Today, August 16, Oliver Zipse will officially take over the chairmanship of the BMW AG Executive Board. He succeeds Harald Krüger, who took over the company on May 13, 2015. Zipse takes over the BMW Group as the world’s most successful supplier of premium automobiles, but sales of the core brand BMW fell behind Mercedes compared to the time of the takeover by Harald Krüger.
Despite falling behind Mercedes, Krüger was responsible for a significant increase in sales. In its first year as head of BMW, the BMW Group sold 2,247,485 vehicles worldwide, representing a new record sales volume. 2016, 2017 and 2018 were followed by further sales records.
Last year, the company sold 2,490,664 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles.
Despite numerous uncertainties and crises around the world, the BMW Group is on course for another record year in 2019. After seven months, sales are 0.9 percent above the previous year’s record. Therefore, for the first time the BMW Group could surpass 2.5 million premium cars sold annually.
Many experts have questioned the strategic decisions under Harald Krüger, especially when it came to electro-mobility. Once a leader in the segment innovation, BMW has fallen behind other automakers when it comes to electrified vehicles.
However, the course has already been set, which will bear fruit in the coming months: with the MINI Cooper SE, BMW iX3, BMW i4 and BMW iNext, four new electric cars will be launched on the market within the next two years.
The company is even expanding its plug-in hybrids offerings.
Harald Krüger also continued the strategy of expanding a platform for vehicles with front-wheel drive. The UKL architecture, which was initially developed for MINI, is now also being used in further developed variants by the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and the Gran Tourer, X1, X2 and the 1 Series.
Above all, the change in the BMW 1 Series is critically viewed by many fans of the rear-wheel drive, but could turn out to be a strategically correct decision.
Once again, the significance of the X models has grown significantly: While the SUV family accounted for around 32 percent of BMW sales in 2016, this year’s figure is almost 46 percent. A relevant factor not only for sales but above all for margins is the recent introduction of the BMW X7.
However, it is clear that Oliver Zipse is taking over the BMW Group at a difficult phase. Despite all the uncertainties – from the trade dispute between the US and China to Brexit and the uncertain situation in the Middle East – the expectations of him are high.
Critics will judge him by whether he can further increase the worldwide sales and whether BMW can pass in Mercedes in the premium segment.
At the same time, other critics will demand that BMW expand its electric activities even faster than announced. Yet, we might not see a new strategy in place for quite some time.