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Auto blogSun, 24 Feb 2013 10:00:00 EST
There appear to be two takes on Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche having his contract extended for three more years, to 2016. A report in The Detroit News quotes the chairman of Daimler's supervisory board, Manfred Bischoff, talking up the stability at the top, "With today's extensions of the contracts of Dieter Zetsche and Thomas Weber, we are maintaining the important continuity at the top executive level." Bischoff also stated that that Zetsche has a plan to "further enhance Daimler's overall performance."
Over at Reuters, though, the three-year extension was seen as a lack of complete confidence in Zetsche's plans, since his contract was supposedly meant to be extended by five years. A spokesman said the board decided to extend executive contracts by only three years if the person was 60 or would turn 60 during the contract, but that was news to observers. Zetsche wants to make Mercedes-Benz the top selling luxury manufacturer globally by 2020, but has fallen to third place behind Audi and BMW. It hasn't held the top spot 2005, and investors judged it valued at half that of BMW at the end of 2012 once Daimler's truck business was subtracted.
Analysts cites the fact that Daimler stock hasn't bested its rivals but twice in twelve years, and that the company revised its profit target downward last year by nearly one billion euros, warning of stagnant earnings this year and will miss its original margin target for 2013.
The wheel ranks right up there with the telescope and four-slice toaster in the pantheon of inventions that have moved humankind forward. But what if a circle in three dimensions had never occurred to anyone, and we all had just moved on without it? Perhaps we'd be driving around in Lucas Motors Landspeeders with anti-gravity engines. Or maybe we'd have the same cars we do today, just without wheels.
That's the thought experiment that seems to have led French photographer Renaud Marion to create his six-image series called Air Drive. The shots depict cars throughout many eras of motoring that look normal except for one thing: they have no wheels. The models used include a Jaguar XK120, Cadillac DeVille (shown above), Chevrolet El Camino and Camaro, and Mercedes-Benz SL and 300 roadsters.
Perhaps one day when our future becomes our past, you'll be able to walk the street and see with your own eyes the rust and patina of age on our nation's fleet of floating cars. Until then, Monsieur Marion's photographs will have to do.
Records, as the say, are made to be broken. Whether that's cramming the most hot dogs down your gullet, running a faster mile, or yes, driving across the United States, odds are that there's someone out there wants to eat more, run faster or drive harder. Speaking of that last example, the record for driving from a set location on the east coast, in particular the Red Ball Garage in Manhattan to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, CA, has been one that has fascinated gearheads since a guy named Cannonball Baker made the trek from New York to LA in 53 hours, 30 minutes, in 1933.
The competition saw its glory days when Car and Driver's Brock Yates came up with the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (more affectionately known as the Cannonball Run), although the record was most recently set by Alex Roy and his 32-hour, seven-minute trek behind the wheel of a BMW M5 in 2006. Now, there's a new champion, who made the trip from east to west in a scarcely imaginable 28 hours and 50 minutes, behind the wheel of a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG. That's works out to an average speed of 98 miles per hour over the course of 2,813.7 miles.
His name is Ed Bolian, and Jalopnik has a writeup of the epic voyage that details everything from the history of the Cannonball Run to Bolian's preparation and trouble finding co-drivers, to the trip itself. It is well worth a read.