By on July 6, 2019


Four years after taking the helm of BMW, Harald Krüger is pulling a Lyndon Johnson. The 27-year Bimmer veteran has decided not to seek a second term as CEO, the automaker reported Friday, leaving it in search of new leadership at a pivotal time in its history.

To any onlooker, it seems Krüger had enough of guiding the German luxury marque through an increasingly thorny landscape, with challenges posed by stagnating sales in the West, an economic downturn in the East, and costly, must-have EV roadmaps.

“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 endeavours and leverage my diverse international experience for new projects and ventures,” Krüger said in a statement reported by BMW’s Supervisory Board.

Krüger’s predecessor, Dr. Robert Reithofer, now chairman of BMW AG, praised Krüger’s “unwavering dedication” and “great personal commitment” to the automaker. The board sits down to decide on a successor July 18th.

Unlike rival Audi and its parent company, Volkswagen Group, BMW took a more cautious path towards the electrified offerings no car company can be without, meaning the brand’s upcoming iX3 electric crossover will come to market after similar models from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Jaguar got a jump on all German automakers in this fledgling segment.

Indeed, BMW’s slow path to electrification and odd choice for an introductory EV model (the niche i3) was seen as a major stain on Krüger’s time as CEO. While the company plans to have 25 electrified vehicles on sale by 2023, and a trio of “normal” electric models within a couple of years, ambitions are higher elsewhere in the industry. The most recent introductions in the BMW fold are a hulking SUV (X7), redesigned 3 Series sedan, and resurrected 8 Series ultra-lux coupe.

During Krüger’s tenure, BMW slipped behind Mercedes-Benz in terms of global sales — an embarrassment after years spent at the top of the sales charts. The automaker’s European market share slipped in 2017, and last year saw its steadily rising sales in the region pull a 180.

A similar pattern plagued the vital U.S. market, though the annual sales drops seen in 2016 and 2017 appear to be a thing of the past. Sales rebounded slightly in 2018 and are up 2 percent over the first half of 2019. BMW can give thanks to the X7, which has sold more units this year than the X4 and X6 combined. According to the company, models like the X7 are needed to fund the costly development of low-margin green vehicles.

While BMW, under Krüger, did push up the timeline for its new crop of electrified models (the target date was originally going to be 2025), the brand is still seen as lagging. Perhaps history will show the cautious approach to be the correct one, though the zealous hatred of all things ICE by European lawmakers says otherwise.

[Image: BMW Group]

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31 Comments on “BMW CEO Calls It Quits, Won’t Seek Seek Another Term...”

  • avatar

    I wonder where he’ll turn up, we’ll see

  • avatar

    I think my mind would have been made up if I was forced to stand next to whatever “vehicle” he’s sharing the stage with and smile. I’m not a fan (at all) of whatever they did to the front of the 7-series and the X7, but that concept vehicle takes it to a whole new level of ugly.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree! As some-time diehard lover of the marque, the current design focus of the brand leaves me cold and uninterested…and this from a man who fell in love with all things Roundel as young kid back in the early 70s. I would be hard pressed to feign exuberance if I had to rep most anything in their current lineup these days.

      • 0 avatar

        I think the car in the picture is electric and those always look weird, but I agree that BMW gave up making good looking cars in the early 2000s

        • 0 avatar

          Shouldn’t building an electric car involve more design freedom? There’s no engine block to barricade from pedestrian encroachment and far less required cooling orifice.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s the all electric BMW Vision inext

          • 0 avatar

            Here’s a snippet of the ad campaign to introduce their new styling:


  • avatar

    The suit, though.

  • avatar

    I’d quit too if I had to pose next to cars like that.

  • avatar

    You’ve got to feel for the designers at other luxury brands who have to find a way to make a car ugly enough to poach current BMW customers.

  • avatar

    Ooh look….the new Edsel!

  • avatar

    That’s where I’ve seen it before ! Edsel Ford was wearing that suit !

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, back in the day Edsel Ford was quite the snappy dresser;center,top&resize=480:*

      • 0 avatar
        schmitt trigger

        If Edsel Ford excelled in something, it was for its impeccable taste and cultural knowledge.

        Although the Detroit Institute of Arts preceded him, and many notable people contributed to it, Edsel and his wife were major benefactors, and had a significant role in developing the DIA as a major crown jewel of the American art museums.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Edsel Ford and Bob Gregorie would be aghast at that suit and whatever he’s resting his palm on.

  • avatar

    So he wants to leverage his “diverse international experience”? It sounds like he sees financial armageddon for automakers in Europe ahead of Brexit and tighter environmental standards, and is looking for a safer continent. FCA? Ford? Nissan? Hyundai?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    That crossover in the picture above in the Halloween movies. Not only ugly but scary.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    $#!+boxes…all of em’

  • avatar

    BMW has slid a long way from the “ultimate driving machine.” That decline started way before Herr Krüger took the helm.

    • 0 avatar

      Peak driving BMWs were the E36 and E39. Unfortunately, they were already made out of materials that E28 and E30 parts were shipped in.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a magazine called Grassroots Motorsports where they have slang like this:

        “holy e36 m3 and what the Berkley mean?”

        Supposedly words automatically get changed in their forums when you post.

        At this point, I think people go right to the replacement words.

  • avatar

    I’m as big a fan as any that BMW has ever had for a customer. I’ve owned and/or driven regularly (and hard) just about every BMW chassis since the 2002, some more than one stint. Especially E30s. My first saw 250K+ miles before I sold it still running and driving well for a song to a friend in need, and my last E30 was a swap car with E36 and E46 engine & drivetrain. There were E36, E46, E38, E39, E60, E65 and more in the mix. I currently daily a final model E90 M3 6MT ZCP. So, it is with despair that I look upon what BMW has become. Good riddance, Harald Krüger. Can you take Adrian van Hooydonk with you?

    IMHO the best 3-Series for sale today is the Honda Accord 2.0t Touring.

    • 0 avatar

      I wish TTAC had a voting system specifically for this comment. I agree wholeheartedly, although my history with the brand is a few decades short of yours. Still, I wouldn’t put my money into a single one of their POS’ they’re peddling. As I’ve learned, modern BMWs are poorly made, the company refuses to stand behind warranty repair work performed at their dealers, and the joy of driving has been removed from their products.

      BMW makes utter garbage and has apparently for some time.

  • avatar

    I loved BMW when they were serious about building svelte and lightweight cars. The 2002 was a sweet and simple vehicle that reminds me of what a BMW should be. Unfortunately like most of us men, as we aged, we added thickness to our bodies and pretty soon it is hard to fathom our teenage self and what became of us.

    It has been decades since BMW built something that could be considered beautiful.

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