The change of leadership at BMW is under one roof: two weeks after the resignation of CEO Harald Krüger, the supervisory board of the Munich-based carmaker has appointed the former production director Oliver Zipse as successor. The 55-year-old engineer will take over the board of directors in just four weeks, on 16 August, as the company announced on Thursday evening.
BMW boss Kruger had expired contract
The 53-year-old Kruger had said after four years at the top, he would not renew his expiring in April contract. Under him, BMW saved a clean slate in the diesel scandal and made important partnerships in mobility services and autonomous driving. But critics accused him of having overtaken Mercedes BMW in sales and BMW has lost its leadership in electromobility.
Oliver Zipse – A strong strategist
Supervisory Board Chairman Norbert Reithofer said after the meeting in the US auto plant Spartanburg: “With Oliver Zipse, a strong strategist and analyst takes over the CEO of BMW AG.” He will give the company “additional momentum in shaping the mobility of the future”.
Zipse is considered unpretentious, but assertive. The International Motor Show (IAA) in early September will be his first major appearance as CEO. Employee and shareholder representatives are also expecting clear announcements from him soon. BMW needs a “chief”, said Daniela Bergdolt of the German protection association for securities possession (DSW). The Munich IG Metall boss and supervisory board Horst Lischka had said before the meeting in Spartanburg, from the new boss he expects “leadership competence and clear positioning inside and out”.
Stations in Munich, South Africa and England
Zipse was born in Heidelberg in 1964, studied computer science and mathematics in the USA, and mechanical engineering in Darmstadt, and joined BMW in 1991. After working in Munich and South Africa, he headed up the Mini-Werk Oxford until 2008, was head of technical planning, corporate planning and product strategy and moved up to the board in 2015 – even then as successor to Krüger, who rose from production to chief executive officer.
Good cooperation with plant managers and works councils
Since then, Zipse has been responsible for the largest department in the BMW Group as production director. With ongoing production, he has to rebuild the factories for the construction of electric cars, work well with self-confident plant managers and works councils and ensure that every year 2.5 million cars run smoothly off the assembly line.
Now he will have even less time to go to the opera with his wife: big construction sites are waiting for him. Like the entire car industry, BMW is also struggling with weaker demand and new customs hurdles. The upcoming Brexit in October poses problems for BMW. At the same time, BMW has to invest billions in future technologies and above all in electric cars and the retrofitting of factories. At the end of June, the Group had spent as a new target to bring 25 electrified models on the road as early as 2023 and not just in 2025.
Zipse could bring back the crown for BMW as BMW boss
BMW expects a profit slump in the current year and strikes little in demand model and engine variants, wants to reduce however in contrast to other automaker no jobs. The sales figures had Mercedes overtaken BMW three years ago, but now Zipse could recover the crown. Those who take over the production department after him, the supervisory board should probably decide in the fall.