1. Mr. Pischetsrieder, first of all, congratulations on your election as the new Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG. For those who do not know you: How would you describe yourself? And what is it about the automotive industry that still fascinates you after more than forty years in the business?
First of all, I would like to thank my colleagues in the Supervisory Board for placing their trust in me. My thanks and sincere appreciation also expressly go to my predecessor, Dr. Manfred Bischoff. Manfred has played a key role in shaping the company in significant ways over several decades and has orchestrated the work of the Supervisory Board as Chairman to perfection over the last 14 years. It is an honor to follow in his footsteps.
To come back to the original question: To keep things brief, I would introduce myself as a "cosmopolitan Bavarian", an "engineer with mind, heart and soul" and an "auto enthusiast with a huge interest in the technical advancement of automobiles". As is Manfred's case, the subject of automobiles is one that has been a part of my life from an early age: My great uncle was the inventor of the Mini Cooper. This was not the only reason why it was clear to me that I wanted to study mechanical engineering. In addition, I have always wanted to shape things and set the course for the future, which first led me to BMW, then to VW, where in each case I was appointed as CEO. I have been a member of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG since 2014. In all honesty, I have never even considered changing the industry: The auto industry has always been and - now more than ever - is a driver of progress and innovation. It will therefore never lose any of its fascination for me. Electrification and digitalization, in particular, now offer an incredible number of new opportunities that we need to seize. And that is precisely why it is a matter close to my heart to help guide our company into the future. I can't imagine a more exciting task!
2. What does this reinvention of the automobile, as we often hear it described, mean for the program priorities of the Supervisory Board in the coming years?
The automobile has continued to develop continuously over the years, but it now faces its biggest transformation in 135 years. The key challenges are decarbonization and digitalization. We now have two options: to face these challenges with skepticism and mourn the proverbial "good old days" - or to embrace them with courage, joy and determination. I personally support the latter approach. And the ground has been well prepared: Together with the Board of Management, the Supervisory Board under the leadership of Manfred Bischoff has launched many initiatives - especially with regard to digitalization and electrification: from the electric and software offensive to important strategic partnerships. We will continue to push forward with all this and will actively address the opportunities that arise for us.
Of course, the Supervisory Board is called upon to encourage as well as demand the transformation from the top. In such times of major change, however, the head of a Supervisory Board must also be both a mediator and a facilitator. What I mean by this is that the transformation will only succeed if employees, employers and shareholders are all marching in the same direction. It is particularly important for me to take the workforce with me on this journey. Investments are needed not only in technologies and locations, but also in skills. Employer and employee representatives are in agreement on this. We all have our eyes set firmly on one thing: a successful and independent future for this great company. The implementation of "Project Focus" is a very important factor in this regard because it allows the individual companies to invest in an even more targeted manner, gives them great entrepreneurial freedom and allows them to play to their strengths. That is why I support the project wholeheartedly.
3. Many employees work for Daimler or Mercedes because they love cars. You describe yourself as an "auto enthusiast". What do you say to those colleagues who are also skeptical about the automobile of the future and about their own future place in the company?
Anyone who knows me knows that I definitely have a soft spot for older cars. But the one does not exclude the other. On the contrary, it is only by being aware of the tradition of the automobile and its social significance that we can shape its future successfully. After all, the car has always been the mirror of society and has changed along with it and the needs of people. Today, the path is clearly pointing in the direction of CO₂ neutrality and digital connectivity. What remains is the desire for individual mobility.
At Daimler, we have embarked boldly on this lane change. For those who are still skeptical, I say from my own experience: An electric car can be just as much fun as a V8 model and is also better for the climate and the environment. On a beautiful Sunday, it's also possible to succumb to the charms of an older automobile; in everyday life, however, I am very happy to have the many digital helpers that make driving in a Mercedes of today so much more comfortable and safe. I am quite sure that in 25 years from now at the latest, the combustion engine will, at most, be something for collectors and nostalgic individuals. At Mercedes we never linger in the here and now, but are pioneers, like the generations before us in this company. At Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, we have the ideal prerequisites to remain at the top in the future. We have the tradition and experience, drive for innovation and engineering skill, management that acts with foresight and, most importantly: dedicated employees, some of whom have carried the star in their hearts for decades. Anyone who works at Daimler, Daimler Truck or Mercedes-Benz has every reason to look ahead with confidence!