Wolfgang Bernhard, who once helped lead a product renaissance atGroup and for a brief moment was in charge of Mercedes-Benz before being drummed out of DaimlerChrysler AG in a power struggle, is back in the fold at AG.
As of April 1, Bernhard will take over global responsibility for the Mercedes-Benz Vans unit, replacing Wilfried Porth, who is named director-human resources and labor relations. Porth succeeds Guenther Fleig.
It’s been a tumultuous ride the last few years for the former McKinsey & Co. executive, known for his product acumen and attention to detail.
Bernhard, who in January signed on as an advisor toInternational Inc., left DaimlerChrysler in 2004 after being named to succeed Juergen Hubbert as head of Mercedes, an appointment that stirred internal dissent among top management and the company’s labor union.
Bernhard ultimately landed a job atAG, where he headed up the VW brand before exiting in January 2007, a victim of another management purge that also saw VW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder dismissed.
Bernhard eventually went on to serve as an advisor to Cerberus Capital Management LP during its negotiations to purchaseand reportedly sought to become Chrysler’s new chairman, a job that ultimately went to former Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli.
His most recent connection withled to speculation the parts supplier and contract manufacturer would make a play for Chrysler, putting Bernhard back in charge, but the auto maker’s tentative deal last month to turn over a 35% equity to Italy’s Auto Group put those rumors to rest.
Bernhard once again will report directly to CEO Dieter Zetsche, reviving a business relationship the two shared at Chrysler under DaimlerChrysler.
“I am delighted that Wolfgang Bernhard is back on board at,” Zetsche says. “I have valued his knowledge and experience since the time we spent together in the United States, and I’m glad we can continue our excellent collaboration.”
The Mercedes-Benz Vans unit produces nearly 288,000 vehicles annually and employs about 16,000 workers at nine facilities.