LIVE FROM CES ASIA, SHANGHAI: BMW is determined to shape the future of the auto industry to avoid becoming a dinosaur, with a focus on digitalisation, automated driving and sustainability, as more nimble outsiders continue to disrupt the traditional landscape.
Olaf Kastner (pictured below), BMW’s president and CEO for China, said digitisation, mobility on demand and younger customers with changing likes and dislikes are creating new fears and challenges for all players, with new companies, many with digital roots, joining the competition.
“Does this mean the traditional car manufacturer is about to enter the dinosaur fate of becoming extinct? We don’t know that yet,” he said.
Kastner, giving the keynote this morning at CES Asia, outlined what he thinks it takes to stay competitive and attractive in such a changing world.
One of the key disruptors to the sector is accelerating digitisation, which he said is putting the automotive industry in new competition with industries traditionally centered around web-based and digital services. “Buzz words like big data and the Internet of Things, and ecosystems that combine physical and digital elements to hopefully make life easier, are providing food for thought for almost all industries.”
He noted that customer interfaces are changing and value-creation is shifting from hardware to include more software and services. “New ecosystems are taking shape. A number of new players are forming platforms, without offering their own physical products. They are bringing supply and demand together by basically providing brokerage IT platforms, like most car-hailing and car-sharing companies are doing.”
BMW is offering a number of services in this area, including short- and long-term rentals, car-delivery service and chauffeur service. The sharing services will be available to closed user groups, such as companies and residential complexes. It will also offer the option for people to rent out their private vehicles for a limited time when they don’t need their cars, for example when they are on holiday.
For its connected car offering, Connect Drive, its goal is to have 100 per cent of its vehicles across all product categories on the system. The solution is powered by its Open Mobility Cloud, which links to numerous data souces for weather and traffic conditions. It is designed to make life easier for customers by learning users’ personal habits and preferences to optimise travel as well as plan trips, Kastner said.