MBSU 2020 Ola Källenius

Of strategy and pandemic


Coronavirus comes to define 2020 and with it the business of all Daimler divisions. Despite the effects and restrictions of the pandemic, the company continues to press ahead with its sustainable business strategy, new models celebrate their world premiere and the production of the future gets under way in Sindelfingen. Daimler Trucks presents the fuel-cell concept truck and Mercedes-Benz sets a new course towards profitable growth in the luxury segment.

Key Events of 2020

At the beginning of the year, probably no one had expected things to turn out this way. The global pandemic had a considerable impact on society, politics, and the world economy, and thus also on Daimler. Daimler does everything it can to contain the spread of coronavirus. The health and safety of employees is a major priority. The company has therefore taken far-reaching precautions to protect against infection and has agreed and implemented a comprehensive package of measures with the General Works Council. In addition, the company relies on mobile working wherever possible.

A quarter of a century on the market with an unchanged name and more than three million units sold: the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a true brand in its own right and has been the trailblazer in its vehicle category since its introduction in 1995. Time and again, it sets new standards - especially in terms of safety, ergonomics, efficiency and comfort. In the Daimler Magazine, we congratulate the cult van on its 25th birthday.

Mercedes-Benz AG and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group announce in January the formal establishment of the globally oriented joint venture smart Automobile Co., Ltd. for the smart brand. This will be followed in the summer by the establishment of "smart Europe GmbH" as a wholly owned subsidiary of the joint venture to manage sales, marketing and after-sales in the European market.

Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG present their new products live on the media portal Mercedes me media . The digital press conference focuses on the world premiere of the comprehensively updated E-Class with numerous model variants. These include plug-in hybrids and an AMG version.

The coronavirus pandemic means that the Annual Meeting of Daimler AG cannot take place on April 1, 2020 as planned. It is postponed to July 8 and then takes place virtually for the first time in the company's history. As many as 12,000 people follow the shareholders' meeting on the Internet.

The eCitaro G is another important step on the road to more environmentally friendly and livable cities. Mercedes-Benz expands its technological pioneering role further with the all-electric articulated bus: new battery technologies will become available for the vehicle. Among these, in the first bus in its category to feature them, the innovative solid-state batteries.

Mercedes-Benz and NVIDIA, the world leader in GPU-accelerated computing, intend to cooperate on the development of an in-vehicle computing system and AI computing infrastructure. Starting in 2024, the new technology will be rolled out across all Mercedes-Benz model series to equip next-generation vehicles with upgradeable automated driving functions. The aim of the planned collaboration is to develop one of the most intelligent and advanced computer architectures in the automotive industry for all Mercedes-Benz model series.

Factory 56 in Sindelfingen embodies the future of production at Mercedes-Benz. Production at Factory 56 is characterized by maximum flexibility: this relates to the number of models produced and the production volume as well as to the material flow. In line with Ambition 2039, it will become a zero carbon factory - completely carbon-neutral and with significantly reduced energy requirements. At the same time, the company is increasing efficiency in Factory 56 by 25 percent compared to the previous S-Class assembly. Innovative technologies and processes have been consistently implemented throughout the building to provide employees with the best possible support in their daily work.

In September, the new S-Class celebrates its world premiere - digitally, of course. The most important innovations include the second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), rear-axle steering and the E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL suspension. The S-Class epitomizes the fascination of Mercedes-Benz: its legendary and traditional engineering defines the automobile industry’s luxury segment. In November, the new Mercedes-Maybach S-Class  sees the light of day. It combines the perfection and high-tech solutions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class with the exclusivity and tradition of Maybach.

US regulators have agreed to a settlement of civil and environmental claims. This will bring a comprehensive end to the relevant regulatory proceedings in connection with emission control systems on around 250,000 diesel vehicles in the USA.

Mercedes-Benz is driving forward its “Electric First” strategy as part of the transformation to carbon-neutrality: far-reaching strategic partnerships are being launched with two battery cell manufacturers. The purchase of battery cells produced under carbon-neutral conditions is agreed with the strategic partners. Suppliers will produce the battery cells in a carbon-neutral manner as early as 2021, starting with the EQS.

With the 'GenH2 Truck' concept truck, Daimler Trucks shows which specific technologies the manufacturer is pressing determinedly forward with as a means of enabling heavy-duty fuel-cell trucks to perform flexible and demanding long-haul operations with ranges of up to 1000 kilometers and more on a single tank of fuel. The vehicle's performance is expected to be on a par with that of a comparable conventional diesel truck thanks to the use of liquid hydrogen instead of gaseous hydrogen, due to the former's significantly higher energy density.

The new Mercedes-Benz strategy is presented in a virtual conference for investors and analysts. This strategy comprises six pillars and aims to lead the company to new technological and financial strength.

  • Thinking and acting as a luxury brand
  • Focus on profitable growth
  • Expanding the customer base through the expansion of our sub-brands
  • Stepping up customer retention and increasing recurring revenues
  • Leadership in electric mobility and vehicle software
  • Lowering the cost base and improving the industrial footprint

With the issue of its first green bond, Daimler picks up further speed in the direction of carbon-neutral technologies and services. Daimler's euro-denominated benchmark bond was more than four times oversubscribed due to a high-quality order book. The bond meets the requirements of the Daimler Green Finance Framework, which has been given a “Dark Green” rating by independent assessor CICERO.

The Volvo Group and Daimler Truck AG sign a binding agreement to establish a joint venture. The aim is to develop, produce and market fuel-cell systems to production maturity. The focus is on use in heavy-duty trucks, but the systems are also to be offered for other applications.

Daimler Trucks and Waymo enter into a comprehensive, globally oriented strategic partnership in autonomous driving (SAE Level 4). To kick off the collaboration, the partners combine Waymo's leading technology in autonomous driving with a variant of Daimler's Freightliner Cascadia truck model developed specifically for this purpose.

With Ambition 2039, Mercedes-Benz aims to offer a carbon-neutral new car fleet in less than 20 years. However, the production of an all-electric vehicle is about twice as carbon-intensive as that of a conventional combustion engine, mainly due to the lithium-ion batteries. This is where Mercedes-Benz comes in, working together with the global supplier network to reduce the CO₂ emissions in the manufacturing phase.

With 246,805 visitors, the Mercedes-Benz Museum  recorded a 71 percent drop in visitors compared to the previous year (2019: 850,954 visitors). It was closed for a total of 16 weeks, and there was also only a brief partial opening from May to August. The museum therefore strengthens its digital formats to enter 2021 with new ideas and a positive attitude.