Reuters FRANKFURT (Reuters) — BMW said Oliver Zipse will become chief executive on Aug. 16, picking the 55-year-old manufacturing expert to help the German automaker make the shift to electric and self-driving cars and tackle new competition from technology giants.
The company’s supervisory board discussed new leadership at BMW’s U.S. plant in Spartanburg, S.C., after 53-year-old Harald Krueger said he would not be available for a second term as CEO.
“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 Nobert Reithofer, Chairman of BMW’s Supervisory Board said.
Krueger will resign as CEO and will leave the management board by mutual agreement on Aug. 15 2019, BMW said.
Zipse, a fluent English speaker, has risen through the ranks ever since he joined BMW as a trainee in 1991, holding posts including head of brand and product strategies before becoming board member for production.
Zipse has emerged as favorite because BMW’s efficient production network, which he expanded in Hungary, China and the United States, has helped the company deliver industry-leading profit margins despite its relatively small scale.
But experts say auto industry leaders also need other skills for the new era of software-driven electric and autonomous cars.
“A CEO needs to have an idea for how mobility will evolve in future. This goes far beyond optimizing an existing business,” said Carsten Breitfeld, chief executive of China-based ICONIQ motors, himself a former BMW engineer.