For Daimler CEO Zetsche, retirement means embracing a forbidden love for BMWs

Rival lightheartedly pokes fun at Mercedes-Benz in digital ad commemorating the executive's stepping down

Retirement means harvesting the fruits of lifelong labor, trying out new things, and not giving a damn what others think. For Daimler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche, who stepped down on Wednesday, that spells out as a three-letter word: BMW.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars addresses the media before the automaker unveils the new C-Class car during a preview night for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.Carlos Osorio

In a clip distributed on BMW’s Twitter feed, a camera follows a Zetsche lookalike – complete with signature walrus mustache and rimless spectacles – around on his last day at work.

There’s Zetsche handing in his work badge at the front desk, bidding farewell to employees in the lobby with a few selfies, before being whisked back home by a chauffeured black Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.

After the car drops him off and leaves, Zetsche sneaks into the double garage, only to emerge at the wheel of a flaming-orange open-top BMW i8 sports car to roar off his compound. The caption: Free at Last.

Also Read: Top 10 reasons why I like to fly British Airways (again)

The clip ends with a note of gratitude, saying “Thank you, Dieter Zetsche, for so many years of inspiring competition,” followed by the BMW emblem and the carmaker’s slogan: Sheer Driving Pleasure.

The lighthearted display of humor on the part of Daimler’s fiercest rival highlights how the two carmakers have embraced a more cooperative approach of late, culminating in a joint car-sharing business and a pledge to work on autonomous cars.

Both companies, like much of the industry, are bound together by the same challenges: the emergence of self-driving and electric rivals, new competitors like Tesla, a simmering trade war with the U.S. and changing consumer tastes on owning cars in favor of sharing them.

Zetsche is stepped down at the company’s annual general meeting May 23, and will be succeeded by Ola Kaellenius.

by Benedikt Kammel

Culled from Driving

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