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bmw x5

Driving change in a highly competitive marketplace through
continually enhancing the aspirational driving experience


Profile: BMW

Founded in 1917, the BMW Group is now one of the ten largest car manufacturers in the world and, with its BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brands, possesses three of the strongest premium brands in the car industry. The group also has a strong market position in the motorcycle sector and operates a successful financial services business. The company aims to generate profitable growth and above-average returns by focusing on the premium segments of the international automobile markets. With this in mind, a wide-ranging product and market offensive was initiated in 2001, which has resulted in the BMW Group expanding its product range considerably and strengthening its worldwide market position. The company’s brand is extremely strong and is associated with high performance, engineering excellence and innovation. Indeed, the BMW brand is often cited as one of the ‘best’ in the world, and the company continues to launch a stream of innovative products as part of its battle with German peer Mercedes to be the world’s largest luxury car maker.

BMW’s focus on engineering excellence allied to leading-edge design continues to drive successful, profitable expansion. In 2007 BMW sales increased by 8%, Mini by 18% and Rolls-Royce by 26% with, for the first time ever, over 1000 of the super luxury cars being produced in one year. To further this growth, a host of new models is being launched, including the Mini Clubman and the new sport utility vehicle, the BMW X6 - the world’s first SUV coupe. While the Clubman reinvents views on vehicle access, the X6 is an excellent example of BMW innovation at work. It combines the safety and convenience of a four-wheel-drive with the on-road performance of a sports car and is designed to appeal to the driver who enjoys a commanding driving position, but also savours the characteristics of a sports car. With its stretched coupé silhouette and pronounced performance design, underpinned by hybrid engine options, as previously achieved with the X5 and the X3 in allied markets, the X6 is the latest instance of BMW changing perceptions of what a car should provide – for its passengers and its driver alike. At its heart, it restates an aspiration for driving that is both exclusive and yet also available to the mass market.

BMW has also been at the forefront of introducing new IT options to enhance the driving experience. Starting with the iDrive first introduced in the 7-series, BMW ConnectedDrive is now available across most models and is adding greater functionaility. After being one of the first to offer the capability for MP3 connectivity and incorporate RSS feeds including weather information, in 2007 BMW teamed up with Google to offer a PC driven route planning service. Of course this level of innovation does not come cheaply and a key challenge going forward will be to keep research and development costs under control. During the last five years, BMW’s average annual R&D investment has been around €2,300 per car, compared with €1,700 spent by arch-rival Mercedes. Alongside the examples above, much of the money has gone into the car maker's Efficient Dynamics programme aimed at making engines more efficient, improving aerodynamics, reducing weight and capturing energy during braking. As the numbers clearly show, BMW is a mass market player but one that successfully uses focused innovation to build and maintain the aspirational driving experience for many. Through a constant stream of consumer informed innovations, the company has moved ahead of its peers and future sustained and profitable growth is widely predicted.

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