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PressClub Belux · Article.

Speech persconferentie BMW Group Belux.

– Enkel het gesproken woord telt – Goede morgen, bonjour, good morning and welcome to the BMW Group press conference. Het is een waar genoegen u te mogen verwelkomen op deze prachtige stand van de BMW Group. Je vous souhaite d’ores et déjà un intéressant moment en notre compagnie.

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– Enkel het gesproken woord telt –

– Seule la parole fait foi –

– Check against delivery –



Dorien Leyers (DL) :

Goede morgen, bonjour, good morning and welcome to the BMW Group press conference. Het is een waar genoegen u te mogen verwelkomen op deze prachtige stand van de BMW Group. Je vous souhaite d’ores et déjà un intéressant moment en notre compagnie.


Since we have a lot of international press representatives and international guests present, this conference will be held in English.


My name is Dorien Leyers and I’ll be glad to introduce you to our special guests.


As we want to reveal no less than 10 models today, we have no time to waste. I suggest we start with a first European première.


[Arrival BMW i8 Roadster with Peter Henrich (PH) at the wheel.]


DL: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the brand new BMW i8 Roadster. On the wheel, Peter Henrich, President & CEO of BMW Group Belux.


[Peter gets out of the car]


PH: Goede morgen, bonjour, welcome everybody.


DL: Peter, What an amazing car! Looks really stunning. I didn’t even hear it come in! 


PH: A great pleasure to present the BMW i8 Roadster. Not only a fantastic looking car and a showcase of really advanced technology but also a symbol of what BMW stands for.


We at BMW are determined to shape the future of mobility. Our company has more than100 years of history and is in a very strong position today. However we are always thinking ahead, preparing and actively creating the future!


Currently we are investing heavily in the technologies that will significantly change our industry – Autonomous driving, Connectivity, Electro mobility and also the Shared Economy with services like car sharing. We call those technological pillars the ACES.

And we put the customer in the center – so it is not only about technology but much more about the experiences that are created for our customers.


DL: So, is it all about technology?


PH: BMW is an emotional brand. Driving pleasure is in our DNA. And that this goes well together. Being a technology leader AND a love brand is very visible in this vehicle. You can believe my personal testimony: driving an i8 Roadster is a great experience!


DL: Sounds good. So let’s discuss everything this BMW i8 Roadster has to offer. What is so special about the technology?


PH: Today, the allure of sustainable driving is poised to enter another new dimension. BMW introduces the first ever BMW i8 Roadster matching BMW eDrive technology with the ultimate driving machine. It combines the power of a highly efficient 3 cylinder petrol combustion engine and an electric engine that can be re-charged at an electric charging station or even at a normal household socket. The system performance is 374 horse power and 570 Nm of torque. This lets the i8 Roadster accelerate from 0-100 in 4,6 seconds.


And what’s just as cool and a different type of driving pleasure: you can drive the i8 Roadster fully electrically – just as demonstrated when I came in – but also up to a speed of 120km/h and up to a distance of more than 50 km in the NEDC test cycle.

With this the official ‘combined’ value for CO2 emissions lies as low as 46g!


DL: Indeed really impressive values. But let’s get the fun part: what does it feel like, driving one of these?


PH: For sure the open air feeling – a real sensation of freedom! The high tech soft top opens or closes with the push on a button within 15 seconds – while driving up to 50km/h. So you can quickly switch from Coupe feeling to Roadster feeling and enjoy every bit of sunshine.


And maybe a few words on the design: The BMW i8 Coupé that was launched in 2014 has been clearly recognized as a hallmark in automotive design and the most progressive sports car of our era. And now with the roadster our designers and engineers have created another milestone in aesthetic and aerodynamic design. It is definitively more than just an ‘open roof version’ of the i8 Coupé. And this unique new color ‘e-Copper’ speaks for itself.


So to sum up: the i8 Roadster forms the pinnacle of BMW electro mobility.


