MUNICH -- Wolfgang Bernhard will return to Daimler to head the company's Mercedes-Benz Vans unit, Daimler said today.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said: "I am delighted that Wolfgang Bernhard is back at Daimler. I have valued his knowledge and experience since the time we spent together in the United States."
Bernhard, 48, is a former chief operating officer at Chrysler group and head of Volkswagen brand. A German native, he will succeed Wilfried Porth as global head of Daimler's vans division in April. Porth will become Daimler's head of human resources.
Bernhard was a top executive at Daimler between 1994 and 2004. In 2000, two years after Daimler-Benz and Chrysler group merged, Bernhard was sent to Chrysler in the U.S. from Germany with Dieter Zetsche to turn around the ailing American carmaker.
The pair achieved some success and Bernhard won praise for developing new hot new models for Chrysler.
When Bernhard returned to Stuttgart, he was regarded as a potential successor to then-DaimlerChrysler CEO Juergen Schrempp.
But he left in 2004 after he was passed over to succeed Juergen Hubbert as head of the Mercedes luxury cars division.
Industry insiders said Mercedes managers were worried about his blunt management style. He once told a meeting of stunned Mercedes executives, "This company does everything wrong." He also called for the company to sell its stake in Mitsubishi against Schrempp's wishes.
Bernhard was lured to Volkswagen in 2005 by CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder and put in charge of the struggling VW brand.
At VW, Bernhard introduced aggressive cost cutting and restructuring measures but left the carmaker in early 2007 after Pischetsrieder quit as group CEO following a boardroom coup by VW Chairman Ferdinand Piëch.
Bernhard joined U.S. investment company Cerberus Capital Management and advised the company on its acquisition of 80 percent of the carmaker.