Robert Lilberatore: DCX with all its holdings is as big as Ford Motor in North America.
But leaders of the German company insist such day-to-day policy concerns were not the point of "Impact on America." That's what DaimlerChrysler called the three days of exhibits, discussions, demonstrations and social events it sponsored last week in Washington.
Robert Liberatore, the company's senior vice president for global external affairs and public policy, explained the program this way:
"The purpose of doing this (was) to make sure that this company that for some people had been the little brother of the Big 3 and for others was Mercedes-Benz, that people understand it is Chrysler group, Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, (financial) services. When you add all that up, you have a company roughly the scale of Ford in North America.
"Nobody knows that," Liberatore added. "Our own people don't even know it, much less policy-makers."
DaimlerChrysler's presentation featured a 10-acre make-believe village in the Washington Convention Center.
Some industry officials privately questioned whether it would have a lasting impact on its target audience of hundreds of policy-makers and opinion-shapers.
At a congressional reception on Tuesday, June 7, Sen. Jim Talent strolled among DaimlerChrysler products parked in the village. They ranged from a tiny GEM electric runabout to a giant Freightliner 18-wheeler. The Missouri Republican said they made an impression.
The industry counts Talent as an ally. He said the show emphasized the importance of DaimlerChrysler to the U.S. economy. That demonstration could affect future congressional votes on automotive issues, Talent added.
"You can't at one and the same time wring your hands about losing high-paying manufacturing jobs and not be sensitive to measures that hurt the automobile industry," Talent said. He cited higher fuel economy standards as an example.
Bigger than Toyota
DaimlerChrysler Chairman Juergen Schrempp and Chrysler group CEO Dieter Zetsche presided over last week's events. They repeatedly cited the company's annual North American revenue of $100 billion and employment of more than 100,000 U.S. workers.
That revenue is greater than that of U.S. corporate icons such as Boeing, IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp., they said. DaimlerChrysler's direct U.S. employment is three times that of Toyota Motor Corp., they added.
Company officials went into policy specifics on light-duty diesels. Leopold Mikulic, the Mercedes car group's vice president of powertrain development, said that under the right conditions, diesels could account for 10 percent to 15 percent of DaimlerChrysler's U.S. sales in 10 years.
Liberatore added at the exhibit: "We're intent on bringing diesel to America. You see that here."
You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at [email protected]