BERLIN — Mercedes-Benz’s chief technology officer, Sajjad Khan, will leave the brand to set up a technology venture-capital fund, the company said in a statement.
Khan, who is leaving at his own request, will depart on Sept. 1.
The automaker said Khan’s replacement, Magnus Östberg, would assume overall responsibility for the MB.OS vehicle operating system as chief software officer, effective Sept. 1.
Khan, an Automotive News Europe 2019 Eurostar, was responsible for the automaker’s CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Sharing/Services, Electric) organization. He was also the leading force behind the company’s MBUX user interface software and heavily involved in the development of the flagship Mercedes EQS sedan’s hyperscreen touchscreen.
“Sajjad Khan has decisively advanced digitization at Mercedes-Benz and significantly shaped the product portfolio,” Daimler Supervisory Board Chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder said in the statement. “With MBUX, he has created a system that defines a new benchmark in the automotive sector.”
From 2011 to 2015, Khan worked for BMW, where he ultimately became vice president, responsible for the Connected Drive system worldwide. He took over the responsibility for digital vehicle & mobility as vice president at Daimler in 2015, starting as CTO of CASE in 2017.
Östberg began his career in the automotive industry at software and technical consulting company Mecel, followed by management positions at Delphi in Germany and the United States with a focus on vehicle software, infotainment and telematics.
Most recently, the Swedish-born executive was vice president software platform & system at supplier Aptiv in the US.
“With MB.OS, we made a clear strategic decision for the future of Mercedes-Benz: to apply our own software-platform for our vehicles, for which we are now creating a specific software position to bring together the responsibility for all related development tasks,” Daimler CEO Ola Kaellenius said in the statement.
“Magnus Östberg is excellently suited for this job and I am very much looking forward to working with him.”
Mercedes also announced R&D activities would be re-aligned as part of the electric-only evolution of the company and brought together in the department of Markus Schäfer, chief operating officer Mercedes and Daimler management board member for group research.
Khan’s sudden departure was greeted as a surprise within the business press, with the German trade publication Handlesblatt calling Khan a “trailblazer” and noting his sudden departure comes in the midst of a massive restructuring.
Kaellenius’ statement acknowledged Khan laid the foundations for MB.OS with his “technological expertise, strategic farsightedness and an excellent team,” and noted Mercedes would serve as an angel investor on his new venture.