Werner Niefer; Former Chairman of Mercedes-Benz
Werner Niefer, 65, the former chairman of Mercedes-Benz. Niefer began with the luxury car maker as an apprentice toolmaker in 1943, attended night courses to obtain a technical school diploma and later graduated from engineering college in the city of Esslingen, near Stuttgart. Known as Mr. Mercedes, he oversaw development of new technology and the company’s expansion to produce high-performance motors for commercial and military use. Niefer joined the board of directors of parent company Daimler-Benz in 1976, and in May, 1989, became chairman of Mercedes-Benz. The jovial Niefer had his share of controversy during his long career. In May, 1990, he was involved in an accident in Rome while driving a bus, seriously injuring a woman tourist. He was fined $50,000. In 1991, he faced charges that Mercedes-Benz was involved in illegal export of military equipment to the Middle East, but the allegations were never proved and the matter was dropped. In Stuttgart, Germany, on Sunday of lung cancer.