Head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson says traditional car companies will beat tech rivals if they react to challenges of autonomy, electrification and connectivity
30 March 2017

The car industry is in the midst of a 'pivotal shift' that individual companies must respond to or face extinction, according to BMW’s head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson.

Referencing the challenges of autonomy, electrification, connectivity and changing consumer behaviour, Robertson said that he believed technical knowhow about the industry today would not be enough to succeed in the future.

“We know the technical requirements and must continue to drive those forward, but what is coming is a pivotal shift that will require us to accelerate what we do and to take a proactive as well as reactive approach,” said Robertson. “That doesn’t mean investment in new areas, it means a cultural change too.”

Highlighting BMW’s investment in the Here mapping company, which it co-owns with Mercedes and the Volkswagen Group, plus its work with Intel and Mobileye as examples of BMW sharing expertise and working in new ways, Robertson said that he believes existing car companies have a greater chance of success of succeeding in the future car business than technology companies.

“I would say it of course, but I believe the established leaders who are taking the right steps have a greater chance of success,” he said. “We have the knowhow and understanding that comes with having been in the industry, and we can be just as agile in our thinking if we seize the opportunity.

“Do we know all of the answers? No, we don’t. Will we have to change course from the one we have mapped out today? Yes, of course we will. But we are setting out our plans and challenging them constantly to get better answers. We are in a good place to succeed.”

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Comments
3

31 March 2017
Helping two relatives organise new cars recently brought home to me that the dealer model is dying. Universally poor sales techniques even from 'good' dealers added to test drives that while too short reveal that in 90% of driving there was so little difference between the cars that buying on line would pose little risk - aside from a Suzuki Celerio which was genuinely poor.

Dealers are going to be for enthusiasts who DRIVE their cars - the first manufacturer who really sorts internet selling (particularly used) allied to cheap PCP deals will clean up in the mass market.

31 March 2017
I agree RE internet sales.

I wonder if part of it is that, by negotiating with a dealer, your perception is that you've got a good deal. True internet selling would never have that; you need to be confident that you're not paying over the odds. But then to do that the car makers are going to have to offer their best prices online and the manufacturers are probably afraid of upsetting their current main conduit to a sale - the franchise.

I wonder how many Tesla's are ordered online opposed to in their showrooms?

31 March 2017
Car companies will also need to learn to update their cars like Tesla. My 2015 Peugeot 108 linked fine to my 2014 smartphone. But they have not updated the system since then. So even though it's even still in warranty it no longer connects to a smartphone. When contacted all they say is "Here is a list of 2014 phones that work (even for the car which is still on sale!).

 

 

 

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