In a clip distributed on BMW AG’s Twitter feed, a camera follows a Zetsche lookalike — complete with signature walrus mustache and rimless spectacles — around on his last day at work: there’s Zetsche handing in his work badge at the front desk, bidding farewell to employees in the lobby with a few selfies, before being whisked back home by a chauffeured black Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.
After the car drops him off and leaves, Zetsche sneaks into the double garage, only to emerge at the wheel of a flaming-orange open-top BMW i8 sports car to roar off his compound. The caption: Free at Last.
The clip ends with a note of gratitude, saying “Thank you, Dieter Zetsche, for so many years of inspiring competition,” followed by the BMW emblem and the carmaker’s slogan: Sheer Driving Pleasure.
The lighthearted display of humour on the part of Daimler’s fiercest rival highlights how the two carmakers have embraced a more co-operative approach of late, culminating in a joint car-sharing business and a pledge to work on autonomous cars.
Both companies, like much of the industry, are bound together by the same challenges: the emergence of self-driving and electric rivals, new competitors like Tesla Inc., a simmering trade war with the US and changing consumer tastes on owning cars in favour of sharing them.
Zetsche handed over the reins to Ola Kaellenius on Wednesday.