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More localized and digitized, BMW is driving ahead
Last Updated: 2016-11-21 13:18 | China Daily
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BMW's new flagship sedan, M760Li xDrive, takes only 3.7 seconds to accelerate from 0-100 km/h. Photos Provided to China Daily

Olaf Kastner, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China.

With its Strategy Number One>Next, which aims to consolidate its leading position in the large and compact luxury segments with fresh and broadened lineups, BMW believes it is well prepared for the exciting future.

To be even more successful in its largest single market, the German automaker is further localizing for China, providing Chinese customers with more individualization, and stronger product and pricing competitiveness.

"Our vision for the future is very exciting, as we believe it will belong to those who have clear forward-looking strategies, take bold actions and make quick responses to customers' needs," said Olaf Kastner, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China.

Kastner told China Daily: "We need to clearly foresee the industry trends and precisely predict the changing demands of customers, so we can stay ahead."

He is confident that BMW will continue to outpace the average growth in the Chinese market and at a speed faster than the GDP growth rate.

BMW maintained its No 2 position in the world's largest market with a year-on-year surge in sales approaching 10.2 percent in the first 10 months of this year. The accumulated sales volume has been 423,330 units so far in 2016, the brand's best ever performance.

"The sales and the growth in China were higher than originally projected, and BMW achieved them without a strong push in the market," Kastner noted.

The brand's strong performance is especially noteworthy as the competition in the premium segment in China is very intense, with not only the premium German brands, but also other big hitters battling it out. The Chinese premium market is expected to become the largest in the world in three years as a result of the country's continuing urbanization drive and the people's growing incomes.

Kastner pointed that, to continue being successful, BMW is developing new ways of thinking and bringing digitization to its mobility solutions, which is breeding disruptive innovations.

"Chinese customers are more and more software focused, so we are responding to this key trend with the latest digital technologies to continuously enhance our customers' sheer driving pleasure," he said. "BMW is responding faster to the market changes in China, and in turn we will change more frequently how customers interact with the car."

Localization for youth

As part of its localization strategy, BMW has expanded the range of vehicles it manufactures in China in order to better meet the needs of Chinese customers.

During the Auto Guangzhou 2016 show, the luxury carmaker unveiled the BMW 1 Series Sedan on Friday, a compact sedan model targeted at younger buyers.

"It's pretty cool, and a real BMW, as everyone can tell through the driving pleasure it offers and its world-class quality," Kastner said.

The automaker found the younger Chinese customer group is growing, and they are looking for more compact mobility solutions.

"We are hoping to seize the opportunity of the downsizing trend and we expect that, together with the best-selling 5 Series, the new BMW 1 Series Sedan will contribute greatly to our growth in China," Kastner said.

Jochen Goller, senior vice-president of sales and marketing at BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd, said the BMW 1 Series Sedan fills a gap in the market in China.

"The newly localized series is among the best in the segment, for the new BMW 1 Series was designed in Germany but tailored for China with lots of flexibility and customizations," Goller said.

He added that the "BMW 1 Series Sedan is the brand's fifth localized model and it is attracting more young customers to the brand, by offering them an affordable way into the amazing BMW world."

Kastner said: "The new model's localization here in China has been realized very quickly, as a quick response to the huge market size. The BMW 1 Series is set to be launched early next year, and many young customers will be driving it then."

M powered flagship

The automaker is not only looking to attract Chinese customers at the entry level, but also at the high end of the market.

On Friday, the automaker announced the suggested pre-sales price for M760Li xDrive, BMW's new flagship sedan. With innovative features and individualization, the M-powered luxury sedan can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in just in 3.7 seconds.

"We see a growing trend, one that started two or three years ago. Some customers want sportiness, acceleration close to that of sports cars, but a smaller engine. So we are broadening our lineups with the sporty performance and pleasure of the M subbrand," Kastner said.

"The contribution of the M brand to the entire volume is small," he added. "But we are seeing substantial and quite significant growth in the sales of the M and M Performance."

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