DL: Let’s briefly discuss the BMW Group strategy on electric cars. That is a hot topic in the industry, isn’t it?


PH: Indeed. Everybody is talking about electro mobility. We at the BMW Group participate in the discussion – and let’s say in contrast to a lot of other players in this discussion, we are also delivering results: electrified cars.


Already in 2013 we launched the BMW i3. A really pioneering full electric car - designed, engineered and produced in a fully sustainable way. In the mean time we have sold more than 100.000 units of the i3 in the whole world.


And right from the beginning our strategy has been to bring electro mobility to all the segments in which we are active. And this with Plug in Hybrid cars that combine the zero emission driving of an electric motor with the advantages of a combustion engine such as long range and quick re-fueling. Today we offer those iPerformance models in the 2 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, the X5, the i8 and also the MINI Countryman.


DL: And with great success?


Yes, with great success. Already in mid December we could announce the sale of our 100.000th electrified vehicle within the year 2017. And even though I imagine there is still some counting going on around the world, I would not be surprised if BMW Group was with this the largest producer of electrified vehicles overall!


In Belgium already 4 out of 10 electrified vehicles in the premium segment are a BMW or MINI and within the full electric cars, the BMW i3 is the most sold model overall!


DL: How long do you think it will take until electric and hybid cars completely take over the market?


PH: I guess that will take a while. We need to be realistic about the timing of the transition towards a fully electric car parc. In Belgium in 2017 only 0,38% of the new vehicles were full electric and 4,5% where hybrid. So even though we do our best to let those numbers grow – also petrol and diesel technology will play an important role in the future (next decades).


DL: OK but let’s get back to the present day. The beginning of the new year is always a good moment to look back. How was 2017 for you and your team?


PH:  2017 has been a real record year for us as BMW Group Belgium and Luxembourg. For the first time ever, we have delivered more than 50.000 new BMWs to customers in Belgium and Luxembourg.


Looking to Belgium only, we can report a record of 42.176 BMW registrations. This represents a growth of 5% vs. previous year and again the clear leadership in the premium segment. It is now the 6th year of growth in a row – and if we compare with 5 years ago, we are proud of an increase of 38,5%!


And what makes this result even better is that it is well balanced across our product range. We see strong growth in our electric and Plug in Hybrid models just as in our very sporty M models. From the 1 Series to the 7 Series and from the Coupés to the X models, we have very strong positions in all segments.


With a market share of now 7,7% we even end on the 3rd place in the total passenger car market – a very unique position for BMW world wide. There is actually no other country in the world where we sell more BMWs per capita than in Luxemburg and Belgium!


DL: Well, congratulations on those impressive BMW figures. But there is another car brand in the BMW Group. What about MINI?


PH: Also MINI has once again booked a great year with a record of 8.760 vehicles delivered to customers in Belgium and Luxemburg and 7.530 cars registered in Belgium.


The launch of the first ever plug-in hybrid MINI, the Cooper S.E. Countryman, is a real success with no less 891 cars sold.


DL: And last but not least, the two wheelers?


PH: Here I can even add another superlative. BMW Motorrad has become overall number one in the Belgium motor bike market. And while BMW Motorrad is ranked number one in the segment of the 500 cc + in Europe, Motorrad is this year leading the total market! BMW Motorrad has registered 2961 bikes last year, a growth of 7%.


DL: Why do you think all BMW Group brands show such growing numbers?


PH: There are certainly several reasons – let me speak about the two most important ones.


One being our strong product portfolio which fits very well the high expectations of the Belgian customers, being private or corporate. People here in Belgium are passionate about their cars and very knowledgeable – this great motorshow with more than half a million visitors being the best proof of it.  So customers here ask for cars that offer advanced technology and excitement – exactly what we can offer with our brands.


And the second really decisive success factor is our strong dealer network. We work together with very dedicated partners who are – together with us – continuously investing in our common future and in great customer experiences around the purchase and the service of a BMW, a MINI or a BMW Motorrad.


