BMW spent years, decades even, proclaiming itself as the Ultimate Driving Machine. It wasn’t all just talk, though, because the company delivered again and again with vehicles that were the benchmark of luxury and performance. Others tried, but no one could approach BMW’s level of superiority.
Best luxury sedan, best sport sedan, best luxury SUV… all wore the BMW logo and everyone—from consumers, to reviewers, to the automakers themselves—knew it.
But something happened in the last five years or so. BMW fell asleep at the wheel and gave the rest of the industry a chance to catch up. BMW leaders are now in panic mode as they’re realizing they’ve fallen behind and must scramble to keep up with the likes of Tesla, Jaguar, Porsche, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
The situation is so immediately dangerous that BMW has set up a conference geared toward waking up remaining employees and showing them the truth about what it’ll take to succeed against this new breed of competition.
Bloomberg was there and said,
The market is shifting in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago, and BMW must adapt. The subtext is a recognition that the company has gone from leader to laggard.
So far, about 14,000 engineering, marketing, and management employees have been flown in to Munich to experience the day-long awakening. They are introduced to cars and technology from competing automakers and shown concepts of where BMW hopes to be in the not-so-distant future. Ideas include a BMW with a retractable steering wheel, a Rolls-Royce with a roof that swings open, and a Mini that changes colors based on the driver’s mood.
While BMW still makes some of the best cars in the world, it recently lost the sales crown to Mercedes-Benz and lags in emerging technologies such as EVs, car-sharing, and autonomous vehicles.
We’re not convinced a color-changing Mini will do much to regain lost ground, but also won’t bet against a BMW comeback.
If BMW is no longer the Ultimate Driving Machine, which automaker do you think can stake claim to the title?