Timing is key
Company 03.04.2024 5 Min.
Timing is key.

Customers’ wishes, not “one size fits all”: Oliver Zipse, CEO of BMW AG speaks about the company’s strategy and what’s next regarding the launch of the Neue Klasse.

Mr Zipse, you have been pursuing a broad technological approach for years out of conviction…

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to mobility. Markets, customer wishes and conditions develop differently. This is a fact. As a global company, we take this into account. We are continuing to develop all powertrain technologies, including further researching the potential of hydrogen with our BMW iX5 Hydrogen pilot fleet. This approach is also increasingly understood in political and social discourse.

The latest example of this flexible approach is the new BMW 5 Series…

Following on from the Sedan, the new Touring also offers all options: fully electric, highly efficient diesel and petrol engines or plug-in hybrid. For every drive system, we have a cutting-edge technology on the market. No one else offers a vehicle like the all-electric BMW i5 Touring with an electric range of over 500 kilometers. And of course, we are also thinking of the fans of the BMW M brand: this year they can look forward to a new edition of the M5 – as a Sedan and as a Touring. Both models will excite customers with a partially electrified drive – highly emotional and powerful.

Highly emotional is also true for the BMW Group Annual Conference 2024. What was your highlight?

A picture is worth a thousand words: Two Vision Vehicles standing on stage for our Annual Conference at BMW Welt in Munich. For me, personally, this was a defining moment. First, because both of these vehicles will be released onto the market pretty much as we saw them there. Second, because they show the full potential of our Neue Klasse, ranging from sporty sedan to X model. In-between, there is plenty of room for everything that will define the BMW brand in the future.

Timing is extremely important to you. That also applies to the Neue Klasse mega-project...

Timing decides whether innovations and companies succeed. We are steering our e-mobility ramp-up precisely in line with demand in the global regions. In 2025, we are releasing the Neue Klasse. Once we get started, the launches will come in rapid succession. Within 24 months, we will be bringing at least six new Neue Klasse models onto the roads. An unparalleled and ambitious timeline.

Customers can look forward to a host of new developments...

Exactly, and this is independent of the drivetrain technology. With us, there is no old and no new. I firmly believe that we currently have the best, most diverse range of products and drivetrains on the market. Thanks to over-the-air upgrades, every vehicle is always up to date digitally. The art lies in mastering all of this – and we do that since 2018.

We anticipate far in advance what our customers are going to need and want in five to ten years’ time. That is how we ensure they get the best overall package from us.

You’ve referred to the car as a digital companion...

We focus on our customers’ wishes and how we can integrate them reasonably into the car. This also applies to automation and assistance systems, operating concepts and digital service offerings. We are already offering Level 3 automated driving in Germany in the BMW 7 Series today – which means you can temporarily direct your attention to something else while driving. The car takes care of speed, distance and lane tracking all by itself. We are also systematically digitalising our customer interfaces. And not to forget, within the company, digitalisation is massively speeding up our processes, creating transparency, improving quality and helping us make better decisions.

The success of e-mobility depends on the technology, specifically the high-voltage batteries...

The battery cell is responsible for the core properties in electric vehicles: Range, driving performance and charging time are just three of the key parameters. We rely on in-house expertise for both basic research and development of mass-manufacturing processes for high-voltage batteries.

We laid the foundations for this with the “Battery Cell Competence Centre” in Munich and the “Cell Manufacturing Competence Centre” in Parsdorf in Bavaria – enabling us to span all value creation processes involved in cell production.

Companies are always a member of society…

As a global player, we have to be able to show that we make a positive contribution to social development. That goes far beyond our own business model and the requirements associated with it. Our first plant outside of Germany opened in South Africa in 1973. We’ve now been an important, highly respected employer in Rosslyn for 50 years that is committed to serving the local community. We live this mindset at all our locations worldwide.

Interview Oliver Zipse

More topics