For the first time in its history, Daimler, the German car maker that owns Mercedes-Benz, will be run by a non-German.
Dieter Zetsche will be replaced by Ola Kaellenius, a 49-year-old Swede, as chief executive in a succession plan announced on Wednesday.
The German car industry is currently grappling with the fallout from the diesel emissions cheating scandal, whilst seeking to adapt to the new era of electric and self-driving cars.
Mr Kaellenius will be the first Daimler boss without a mechanical engineering background. He joined Daimler in 1993 and has a degree in international management from the Stockholm School of Economics.
Mr Zetsche will step down as chief executive - a role he has held since 2006 - following the annual meeting in December 2019.
He will become chairman from 2021 after a mandatory two-year break, if his appointment is approved by shareholders.
Under Mr Zetsche's leadership, Mercedes overtook rivals BMW and Audi, a VW brand, to become the world's biggest luxury carmaker by sales in 2016.