Interview: PETER SCH WAR ZEN BAUER& klaus frÖh li ch
Digital business and R&D leaders at BMW reveal what’s cooking in Munich’s tech labs
We speak with BMW’s digital and R&D bigwigs
Klaus Fröhlich (KF): We already have 11 million connected BMW Group cars out there today. We are aiming for 100 million by 2025.
Peter Schwarzenbauer (PS): I don’t believe we are ready to jump straight to Level 5 autonomous driving. This will not happen overnight. We will do it step by step, to get people used to it — and win their trust. Even if the technology is there, it will take people time to adapt. We know that.
KF: Car ownership is changing fast and we want BMW to be there whether people want to own their car outright or rent from a membership club. Some people won’t mind sharing their car; others will.
PS: Security and privacy will be our first priority with connected cars, business will be second. We will lose our premium customers if we go too far.
KF: The current discussion about stolen [Facebook] data shows that people are becoming more and more aware. Privacy will be very important in connected cars.
PS: We see rivals such as Daimler as ‘frenemies’. We compete as car makers, but if you look at what both companies are trying to achieve in places like China and America, it feels right for us to work together in this new mobility market. We will achieve more together.
KF: Video conferencing will become very popular in cars and 5G will help us deliver these connected services. But we will sacrifice quality for safety — the car will slice bandwidth from a video or voice call and prioritize emergency data if it affects your safety or that of others around you.
PS: The future is collaborative. Why would we build our own music services, when we can partner with specialists like Spotify? That’s why we have built a scalable cloud platform that links to our secure back end.
KF: When Level 3 autonomous cars become more common you will be on the motorway with your family and it will be more like a living room. We are working on a very relaxed seating position. We call it Interiors Of The Future and you will see more next year.
PS: We have learned a lot about car sharing with our pilot studies. We’ve had to close some of our car clubs, like in San Francisco. The city was not ready to give us more car parking spaces — and if people have to walk eight or nine minutes, they won’t bother. They will only walk two to three minutes to collect a shared car. We have to fit around human behaviours.
( Left) Schwarzenbauer leads customer engagement and digital business innovation; Frölich is boss of product development. Smart guys