New CEO Dieter Zetsche aims to beat Lexus in quality, make the Smart division profitable, and lift Chrysler's productivity -- and all by 2008

Zetsche said Mercedes will not be trying to be "sporty and cool" to compete more evenly with BMW and Audi. Instead, through new products and marketing, Mercedes-Benz will be emphasizing, style, comfort, and engineering. He summed up the strategy with the word, "appreciation." Said Zetsche, "We want customers to know that we very much appreciate them, and we want them to appreciate Mercedes for what we are and what we can do." As for a sporty image, he says, "I will leave that to the others…Mercedes should stand for and be for people who have arrived, and we shouldn't back away from that." Zetsche, known for his sense of humor, is quick to add. "It all depends on how you define young at heart in this business. We won't take it too far. No one wants to be seen as an old fart."

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