It’s back to the future for German automaker Mercedes-Benz. On Oct. 4, shareholders voted to strip the name “Chrysler” from the DaimlerChrysler corporate nameplate, following the sale of 80.1% of Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management in August. The act was the last symbolic gesture in ripping up the failed 1998 marriage between Daimler-Benz and Chrysler.
The group’s new corporate name is Daimler AG, and the car division becomes Mercedes-Benz Cars as opposed to Mercedes Car Group. Some shareholders, including the great-great grand-niece of co-founder Karl Benz lobbied vigorously to put the “Benz” back in Daimler, but the motion failed. Management insisted Benz now features prominantly in each division name. Mercedes-Benz Vans and Mercedes-Benz Bank will also carry the historic dual name.
Karl Benz’s auto company merged with that of Gottlieb Daimler in 1926, but the Benz name was dropped from the corporate entity when Daimler merged with Chrysler. “The group name Daimler clearly indicates that we are writing a new chapter of our history, while at the same time continuing our tradition as the inventor of the automobile,” said Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche at the Oct. 4, shareholders meeting in Berlin.
Soothing words following a $36 billion merger that can only be described as a financial and industrial debacle. The final sting: Paying $71 million to junk all the DaimlerChrysler corporate signs and business cards around the world. Into the trash heap goes the ignominious legacy of former CEO Juergen Schrempp, once the highest paid CEO in Germany.