Retirement means many things to many people, and in a new video from BMW released on the eve of Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche's retirement, it can also mean trying something new.
BMW Congratulates Retiring Mercedes CEO, Suggests Trying New Things
In a video distributed by BMW this week on the eve of the retirement of Mercedes' parent company Daimler's CEO, Dieter Zetsche, BMW thanks their rival for years of spirited competition and wishes him well in his retirement, even suggesting he use that new found freedom to try new things.
The clip features a camera that follows an actor, who closely resembles Zetsche, acting out the last day of the Daimler CEO walking through the lobby of Daimler headquarters; thanking employees, shaking hands, and handing in his badge to the front desk to signal that his work is finally done. Getting into a black Mercedes, Zetsche is driven home and dropped off in his driveway, and after one final handshake for his driver, the Mercedes pulls away, leaving Zetsche to his retirement.
The scene cuts to a side shot of the garage door opening and a brand new, metallic-orange BMW i8 Roadster pulling out into the driveway with Zetsche behind the wheel, who speeds off underneath the caption "Free at Last." The video fades to black where a final caption reads "Thank you, Dieter Zetsche, for so many years of inspiring competition" before closing on the BMW logo.
The light-hearted send-off for their rival's CEO is a nice gesture and reflects the closer cooperation between the two automakers over the years, a trend not limited to BMW and Mercedes. As the automotive industry begins probably its greatest transition since the introduction of Henry Ford's assembly lines, automakers have become less siloed in their future plans as the successful roll-out of autonomous vehicle technology in the coming years will rely in large part on how well automakers coordinate and collaborate on the various technologies involved.
It used to be that being the first to market with a new technology conferred enormous first mover advantage that incentivized beating out your rivals, but with autonomous vehicles, there is no incentive to rushing a product to a market that is already highly skeptical of the technology. All it would take is a few high profile accidents from an automaker whose product is only slightly imperfect to prompt consumer and regulatory backlash that could send the entire technology in reverse for several years, at an enormous cost to automakers who have invested heavily in the technology already.
Look no further than Tesla, a competitor of BMW and Mercedes whose Autopilot system is under increasing scrutiny after a few high profile accidents has people online and in print declaring that Autopilot is more dangerous than it is useful, even as human drivers all around us cause tens of thousands of deaths every year in the US alone.
Automakers aren't oblivious to this reality, and the challenge of winning over suspicious consumers requires that every automaker succeed in implementing their autonomous vehicle technology. This has contributed to the changing culture of automakers from one of intense competition and proprietary technology to one where cooperation plays a larger role and technologies are more widely shared, or even--in the case of Tesla--open-sourced entirely.