Daimler Reviews Management Model to Tackle Changing Auto World

  • Group of 150 managers to jointly develop executive structure
  • Leadership 2020 talks to start in January and last six months

Daimler AG will review its management structure next year to respond faster to market shifts as Silicon Valley giants plot inroads into the automotive industry.

The maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles will assign 150 executives to a program dubbed “Leadership 2020” to evaluate how the company needs to change to speed up innovation, the Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer said in a letter to employees obtained by Bloomberg. A Daimler spokeswoman declined to comment on the effort.

“Our world is moving at record speed, challenges are more complex than ever, and many trends are anything but stable,” Daimler said in the letter signed by Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche and other management board members. “We will re-evaluate, and if necessary, redefine the way we lead our employees, our business and ourselves.”

The Stuttgart, Germany-based manufacturer, which also makes Freightliner trucks and owns the Car2Go car-sharing service, said the program will start in January and run for six months. The initiative, which involves eight teams from around the globe, doesn’t have a “predetermined outcome,” according to the letter.

With Apple Inc. and Google exploring an entry into the automotive industry, traditional manufacturers such as Daimler are fighting to stay relevant as cars become an extension of consumers’ connected lives. Shift in consumer behavior is accompanied by rising investment to meet regulator demands for cleaner vehicles, increasing pressure on automakers to find ways to keep pace. 

VW Overhaul

Daimler isn’t alone in taking a look at how it manages its business. Volkswagen AG is in the midst of an overhaul to become more nimble by pushing decision-making authority to brand and regional managers. BMW AG’s new CEO Harald Krueger is also conducting a strategic review, which he plans to present next year.

Daimler’s program is part of an effort by CEO Zetsche to reform the 129-year-old manufacturer while the company is enjoying robust growth. Bolstered by new models such as the GLA compact sport utility vehicle, Mercedes is poised to overtake Audi this year as the world’s second-largest maker of luxury cars. 

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