DL: Excellent! And as we are on a product show, let’s take a look at some more novelties within the BMW Group product portfolio.

The next European Premiere is not only something to look at – but also to listen to…


[Arrival of BMW M3 CS – making some noise…]


PH: Ladies and Gentlemen, the brand new BMW M3 CS.


DL: What a sound! Peter, please, tell us more about this great Sports Sedan.


PH: With the BMW M3 CS our special unit - the BMW M corporation - has once again succeeded to even further sharpen the existing M3 – which is already the icon of the sporty saloons. The M3 CS is the most powerful M3 of all times. M TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder engine, 460 horse power, highly efficient carbon-fibre components, from 0-100 in 3,9 seconds – that is genuine performance for the race track and everyday!


DL: And there is no downside?


PH: Well, there is only one downside: it is limited to a production of around1.200 units worldwide – so customers also need to be quick!


DL: Almost as quick as this M3 CS will be leaving the stage... But I think, Peter, you have another brand new M car exhibited on the booth?


PH: Absolutely. We celebrate today also the Belgian première of the new BMW M5 [REVEAL]


Look at that beautiful car. Very exciting and elegant at the same time. This new generation of the BMW M5 is a statement of supreme engineering skill and innovative driving intelligence.  For the first time, a BMW M is featuring an innovative all-wheel drive system. It is called M xDrive and, with its 600 hp engine, it turns the driver into a self-assured pilot of a high performance sports sedan with unbelievable power, precision and agility. It really brings pure M driving pleasure to a new level. This car drives like a rear-wheel drive but with more traction. Definitely the new benchmark in its segment.


DL: Really nice – and possible to order now, right?


PH: Absolutely! Everybody welcome to get more detailed information from our staff here – and to book a test drive. It’s great fun!


DL: And tell us Peter, can you show us something on this beautiful BMW stand that is NOT for sale yet, but gives us some insights to the future that we talked about?


PH: With pleasure. We have the chance to present – for the first time on Belgian Ground – the BMW Z4 Concept.



This concept has been presented in Pebble Beach in California last summer and we are happy to show the Belgian audience a glimpse to the future. This concept makes everybody dreaming of the future Z4. The extremely low body makes a puristic and emotionally engaging impression. Despite the classic roadster proportions, this concept gives a compact feeling. It is equipped with a high tech soft top, alike the new BMW i8 Roadster. As I said, this is a concept car, so please be patient, it will take a while before the new real Z4 hits the road.


MF: Ladies and gentlemen, we promised you a lot of new products and I think that so far we have held our promise. However, this was just the start.

It’s now time for a double world première.


[F45 – F46 enter the hall]


DL: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the world première of the new BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and 2 Series Gran Tourer.


PH: it’s my pleasure to welcome Jean-Philippe Parain, senior vice-president Regio Europe. Welcome Jean-Philippe.


DL: Welcome from my side as well. I think you are quite familiar with the Brussels Motor Show?


Jean-Philippe Parain (JPP): goede morgen allemaal, bonjour à tous, good morning all of you. Yes, indeed, I feel a little bit at home here since I have been leading BMW Group Belux for couple of years until end of 2016.


DL: Mr Parain, can you give us some more information about these two cars you brought from Munich?


JPP: Of course, even though I’m not the product manager! In 2014 we launched the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and briefly afterwards the Gran Tourer to offer a new kind of vehicle. One that combines spaciousness and variability on compact dimensions with the sporty genes and the premium quality of a true BMW. And it has been a great success. We could attract a lot of new customers to our brand, more than 75% of the 2 Series drivers were not driving a BMW before.


And today we are proud to present the model update of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer to further strengthen their position at the core of the BMW brand.

It is great that we can have this world premiere here on the Brussels Motorshow as in Belgium the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer are specifically successful!


And we want to continue this success story! Therefore these two models have become sportier, they have gained more presence and also the interior appearance has been further improved.


