Ola Kaellenius has been a member of Daimler AG’s board of management since January 2015, and he’s director of Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. Kaellenius is also widely expected to be the successor to Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche when the 64-year-old Zetsche’s contract expires in December 2019.
That could bode well for auto enthusiasts generally and Mercedes loyalists in the United States in particular. Kaellenius, 48, has spent six-plus years at the Mercedes assembly plant in Alabama, where he became a loyal fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team and ended his run as CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International. His credits include a stint as executive director of operations at McLaren Automotive during development and launch of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren hypercar, managing director at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth, U.K., and managing director of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. He’s also an impressive driver in the seat of an E63 AMG.
Kaellenius sat down with reporters at the launch of the updated S class and covered topics ranging from the return of the Mercedes inline-six to robot taxis to the coming of autonomy to the staying power of V-12s.