Dieter Zetsche leans against the radiator grill of a Mercedes E-Class model with a deliberately casual air, posing for the photographers. His shirt collar is open and it’s been a long time since he wore a tie. The message Mr. Zetsche is sending out is that he only follows his own rules.
His recent successes would tend to prove him right: while German rival Volkswagen is lost in the diesel clouds of the emissions rigging scandal and other competitors such as BMW are experiencing a slowdown in China, Daimler is racing ahead of the rest of the sector. The Stuttgart-based group has never before sold so many cars and trucks (2.9 million), achieved such high sales (€149.4 billion; $167.4 billion) or recorded such a high profit (€8.9 billion net).
The group’s Mercedes brand achieved double-digit growth for the third consecutive year, growing much faster than rivals BMW and Audi. From design to the rejuvenation of its brand, Mercedes is regarded as the benchmark in the sector in almost all disciplines of the future. Even when it comes to the return, which for many years was the company’s major weak point, Mercedes is now ahead of Audi and BMW with a margin of 10 percent.