BMW recently turned 100 years old, a mark of success that most companies could only dream of achieving. In its 100 years, BMW has created a brand image that is known by all in the automotive world. It’s the Ultimate Driving Machine and everyone who knows cars, and even some people who don’t, know it. However, times are changing, rapidly, and BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine might soon lose its driver.
It’s no secret that autonomous vehicles are one their way here, with companies like Tesla spearheading the new technology. However, BMW is all in on the idea of driverless cars and the future of the automobile, as long as it can still stick to its values. “We are a great company with a lot of engineering talent. We never got stuck on what we have but always have invested in future technology to build something our customers love. And if you do that, you shouldn’t be afraid of the future.” said Christoph Grote, head of BMW’s advanced technologies group.
Though, BMW doesn’t feel as if driverless cars will be viable options for the masses for quite some time and they may never be the sole option for automobile owners. However, Tesla’s Elon Musk seems to feel otherwise and feels that not only will driverless cars be realistic by 2020 but that in time, driverless cars will be the only legal option for automobiles. “We may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” said Musk last Summer.
However, that idea doesn’t bode well for BMW, as it’s a company that’s built its reputation on actual drivers enjoying their driving. So how does it adjust to the idea of removing the very thing it’s worked so hard to create?
Well BMW doesn’t intend to remove the driver. Representatives from BMW have said over and over that the company has no intention of permanently removing the drive from the equation. BMW wants to create cars that lead the industry, in terms of autonomous technology, but can also allow the driver to take over and have a thrilling sports car at the same time. If you’re skeptical of such an idea, look no further than the BMW i8. The BMW i8 shows how the brand can make some of the most advanced plug-in hybrids on the planet but can also thrill the driver. If a car like the i8 could drive itself in town, BMW would have fulfilled its goal.
What about for when people stop buying cars and start using car-sharing programs? BMW actually finds that car-sharing programs, like its DriveNow, can get people into its cars that otherwise can’t afford them. This will then lead them to buy into BMW later on in life when they can afford it. BMW says that the average age of its buyers are in their ’50s, while the average age of its DriveNow customers are in their ’30s. So this can actually work in BMW’s favor and bring people into the brand.
So while the world is changing, and technology with it, BMW is learning to adapt to keep up while still keeping its core brand values intact. That’s a very hard thing to do, but BMW seems to have a plan for the future and isn’t afraid of adapting to the new technologies of the future. Its ability and willingness to adapt and change to the times are ultimately what will keep BMW relevant as the world changes.