Watch: BMW’s heart-touching yet humorous tribute to Mercedes-Benz CEO as he retires |

Dieter Zetsche, the iconic Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz, officially retired in 2019. As he bade farewell to his illustrious career, fellow German automaker and rival BMW decided to honor him in a unique and unexpected way.
In a heartwarming yet humorous video titled “Retirement Is About Exploring Your Wide Open Future”, BMW recreated Dieter Zetsche’s last day at the Stuttgart headquarters.The video featured a lookalike of Zetsche, complete with his signature walrus mustache and funky glasses. As the scene unfolded, “Zetsche” bid goodbye to his employees, surrounded by applause from numerous colleagues. He handed over his company ID card and steped into a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, ready to head home.
But as they mentioned, retirement is about exploring new horizons, and BMW had something special in store. As the garage door opened at Zetsche’s home, the title card read, “Free at last.” And there it was—a striking metallic-orange BMW i8 Roadster, waiting to whisk him away. The cheeky caption captured the moment perfectly: “Free at Last.”

The doppleganger of ex Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche driving off the BMW i8 roadster into the sunset. Source: BMW/X

The video concluded with a heartfelt note of gratitude: “Thank you, Dieter Zetsche, for so many years of inspiring competition.” Despite their fierce rivalry, BMW managed to blend respect, humor, and creativity into this farewell tribute.
Watch it here:

Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz had its own witty comeback. On social media, they retweeted BMW’s video with a playful twist: “Thanks @BMW for the kind suggestion – but we’re 100% sure he already decided to #switchtoEQ,” hinting at their own electric mobility brand.
This playful exchange between the two automotive giants showcased that business rivalries need not always be cutthroat. These two iconic German automakers have been at the forefront of the industry for decades, competing fiercely in every aspect of design, production, and sales. Their contrasting philosophies drive their vehicles: BMW, the track beast, emphasizes performance and driving dynamics, while Mercedes-Benz, the executive chariot, focuses on elegance, comfort, and sophistication. From luxury sedans to sports cars, their ongoing battle has produced some of the most iconic vehicles in history.
However, despite their fierce rivalry, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have found ways to show mutual respect. Back in 2016, during BMW’s 100-year anniversary, Mercedes invited all BMW employees to visit its museum in Stuttgart, waiving admission charges. Those arriving in a BMW were even granted prime parking spots directly outside the entrance.
Dieter Zetsche, who held the CEO position for the last 14 years, passed the reins to Ola Källenius on May 22nd, 2019. Källenius now leads both Mercedes-Benz AG and Daimler AG. Zetsche’s legacy lives on, not only in the automotive industry but also in the playful banter between two iconic brands.
As the automotive world said goodbye to to Dr. Z, BMW’s tribute reminds us that even fierce competitors can share a smile and a nod of respect. Retirement, after all, is about embracing new adventures—whether in a Mercedes or a BMW.

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