How will the BMW Group be de­fined in the fu­ture?

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - SPONSOR CONTENT -

BMW Group ha s es­tab­lished it­self as one of the most ad­mired au­to­mo­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers in the world over the past hun­dred years, pro­pelled by an abil­ity to em­brace change as a cat­a­lyst for growth.

Since its in­cep­tion as a builder of air­craft en­gines in 1916, progress has been un­der­pinned by its abil­ity to tap into cre­ativ­ity and in­tu­ition. To re­main at the fore­front of change in the 21st cen­tury, BMW Group's am­bi­tions are de­fined around be­ing a provider and in­no­va­tor of mo­bil­ity ser­vices.

Its strat­egy in­volves de­vel­op­ing new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties af­forded by the in­dus­try’s dig­i­tal­iza­tion, and by the re­al­iza­tion of au­to­mated driv­ing and car-sharing. As the re­la­tion­ship be­tween car and driver is chang­ing, so too is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween car man­u­fac­tur­ers and the cus­tomer.

Work is well-un­der­way to help BMW Group be­come an es­sen­tial soft­ware provider, ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar up­dates to driv­ers that will en­sure the best use of in-car tech­nol­ogy and en­vi­ron­men­tal data. Apps like BMW Con­nect­edDrive and MINI Con­nected al­ready al­low users to con­fig­ure their own ser­vices and pref­er­ences.

The abil­ity to har­ness traf­fic and move­ment data to pro­vide bet­ter nav­i­ga­tion and park­ing solutions is also be­ing de­vel­oped, while the BMW 7 is the first se­ries ve­hi­cle to use tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ments to of­fer fully au­to­mated park­ing. The age of ‘au-tonomous mode' for driv­ing in traf­fic, or on long mo­tor­way jour­neys is al­most upon us, but BMW Group be­lieves the next stage will be to­ward mu­tual co-oper­a­tion, rather than autonomous con­trol.

BMW’S VI­SION NEXT 100 se­ries, un­veiled this year, do not ren­der the driver su­per­flu­ous. De­scribed as a 'pub­lic lab­o­ra­tory test’ that cel­e­brates the de­sign and tech­nol­ogy fea­tures ex­pected to trans­form mo­bil­ity, the vi­sion ve­hi­cle from MINI has been de­signed to fit into the traf­fic-dense ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment: while the first con­cept car in Rolls-Royce' il­lus­tri­ous his­tory – re­vealed in June – presents an en­tirely self-driv­ing car as the ul­ti­mate lux­ury haven, chris­tened a ‘Grand Sanctuary’.

“For us the key is that the driver will not be get­ting into an anony­mous ve­hi­cle, but rather one that is highly per­son­alised, geared to meet his or her ev­ery need,” says Karim Habib, Head of De­sign at BMW Au­to­mo­biles. “In the fu­ture, our aim is to re­tain the very emo­tional con­nec­tion be­tween BMW and its driver.”

De­spite the rise in such per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ences, BMW Group also rec­og­nizes that car own­er­ship will no longer be a pre­req­ui­site for peo­ple on the move in the fu­ture. The launch of its car-sharing service DriveNow, for ex­am­ple, en­ables peo­ple to rent the lat­est BMW and MINI cars from ur­ban lo­ca­tions best suited to them. The in­te­gra­tion of elec­tric ve­hi­cles into the global oper­a­tion is seen as in­creas­ingly im­por­tant, and more than 800 BMW i3 ve­hi­cles were added in 2015 alone.

Amid such un­prece­dented up­heaval, BMW Group has vowed to re­main fo­cused on its phi­los­o­phy that has tran­scended gen­er­a­tions: to pro­vide in­di­vid­ual mo­bil­ity that will de­liver an emo­tion­ally-in­tense and per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

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