BMW sees major changes at its C-level

December 09, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Carmaker BMW's management board currently sees departures and arrivals. Besides CEO Norbert Reithofer, head of development Herbert Diess is leaving the company. While in the case of Reithofer the company says he is stepping down to become chairman of the supervisory board, chief technologist Diess is heading for competitor Volkswagen. The moves could well affect BMWs future course in the technology-driven automotive industry.

In a press release, BMW describes Reithofer's resignation as a step to initiate generational change at the top management. Therefore, Reithofer's term will not be immediately; he will lead the carmaker's management board until the company general meeting on May 13, 2015. The supervisory board will then propose Reithofer for election as chairman or the supervisory board.

In the case of top developer Diess, the case is a bit different. Diess, who holds a doctorate in manufacturing technology, will inherit the top position to lead the Volkswagen passenger vehicles brand from current VW CEO Martin Winterkorn who will maintain his position as chairman of the board for the Volkswagen group. The highest priority task for Diess will be, according to market watchers, to get Volkswagen's modular production system running. This system was designed to enable the cost-effective creation of variants for VW's top brands. According to sources, the company's Modular Transverse Matrix platform (MQB) so far has failed to simplify production processes. Like most German carmakers, Volkswagen offer a very large spectrum of options and customisations which offers more choices to car buyers but also increases manufacturing costs. Diess will assume his new job at Volkswagen effective October 15, 2015. His successor, effective immediately, is Herbert Fröhlich who joined the carmaker in 1987 and currently oversaw the small and medium-sized models.

In any case, with Reithofer and Diess BMW will lose two top managers who shaped the concepts of the connected car as well as of electromobility at the Bavarian carmaker. BMW makes every effort to make the moves appear as a normal generational change. Provided the general meeting will agree, Reithofer, who led BMW since 2006, will replace Joachim Milberg (71) as the chairman of the (non-executive) supervisory board.

Reithofer will be succeeded by Harald Krüger. Mr. Krüger is member or BMW's board of directors since 2008. Currently he is responsible for manufacturing.

The reshuffle comes at a moment