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BMW's Embattled CEO Loses His Job Due To One Big Mistake

Industry News / Comments

Just four years after taking the job, Harald Kruger is out.

Not long ago we learned that BMW CEO Harald Krueger was facing an angry BMW supervisory board regarding his leadership of the German automaker. It was rumored his time in the post, which he took up in 2015, was limited. In other words, his contract would not be renewed for a second term. Those rumors have turned out to be true. BMW has officially announced that Krueger, 53, will step down from his position following the company's weakest earnings performance in a decade. The embattled CEO opted to quit instead of his contract officially not being renewed. BMW will decide on his successor at a July 18 meeting but until then Krueger will remain at his post.

"The BMW Group has been my professional home for more than 27 years. After more than ten years in the Board of Management, more than four of which as the CEO of the BMW Group, I would like to pursue new professional endeavors and leverage my diverse international experience for new projects and ventures," said Krueger.

What went wrong with BMW under his watch? In short, it was late to the EV market. The launch of the i3 and i8 happened during the tenure of Krueger's predecessor, Norbert Reithofer. It didn't take long for i3 sales to fizzle and the cost of its carbon fiber increased. It also took Krueger nearly a year until he presented his strategic vision for the company. He then delayed BMW's next electric car and by doing so essentially squandered its leadership in the EV race.

Tesla has surged and Mercedes-Benz recently launched its EQC all-electric SUV. The development of EV technologies is also expensive, hence Krueger's decision to launch gas-guzzlers like the X7 and 8 Series.

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Volkswagen's Dieselgate crisis certainly didn't help as well, but Krueger's ultimate error was misjudging the rise of the EV market. BMW is now behind its competitors. With Krueger out, BMW now must select a new CEO who has a thorough understanding of the future of mobility as well as the luxury and performance car markets. It won't be an easy job and expectations are understandably high.