15 Minutes with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche – News – Car and Driver Car…

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Riding Shotgun with Dr. Z: 15 with Daimler CEO Dieter

Following the press days for year’s Geneva auto we got the rare opportunity to spend time with Daimler CEO Dr. Zetsche. We were lucky to accompany Dr.

Z as he hustled a freshly Euro-market Mercedes-Benz C-class the cliffs above the Mediterranean in the of France. As the good Dr. expertly the car along the tiny, undulating, and single lanes that high above the commune of we lobbed questions from the seat for the duration of our brief Personable and articulate, Dr.

Zetsche our queries frankly, his replies occasionally edited in real from a Benz assistant in the seat.

Car and Driver: How much did the of the American market play the development of the new C-class ?

Dieter Obviously, the main objective was to the loyal customer base but increase conquest sales by enhancing traditional strengths comfort while improving One way to do that was to improve dynamics in as well as handling. But we didn’t to get there by simply increasing effort, as some of our competitors done, but to actually focus on and steering feel.

So we came up the new front axle four-[link] and the optional air suspension, which is in the market. But these are just of the ingredients; teamed with the control, they all work to widen the parameters, allowing for without sacrificing the other.

Next, we partner them safety, starting with a body, teamed with all the assistance systems that just been introduced in the We can already prove, via insurance statistics, that the survival of a car so equipped offers a better of surviving a catastrophic accident. A effect is that the building to the autonomous driving are already in the car for when and if that time

We also feel that the new exterior is more emotional—still but stylish. [Coefficient of drag] a low 0.24, that plus the engines will equal fuel efficiency. Briefly, is a condensed version of the plan for vehicle. Based on the successful E-Class refresh. we think found the sweet spot in tech, efficiency, and ultimately to our customers, and early signs are this car will go a similar

C/D: So the C-class plug-in is now confirmed, correct?

DZ: Yes.

As the C-class hybrid is happening, is any chance of a plug-in hybrid of the CLA and GLA? And what about the versions of these cars it to the States?

DZ: I think it’s important we have these technologies in our main volume segments of our these days. For whatever and to some extent the relatively cost, we are not seeing a real of these technologies in the marketplace, Japan being a little bit of an Broadly speaking, in the U.S. are going down in take rather than up.

For that we think we have to be a little technically it’s all prepared, we have to push the button, and our platform strategy they can be available within a year for single variant all our volume car But it’s not part of the plan now.

C/D: Were you by the high percentage of conquest for the CLA?

DZ: Yes, quite so. We shooting for 50 percent, but the number is to 80 percent, which is something I never heard before. of course, is 100 percent, but for an established I have never heard a like that before.

So we are happy with that.

That indicates that worries about the CLA stealing from the C-class are no longer a correct?

DZ: Exactly. We have the C-class up. Although in some they are side by side, the is more comfortable and spacious, and a little bit more rational.

The CLA is all fun, very young, and expressive. Of course price-wise, the is more.

C/D: Do you think GLA repeat the CLA’s success?

DZ: we are expecting it to be equally as successful. As an segment, the compact-SUV segment is and the GLA is a very innovative and sporty Just after the Detroit show, the head of sales for the told me he could double or the production for both the CLA and GLA based on

C/D: We drove the GLA on an off-road in Spain last month. Is its off-road prowess a happy or part of the plan?

DZ: When we do an it is important that it is not a fake. It may not it, but part of the plan from the was for it to be good off-road. In fact, the who set up the off-road course you drove the GLA on was a member of the G-wagen program, and his course was too easy, he came and said, “Shit, I have to go it more demanding!” In fact, the in GLA can the same trail, save for a few where it’s limited by travel or wheelbase, on Austria’s Mountain where we test the

C/D: As usual, plenty of rumors were floating the Geneva auto show. Is it that the G65 might make it to the

Suzuki DR 100
Suzuki DR 100

DZ: I had not heard this idea, but it sound to me that someone is it. I mean, originally we had only a very limited number of The G-wagen side of our business is a agile entity with reaction times, especially such small volume. but I confirm.

C/D: We’ve heard the G-wagen will for at least another decade, and is for a major interior overhaul a year or two. What can you us about this?

DZ: In the past, we considered discontinuing it, but it typically as a marketing tool for last-minute in the Middle East and other but we have no plans to discontinue it any It is so successful that we are selling now than we ever have in the about half of them are AMG It’s very profitable and brand-shaping, an iconic kind of car makes us very happy.

So we are at the next step—we are always it fresh—for the future, but it will not the basic shape or identity of the

C/D: What are your on Apple CarPlay ?

DZ: All these electronics and entertainments based on phones are certainly an important of our and our children’s lives, and to to seamlessly from home to car to office or is certainly on the wish list of our Apple and Mercedes-Benz are not exclusive and we will offer an Android soon as well.

C/D: got new product in virtually every probably as many as any other manufacturer. How are you managing this

DZ: We are not in a different world than but both of us have expanded a We have another 12 new models a predecessor in the pipeline to land in decade, so it’s going on. Of that means there has to be significant differentiation for the customer or we are confusing them.

But at the same we have to do that in a very and harmonized form of components and going across these that we can technically—and economically a resource point of view—come up this kind of variety and I we are on a good track there.

You are in your eighth year at the of Benz, and your contract was for three years last what are your short-term plans?

DZ: Well, I’m not counting them all the I hope to continue what I is the successful drive to take company to the top. When was some criticism a year ago we were not displaying the performance we were expecting, I knew—we we were working on, we knew in our industry change takes when it’s based on which is the only way to sustainably a company, which is what we are

I’m very happy with results showing in real and I’m happy to continue taking the further up.

C/D: Do you have a car?

DZ: I don’t, definitely the 300 is my twice I almost bought but something happened and then in it was $100,000 more and that put an end to So later when I stop I will put more attention to

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