So one of my appointments at Frankfurt is an interview with AMG chief exec Ola Kallenius, exactly 20 years after the C36 AMG was unveiled at the same show. This, as AMG-spotters will know, is a significant event, given that the C36 was the first AMG sold as an official Mercedes product following the tuning firm's integration into Mercedes proper.
Kallenius moves up the corporate ladder
The only problem is that, in the course my research into Kallenius, I've just discovered he's leaving the job in less than a month. Oh.
It'll be interesting to talk to the de-mob happy head of AMG after what's been a pretty healthy period of growth and diversification.
But, with all due respect to Kallenius, I'm more excited about his replacement, a man Mercedes R&D boss Thomas Weber describes as having "gasoline in his veins." The kind of accolade you'd expect in a corporate press release about a new appointment for a performance division. Weber could've added "is a bit of a geezer" and "is pretty handy at Gran Turismo" to his attributes too, current development head Moers being exactly the kind of bloke you'd want in charge of AMG. And one of the reasons it's succeeded better than its BMW and Audi equivalents in maintaining its identity amid the corporate marketing machine.
Kallenius moves to head of sales and marketing and, like his predecessor Volker Mornhinweg (now head of vans!), is one of those career bosses moved at regular intervals around the company as part of the corporate whirligig you'll get in any big organisation.
C36 launched Merc-AMG tie-up 20 years ago
Moers isn't one of them though. I've heard the AMG team described as 'beer and steak guys' and if that's the case Moers is the very personification of the kind of chap romantics like us like to imagine run car companies. I last bumped into him at Geneva, ambling around the Mercedes stand in most un-corporate jeans and jacket and a little surprised to be recognised and asked by me for his snap beside
. The recognition was mutual, a previous encounter being after a few beers on some AMG launch or other when Moers was stationed in one of two PlayStation Gran Turismo pods, seeing off colleagues one-by-one in virtual battles with SLS AMGs on Laguna Seca. I was watching and after Moers had beaten everyone in the room I was pushed into the pod by the AMG guys and up against him in a computer generated simulation of the SLS launch I'd attended a few years back. And somehow won. Since then he's always greeted me with a hearty handshake and big grin, introducing me to his colleagues as the guy that beat him at Gran Turismo. And grown-ups reckon those hours on the PlayStation are 'wasted' eh? Not in this case!
Anyway. I'm interested to talk to Kallenius and hear about his part in AMG's 20-year evolution as part of Mercedes proper. But I'm also excited to hear that his replacement is the kind of chap who seems more at home with banter and hands-on hard driving than he is smooth-talking with the shiny suited bigwigs. Moers has been with AMG since 1994 and in charge of model development since 2002. From CLK Black Series to SLS AMG, all have had his fingerprint on them and I remember on the CLS63 launch him nearly thumping his hand through the table as he hammered home the point making the then-new twin-turbo V8 sound like a proper AMG engine was a key development goal. Fake engine noise through the speakers clearly isn't his style and stuff like that clearly matters to him, which bodes well for the tie-up with Aston Martin as well as future AMGs.