“The Citan is Zetsche's very personal project. That is why he is also responsible for the crash test disaster, ”commented a former Daimler board member about the failure of the Renault van decorated with a Mercedes star in the NCAP crash test. Three stars in a van class in which Ford received five stars for the roughly comparable transit. "This is more than embarrassing. Not just for Mercedes-Benz, but for Dieter Zetsche, ”says a high-ranking marketing manager.
The anger at Daimler is great. Executives from the development sector do not mince words. They warned Zetsche back in 2011, pleaded to improve the quality of the Renault and predicted the Citan debacle. Reinforcements of the body would have cost a lot of money, but that should be saved. “Our boss is absolutely resistant to advice when it comes to Renault cooperation. And the Citan crash will not be the last accident, ”predicts a development engineer. “The departure from our core brand values is obvious. We will feel it very much. This is how you intentionally break the Mercedes image. ”
A sales man scolds: "This is a disaster for Mercedes-Benz." The manager even considers the current Citan debacle to be the "beginning of Mr. Zetsche's end". Now it became clear that the reservations on the supervisory board were quite justified. "Dieter can't do it," Der Spiegel quotes a manager.
While it is trivializing to hear in the press department that the Citan had definitely met the specifications in the specification, and has not really failed, leading development engineers are upside down. They are downright pissed off and a little bit glad that their warnings have not been taken seriously. "A Mercedes does not have to meet third-class requirements, but has to set the standards for top values."
"This is quite comparable to the A-class fall-over in the moose test," says the engineer. And he adds: "What many have already forgotten: that Zetsche was head of development at Mercedes-Benz at the time and also responsible for the chassis faults of the A-Class." Zetsche's warnings from his developers were mainly ignored because he was finally out wanted to show a result for his Renault strategy. Modifications to the Citan would not only have cost millions of euros, but at least one year of development time.
Again and again, Dieter Zetsche "sometimes loudly" campaigned to finally get at least one Renault-Daimler project on the road quickly. Zetsche made the Citan his own, very personal project. Ignoring all the warnings, he threw sound concerns into the wind. Even Volker Mornhinweg, who is responsible for the van division, was initially skeptical of selling the Citan identically to the Renault Kangoo as a Mercedes. But the resistance of the former AMG boss apparently waned quickly. "For career reasons," as one colleague comments. Mornhinweg then quickly turned around and said to his team: "We'll do it!" Now Mornhinweg, who had justified the higher price compared to the Renault Kangoo when he presented the Mercedes-Benz Citan, was badly damaged: "I am convinced that many future customersAdded value from security, Design and comfort will be valued accordingly. ”Today we know that the supposed added value of safety in the crash test has proven to be an empty promise.
As can be heard, Mercedes sales director Joachim Schmidt was also against screwing the Renault van a Mercedes star. He is said to have instructed the branches to "place the Citan as far away from our Mercedes vehicles as possible".
Zetsche's flagship project Citan is causing annoyance everywhere at Daimler. And it seems that the CEO is now pretty much alone when it comes to the cooperation with Renault. Some in Zetsche's environment are now questioning the connections with Renault as a whole. “It could be that the whole project ends like our collaboration with Mitsubishi and Chrysler. We are already wasting a lot of manpower in coordination and strategy discussions at Renault. The doubts about the meaningfulness of the cooperation now prevail. ”An incident from 2009 shows that Zetsche has been very thin-skinned from the start with regard to the cooperation and seems to have an inkling that the brand could erode: The star of the Written “A-Class à la française”, which is said to have triggered a frenzy in Zetsche, as eyewitnesses report.
The fact that the Citan is also sold as a Dokker by the cheap Renault brand Dacia increases the doubts about the cooperation. And the brand claim "The best or nothing" is already answered by dissatisfied Mercedes customers with "then prefer nothing". It seems that the Mercedes-Benz brand has now really switched to the mass brand, which makes some veteran Daimler man despair.
"A cheap brand on the same level as Mercedes-Benz - that's not possible at all," says the sales manager of a large Mercedes subsidiary. "We are beginning to have the feeling that Mr. Zetsche has no idea about brand management and our premium brand Mercedes-Benz." Customer discussions are increasingly asking why Mercedes is installing Renault engines in the A-Class. "And as a seller you can't think of anything really useful as an answer."
In an interview about the brand position, Dieter Zetsche sounds like Realsatire: "If you imagine a brand as a personality, Mercedes-Benz is the class leader: top marks for safety, quality, performance." Would he still say so today?