Almost eight years after Mercedes-Benz andjoined forces to create DaimlerChrysler, the chairman of the global auto maker says the merger no longer is an issue.
During those eight years, the marriage drew criticism and lawsuits. There were cultural divides to overcome, personnel decisions to defend and accusations to endure in the growing debate as to where the fault lay that the much-touted union was not bearing promised fruit.
The original architects, co-chairmen Juergen Schrempp and Bob, have lapsed into retirement, ending a divisive reign.
The new chairman, Dieter Zetsche, who has worked for Mercedes, Freightliner anden route to his current position, sees himself as a “credible broker” and advocate of sharing the best practices of each division for the good of all.
As the face of a new marketing campaign for Chrysler in North America, dubbed “Ask Dr. Z,” the chairman is telling consumers DaimlerChrysler is a united global company today and that the products are better for it.
Zetsche knows firsthand the tough sledding ahead for GM and- , should they decide to pursue a formal alliance.
While the German-American pairing at DC solidified, its romance with Japanese auto makerwas short-lived, and flirtations with South Korea’s never blossomed into a full-scale relationship.
The deal brokers at, and GM have similar experiences to draw upon.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance is working well, but arguably has taken the full six years to achieve today’s degree of normalcy.
GM’s once-full dance card has become a list of broken accords, with, and (Subaru) among the castoffs.
The No.1 auto maker came to realize dating is the better way to go: joint projects and programs with other auto makers, with no exchange of rings.
And that may very well be the positive outcome of conversations between GM’s Rick Wagoner and Renault-Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn.
The general consensus is there may be more to lose than gain in trying to stitch together three auto makers from three distinct regions of the world and with much product overlap.
But the exploratory process likely will bring to light little gems, where cooperation makes sense for each of the three.
GM, DaimlerChrysler andhave said they welcome additional partners in their cooperative to develop hybrid-electric technology. Nissan and Renault have not embraced hybrids. Nissan will dip its toe in the water by offering an Altima hybrid with technology, but sales will be in select U.S. states only.
Tapping into the GM cooperative would raise the possibility of putting the latest technology into fullsize Nissan and Infiniti light trucks.
Maybe there are opportunities for the three auto makers to jointly manufacture small cars in Europe, South America or other untapped markets. A relationship may help open doors. Joint purchasing can save money.
Bigger is not necessarily better. But opportunities unearthed in its pursuit may prove worth the effort.