SPIEGEL: Not too long ago, you said that Mercedes-Benz needed Chrysler to provide security. Costly innovations, you said, would only be worthwhile if they were first used in the luxury class and later in mass-market vehicles.
Zetsche: Yes, I did say that. But I discovered that we were able to generate fewer synergies than expected, because the Chrysler customer was unwilling to pay a premium for additional technologies.
When confronted on Daimler's lack of hybrid technology in the market and its relatively environmentally-unfriendly product lineup, Zetsche responded that Daimler is not only a leader in clean diesel engines, but also fuel-cells. Zetsche also noted that Daimler is in fact a leader in the hybrid market - in the city bus sector, anyway.
Finding a compromise between green and mean isn't often easy, as Zetsche remarked on a peculiarity of many auto consumers: simultaneously demanding the sportiest, most powerful cars, and low to zero CO2 emissions. Not one to complain, Zetsche actually credits this passion and enthusiasm as part of the reason Daimler has succeeded over the years.
Zetsche: What it boils down to is that we also sell emotions, dreams and desires.
On the Daimler-Chrysler split, Zetsche argues that Daimler and Chrysler are now both stronger on their own, and that former CEO Jurgen Schrempp's vision of building a global car company was simply inaccurate. Similarly, Daimler's plan to join up with BMW for production of a new hybrid powertrain is just that - there is no intent to merge the two companies, only to share the cost of innovation.
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