Katrin Adt replaces Annette Winkler as the new CEO of Smart
Daimler small car brand’s new boss Karen Adt starts on 1 October, former boss Annette Winkler will continue at Daimler as board member for Mercedes South Africa
Adt joined Daimler in 1999, and worked in various sales positions until 2013, when she branched out into human resources.
It’s understood that the move aims to reverse Smart’s falling sales, which have fallen sharply across Europe since a peak in 2016. Adt was formerly responsible for managing Smart’s sales worldwide, and previously held the post as boss of Daimler’s luxembourg sales.
Britta Seeger, Mercedes’ sales boss, said: “Katrin Adt has years of international experience. With her experience in various management positions in sales and marketing and the companywide management culture initiative Leadership 2020, she will steer Smart into a successful future.”
Adt’s successor Winkler was appointed to lead the Daimler brand in 2010 and is praised for ushering in Smart’s electric era, with both the Fortwo and Forfour getting Electric Drive-badged variants during her tenure. She joined Daimler in 1995 as head of PR and communications for Mercedes-Benz. Smart, post-Winkler, will become a «fully electric urban mobility brand».
Dieter Zetsche, head of Daimler, said: “As a true entrepreneurial personality, she has led Smart to new successes and systematically transformed it into an electric mobility brand. Under Annette Winkler’s leadership, the smart plant in Hambach has continually improved its competitiveness and is extremely well positioned for the future.”
Winkler said: “One of the key responsibilities of every executive is to pass on leading positions to the next generation at the right time. And that time has now come — with the clear focus of smart as a fully electric urban mobility brand and with the decision to develop the Hambach facility into a plant for fully electric vehicles within the Mercedes-Benz production network.”
Smart’s global sales under Winkler have increased steadily, from just below 100,000 in 2010, to 135,868 last year, after a 2016 peak of 143,719, according to JATO figures. The brand has had some difficulty maintaining sales, however; last year’s figure almost matches that of 2008, when the brand had only one model in its lineup, rather than the two cars offered today. The Fortwo has fallen across this timeframe, from 115,900 sales in 2009, to 95,000 in 2017.
Things have not been plain sailing elsewhere; in the US, Smart became an electric-only brand as petrol sales were heavily outnumbered by their plug-in counterparts. Around 7100 alternatively-fuelled Smarts were sold last year – only modest growth over around 6100 in 2014. 74% of Smart’s sales were in Europe last year,
Winkler will continue to work for Daimler as a board member for Mercedes-Benz South Africa from September 2019.