Daimler has successfully refocused its attention on its core strengths following an ill-conceived attempt to establish a global automotive giant in the form of DaimlerChrysler. That group was created in 1998 by a mammoth merger which took the rest of the motoring industry almost completely by surprise. Until then, Daimler-Benz had been known as Europe's leading industrialist, with a gold-plated reputation for the highest quality engineering, epitomized by its Mercedes-Benz automobile marque. Yet in the mid-1990s, the company was accused of putting too high a value on quality and luxury and not enough on profitability. Restructuring led to a sharp new entrepreneurial edge by the end of the decade. The merger with Chrysler established the enlarged group as the #5 carmaker worldwide. DaimlerChrysler subsequently made a concerted push into Asia through the effective takeover of Mitsubishi Motors and a strategic alliance with Hyundai of Korea, but both those deals were unwound in 2004. Recurring problems at Chrysler as well eventually persuaded the group to abandon that experiment too in 2007. Instead Daimler has concentrated its attentions since then on its prestigious Mercedes-Benz passenger car brand and one of the world's leading heavy trucks and buses businesses. Brands in the latter segment include Freightliner Trucks in the US, Evobus and Setra in Europe and Mitsubishi Fuso in Asia. In 2010, the group agreed a global partnership with Renault and Nissan to cooperate on small cars and light commercial vehicles. However, more recently it ceded control of its own Smart small car business, a chronic under-performer, to Chinese carmaker Geely. The group also has interests in a variety of digital mobility services including ride-hailing, transport ticketing and parking. These were consolidated in 2019 into Share Now, a joint venture with BMW. Long-serving chief Dieter Zetsche stepped down in 2019 and was succeeded as CEO by Olla Kallenius. Daimler group revenues for 2019 were €172.7bn, up 3%, but net profit plunged 64% to €2.7bn as a result of multiple one-off adjustments for litigation, restructuring and other items. The group sold a total of 3.34m cars and trucks, down only marginally on the year before. Sales of cars and vans both rose, but shipments for the Mercedes-Benz trucks division slipped back to 489k vehicles.
Capsule checked 19th December 2019
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Adbrands Daily Update 20th Dec 2019: Just a few weeks after pooling their mobility services under the Share Now banner, Daimler and BMW announced plans to suspend operations of car-sharing services Car2Go and Drive Now throughout North America, as well as in London, Brussels and Florence. Share Now blamed the pullout on "rising infrastructure complexities" in North America and low adoption rates in those three European cities. The service will continue in 18 other European cities.
Adbrands Daily Update 12th Nov 2019: German car giants Daimler and BMW unveiled the first fruits of their previously agreed mobility joint venture. Share Now will gradually absorb their two existing car-share ventures, Daimler's Car2Go and BMW's Drive Now. Together these currently serve around 4m customers in 31 cities in continental Europe and North America. The current brands will be phased out in favour of Share Now, and a series of other similar ventures will follow. Reach Now will absorb the Moovel service which allows customers to book public transport tickets; Free Now is the venture's Uber competitor, absorbing the currently separate MyTaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clever Taxi and Beat; Park Now offers smartphone-operated ticketless parking services in more than 1,100 cities under the Parkmobile or Park Now brands.
Adbrands Daily Update 28th Mar 2019: Daimler has agreed to transfer its Smart city car brand into a newly created 50/50 joint venture with Chinese carmaker Geely, makers of China's best-selling homegrown brand as well as Volvo and Lotus. From 2022, all new Smart vehicles will be electric-only, produced from a new custom-built site in China. No terms were disclosed for the deal.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2018: Daimler completed a review of global media, consolidating all duties not with Publicis as many had anticipated but with Omnicom Media Group. Earlier this year, creative and digital for Mercedes-Benz was awarded to a newly created Publicis Emil entity, replacing incumbent BBDO. However the media appointment maintains a split of duties between those two groups. Media in the US and some other countries was already being managed by Omnicom, while Publicis held Europe through dedicated unit Fuel. WPP, which had retained media in several other markets, mostly in Asia, was eliminated. No details of how the media account will now be handled have been disclosed; presumably Omnicom will create a dedicated entity of its own.
Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Sep 2018: Daimler's long-serving leader Dieter Zetsche will step down from an executive role next year after 12 years as CEO to become chairman of the automaker's supervisory board. He will be replaced as chairman of the management board, and also as head of Mercedes-Benz cars, by Ola Kallenius, currently board member for research and development.
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