Wolfgang Bernhard, the hard-driving executive who was forced out of Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler, has rejoined Daimler to be the head of its Mercedes-Benz van group. He starts the job on April 1.
Bernhard, 48, is replacing Wilfried Porth as head of the vans unit. Porth becomes a member of Daimler’s board of management, in charge of human resources and labor relations.
Bernhard worked at Daimler from 1994 to 2004, and was the COO/product guru counterpart to now Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche when he was in charge of the Chrysler group.
Bernhard drove the Tomahawk concept motorcycle, powered by a 500-hp Viper V10, onto the stage at the Detroit auto show in 2003. And he was the driving force behind the Chrysler ME Four-Twelve supercar concept shown at the Detroit show in 2004.
Bernhard was poised to take over the Mercedes-Benz brand, as Zetsche rose to become DaimlerChrysler chairman. But the move was blocked by the company's board of management at the behest of outgoing chairman Juergen Schrempp, and Bernhard left the company.
Bernhard then joined the Volkswagen Group to run the Volkswagen brand, putting high emphasis on cost cutting and boosting quality. But he was ousted in January 2007 in a boardroom shakeup engineered by Ferdinand Piech.
In a statement on Tuesday, Zetsche said: I am delighted that Wolfgang Bernhard is back on board at Daimler. I have valued his knowledge and experience since the time we spent together in the United States, and I'm glad we can continue our excellent collaboration.”
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