Zetsche Confirms BMW and Daimler in Talks to Share Technology

Possibly…maybe…sort of.

By David Surace

04.22.2008

At the Auto Show China on Sunday, during Mercedes-Benz’s debut of the small-crossover GLK, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche let slip that they are in tentative talks with cross-country rivals BMW to share parts and technology.

“We are discussing potentially sharing components. And this might make sense specifically in regard to new technologies,” said Zetsche, most likely referring to advanced hybrid, full-electric and fuel-cell capabilities perhaps not yet within reach of the two companies.

Now, there are several “handshake-agreements” which already exist among almost all major automakers regarding the sharing of intellectual property and research, specifically with hybrid assist technologies in mind. So it should be a bit of an eyebrow raiser that Daimler and BMW are considering an agreement for co-purchasing hard materials and equipment for those endeavors. As in, it’s not just PR anymore. There’s serious money involved now.

But in this let’s-not-call-it-a-recession climate that’s gripping the auto industry these days, it’s not a stretch to imagine that two such fierce competitors (they never once collaborated during WWII) would feel some pressure to shore up against encroachments on market share, especially when the “market” they’re “sharing” is dwindling the way it is.

And it may not be imagining at all. According to a BimmerFile story which ran today, their source(s) indicate that it was indeed possible stockholder pressure on Stuttgart and Munich which forced the two companies to sit together and talk it out, and that while there is no finalized agreement on paper, BMW is pushing to buy a minority stake in Daimler to ensure the process goes through. The sharing and caring would be limited to advanced emissions control and efficiency technologies only, so your kids won’t be driving any badge-engineered Benzimmers anytime soon.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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