Bloomberg Businessweek (North America)
How will the BMW Group be defined in the future?
# 1 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 cen-tury, 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.