By on July 20, 2017

BMW Ian Roberts - Image: BMWAfter a near decade-long run at the helm of BMW Group’s sales and marketing department, Ian Robertson is retiring.

Taking over from the Englishman Robertson will be Pieter Nota, a Netherlands native who is anything but representative of the BMW establishment, every inch not automotive industry insider. Nota comes from Royal Philips, where you buy your electric razors, and formerly worked at Beiersdorf (where you buy your Nivea moisturizer) and Unilever, which fills your grocery store shelves with Axe, Hellmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Dove.

I can’t believe it’s not butter a board member.

But BMW’s looking for transformation.

Robertson was no stranger to change. Having once been in charge of Rolls-Royce, Ian Robertson eventually oversaw the launch of key BMW ranges. “Ian Robertson has shaped the image and future direction of the BMW brand and the BMW i and BMW M sub-brands,” the chairman of BMW’s supervisory board, Norbert Reithofer, said in a statement this morning.

Yet in an age in which the automotive industry is consistently transitioning into new stages, ripping off one set of clothes and strapping on another like a supermodel behind the runway at New York Fashion Week, BMW is looking to an outsider for an approach that will lead the brand’s public image through tumultuous times. “I am convinced,” says Harald Kruger, chairman of BMW’s board of management, “that his proven track record in innovation and transformation will continue to lead our core brand BMW and its products through the future of connected mobility.”

Innovation. Transformation. Connected mobility.BMW Pieter Nota - Image: BMWIn 2008, Robertson’s first year at the helm of sales and marketing, BMW reported a modest 4 percent global decline in sales as the economy slipped around the world. BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce delivered 1,435,876 vehicles in 2008.

In 2016, Robertson’s last full year in charge, global sales climbed to record levels for a sixth consecutive year. The 2,367,603-unit total represented a 65-percent improvement compared with 2008.

Robertson isn’t actually done quite yet. Pieter Nota takes over his new role on in January 2018. Robertson will act as a special representative of the BMW Group in the United Kingdom until June 2018.

[Images: BMW]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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12 Comments on “The Outsider: New Global BMW Sales Boss Pieter Nota Comes From Royal Philips, Beiersdorf, Unilever...”

  • avatar

    I do hope he goes in and fixes BMW’s lack of “ultimate driving machine” cars. It’s all good and well to move a lot of SUVs and SUV related nonsense (like that X6 abomination), but the enthusiasts, the ones that will continue to buy your cars, want some cool cars they can get. Maybe a 335d wagon, but this time market it as a family bruiser instead of the “green alternative”? How about an M3 fast back designed to look good, like the RS7. THEN, make the 3 series light an nimble, and make the interiors WAY more premium.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly, the enthusiast isn’t the one paying the bills at BMW anymore…and I count myself as one of those that feel the core of BMW has been lost (my last Bimmer was a 1993 325is that my wife still berates me for selling off). I believe that many new BMW owners have not a clue as to the history of the marquee. Don’t ask about which wheels drive the car or what engine resides under the hood. Not attempting to stereotype, but I just don’t think the average buyer of a BMW cares anymore about performance, more about image. I’d love to see their cars infused with more of the “Ultimate Driving Machine” but the market speaks and money is flowing regardless of what us enthusiasts want.

  • avatar

    Sad that he has to be photographed looking happy in front of that…car.

    • 0 avatar

      “Sad that he has to be photographed looking happy in front of that…car.”

      That was his interview. “OK, go stand there and look like you’re truly happy. Ja? Gut.”

      It’s his company car, too.

    • 0 avatar

      On the other hand, that could be Photoshop.

      They pulled that image from his instagram, from his strip club visit.

      It’s amazing how they can cut him out of the picture he took with those 20 year old girls, standing in front of the pole.

  • avatar

    This so reminds me of the late ’90s at General Motors when they brought in all those Proctor & Gamble toothpaste guys to market GM’s cars, helping bring that once-great company into bank. The R&T article “Supermarket Whiz Kids” must be read to believed – they actually brought in a “brand manager” who used to manage Scott Baby Wipes to manage the brand image of Cadillac Eldorados and Sevilles, who goes on with a straight face why buying a Cadillac isn’t all that different than buying baby wipes. And that’s just one of many highlights/lowlights.

  • avatar

    Well, given that a modern BMW has the life span of a bar of soap, I can see the connection.

    “Hey, you–you’re used to making people happy buying something that is designed to last a couple of weeks. Come over here, we need a sales manager.”

  • avatar

    Thanks, Ian ! Look at BMW’s lineup ten years ago. Look at it today. Many of us would rather shop with the Wayback Machine. That’s the opposite of progress.

  • avatar

    Has BMW really slipped or have competitors finally caught up? Everyone seems to think the E39 or E30 was the last “real” BMW, but on every specification the new versions are faster, more economical, corner harder, stop better, quieter, smoother, roomier, cleaner, and cheaper (on an inflation adjusted basis). Funny thing is – if you go back an look at BMWCCA Roundels from the “golden era” you always got complaints that the E39 had gotten too big and soft, or the E30 was too conservatively styled and too soft, and that BMW needed to go back to building cars like the 2002. I’m sorry, but if I’m a BMW shareholder I am very happy that global sales have increased 50% in the last 8 years. As a car enthusiast, I also have a hard time being angry at BMW when they still build the M2, M240, M3, M4, i8, etc. – if those cars can’t put a smile on your face you must be dead.

    • 0 avatar

      BMWs focus has shifted. From real world driver enjoyment, to useless-in-real-world-driving “performance” bragging rights. Instead of encouraging you to take the long way around, on the twistiest and most remote road available to get to your destination; the focus now is on allowing you to make hands free calls while sitting in freeway traffic being looked at enviously by the rest of dronedom. So you can explain to the Mr. Jones you are calling, how fast some dude you’ll never meet, drove a car similar to yours, around some Burger King drive through over in Germany.

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