BMW confirms Zipse as new CEO

22 July 2019

BMW confirms Zipse as new CEO

22 July 2019

German carmaker BMW has confirmed that Oliver Zipse will replace Harald Krüger as its CEO.

Zipse will take up the post when Krüger leaves office on 15 August this year. The German decided not to renew his term in charge of the carmaker after four years in the post. The announcement was made following a meeting of the company’s Supervisory Board.

“With Oliver Zipse, a decisive strategic and analytical leader will assume the Chair of the Board of Management of BMW AG. He will provide the BMW Group with fresh momentum in shaping the mobility of the future,” said Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the Supervisory Board.

Traditional posting

Zipse has been a member of the Board of Management of BMW since 2015 and is currently responsible for the production division. He began his professional career in the company in 1991 as a Trainee and has since held various management positions, including as Managing Director Plant Oxford and Senior Vice President Corporate Planning and Product Strategy.

BMW is continuing with a tradition of choosing its leaders from the post of production chief, with Reithofer and Krüger both holding that post before becoming CEO.

The carmaker’s new boss will need to oversee the carmaker’s electric vehicle (EV) programme, as well as navigate through autonomous vehicle development, both costly areas which are providing the entire automotive industry with a challenge.

EV building

One of the believed reasons for Krüger’s downfall is BMW’s current position with EVs. There have been questions over the carmaker’s commitment to the technology and its failure to capitalise on its early adoption of the technology. The i3 was launched in 2013, but under Krüger, sales of the model have dropped dramatically. With the fall of diesel, carmakers are turning to EVs to meet strict CO2 emissions targets set by the EU and BMW is now playing catch-up with the technology.

The company recently announced it would bring forward its plans to release 25 battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to 2023 – two years earlier than it originally stated. BMW’s main domestic rivals Audi and Daimler, as well as Jaguar, have rolled out long-range BEV SUVs before BMW’s planned entry into the market, the iX3, which will launch in 2020. 

Additionally, BMW is facing a large fine from the EU over its participation in a cartel involved in the manipulation of the emissions systems market. While other participants, VW and Daimler, have admitted involvement, BMW has remained resolute in its belief that it has done nothing wrong. This means, however, it could face the largest fine of all those involved and has set aside €1 billion for this matter.