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Desperate for Turnaround, Daimler Names New China Chief

Mercedes slipping behind rivals in booming Asian market.

by on Dec.14, 2012

Daimler's new China chief, Hubertus Troska.

Daimler AG, in a move underscoring the growing importance of China to the company’ future, has named a new chief executive in charge of its operations in China and appointed him to the company’s Board of Management.

Hubertus Troska, 52, will become chief executive officer and Chairman of Daimler Northeast Asia responsible for all of Daimler’s strategic and operating activities in China.

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The timing is particularly significant considering the company has slipped in sales behind arch rivals Audi and BMW. Mercedes has had to resort to sometimes massive incentives to prop up its products this year.

Troska’s appointment expands the Daimler Board of Management to eight members. He also effectively outranks the executives in key Mercedes-Benz markets such as the United States.

Ulrich Walker, 61, the current chairman and CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia, will retire after serving the Daimler Group for almost 30 years, six of which were spent in China. In a transitional phase, he will support Troska with his extensive knowledge and experience of China.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Management, I wholeheartedly thank UlrichWalker for his commitment and his contribution to the success of Daimler’s business in China during the past six years,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

“We have achieved a lot under his leadership,” Zetsche said. “No western automotive manufacturer is as broadly positioned as Daimler in the world’s biggest vehicle market – from cars to vans to trucks and financial services. With the new ‘China’ Board of Management position, we will ensure that all aspects of this dynamic market are dealt with directly in the Board of Management team, and we have found the right man for this task,” he said.

China is now the world’s biggest automotive market – but where seemingly every maker could succeed just a few years ago, with Chinese sales nearly doubling some years, demand has slipped sharply in 2012 and price competition has significantly increased.

Mercedes was forced to offer discounts of as much as 20% on some models, including the flagship S-Class, even then struggling to maintain its momentum.  But with some experts forecasting China will soon be the world’s largest luxury car market, as well, Daimler has decided to double down, the appointment of Troska to the Board of Management “underscoring the strategic importance of China for Daimler,” according to Manfred Bischoff, Chairman of the Daimler Supervisory Board.

 

In the same meeting, the Supervisory Board also extended the contract of Andreas Renschler, 54, the member of the Daimler Board responsible for Daimler Trucks.

“We are pleased that Andreas Renschler, a highly experienced executive, will continue to be the head of Daimler Trucks. He will steadily implement the division’s strategy in collaboration with the Supervisory Board so that the goals that have been set are achieved,” said Bischoff.

Troska was born in Spain and joined Daimler-Benz AG in 1988. He started his career in the sales department of the corporate headquarters in Stuttgart and later assumed various managing positions in Mexico and the United States for the Trucks division.

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