-out ceremony scheduled for 2010.
In 2009, the Group sold 1.6 million vehicles and employed a workforce of more than 256,000 people; sales for the period totalled 78.9 billion Euros. As of the reporting date of 30 September 2010, the Group employed a workforce of just under 260,000 people, sold almost 1.4 million vehicles between January and September and in the third quarter of 2010 alone turnover increased by 30 per cent to 25 billion Euros compared with the same period the previous year.