Liberatore, one of the auto industry's most seasoned government affairs executives, is retiring as Daimler AG's group senior vice president of global external affairs and public policy.
The move ends a 23-year tenure that placed Liberatore at the side of larger-than-life industry figures, from Chrysler Corp. CEO Lee Iacocca in the late 1980s to Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche today.
Liberatore helped organize industry campaigns against sharply higher fuel economy standards. He led industry supporters of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which reduced trade barriers separating the United States, Canada and Mexico.
At the end of March, Liberatore, 58, is to become a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, a Washington think tank that works on trans-Atlantic issues. In an interview last week, he left the door open to other possibilities.
Liberatore is a director of the National Democratic Institute, an organization tied to the Democratic Party that promotes democracy overseas. He will help guide an institute delegation to the Democratic National Convention this summer.
Policies developed during President Bill Clinton's administration fostered the last "golden era" for U.S. automakers, Liberatore told Automotive News. He supports the presidential candidacy of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Liberatore said "nobody's asked me" to accept an executive branch position in the next administration, but he acknowledged interest. He was a top staffer for Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., before joining Chrysler in 1985.
In 1992, Liberatore became chief Washington lobbyist for the former Chrysler Corp. He served in the same role for the former DaimlerChrysler before he took on global duties for the company in 2003.
Liberatore was one of the top-ranking Americans to stay with Daimler last year when the German automaker split from Chrysler LLC. No strains at Daimler AG led to his retirement, he said.
"This was very much my decision," Liberatore said.
At Daimler AG, Dieter Spoeri will succeed Liberatore on an interim basis.