BMW's message to car manufacturers might as well say "be quick or be dead."
With the rise of autonomous car technology and electrification, plus the Dieselgate emissions scandal still causing repercussions for manufacturers, it’s a pivotal period for the auto industry. Mercedes recently responded to these trends by rapidly accelerating its proposed output of electric cars with plans to release at least 10 by 2022. Now, in an interview with Autocar, BMW's Head of sales and marketing has called for carmakers to adapt to these changes or face extinction.
Simply having a knowledge of today’s technical requirements of the industry isn’t enough, according to BMW’s Head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson.“We know the technical requirements and must continue to drive those forward, but what is coming is a pivotal shift that will require us to accelerate what we do and to take a proactive as well as reactive approach,” said Robertson. “That doesn’t mean investment in new areas, it means a cultural change too.” Robertson referred to the automaker’s investment in the Here mapping company and its work with Intel and Mobileye as examples of BMW collaborating with other firms to work in innovative new ways.
He also believes that current car companies have a better chance of future success in the industry than technology companies. “I would say it of course, but I believe the established leaders who are taking the right steps have a greater chance of success,” he said. “We have the knowhow and understanding that comes with having been in the industry, and we can be just as agile in our thinking if we seize the opportunity.” “Do we know all of the answers? No, we don’t. Will we have to change course from the one we have mapped out today? Yes, of course we will. But we are setting out our plans and challenging them constantly to get better answers."
We are in a good place to succeed", he concluded. It’s a confident statement, but you can see how BMW is already adapting to industry trends. Its showing at the upcoming New York Auto Show will primarily consist of its expanded hybrid range, while its M performance series will also adopt hybrid powertrains which will eventually pave the way for an all-electric M series and i8 prototype.