The second oil crisis at the end of the 1970s, growing environmental discussion, and the advance of new Asian competitors changed the basic conditions for further development of the company. With operating results declining on the whole, the commercial-vehicle sector went into the red. The sales opportunities for top-quality cars in the markets relevant to Mercedes-Benz also attracted a cautious assessment.
On the initiative of the then Chief Financial Officer and later Chairman of the Board of Management Edzard Reuter, the company was to be made more independent of cyclical fluctuations in the motor-vehicle sector by enlarging the corporate portfolio. Access to key technologies and growth sectors like electronics, aviation and services was seen as a precondition for safeguarding the company's earning power in the long term.
Through the many-sided use of various technologies, future-proof, expandable core competencies were to be acquired and synergy effects achieved. MAN’s 50% share in MTU München, the majority share in the Dornier group (1985) along with AEG (1985) and MBB (1989) were taken over against this backdrop. These acquisitions called for restructuring the integrated technology group.
Within the framework of Daimler Benz AG’s new corporate structure, Mercedes-Benz AG was established on 29 June 1989. Prof. Werner Niefer became Chairman of the Board of Management. As of July 1989 Daimler-Benz AG thus operated as a managing holding company under whose roof the corporate units AEG AG, Mercedes-Benz AG and Deutsche Aerospace (DASA) were gathered. In 1990 they were joined by a fourth corporate unit, Daimler-Benz InterServices AG (debis). In 1993 Daimler-Benz AG was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
In April 1993 the commercial-vehicles division entered into cooperation with Detroit Diesel Corporation (DDC) in the USA. The goal was to develop, produce and market a diesel engine for heavy-duty trucks and buses. In 2000 this cooperation led to the takeover of the American engine manufacturer Detroit Diesel Corporation.
Although it was in keeping with economic and scientific trends at the time, the diversification did not, however, produce the hoped-for results. As a result, the integrated technology group was restructured, starting in 1995.