DL: Could you give us some examples?


JPP: Sure. If I start with the exterior, you will immediately see that the typical BMW kidney has a new design and has become larger. We also added new LED headlights. Looking at the back, you will see amongst others twin tailpipes for all four-cylinder models. There also is a new BMW M Sport package that gives the cars an even more striking look – you can see it here on the BMW Gran Tourer.


If you look at the interior, you will discover a new instrument display, a new electronic gear shifter for automatic transmissions and important, especially for those who drive many kilometers, we have improved the seat cushions.


DL: What about Connectivity – an important pillar of the BMW technology strategy?

JPP: All Active and Gran Tourers are equipped with a connectivity module with SIM card as standard. And with the Facelift the connectivity has been enlarged and becomes even more functional. For example we offer now Real Time Traffic Information with hazard preview, Apple Carplay and also induction charging for the smartphone.


MF: And any updates under the hood?


JPP: Indeed we are not Bayerische Motoren Werke for nothing and we have integrated the latest generation of the EfficientDynamics engine family which bring latest emission technology and reduce weight by several kilos (thanks to weight-minimised crankshafts). Specifically for the diesel models I would like to mention that all of them enjoy the BMW state-of-the-art exhaust treatment with both NOx Storage catalyst and Adblue technology. So our diesels really are clean!


MF: This is impressive. I guess with such new cars you aim to sell even better in 2018?


JPP: Good guess! Yes, it’s true that 2018 will be another important year for our brand. What you see here on this booth shows already how strong our product portfolio is, and it is not even everything that we will launch later this year.


But let me come back shortly on 2017.  Peter has already mentioned how successful BMW has been in Belgium. I am delighted to tell you that the company overall achieved another sales record in 2017. And we will announce more details on Friday.  Here in Europe, I am proud to announce that we sold around three quarter of a million vehicles – another record!


The strong demand for our new BMW 5 Series shows how popular this new model is with customers around the globe and in particular here in Belgium. We’ll release our final results for the year 2017 within two days but I can announce you that it will be another record year for our group.


DL: Thank you very much Jean-Philippe – great to have you back here in Brussels! And also thank you for bringing these cars in world première in the Capital of Europe.


Ladies and gentlemen, as we mentioned before, there are other brands within the BMW Group. One of them is an incredible success since its re-launch back in 2001. Of course I’m talking about MINI – and we are really proud to present you a triple world première here in Brussels.


[Three MINIs enter, Sebastian Mackensen drives the Cabrio. He jumps out of the Cabrio]

DL: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr Sebastian Mackensen, senior vice president MINI.


Mr. Mackensen, thank you for joining us. When I saw you at the wheel of this exciting convertible, I was hoping you would bring us some sun!


Sebastian Mackensen (SM): Bonjour à tous, goede morgen, a very good morning everybody. Great to be here in Brussels with you! Sorry for the sun, I can’t deliver but with this car, you’ll be ready to enjoy it as soon as it shines.


DL: Is 2017 a sunny year for MINI?


SM: Yes indeed! It has been another record year. MINI has never sold so many cars in 17 years and as Peter mentioned MINI is doing extremely well in Belgium as well.


DL: And this is the reason why you reward Brussels with this triple world première?


SM: Brussels is perfect to present for the first time the new MINI 3 door, the new MINI 5 and the new MINI Convertible. Our brand’s core models are world famous for being the originals in the premium small car segment. These three vehicles with their distinctive characteristics set the benchmark in their category – the MINI 3 door, the car that needs no explanation, the MINI 5 door, more functional than ever before and the extroverted MINI Convertible. They perfectly embody driving fun, individual style, high quality design and progressive technology. And in each of these areas, we have now given the new MINI 3 door, 5 door and Convertiblea thorough update. This will ensure that they continue their story of success.


DL: Could you tell us more about the most important features?


