As a result of the real-estate crisis in the USA, recession set in worldwide. Having only hit the finance sector at the start, it escalated at the end of 2008 into a global economic crisis that deeply affected the automotive industry worldwide.
The increasingly gloomy automotive market situation also led to losses at Daimler AG from mid-2008. In early 2009 Daimler raised its capital stock by about ten percent and gained Aabar Investments PJSC, an investment company listed in Abu Dhabi, as a new major shareholder. The company's sound financial position enabled it to continue investing large sums in research & development in a period that was characterised by economic uncertainty and macroeconomic instability.
This work focused mainly on developing new, alternative drive technologies which were deployed, for example, in the B-Class F-Cell, the Concept Blue Zero E-Cell Plus and the S 500 Plug-in Hybrid technology. With these developments, Daimler plays a pioneering role on the path to sustainable, emission-free mobility.
Both in the passenger-car and commercial-vehicle sectors, despite the crisis Daimler AG continued to develop and expand business activities with a view to future market potentials – also in the Asian market. The cooperation with Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company (BAIC) has resulted in a new production facility in Beijing which produces the E-Class and C-Class for the Asian market.
To also exploit the potential for growth, especially in North America, from 2014 the C-Class Saloon volumes destined for the regional market will be produced at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Along with this additional series the plant there will continue to build the R, M and GL-Class. Another milestone in car production is the plant planned in Kecskemét (Hungary), construction of which is scheduled for completion in 2012. Production of the future A and B-Class is expected to start there in the same year.
Not only passenger-car production but also commercial-vehicle production has been able to repeat earlier successes. In 2007 the 500,000th Mercedes-Benz Actros rolled off the assembly line. To date, no heavy-duty truck model in Europe has been built more often. As in the passenger-car sector, Daimler AG also has endeavoured to speed up the internationalisation of the commercial-vehicle range. For this purpose, new factories in Charleston, South Carolina, and Saltillo, Mexico, were built.
This enabled Daimler AG to significantly strengthen its competitive position in the North American market. At the Mexican plant alone, around 30,000 Freightliner Cascadia models are built each year. The heavy-duty truck based on a completely newly developed platform sets new standards for fuel efficiency. In future growth markets too, expansion was further intensified with the help of strategic alliances and joint ventures, for example the cooperation with Russian truck maker Kamaz.
Even after 125 years, Daimler AG carries on the pioneering spirit and outstanding quality standards of the original founders and sets the pace in the international automotive industry with high-quality, technologically innovative products.