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Daimler AG (DMLRY) is a multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. The company was formed in 1926 with the merger of Benz & Cie and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft.

Today, the automaker is one of the world’s largest producers of luxury cars and is the biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. Daimler has roughly 300,000 employees worldwide and over $200 billion in revenue, as the company produces a variety of vehicles under numerous brands around the world and also operates a financial services segment.

Key Takeaways

  • Germany’s Daimler AG is one of the biggest producers of luxury cars and the largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles.
  • The company has numerous brands and a financing unit called Mercedes-Benz Bank.
  • Mercedes-Benz, which is best known for its luxury vehicles, is a subsidiary of Daimler AG.
  • Freightliner, Thomas Built Buses, Detroit Diesel, and Smart Automobile are also part of Daimler.
  • In 2020, Daimler was forced to pay $2.2 billion for cheating on the emissions requirements of the Clean Air Act.


In 1886, original founders Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz created the world’s first gasoline-powered automobile, the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The first Mercedes automobile was marketed in 1901. Primarily known in the United States for its line of premium vehicles, the Mercedes-Benz car division produces a wide range of models, such as the A Class and B Class, SUVs, roadsters, coupes, convertibles, and S Class luxury sedans.

Mercedes-Benz also sells trucks, coaches, buses, and bus chassis, primarily in Western Europe, Asia, and Latin America. In addition, the company produces a line of commercial work vans under the Sprinter brand. In 2020, Forbes listed Mercedes-Benz as the 23rd most valuable brand in the world, with more than $121 billion in sales and 167,000 employees.


Daimler AG acquired American truck manufacturer Freightliner in 1981. The company is headquartered in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and it operates as Daimler Trucks North America LLC. The company is known mainly for its heavy-duty class 8 diesel trucks, commonly known as semis, and also produces smaller class 5-7 trucks. Meanwhile, Cascadia Evolution model leads the long-haul-on-highway product lineup.

Thomas Built Buses

Thomas Built Buses began as a streetcar company in 1916 and became one of the largest bus manufacturers in the United States, which is a status that it still enjoys today. Headquartered in Highpoint, North Carolina, the company was acquired from the Thomas family by Daimler AG in 1998. Thomas Built offers a full line of school, childcare, activity, specialty, and energy-efficient buses. It was the first bus manufacturer to produce a traditional type C school bus fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) and also produces buses fueled by propane.

Smart Automobile

Daimler AG’s Smart Automobile is an automaker based in Boblingen, Germany. It manufactures and sells microcars and subcompact cars, primarily the Fortwo and Forfour models. Mercedes began the design for Smart in the 1970s in cooperation with Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group. The Smart name is short for Swatch Mercedes Art, and the company’s first model under the brand appeared in 1998. The cars are manufactured across Europe, and both its electric and gasoline models are sold around the world.

Mercedes-Benz Bank

The Stuttgart-based Mercedes-Benz Bank AG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler Financial Services AG, the global financial services provider of Daimler AG. The universal bank—which is mostly an auto financing and leasing operation—was founded under the name DaimlerChrysler Bank in 2001 and obtained a banking license in 2002. The name was changed to Mercedes-Benz Bank in 2008 and it now has over 1,500 employees serving 1 million customers.

$2.2 Billion

In 2020, Daimler was forced to pay $2.2 billion after it was found to have cheated on the emissions requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Detroit Diesel

Founded in 1938 as the diesel division of General Motors (GM), Detroit Diesel produces heavy-duty and mid-range diesel engines, transmissions, axles, safety systems, and telematics products for the trucking industry. Daimler AG acquired the Detroit-based company in 2000. It now has over 2,000 employees at six manufacturing plants located throughout the United States. Parts are distributed through a network of over 800 service outlets in North America and three worldwide distribution centers.

The Bottom Line

Daimler AG is one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world, with several well-known brands of cars, trucks, and buses. It’s also a financial company, through its ownership of the Mercedes-Benz bank.

Daimler AG FAQs

Who Is the CEO of Daimler AG?

Ola Källenius became Chairman of Daimler’s Board of Management of Daimler on May 22, 2019. According to Daimler’s website, this role is equivalent to that of a Chief Executive Officer.

Who Are the Top Shareholders of Daimler AG?

56.7% of Daimler shares are owned by institutional investors, such as hedge funds and pension funds. Chinese investor Li Shufu owns a 9.7% stake, through the holding company Tenaciou3 Prospect Investment Limited. The Kuwait Sovereign Savings Fund has 6.8% of all shares, and retail investors control 20.3%.

What Was the Daimler AG Emissions Scandal?

The Daimler Emissions Scandal was an illegal attempt to falsify emission tests for Mercedes-Benz vehicles between 2009 and 2016. Under the Clean Air Act, car exhaust must meet strict limitations on emissions of nitrogen oxides and other harmful chemicals. Daimler was found to have encoded test-cheating software into some of their diesel vehicles so that they would produce less nitrogen oxide gasses during emissions testing. This trick allowed Daimler to sell 250,000 vehicles that otherwise could not have passed inspection.

When the scandal was revealed in 2020, Daimler was forced to pay $1.5 billion to different government bodies, and another $700 million to car owners.

Does Daimler Own a Stake in Tesla?

Daimler used to have a stake in Tesla. In 2009, Daimler acquired a 9% stake in Tesla for $50 million, which they sold over over the following years. In 2014 they sold their remaining 4% stake for $780 million.

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