Mercedes boss stops Frankfurt motor show in its tracks with migration speech

#hashtags: #Mercedes #Benz #Dieter Zetsche #Frankfurt #Supplied #Zetsche

Photo shows Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. Picture: Supplied Photo shows Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. Picture: Supplied Photo shows Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. Picture: Supplied Photo shows Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show. Picture: Supplied Mercedes boss stops Frankfurt motor show in its tracks with migration speech

15 September 2015 by Joshua Dowling · CarsGuide

The man in charge of the company that invented the motor car goes off script and says Germany should bring more migrant refugees into its country.

It was a speech like never before at a motor show.

Dieter Zetsche, the colourful boss of conservative luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz, was applauded by international media after interrupting his speech about future cars and instead made a heartfelt plea on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of displaced refugees fleeing the Syria conflict zone.

In a completely unexpected departure from proceedings, and moments before he unveiled a space-age car for the year 2030, Mr Zetsche launched into a monologue about the displaced people entering Germany.

“While we’re talking about the future of work, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about another issue that, for the time being, has nothing to do with digitalisation (of cars) – migration,” Mr Zetsche told a gathering of more than 1000 international media.

“It’s important to point out that I’m not only appealing to your hearts, but to your minds as well,” he said.

“Some people believe that immigration endangers a country’s future perspectives. I’m convinced that the opposite is the case.”

Mr Zetsche said taking in more than 800,000 people “is undoubtedly a herculean task for Germany” but added “in the best-case scenario, it can also be a foundation for the next German economic miracle – just like the millions of guest workers were for our economic miracle of the ’50s and ’60s.”

Mr Zetsche then went on to highlight examples of successful migrants around the world, in particular the USA.

The ancestors of Sergej Brin,  Elon Musk and Jerry Yang didn’t arrive in America on the Mayflower either

“Another example comes from Silicon Valley,” he continued in front of a stunned and silent media more accustomed to hearing about cars.

“The ancestors of (Google founder) Sergej Brin, (Tesla founder) Elon Musk and (Yahoo founder) Jerry Yang didn’t arrive in America on the Mayflower either,” Mr Zetsche said with a grin.

“I read recently that a quarter of America’s fastest growing companies of the last few years were founded by immigrants. That also applied in particular to IT companies,” he said.

The auto executive, who has a reputation in the industry for his frank and direct opinions, tempered his comments with: “naturally, not everybody who is coming to Europe today is a brilliant engineer, mechanic or entrepreneur”.

Anybody who knows the past isn’t allowed to turn refugees away

But, he added,  “many are extremely well educated (and) I believe that anybody who leaves behind their entire life is highly motivated to learn and to work here in order to build themselves a new life with us”.

Mr Zetsche, who revealed that Mercedes employs 280,000 people from 150 countries, said: “Anybody who knows the past isn’t allowed to turn refugees away. Anybody who sees the present can’t turn them away. Anybody who thinks about the future will not turn them away.”

Mercedes said it was supporting communities in Baden-Württemberg with shelter for refugees, as well as providing 1 million euros in financial aid and matching employee donations.

“Although it may be difficult to find a segue to new cars at this point, I’m convinced that it’s the right thing to do to address the current refugee debate here and now.”

And then he unveiled a hi-tech car that was almost as surreal as the speech he just gave.

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