SM: I’d love to start with the new LED headlights with their innovative Matrix function for the high beam, automatically ensuring that other road users are not dazzled. Also the daytime running lights are now with a new interpretation and go “full circle” – with an integrated functionality for the indicator light. Meanwhile the new LED tail lights are a real, and very MINI, eye-catcher: their structure is now inspired by the British flag – the Union Jack. A very nice reference to the origins and tradition of our brand.


And while we're talking of symbols: both front and rear, on the outside and inside, all three models now bear the new MINI logo with its particularly clear and authentic design. By the way: this will also be the case for all MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman vehicles.


DL: Sebastian, MINI is also appreciated for its personalization possibilities. Is there anything new in this regard?


SM: Of course! We have also renewed and expanded the range of body finishes and light alloy wheels as well as the program for seat upholstery types and decorative strips for the interior. All this is geared towards fostering the individualisation that is so typical of MINI – and we also have a completely new offer that brings customisation to a whole new level. MINI Yours Customised is the name of our new product program that enables MINI fans to design interior trim parts, side scuttles, LED door sill finishers and LED door projectors according to their own preferences and ideas. Here the dialogue between MINI and our customers becomes a joint creative interaction, making the MINI a personally designed unique specimen.


DL: This is fantastic. But what is new on the technical side?


SM: A lot has happened on the technological front, too. With their increased pulling power and enhanced efficiency, the engines and new transmission variants now offer even more driving fun. Newly available features include the 7-speed Steptronic transmission with double clutch and an 8-speed Steptronic transmission that is unique in the small car segment.


MINI once again shows itself to be a pioneer and trendsetter within its competitive field in the areas of operation and connectivity. The list of new features ranges from the on-board computer with touchscreen function to an inductive charging facility for mobile phones and new digital services as part of MINI Connected.


DL: Maybe you can tell us more about MINI Connected?


SM: Navigation maps can now be updated automatically “over the ether” via the mobile phone connection. In addition to this, MINI is now permanently connected to its drivers: they can use a smartphone to check the fuel level, activate the horn and open or close the doors and windows. Drivers can also compile their personal mobility agenda jointly with their MINI: navigation destinations and routes are calculated based on calendar entries and can be sent to the vehicle via MINI Connected App.


Ladies and gentlemen, with all these new features MINI will continue to meet the needs of our particularly demanding target groups in the premium small car segment.

MINI driving fun and design and combined these with new, innovative ideas and technologies.


DL: Thank you Mr. Mackensen. Now I think there is something more to say about MINI here in Brussels. If I’m correct MINI is presenting a new concept?


SM: Absolutely. We present here the MINI Electric Concept. [REVEAL]


As you might remember, MINI has already a history with electric cars. Back in 2008 we produced 600 electric MINIs in order to test how people use and appreciate electric drivetrain. The learnings have influenced our development a lot, And now, we have announced that we’ll launch a production version of a 100% electric MINI by 2019 alongside the MINI Cooper S E Countryman that is a plug-in hybrid. To give you a taste of what an electric MINI could look like, we’ve developed a concept car that is exhibited here in Belgian première. So as you see, MINI is also ready to face the future challenges of the e-mobility.


DL: Thanks for these premières Mr Mackensen and see you later to meet the press. Drive safely!


And now ladies and gentlemen, I would like to ask Jean-Philippe Parain and Peter Henrich once again to join me. Peter, I think you have some more première to announce?


PH: Indeed! Next Monday, January 15th, right after the reveal in Detroit, we’ll have the pleasure to reveal in European première, the brand new BMW X2. At 3:30 pm, we’ll reveal the newest Sports Activity Coupé on the stand and believe me, it will be worth attending that moment.


Besides that, we’ll also have the pleasure to show in European première the new BMW i8 Coupe, so definitely worth coming back on Monday.


DL: Something to look forward to. Gentlemen, I’d like to invite you to start the countdown to the reveal of the new BMW X2 together with me.


DL: Thank you all for your attention, have a great day here in Brussels.


Let’s push the button!


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