Perhaps the greatest German car manufacturer rivalry has come from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Unlike other countries where competition is seen as a threat, these two giants often take jabs at each other, most often in subtle but the most humorous of ways. Despite this rivalry, there really is respect that transcends all the friendly banter.

Dieter Zetsche, more fondly known as Dr. Z, today resigned from Daimler, owner of the Mercedes-Benz luxury car brand. Following what was a very long round of applause, the man responsible for bringing Daimler back from the brink leaves his post as CEO. Zetsche first joined Daimler-Benz in 1976. In 2006, he was the figure behind the Ask Dr.Z campaign that sought to make the brand more accessible to customers – it became a platform that humanized the name, and an avenue through which questions can be asked and answered by, you guessed it, Dr.Z.

It was during the 2007 demerger between Daimler and Chrysler that Zetsche would influence the German company as we know it today. Coming from a slump, it took 8 years to finally post a record for car sales and revenue, and this saw Dieter’s contract extended until 2019. 

He will be succeeded and Ola Kallenius, who moves up from Head of Development of Mercedes-Benz. Kellenius’ focus will be on electric vehicle production, which he believes will steer the brand into the future.

BMW’s farewell to outgoing Daimler CEO is all sorts of great image

As you may have seen in the video, the tribute of BMW for Zetsche came by way of, of all things, an i8. Notice how Zetsche conveniently waited for his chauffeur-driven Mercedes-Benz to leave only to drive out in a BMW, tucked away behind a closed garage door. After all those years of service, perhaps Dieter Zetsche really is "free at last". Or is he? 

Perhaps our local companies in and out of the automotive industry could learn a thing or two from these two brands’ rivalry. If only we could treat competition as friendly, the world would be a much happier place, wouldn’t it? Auf wiedersehen, Dr.Z, and danke!

Okay, now where’s our i8?