'Two jobs' Zetsche says Bernhard isn't his new deputy

Paul McVeigh is Managing Editor of Automotive News Europe.
Wolfgang Bernhard is not the crown prince at Daimler, according to Dieter Zetsche. Since Bernhard was promoted to Daimler's management board last month, there has been a lot of speculation that Bernhard will soon become Zetsche's right-hand man – just like he was when Zetsche was head of Chrysler.

Bernhard, 49, also will eventually succeed Zetsche as head of the automaker, according to many German press reports.

But Zetsche, who will turn 60 seven months before his contract runs out in December 2013, has no time for such talk. "It's no secret that we worked well together and I'm happy to have him back. But he's not my crown prince and he's not my deputy," Zetsche said at the Geneva auto show.

In fact, people who speculate that Bernhard's new role as head of production and purchasing at Mercedes cars is an interim move before being named CEO of Daimler's luxury car unit are not helping him, Zetsche said.

"If you want to do him a favor, stop speculating," Zetsche told journalists.

It seems Zetsche, who is both Daimler and Mercedes-Benz CEO, will keep two jobs for some time to come.