BMW Production Chief Oliver Zipse Appointed CEO

This week, the supervisory board of BMW AG held a scheduled meeting in Spartanburg, South Carolina, during which the important matter of the automaker’s next CEO was addressed. The decision, consistent with what many had speculated, settled on Oliver Zipse as the man who will be succeeding Harald Krüger, who assumed the position in 2015. The appointment of Zipse follows Krüger’s decision to step down after one term at the helm, bringing a 27-year career at BMW to a close.

Zipse, who joined the BMW Group in 1991 as a trainee, has enjoyed a successful career with a focus on production operations and technical planning. Zipse has served on the board of management since 2015, and previously held various leadership positions related to production and planning in South Africa, while later assuming the role of plant manager at the MINI production facility in Oxford. Prior to joining the board, Zipse was head of technical planning, and then chief of group planning and production strategy from 2012 until 2015.

Although Zipse holds an engineering degree like his predecessor Harald Krüger, it seems like much of Zipse’s time at BMW has been centered around how to efficiently build the company’s products, as opposed to how they’re built to begin with. Krüger on the other hand, spent a good portion of his career on the more technical side of things, before also focusing on strategic production planning and the like.

The move becomes official on August 16, when Krüger will officially resign, and Zipse will assume his new role. There is hope that Zipse will be able to reignite BMW’s electric vehicle sales, by breathing new life into the i sub-brand, which lost an early lead after other competitors soon caught up and surpassed with their own electrified offerings. BMW posted strong sales figures during Krüger’s tenure, but the automaker still managed to card its weakest earnings performance in a decade during that time, an event many viewed as a fatal mistake for the CEO.

Former CEO Norbert Reithofer, who vacated the position in 2015 before moving to the supervisory board, was quoted as saying, “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.” Couple that with one of the strongest and most varied model portfolios of any manufacturer, and an incredibly capable global production network, we hope to see BMW make bold moves in the right direction over the coming years.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]

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