The BMW Group is a future-oriented mobility company. In a complex, connected and changing environment, comprehensive research and development are essential to withstand the challenges ahead. This relies on the right locations with the right conditions. China, for example, plays a key role in research and development at the BMW Group as a lead market for electromobility and digitalisation.
China now provides the BMW Group with its largest development capacity outside of Germany.
In addition to Shenyang, there are two other research and development centres: one in Beijing and the other in Shanghai. While each of the three locations in China focuses on different tasks, together, Shanghai, Shenyang and Beijing form a strong innovation network.
“Chinese infrastructure is world-class. China has a lot of talents, and the government is a big supporting factor. Shanghai spearheads the BMW R&D network in China and also serves as an incubator for future technologies,” explains Jochen Goller, President & CEO, BMW Group Region China.
The Research and Development Centre in Shanghai extends over 2,500 square metres and houses four departments, including a laboratory for connected and automated driving. The BMW Group has been developing autonomous driving and other technologies here since 2014. It is the first foreign manufacturer allowed to conduct long-term testing of Level 2+ hands-off systems on Shanghai’s roads. This is all the more important in light of China’s traffic situation.
“Anyone who’s been to China and seen the traffic knows this is a real challenge, with a lot of cross traffic and a lot of uncontrolled traffic,” according to Dr. Martin Sautter, Senior Vice President, BMW Group Research and Development Centre China, BMW China.
A local research and development department for autonomous driving therefore lays an important foundation for perfecting this technology. This is the only way to find safer, more user-friendly and more intelligent solutions for the mobility of tomorrow.
The specialist division for Digital Products & Services is also located at the Research and Development Centre in Shanghai. Its job is to operate and refine BMW Connected and other digital services to create a comprehensive mobility ecosystem. The Designworks Shanghai Studio, on the other hand – like its counterparts in Munich and Los Angeles – is a global, future-oriented and creative design studio. The fourth department based in Shanghai is the Technology Office China. This focuses on three main areas: megacity mobility in China; innovations; and data analysis from Chinese customer vehicles.
At the Beijing location, more than 200 employees work on requirements management, tests and validation, as well as system and service development. The Competence Centre in Shenyang, on the other hand, focuses on electromobility – and high-voltage batteries, in particular – and contributes in this way to the BMW Group’s Chinese innovation network.
Besides steady expansion of its research and development network in China, the BMW Group also conducts successful and ground-breaking R&D in Europe and the US. Just like its Chinese sites, locations such as the Research and Innovation Centre at the Group’s headquarters in Munich and the Technology Office in Mountain View, California, help ensure that the BMW Group continues to move forward with its transformation into a technology company.
Undoubtedly one of the most important markets in the world, China also holds tremendous potential for mobility companies. In addition to BMW and MINI models with “classic” drive trains, electric vehicles are also increasingly popular on Chinese roads. With six electrified models currently available, the BMW Group offers the widest range of products in the premium segment – a good starting point for further expansion of its strategic partnerships in China. The BMW Group is taking various entrepreneurial steps that will sharpen the company’s presence in the Chinese market and create a basis for exporting BMW electric vehicles to other markets.
There is no disputing that Europe offers a wealth of history and culture. But for many big companies, it is the continent’s geographic location that makes it so attractive, as the ideal central marketplace. Viewed as a whole, Europe is also the BMW Group’s largest production location: a location with major growth opportunities that can strengthen the global balance between production facilities in Asia, the Americas and Europe.
The first BMW debuted on the market in 1929. Since then, sheer driving pleasure has been transformed many times over. We now drive cars that can park themselves, stay in their lane – even brake for us in dangerous situations. And, in the future? Soon, we will also be able to decide whether to drive for ourselves or be driven – thanks to autonomous vehicles. But did you know it can also be fun? That is what most amazed people at a closed test circuit in Berlin in October, when they took a self-driving prototype of a BMW i3 (Level 4/5) for a spin.