BMW has ended the search for its new CEO. The German automotive giant announced last week that Oliver Zipse, current Chairman of the Board of Management will be taking the top spot starting on August 16th of this year. This move serves to solidify the company’s current strategy of building all-electric versions of its traditional vehicles, as opposed to creating a new and separate line of electric vehicles (EVs). Zipse has been the driving force behind BMW’s strategy of producing EVs on the same assembly line as their gas-powered and hybrid vehicles.
The company has had a tumultuous 2019. As we mentioned here, current CEO Harald Krüger announced earlier this month that he would not be seeking a second term in his post. This announcement came on the heels of a profit warning issued to shareholders in March and overall sluggish sales. BMW has been criticized by various environmental groups in recent years for failing to offer more all-electric models of their luxury vehicles.
Zipse has spent his entire professional career at BMW, beginning as a trainee in the Development, Technical Planning, and Production department. After holding various leadership positions within the company, he was named Chairman of the Board of Management in 2015. Zipse is a strong proponent of electric vehicle technology and has fought to expand BMWs e-mobility capacities.
“Flexibility is key,” Zipse told reporters after the announcement was made. “Forecasting demand for EVs in the years ahead will not be as easy for BMW as forecasting its traditional products. If we predict the success of 3 series, we can be pretty much spot on,” he said. “To predict electromobility is much more difficult. If you are not flexible either way, it’s very difficult for you to succeed in the market. Succeeding is staying profitable,” he further stated.
Zipse’s appointment was met with mixed opinions. Automotive News called the appointment “bold” and noted that Zipse “has been vocal for years about making BMW’s factory network more efficient and flexible.” Bradley Brownell of Jalopnik.com wrote that he is “curious to see if Zipse has the cojones to take larger strides than his predecessor had.” Brownell also wondered, “Is this the return of a Good BMW?” The world will soon find out…
Whatever skepticism lies with the automotive press, Zipse remains confident in the company’s ability to turn a profit. In referencing the industry’s measurement of how much time each station of the assembly line requires, Zipse was quoted as saying: “We have a 72-second cycle in our plants. In our German plants, we are partially below 60 seconds. To integrate different drivetrains in a plant without losing efficiency — that’s the secret. Either you can do that or you cannot. And we can do it, we can do it.”
I wish I had that kind of confidence.
What do our readers think about the appointment? Will Zipse be able to turn the tide at BMW or will his strategies doom the company to further declines in sales? Any BMW owners out there care to chime in? Please leave us a comment below.
Source | Image: Wikimedia Commons