By on August 16, 2019

Image: BMW Group

Longtime luxury rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz may have signed onto an autonomous vehicle/ride-hailing partnership earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the two companies go around holding hands. The competitive spirit is still there; AV development just carries a price tag neither company wants to pay in full.

For BMW as well as M-B, the lucrative core business of selling luxury vehicles to a well-heeled clientele remains top of mind, and Bimmer’s new boss isn’t happy that his Stuttgart rivals are running away with the sales crown.

Oliver Zipse took over as CEO on Friday, replacing Harald Krüger as chairman of the board of management after his predecessor’s unexpected decision not to seek another term at the helm. In Zipse’s first memo to BMW employees, the CEO whipped up the spirit of competition, urging the company to do everything in its power to give the boys at Benz what-for.

Five years spent trailing a rival is rough, though Zipse seems content to accept a leaner, more efficient, and more responsive company than one that generates extra volume by any means possible. But if an altered corporate culture achieves that goal, all the better.

“Instead of blaming the current situation, conditions, political landscape or particular individuals, a positive spirit will enable us to seize the opportunities available to us. Such a positive spirit will be reflected in our culture: the harder the job, the more innovative our solution,” Zipse wrote in a company-wide email obtained by Reuters.

“We don’t always have to be first, but we most certainly have to be far better than our competitors in everything that we do. This applies not only to our products and services, but also to our processes and structures, as well as our costs.”

As concerns mount about the cost not just of self-driving tech but also electric propulsion and the new platforms needed to underpin such vehicles, premium automakers are counting on sales of big-bucks traditional vehicles to cover the expense and fill coffers ahead of the next recession. In BMW’s case, the company hopes to find extra dollars from the likes of the new 8 Series and hulking crossovers like the X7.

Despite the challenges and storm clouds, there’s reason for optimism at BMW Group. Through July, global deliveries increased 0.9 percent, with last month showing a 1.3 percent year-over-year jump. The BMW brand itself rose 1.6 percent, year to date, fueled by growing demand for the X vehicles that now make up 49.5 percent of the brand’s global sales.

In contrast, the Mercedes-Benz brand recorded a 2.4 percent decrease through July, though last month saw a 12.7 percent year-over-year sales hike. At the end of July, deliveries of vehicles bearing the three-pointed star totalled 1,323,586 units, while those with propeller logos found 1,233,075 customers.

[Image: BMW Group]

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11 Comments on “New BMW Boss Rekindles the Rivalry, Politely Demands Employees Catch Up to Mercedes-Benz...”

  • avatar

    If I were the BMW CEO I know what I do to improve my company’s financial performance.

    Quit trying to be everything to everybody. Stop being a luxury level manufacturers, and be a sporting car maker, leave luxury to Mercedes.

    Stop making coupe sedans, or a two series, or an 8 series. Go back to your roots, simple 3, 5, 7 series. Make your coupes based on 3 and 5 (small and large). Similar story for SUVs. No X4, no X6. As for electrics, build them based on 3 and 5 (and equivalent SUVs). Stop build diesels and hybrids. Get out of the mini business. Sell Rolls Royce. Focus Focus Focus.

  • avatar

    Mercedes makes staid, powerful, luxurious cars whose driving characteristics match their brand perception. And their cheaper options are slowly being improved to match the rest of the lineup. By contrast, BMW has apparently decided to abandon their heritage because they think there’s a market for a less reliable Lexus. And they lost me as a customer in the process.

  • avatar

    The new X7 is the only BMW I find worth considering (I like large SUVs). I have never been interested in their sports sedans or roadsters, and I find it wonderful that BMW has now entered the large SUV segment and addresses potential customers such as myself with these new products.

  • avatar

    “We don’t always have to be first, but we most certainly have to be far better than our competitors in everything that we do. This applies not only to our products and services, but also to our processes and structures, as well as our costs.”

    Snap judgement based on this excerpt: Oliver Zipse is better than Jim Hackett, but not very good.

  • avatar

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. What a jerk.
    His ‘step one’ is to point fingers at those below him.
    Changing at least requires a concrete safety net to go against the current culture.
    I lost interest in purchasing a BMW long ago, about the time Lexus came out.

  • avatar

    Who pumps in the best fake engine noise through the speakers wins?

    We all know that the auto manufacturers could easily get the EU bureaucrats to ease off on the crazy noise regulations etc. if they’d bother to. But no, instead they’re going the easy route conforming to every single whim of the pencilneck bureaucrats and paying them to help fleece customers with worse and worse products, making themselves pathetic laughing stocks.

  • avatar

    It’s true that BMW has lost its way. However, Lexus is not the answer. I wonder how many of the people on TTAC claiming that they lost interest in BMW around the time Lexus arrived have ever actually owned a BMW.

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