In 1995 the new Chairman of the Board of Management, Jürgen E. Schrempp, initiated a strategic realignment of the group, since many of the existing business units did not enjoy a favourable competitive position. The portfolio was focused by parting with Fokker, selling Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH and dissolving AEG. This move, together with measures designed to boost competitiveness, was intended to strengthen the earning power of the group, which now concentrated on automotive mobility, transportation and services.
Extending the core businesses, supplementing them with new products and services, and improving the competitive position in global terms took priority over new business fields.
DaimlerChrysler AG merger
Taking advancing globalisation into account, among other things car production was taken up in Tuscaloosa in 1995, and in 1998 the merger with Chrysler Corporation to form DaimlerChrysler AG was announced. The intention of the merger was to safeguard the long-term competitiveness of the companies involved.
Simultaneously, Mercedes-Benz launched a strategic model initiative in the car sector. New model series like the A, B and M-Class, niche models like the SLK and CLK, and the cooperation with Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Mikroelektronik und Uhrenindustrie (SMH) to develop the small city car smart made Mercedes-Benz a full-line supplier.
In addition, in 1995 the bus and coach segment was realigned and the European Bus Company (EvoBus) formed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz AG. The simultaneous acquisition of Karl Kässbohrer Fahrzeugwerke GmbH turned the Setra bus and coach brand into a group brand. In the late 1990s, through DaimlerChrysler Trucks North America, the Thomas Built Buses brand was incorporated into the corporate portfolio.
They were joined at the end of 2000 by the Canadian Western Star Trucks Holding, Ltd., a truck manufacturer headquartered in Kelowna, British Columbia. Along with the premium truck brand Western Star the portfolio of the Canadian manufacturer includes the bus brand Orion.
In addition, at the end of the 1990s the Maybach was revived with luxury limousines which were made even bigger, more individual and more exquisite. In 2002 DaimlerChrysler AG presented the new prestige model Maybach 57.
While the passenger-car and commercial-vehicle business was being expanded step by step, motorsport at DaimlerChrysler AG was expected to continue the German manufacturer's long racing tradition. Its dominance in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) and Mika Häkkinen winning the Formula 1 World Championship twice in succession (1998/1999) helped enhance the carmaker’s reputation.
On 31 December 2005, the era of CEO Jürgen E. Schrempp came to an end. Dr Dieter Zetsche succeeded him on 1 January 2006. The company headquarters built in Stuttgart-Möhringen under Edzard Reuter remained the head office of the German automaker into the year 2006. In the meantime, corporate headquarters have been transferred back to the parent plant in Untertürkheim. Today, seven sub plants in Untertürkheim, Bad Cannstatt, Hedelfingen, Zuffenhausen, Mettingen, Brühl and Sirnau are affiliated to this parent plant. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz Museum opened outside the factory gates in spring 2006. It is currently the world's biggest brand-specific automotive museum.
The merger with the Chrysler Corporation and the taking of stakes in the Asian automakers Mitsubishi Motors and Hyundai Motor Company had pursued the aim of making the company a world-leading automotive group. With an eye to more favourable long-term market prospects, in 2007 the majority stakes in the Chrysler Group and the associated North American financial services business were sold. The cooperative links both with Mitsubishi Motors and Hyundai Motor Company were also gradually severed.
Name change to Daimler AG
In October 2007, an extraordinary general meeting approved the change of name from DaimlerChrysler AG to Daimler AG. Approximately 99 per cent of the 5,000 assembled shareholders voted in favour of this change. The renaming of the company involved renaming also of production facilities and sales organisations both in Germany and overseas. The guiding principle behind this name change was the need to make a clear distinction between the company brand Daimler and the Group’s various product brands.
Some two years later, on 27 April 2009, Daimler AG also relinquished the 19.9 percent stake which it had initially retained in Chrysler.