The focus of the Mercedes-Benz press conference at the beginning of the 61st International Motor Show in Frankfurt was on the world premiere of the new S-Class. In his first appearance as the new head of the Mercedes Car Group Dr Dieter Zetsche also presented three further world firsts from Mercedes-Benz: the European version of the R-Class, the high-performance ML 63 AMG sport utility vehicle and a near-production study, the Vision R 63 AMG.

"My last visit to the IAA was six years ago while I was still at Mercedes. For me today is a sort of coming home."

With these words Dieter Zetsche welcomed the guests attending the Mercedes-Benz press conference. "After just twelve days in the job the opportunity to present a new S-Class is beyond my wildest expectations", Zetsche went on to say.

In response to the speculation there had been in the days leading up to the Motor Show, Zetsche promised that he was going into his new job as Chairman of the Mercedes Car Group "with 100% commitment, a great deal of pleasure and for a timespan which is open-ended."

As a member of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG Dieter Zetsche was able to look back on six years of successful work as the head of the Chrysler Group before taking over responsibility for the Mercedes Car Group on September 1. On January 1, 2006 he will be taking on a new function in addition - that of Chairman of the Board of Management and CEO of DaimlerChrysler AG.

"Our customers worldwide ", said Zetsche, "benefit from strong brands that offer distinctive, appealing products. Mercedes-Benz is the jewel in the crown of this portfolio and is excellently placed thanks to its unique model range."
Zetsche also said that he will run the Mercedes Car Group for an indefinite period.

DaimlerChrysler AG's small car unit Smart has reduced its fixed costs by 27%, the head of the unit, Ulrich Walker, said at the IAA also.

Smart will also decide on a possible entry of its popular two-seater model into the US car market over the next year, Walker added. The model could have unit sales of around 20,000 vehicles in the American market, he said.