In a recent statement, the BMW Group addressed the ongoing novel human coronavirus epidemic and how the company is responding and strategizing to stay viable as it navigates uncharted straits. Like nearly all automakers, sales have come to a virtual standstill and are down virtually across the board with the exception of BMW models with electrified drivetrains, which actually managed to card 13.9% growth during the first quarter from the sale of 30,692 units. Nonetheless, nearly all of BMW’s factories outside of China are temporarily closed and expected to remain so at least until the end of the month, while 70% of U.S. BMW dealerships are also closed.
Nonetheless, BMW, like other automakers and companies both large and small, is stepping up to help out in the best way it can: mobilizing and directing resources for those who need them. In the case of BMW, the focus has been on the donation of masks to frontline medical workers who are caring for those directly threatened by the outbreak. According to BMWBlog and other sources, BMW has already donated roughly 200,000 masks, including 100,000 to the Bavarian Red Cross, and another 100,000 to the Bavarian State Government. In BMW’s latest financial press release mentioned above, the company said it was examining the possibility of manufacturing masks. A few days later, the automaker held a brief press conference outside of its Munich headquarters to announce that it would soon be able to mass produce masks at a rate of up to 100,000 each day.
In a recent internal interview, BMW Group CEO Oliver Zipse explained that the company has already resumed large-scale production in China, now that it seems the worst of the pandemic has passed in the country. However, outside of China, the executive cautioned that retail activity has virtually stopped. It’s easy to see why, as instead of talking about weekend drives, upcoming track days, or what tires to buy, groups of BMW enthusiasts and those of us who make up a nation’s worth of BMW CCA chapters are discussing battery tenders and how we can stay busy while confined to our homes.
While the developments of production resuming in China and retail slowly following are encouraging, the global economy is still being subjected to simultaneous demand and supply shocks the likes of which have not been seen since at least WWII. When the rest of the world, most importantly the U.S. and Europe, will be begin to return to some form of normalcy remains on the horizon. The longer widespread lockdowns continue though, the more difficult it will be to resume life as society once knew it. In the interview linked above, Zipse stated that the health of people and the stability of the global economy should never be pitted against each other, but the truth is that, since the beginning of time and the first voluntary exchange, the economy has represented the sum of all human productivity while maintaining an inextricable link to the standard leaving. For years, economists and the broader study of sociology have pointed out a strong correlation between the unemployment rate and the mortality rate, meaning that our leaders must balance liberty and security more carefully now than ever before.—Alex Tock
[Photos via BimmerToday.]