Can BMW remain the “ultimate driving machine” in the future automotive industry? image

The Bavarian brand has been for years the top selling premium brand in the world after mesmerizing customers with the claim of delivering the “ultimate driving machine”.

But the automotive industry landscape is rapidly changing and evolving – from Chinese Internet companies that play with the idea of becoming auto manufacturers to a world filled with autonomous cars that take the human out of the equation, powered by alternative powertrains that shun the traditional petrol grunt. This is a real menace to the automaker that has almost always blended traditional luxury with the possibility of taking the wheel of the car and having an adventurous and thrilling ride. One example of the conundrum could be their latest product – the sixth-generation flagship 7 Series sedan. It’s very close to achieving hands-free driving with the wide array of driving assistance features and the automaker even claims that regulations are now impeding them to push even further towards autonomous driving. And everything has a life of its own on the car – and that includes the keyfob, equipped with its own touchscreen to allow for remote function operation.

Automakers know that after a century of delivering the ever more powerful engine and the ever smaller time from zero to 60 mph, the time is high to redefine the entire industry. So how will BMW fit its brand credo into the increasingly larger sea of plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles? “Luxury has many dimensions to it,” comments Ian Robertson, the BMW board member in charge of global marketing. “We have to maintain that DNA (driving performance and dynamics) with no deviation,” he claims. And the truth is that BMW’s strategy has been questioned more than once – one perfect example being the once-radical iDrive system that has been mirrored by so many of its rivals.