Had the boss of an automobile manufacturer proudly pointed out 20 years ago that the first sports car would be built with a three-cylinder engine, one would have misunderstood. Only a slip of the tongue would have linked a sports car with three cylinders. In a conference call on May 6, 2014, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said exactly this sentence and was audibly proud of it. The first sports car with three cylinders! Who would have thought this possible. In fact, the i8, the BMW sports car with three cylinders and an electric motor, marks a kind of turning point for the white-blue brand. No one knows yet how quickly times in the market will actually change and larger quantities will be sold. But the first step has been taken. In a consequence that - I repeat myself - can be admired.
As Norbert Reithofer explained in his quarterly conference call, he was very satisfied with the development at BMW i. The BMW i3 has also been available in the USA for a few days. "And the interest of customers, especially in California, is great."
Reithofer continues: “American customers are particularly open to new forms of drive. We assume that most BMW i3s will be sold in the United States. We have California in particular as a relevant market for electric vehicles. California is considered a trendsetter for the entire US market. The i3 has been available in Japan since early April. China will follow later in the year. Production at the Leipzig plant is ramping up to schedule - with 100 vehicles a day. We have built over 5.000 BMW i3s since the beginning of the year. Much of the production has so far been delivered to the markets as demonstration and exhibition vehicles. ”Reithofer obviously does not want to be blamed for the exaggeration, because demonstration vehicles are simply not sold cars.
The i8 will be launched in June, Reithofer said. It unites three world novelties. It was the first plug-in hybrid sports car with the BMWi Life Drive architecture, the first sports car with a three-cylinder engine and the first production vehicle with laser light technology.
In addition, Reithofer announced the first BMW with front-wheel drive, the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer for customers "who have so far not found a suitable offer at BMW". BMW wants to remain at the top of the premium manufacturers in 2020, the BMW boss emphasized, noting that BMW has been at the top for a decade.
BMW faced many challenges. That is why you observe all relevant trends in the company's environment. After all, it is about further developing the brand in a contemporary way, winning new customers and at the same time maintaining identity. The goal is still profitable growth. In 2014, a new sales record of over two million vehicles is to be achieved, a new record for Group earnings before taxes and an EBIT margin in the automobile segment of eight to ten percent.
The BMW Group sold 487.000 vehicles in the first quarter. The BMW brand alone was able to sell over 400.000 cars. "30 years ago, this still corresponded to the sales of a whole year," said Reithofer. But what would all of this be without the profit: Group earnings before taxes set a new record at 2,1 billion euros.
Record numbers also in the development of the plant in Spartanburg, where BMW plans to invest a billion dollars by 2016. The production capacity is increased to 450.000 vehicles per year. This is 50 percent more than today. Reithofer also referred to the entire successful product portfolio and the variety it offers.
“We will continue to invest in new models, innovative technologies and our locations worldwide. Our innovative strength, our financial strength and our economic success give us the necessary room for maneuver. We continue to go our own way to remain number one in the future. ”