- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2010

Traverse City, MI | Speaking at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars recently, Jim O’Donnell, President of BMW of North America, LLC, gave an optimistic outlook on the future of the premium market and BMW’s role as global leader of the segment. “In these times of change, the premium business has the opportunity to re-imagine mobility and change an established infrastructure and mindset that has been a 100 years in the making,” said O’Donnell. “You can be sure we and our competitors in the segment will not stray from this responsibility and will continue to invest heavily in the years ahead.”

According to O’Donnell, the premium market will continue to drive innovations across the entire value chain that quickly filters down to the mass market benefiting the entire automotive industry. Governments also recognize this contribution and now regularly ask for insight, perspective and experience from companies such as the BMW Group.

To live up to this responsibility, premium manufacturers have come to a good understanding of the driving forces and trends behind the current changes in the market place.

Most importantly, the economic recession has changed the way consumers view and purchase all premium products with a profound effect on the auto industry. In the future, people will take greater care with major purchases and as a result, consumers might buy less, but look for even better quality. “Consumers want something with true value, something that will last,” said O’Donnell. “For us this means there is, and will continue to be an excellent market for premium automobiles.” This is backed by current sales forecasts that indicate low double digit growth for the U.S. premium market for this year through 2012.

Driven by stricter government regulations and changing social and environmental expectations, BMW also believes premium fleet composition will change in the future. According to O’Donnell, premium will be defined increasingly by the overall emotional experience rather than the shape, size, method of propulsion, number of cylinders or the price. “In ten years, premium automobiles will be desired for more than size and stature,” he said. “It will no longer be about cylinders at all but rather how what’s under the hood performs and how it provides a seamless, emotional driving experience filled with delight and joy.” A good example of BMW’s future mobility direction is the three cylinder, diesel hybrid concept car called Vision Efficient-Dynamics that has the performance parameters of an M3, travels 0-60 in 4.8 seconds but achieves roughly 62 mpg and emits just 99 grams CO2 per kilometer.

O’Donnell made it clear that BMW will continue to build on its DNA of great dynamics, innovation and aesthetics despite the changing business environment. “We see many significant opportunities to grow, prosper and continue to help develop a future of sustainable mobility, and we at BMW are ready to reinvent in every aspect of our business except to reinvent what we stand for the ultimate driving machine.”

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