BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer
By Kim Tae-jong
MUNICH, Germany ― Ian Robertson, a member of the BMW board of management in charge of sales and marketing, said that there are obvious signs the Korean market is growing and BMW will work closely with Korean car parts companies. He added that BMW has no plans to build a manufacturing facility in Korea.
Another board member, Herbert Diess, in charge of research and development said BMW will maintain a long partnership with Samsung SDI, which is the only supplier of batteries for the automaker’s electronic car series such as the i3 and i8.
“I think Korean firms are very competitive in term of quality,” he said. “Especially, batteries are a key component of electronic cars, and we will strengthen our partnership with Saumsung.”
Although the proportion of car parts provided by Korean firms is still less than 1 percent as the partnership only began two or three years ago, BMW will seek more strategic alliances in Korea, Diess said.
For example he mentioned that it is considering adopting Samsung’s mobile technology to new cars as the market share of Samsung’s mobile phones is growing.
Apart from its aim to increase the volume of sales, the premium carmaker also emphasized that it will develop new engines to meet tightening environmental regulations in the European Union and elsewhere, amid stricter rules for carbon dioxide and other emissions.
"Looking ahead at 2015, the EU has set a new carbon dioxide target of 130 grams per kilometer for all European cars. We are totally confident we will meet the target set for the BMW group," said BMW CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management Norbert Reithofer, adding the firm’s fleet currently produces average emissions of 148 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer.
He said he valued Korea and that it is an important market given its efforts to further extend the automaker’s global footprint.
“In the five BRIKT countries ― Brazil, Russia, India, Korea and Turkey ― we have increased sales by 1,000 percent in the past 10 years,” Reithofer said during an annual accounts press conference at Munich’s BMW Welt, a multi-functional customer experience and exhibition facility.
He believes that the importance of the BRIKT countries is growing as they have helped to reduce its exposure to the risk of slowing demand in big markets such as China and the United States.
“Today our market position in Europe, Asia and America is much more balanced than 10 years past. This gives us a significant competitive advantage in light of volatile markets,” he said.
Thanks to increasing demands in such markets, the Munich-based automaker saw record sales last year, maintaining its position as the world's biggest manufacturer of premium cars by sales volume.
“For the first time ever, within one year about 1.67 million customers decided to buy a BMW, MINI or Rolls-Royce,” he said.
He also believes his company will mark new highs in sales volume and pre-tax earnings for this year with a most promising start to sell nearly 240,000 cars in January and February.
The sales volume could be larger as BMW plans to launch 12 new models including the new 3 Series before the end of the summer.
He also pledged to set a new record this year with the goal to sell over 2 million cars in 2016, four years earlier than planned, yet noted it is still uncertain whether the current economic conditions will continue.
Originally, BMW set the goal to sell over 2 million cars by 2020 when it came up with its Strategy Number One in September 2007. The objective was to expand existing business and at the same time invest in future technologies and new vehicle concepts.
Other executives echoed the intention to develop Korea as a strategic market and pursue cooperation with Korean companies.