Unsurprisingly, Mercedes was quick to respond.
It’s the end of an era at Mercedes. After working with the automaker for more than 40 years, Dieter Zetsche has retired from his role as Chairman of the Board of Management of the company and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. He worked as the company's CEO for 13 years and is credited with extracting Daimler from Chrysler just in time for the American brand's 2007 bankruptcy, and rebuilding Mercedes' product line, brand, and Chinese business.
Taking his place is Ola Kallenius from Sweden, who will become Daimler's first non-German CEO. The changeover is happening at a crucial time just as Mercedes is about to launch its new EQ electric brand.
To commemorate his retirement, a touching tribute video has been posted online. Except it wasn’t uploaded by Mercedes – it was made by BMW, one of the company’s main competitors.
In the video, we see a lookalike of Zetsche played by an actor take off his company ID badge, say his final goodbyes to his colleagues, and get chauffeured home in a Mercedes S-Class. It’s a touching tribute, as BMW thanks the CEO for providing "inspiring competition” over the years to help keep BMW's standards high. Then, when nobody is looking, Zetsche ditches his Mercedes and drives away in a BMW i8 Roadster hidden away in his garage as he is "free at last.” Clearly, BMW is implying he had always wanted to drive a BMW but couldn’t due to his obligations with Mercedes.
Unsurprisingly, Mercedes was quick to respond with a cheeky response to BMW’s tongue-in-cheek video, implying that he has his eye on an all-electric Mercedes EQ instead of the BMW i8 Roadster. "Thanks @BMW for the kind suggestion – but we’re 100% sure he already decided to #switchtoEQ,” Mercedes wrote on Twitter. You can’t beat a bit of friendly banter against rival car companies.