BMW executive Ludwig Willisch, who has led the company’s sales operations in Europe and Japan, will take over as CEO of BMW of North America on Oct. 1. The move comes with no surprises to us. At the April’s New York Auto Show, we learned through unofficial sources that Jim O’Donnell will retire this year and the new management team will come from Germany.
The 54-year-old German will replace Jim O’Donnell, 61, who has held the job since July 2008. Willisch will arrive in the United States on Sept. 1 and work alongside O’Donnell during a one-month transition.
In the BMW community, Willisch is also known as former CEO of BMW M. He began his BMW career in 1996 as head of the sales office in Duesseldorf, Germany. Later in his career, he was responsible for sales subsidiaries around the world, most recently, the European sales outside of Germany.
O’Donnell leaves BMW in a moment when the company is reporting high-record sales. BMW is on track to outsell Lexus in the United States for the first time since 1997. Through June, BMW’s sales rose 13 percent to 113,705.
Stay tuned for an official press release in the upcoming weeks.