Daimler posted a 64% drop last year's net revenue, its largest plunge in a decade, despite record peak Mercedes-Benz sales as chief executive Ola Kaellenius let on over 5 billion euros ($5.46 billion) in legal and overhaul charges.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) dropped to €4.3 billion from €11.1 billion in 2018.
Top of Stuttgart-based Daimler's list of problems is dieselgate, a cash black hole that sucked in some 4.0 billion euros previous year in provisions for "governmental and legal proceedings and measures".
Profits were slashed nearly 5.5 billion by charges linked to emissions cheating and defective airbags from supplier Takata, with 4.0 billion alone down to dieselgate.
On top of those costs, massive investments in new technology such as battery-powered and automated cars weighed on profitability.
"It's five minutes before midnight, high time to make some changes".
Looking ahead, Daimler said group unit sales for 2020 were likely to come in "slightly below" the previous year, while revenue was expected to be "at the level of 2019".
Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler on Tuesday reported plunging profits for 2019, after setting aside billions of euros to deal with potential fallout from the industry-wide "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal. Daimler is under investigation in both Germany and the United States, and a year ago agreed to pay an €870m fine and recall thousands of cars over allegations that it failed to comply with regulations.
The firm still contests whether "motor control functions" cited by regulators are in fact illegal.
Given the profit slump, bosses plan to offer shareholders a dividend of just 90 euro cents, down from 3.25 euros in 2018 and well short of the 1.53 forecast by analysts.
That challenge is seen in Daimler's share performance: its stock is down 12% year to date versus an 84% rise in electric auto producer Tesla, Refinitiv Eikon data shows. Daimler also has to spend a lot to prepare its vehicles for new Carbon dioxide regulations in the European Union that came into effect early this year.
"It is possible" to meet the greenhouse limits, although "2020 and 2021 will be the toughest years", Kallenius said.
Measures to cut expenses include "significant reduction of material and administrative costs" and of "personnel costs by more than 1.4 billion euros by the end of 2022", Daimler said. Demand for traditionally fuelled cars is also falling away.