BMW Boss Wants Car-Free City Centers


That doesn't seem like good business for an automaker now does it?

Densely packed cities the world over are increasingly limiting traffic in their busiest downtown areas. That would seem like bad news for automobile manufacturers ostensibly eager to sell as many cars as they can. But at least one carmaker's chief exec thinks it's a good idea.

"I find the idea of a car-free inner city worth striving for," BMW chief Oliver Zipse said in a DPA wire report cited by Automobile Woche, the German-language version of Automotive News. "Why does someone who only goes shopping have to drive in with their own car? It's not a win."


Zipse said he would personally rather take the subway in Munich, where BMW is based, if only city planners did a better job. Munich is the third largest city in Germany. Its U-Bahn system encompasses 96 stations on 64 miles of track across eight lines, transporting over a million passengers every weekday. That would make it the second largest subway system in the US by riders and lines, third by number of stations, and fifth by track length.

Munich's transport authority doesn't "disclose the data they need for intelligent, networked traffic planning," said Zipse. "There are cities that are doing very well - unfortunately, it is not yet possible in Munich."


The career-long BMW manager also lashed out against criticism of SUVs. "The malicious SUV debate is scaremongering that has nothing to do with reality," said Zipse. "The 15-year-old station wagon is the much bigger climate offender."

BMW builds and markets a wide array of vehicles, ranging from the electric i3 to the super-sized BMW X7 and from diminutive Minis to enormous Rolls-Royces like the Phantom and Cullinan. Educated in Germany and the United States, Zipse took the helm as chairman of the board of management just this past August, replacing Harald Krüger who held the chief-executive job since 2015.


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