Retired Mercedes-Benz R&D chief and DaimlerChrysler executive vice-president Hans-Joachim Schopf Ricardo is to join the board of Ricardo Deutschland as a non-executive director and a member of the Ricardo global technical strategy group.

Schopf's automotive career span 38 years and has included some of most senior positions in the German automotive industry, Ricardo said in a statement, calling Schopf, who started at Daimler Benz as a trainee in 1969 following completion of his first degree, "one of the leading influences on modern automotive R&D".

Schopf a was responsible for many of Mercedes models products including the A- and C- class cars, and was, Ricardo said, instrumental to the implementation of technologies such as common rail diesel and direct injection gasoline engines, and vehicle electronic stability control.

In 1995 he initiated the build-up of MbTech, the wholly-owned technology and engineering subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler, which has subsequently grown to a EUR180m ($US250m) business.

Schopf retired from DaimlerChrysler in 2004 and become a director of Mahle, Behr, and TK Bilstein in Germany, and Ballard Power Systems in Canada.  He has also worked as an independent automotive consultant.

Ricard Deutschland managing director Peter Heuser said: "Professor Schopf is one of the leading figures in the German automotive industry and his advisory input will catalyse the development of our business."

Ricardo plc CEO Dave Shemmans added: "Germany is one of the key markets for Ricardo in Europe and the German OEMs are equally important to us on a global basis. I believe that with his exceptionally strong background in automotive R&D and long history with one of Germany's leading multi-national automakers, Professor Schopf will be a valuable member of the Ricardo team and will help guide our international technology strategy."