FILE - In this Jan. 13, 2014 file photo Mercedes-Benz marketing chief Ola Kallenius, right, stand with Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche at the end of a press conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich. Daimler AG said Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018 that Kallenius will take over as the company's CEO in 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Ding, file)

Daimler CEO Zetsche to be succeeded by head of development

September 26, 2018 - 2:19 am

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche will leave his post in May and be succeeded by Ola Kallenius, who has headed development and research for the automaker's Mercedes-Benz luxury brand.

The company said Wednesday in a statement that Zetsche, 65, would be nominated to become head of the board of directors in 2021 after the term expires for the current chairman, Manfred Bischoff.

Zetsche's latest three-year contract was to end next year and Kallenius had figured prominently in speculation about who would succeed him.

The 49-year-old Kallenius, who was born in Vastervik, Sweden, has headed group research and vehicle development for the key Mercedes-Benz luxury car division since 2015. He is now slated to take over Zetsche's dual mandate as both head of the entire company and the Mercedes division. The company also makes trucks and buses and provides financial services.

Zetsche became CEO of what was then DaimlerChrysler AG in 2006. His legacy includes leading Daimler out of its troubled 1998 merger with Chrysler, and subsequently racking up consecutive years of record sales and profits.

He is leaving as the company faces several headwinds. It is under scrutiny by the U.S. Justice Department in connection with possible diesel emissions violations, and it issued a profit warning in June citing the U.S.-China trade dispute, which will hit some of its cars made in the U.S. and imported into China with new import taxes.