`Chrysler effect' hits M-B
Budget cuts at DaimlerChrysler are affecting morale at luxury brand Mercedes-Benz, according to sources within the company.
'Nobody is saying so, but this is obviously the price for turning Chrysler around,' one insider said.
According to the source, a 20 percent budget cut was ordered for most D/C departments at the beginning of the year.
This is in addition to the general cost reductions announced by D/C Chairman Jurgen Schrempp at last year's half-term financial press conference.
Projects already well under way at Mercedes, such as the Maybach super-luxury car and SLR roadster, will not be affected by the budget cut, a high-ranking engineer said.
'We have our budget, and we will stay within the original cost limits,' he said. 'We won't face this budget cut.'
But he would not say how the cut would affect new or less advanced Mercedes projects.
'It is an extremely difficult situation, plans are changing constantly,' another Mercedes source said. 'It's a tough time, and morale is going down.'
Pischetsrieder poised ...
Bernd Pischetsrieder will become chairman of Volkswagen on April 16, 2002, according to German newspaper reports.
Pischetsrieder is currently in charge of Seat and member of the management board of VW group, responsible for quality assurance. He was formerly head of Rover and in charge of production at BMW.
The reports quoted unnamed sources in the government of Lower Saxony. Lower Saxony is VW's main shareholder, controlling about 20 percent of voting shares.
The reports said current VW Chairman
Ferdinand Pi'ch, who turns 65 on April 17, 2002, will become chairman of VW's supervisory board. He will replace Klaus Liesen, who will turn 71 two days earlier. Pi'ch's present contract expires at the end of 2002.
To accommodate the personnel changes, VW's shareholder meeting has been moved forward from its usual date in June to April 16, 2002, according to the reports.
Both VW and the government of Lower Saxony declined to comment.
... As is Carl-Peter Forster
In further German newspaper speculation, one report last week said Carl-Peter Forster, former executive in charge of manufacturing at BMW, would become chairman of Adam Opel by May 15.
Current Opel Chairman Robert Hendry will step down this month, two years before his contract expires.
Automotive News Europe reported Forster's likely appointment earlier this year. He is widely regarded as a man who can satisfy Opel's American supervisors at General Motors, while managing a thoroughly German carmaker.
If Forster's appointment is confirmed, he'll be the first German chairman of Opel in 12 years, after four Americans. He will also be the seventh executive in 20 years to run Opel.
A BMW source said that BMW Chairman Joachim Milberg has used a clause in Forster's contract to prevent him joining Opel until May.
Earl is happy in Europe
As soon as Jim Schroer, Ford's vice president of global marketing, left Ford for DaimlerChrysler last month, speculation began about who might replace him.
Some Ford executives feel Earl Hesterberg, Ford's high-energy European marketing chief, has the savvy and stature to fill Schroer's shoes.
Whoever succeeds Schroer might eventually even replace Bob Rewey, Ford's global vice president of sales and marketing, who is nearing retirement.
Hesterberg is a widely respected, veteran marketer whose resume includes time spent running marketing at Nissan (in both the USA and Europe), Infiniti and Gulf States Toyota, a huge American Toyota distributor.
But Hesterberg likes living in Europe. Interviewed at the Geneva auto show, he sought to put a stop to any talk of his leaving the Continent and going to Detroit.
'I've got enough to keep me employed here until the time of my death,' he joked.
Given the way Ford's European market share has been plunging in recent years, we probably wouldn't argue with him.