BMW is a long-standing partner of BRAND MINDS events and its Innovation Partner for the 2022 edition.
Combining high-tech features with the sheer pleasure of driving, BMW is always looking towards the future, redefining innovation at scale through disruptive ideas.
To find out more about BMW’s strategy for innovation, Managing Director BMW Romania Dr Josef Reiter was kind enough to answer a few questions.
What is BMW’s VISION for the car of 2040?
Our long term goal is that BMW becomes the most sustainable car company in the world. Already since 2020, we have made sustainability and efficient resource management central to our strategic development direction.
We are the first car company that has clear CO2 goals for full lifecycle up to 2030, and we are also fully committed to the Paris Accord for limiting global warming by 1,5 degrees.
This important strategic shift has a significant impact on our business – we are now not looking for reduction and carbon neutrality for our production sites and the usage of our cars, but we aim for the most sustainable supply chain industry-wide, and circular economy is becoming a defining part of our strategy. To give you a clear example – sustainability, next to quality and price is becoming a defining criterion in selecting our partners and suppliers.
At the same time, we know that the future of cars will be electric and digital. “New Class”, a ground-breaking platform for cars that we are planning to launch until 2025, will redefine not only the way we build cars but also the way we use them.
Over half a century ago the so-called BMW New Class has redefined the brand and we are preparing now for a new revolution. In the last years, with models such as BMW i3, BMW i8 or the recently launched BMW iX, we showed not only our strength to innovate, but also our courage to explore new territories and completely new ideas.
This is why I am really excited about our strength to transform the car in the coming years – smarter, better connected, offering more intelligent services and clever natural interaction with the users, significantly more efficient and defiantly truly sustainable.
In this complete transformation process, we are not forgetting the main BMW magic – joy, the pleasure to experience the car, the driving pleasure.
What is BMW’s most important LEADERSHIP learning that has impacted its organizational culture over the past year?
Innovation requires courage. At BMW we have a saying – “It is better to request forgiveness, than permission.”
A big multinational corporation comes with a strong set of procedures and a highly elaborate structure that has high inertia against innovation and transformation.
In this context we encourage a culture of taking initiative, thinking like an entrepreneur in a big corporation. It may appear as an almost impossible balancing act, but there is a beautiful thing that defines BMW – we build cars because we are passionate, we love our cars, and we love driving at least as much as our customers. We use this passion to have the courage to act and take initiative.
What is the company’s strategy for ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION?
We are committed to looking at the environmental impact throughout the product lifecycle, from how the raw materials that we are using are produced, to improving the recycling of our cars and the use of recycled materials.
This transparent approach is the only way to achieve a real impact on the environment. And we have clear goals for every stage in the product life cycle – 50% reduction in global CO2 use-phase emissions by 2030, over 40% reduction in CO2 emissions during life cycle, including production and upstream supply chain.
We also want to lead when it comes to the circular economy: up to 50% use of secondary material is planned to be achieved in the coming years. This transformation comes with pursuing every detail: from working with our suppliers to improve the way they produce the steel and aluminium, for example, to looking into ways we deliver food every day to our tens of thousands of employees or the way we pack spare parts with environmentally friendly materials to reduce waste.
Environmental protection is an ongoing pursuit, a passionate hunt for improvement in absolutely every detail.
How is BMW using ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE to maintain premium quality?
Artificial Intelligence, of course, is a huge factor in transforming how our cars are being used – from autonomous driving to an intelligent personal assistant that will develop more and more natural ways to interact with our customers – improved speech, gestures, learning our driver habits or even combining all these.
BMW already presented a prototype system where the driver can point toward a landmark and the car can immediately offer details about that. You can imagine a future where the driver simply asks: “I want a reservation for two at the restaurant on my left” and the intelligent system will set up everything.
AI is not only relevant for the user experience. Harnessing the power of big data is helping us with smarter production techniques and production planning and management. Artificial Intelligence is having a huge impact everywhere and will continuously be more relevant in the future.
What is the impact of BMW’s CUSTOMER CARE on people’s perception of the brand?
Customer care moves from the era of big, impersonal call centres to smart and individual solutions thanks to the power of digitalisation.
For example, we are already offering our clients video explanations created with their cars about the repairs that are done in the service – and this way they can view the procedure anytime on their mobile phone.
The quality of the customer’s car is a big part of a premium brand experience. I know that we still have a lot of work ahead of us in this field, but we have the advantage of better resources and structures compared with the new competitors that are coming on the market.
Name the most essential aspect in TEAM MANAGEMENT and improved performance according to BMW
We are a company with over 100.000 employees. Sometimes, big structures can be a barrier to fast transformation and innovation, which are so important in our industry today.
Flexibility – from the way we produce electric, plug-in hybrid and internal combustion cars on the same assembly line, to the way we interact inside our teams I believe is the defining aspect in our team management strategy.
The way we build, sell and use cars is changing dramatically and we need to adapt our business and team structures in the same way.
What is the LATEST NEWS about the brand our readers should learn?
We have exciting new products, like the BMW i4, which offers an electric alternative to our core portfolio, or the upcoming BMW i7, an electric and highly sophisticated luxury limousine.
In the coming month, we will be introducing the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer which comes with a completely new generation of internal combustion engines and a plug-in hybrid version that has a battery capacity comparable with our first generation of the electric model BMW i3.
At the same time, a significant revolution is coming in the interior of the car – including already a strong experience with remote software updates, the 8th generation of our user interface, BMW iDrive, or spectacular features such as BMW Theatre Screen, the biggest rear-seat entertainment system in history.
What are BMW’s Top 3 impactful INNOVATIONS that the company will roll out in the following 3 years?
The automobile is by far the most complex mass-produced system in the world. The impact does not come from a single innovation, but from our ability to integrate an extensive series of innovations.
When it comes to the product itself, I see 3 main fields of innovation. Sustainable development is very important, with high impact solutions of production steel or aluminium, for example, offering the potential for a significant reduction of hundreds of thousands of tons of CO2 each year.
Also very important – with the “New Class” we will make a significant step forward with the electric and digital car. We are investing constantly in other development fields, like AI algorithms or quantum computing development, that can have an impact in every field of our business.