It was recently reported that Mercedes-Benz has committed themselves to dispelling certain misconceptions about an aging workforce. Rather than classify those workers by such traditional criticisms as “too slow”, “inflexible” or “forgetful” Germany’s Daimler AG has set out to create a paradigm shift through training and professional development. There is also a public exhibit which, accordingly to Sylvia Huette-Ritterbusch, a Mercedes personnel expert has, “been visited by 80,000 people, including 2,500 of its factory managers worldwide.” But while Mercedes asserts itself to the unenviable task of re-branding the ideal of what it means to be an aging German worker, rival BMW seems more interested in challenging what it means to be an aging German courtesy of a new BMW SUV project.
There’s simply no way of getting around the fact that, outside of Deutschland itself, the global community has a tangibly uneasy relationship with the idea of Germans over the age of 30. Whether it’s the simple distinction presented by the 1989 collapse of the Berlin Wall (and its inevitable influence on the raising of post-collapse German children) or the fact that children born prior to 1945 will have spent much of their formative years influenced by Nazi ideology, there are obstacles to overcome in terms of ‘relationship-building”. This, combined with the simple truth that many Germans are ‘awkward conversationalists’, paints the picture of an uphill battle.
“We’re not Nazis,” is the assurance offered by BMW Marketing Director, Gottlob Dietrich, before joking, “We just sound like them.” In fact, Dietrich asserts that Hollywood has driven the lion’s share of negative sentiment that is directed towards the German community since films tend to saddle the German accent with a negative connotation to the common ear.
“Americans are the worst,” claims Dietrich, seemingly oblivious to the damaging nature of sound-bytes and misrepresentative headlines. “ They hear a German speak, and immediately assume that Jews are about to start ‘sterben Wie Fliegen’. I’m sorry, I meant to say dropping like flies. I apologize, as my English could use some work. But as a prestige luxury automaker, this places us in a precarious position. While we prosper through the support of true automotive enthusiasts, there is a clear anti-German sentiment in the American consumer base which discourages many of our friends in the United States from getting behind the wheel of a BMW.”
Is it possible that bigoted sensibility exists at such a level where it can impact luxury Bavarian automakers so negatively? It goes without saying that the conversation of race is on the tip of most American’s tongues as of 2018, be it through documented incidents, public perception or media baiting. But what about the Germans? Are we so busy talking about border walls, Islamic influence, and topics of black & white that we’ve allowed a 75-year prejudice to fester?
Gottlob Dietrich says it no longer matters. “We simply can not change the events of the past. We can only build forward. Doing so means building stronger bonds with our global community, which is why we have invited hundreds of young engineers and automotive design professionals from around the world to partner with our aging BMW experts on an exciting new project intended to encourage goodwill.”
While many of the details are being kept under wraps, it has been revealed that BMW expects the vehicle (tentatively named the Realm) to usher in a new era for their lineup, outside of their iconic alphanumeric naming system.
“Our young international friends are helping us to make great strides in creating a project that will prove appealing to a wider, younger influence. Prior to their arrival, we have created three iterations which simply felt too traditional. They’re helping us to shake things up, on this fourth reich,” explained Dietrich, before nervously correcting himself. “I meant realm. My apologies, as I said before, my English slips sometimes.”
BMW has remained tight-lipped as to when we might see the Realm IV make its debut as a concept vehicle, but there is hope for a 2020 reveal. They have also dismissed Gottlob Dietrich, for “revealing too much”.