Big shoes to fill: Zetsche seems to have been Herr Doctor Mercedes forever and Kaellenius will have to create his own legend

Big shoes to fill: Zetsche seems to have been 'Herr Doctor Mercedes' forever and Kaellenius will have to create his own legend

Daimler is to promote R&D chief Ola Kaellenius to management board chairman and head of the Mercedes-Benz Cars division, effective from the shareholders meeting in 2019. That will free up predecessor Dieter Zetsche to take over as chairman of the supervisory board in 2021, replacing Manfred Bischoff.

The gap is to comply with a two-year "cooling-off period", Daimler said in a statement. What Zetsche will do in that time has not been specified.

"With Zetsche's intended appointment as chairman of the supervisory board, we are ensuring continuity for the sustained success of Daimler," said Bischoff.

Kaellenius was "a recognised, internationally experienced and successful Daimler executive" and the dual responsibility of management board chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars was "proven".

He is Swedish and thus the first non-German ever to head Daimler and Mercedes.

Michael Brecht, deputy chairman of the supervisory board and chairman of the works council said: "On the one hand, we are making the board of management younger and thus giving it new impetus. On the other hand, by recommending the election of Zetsche to the supervisory board, the successful and trusting cooperation with him will be continued."

Markus Schaefer will replace Kaellenius as head of group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development on the management board. He currently runs production and supply chain management.

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