Mercedes-Benz has a new head, and he faces the challenge of keeping that global marque successful.
Juergen Hubbert will retire next year after spending his entire career at Mercedes-Benz. He stepped down as head of Mercedes' car group on Oct. 1 and was succeeded by Eckhard Cordes.
I remember when Juergen got the job in 1989. Lexus and Infiniti had just introduced their first cars, and Juergen was given the unenviable job of introducing the Mercedes-Benz S class at Frankfurt. The car was a decade out of sync.
It was too heavy by a thousand pounds, and the styling was out of date. Even by Mercedes standards, it was a dinosaur.
But Juergen understood that he was the head of Mercedes, which made it his car, even if it was not something that he might have endorsed.
But he promoted it. And, before long, a more contemporary S class was introduced, one that really was his car.
The Mercedes-Benz range underwent its greatest change during Juergen's tenure. From Smart cars to the Maybach, Mercedes has a much broader range of vehicles.
Mercedes also opened a plant in Alabama, and the brand increased its U.S. and global sales volume substantially.
Now, Mercedes is fighting to maintain the high quality for which it has been known over the decades. The electronics that make the vehicles so attractive in the abstract sometimes become a real nightmare.
Yet through all the chaos and confusion at Daimler-Benz and, later, DaimlerChrysler, Juergen Hubbert has been a gentleman and the consummate car guy.
I have enjoyed his polite, professional manner. And, as controversy swirled around the brand, he always seemed to be the solid executive at Mercedes.
After the merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, someone decided it was inappropriate for Mercedes executives to wear the three-pointed star on their lapels. It was as if they had had their epaulets ripped off. It took a while, but Mercedes executives now wear their stars again.
Juergen Hubbert is a man of impeccable manners and grace. He has been a wonderful representative of the Mercedes brand, and he will be missed throughout the world.
He leaves a great legacy with lots of challenges.
But the most important thing he will be remembered for is his vision of what the three-pointed star represents. It's a vision that too many people at DaimlerChrysler seem to have forgotten.