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Déclaration d'Oliver Zipse, président du conseil d'administration de BMW AG, 104e assemblée générale annuelle de BMW AG le 15 mai 2024, retransmise en direct depuis le BMW Welt à Munich

Déclaration d'Oliver Zipse

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Discours des membres du Conseil
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Myriam Ahdjoudj
BMW Group

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Strong today – Strong tomorrow.
Our BMW way into the future

 

 

Dear Shareholders!

 

A warm welcome from BMW Welt in Munich. A lot of people talk about the transformation of mobility and the automotive industry – how one will replace the other. At BMW, we do things a little differently. We call it: continuous progress. 

 

Becoming a little bit better every day – that is what we aspire to. And what I, myself, am measured against. Never being satisfied with the status quo brings us closer to our ambitious goals. Step by step. Or, more fittingly, when talking about cars: mile by mile. That may sound very grounded and methodical, but it certainly yields highly effective results.

 

We always look to the future. That is part of BMW's vast array of experience. It gives us strength and empowers us, time and again, to take bold action: We know what we are capable of! That is why BMW is still here after 108 years. 

 

The film showed our Board of Management – but we are only as good as our global team. Together, we bring our combined know-how to the roads – in a very literal sense. There are currently more than 150,000 of us worldwide – representing nearly every nationality there is, united by the BMW Spirit. In autumn of last year, we surveyed all our associates around the world: 85 percent said they fully support the company’s goals and strategy. And even 93 percent are proud to work for the BMW Group.

 

What a boost for us!

We are mobilising them all for the next massive leap, because your company is once again reinventing itself – at precisely the right time.

 

You, too, my dear shareholders, are part of our BMW team. Your support for our direction gives us the momentum and latitude we need to make decisions with a long-term perspective. This traces back to legendary entrepreneur Herbert Quandt. What a legacy! The next generation is carrying forward that legacy – much like we do at the company.

 

We always base our strategic decisions on facts and informed analysis. This certainly requires experience and, sometimes, plain common sense, as well. This makes your company robust and ensures that we remain composed in a turbulent environment. All of this comes together in the BMW way. This approach guarantees that the following always holds true for your company:

“Strong today – strong tomorrow”.

 

For financial year 2023: Should you approve our proposed dividend, you will receive a payout equivalent to 33.7 percent of our unappropriated profit. During the financial year, we had revised our guidance upwards. At year-end we met all our targets. We posted solid growth in sales, reaching a new all-time high of more than 2.55 million vehicles. In fact, we are the only German OEM to have regained our pre-pandemic level.

 

Our Group EBT margin of 11 percent came in higher than our strategic target of 10 percent. We are consistently performing at a high level, as confirmed by our EBIT margin in the Automotive Segment, which has been within our defined target range of eight to ten percent for the past nine quarters, including the first quarter of 2024.

 

This allows us to continue to make substantial investments.

 

Our capital expenditure, as well as our research and development spending, will peak this year. We will once again be making major investments – because our actions are always geared towards the future.

 

Individual mobility offers tremendous potential for profitable growth and gaining market share.

 

Today, let's take a look at how we continue to forge our BMW way –
in four chapters.

 

  1. Future to the max: Turning visions into reality.
  2. Following our own convictions: Technology openness is effective.
  3. Global success today means acting regionally.
  4. The car as digital companion: We are making mobility more human, more intelligent and more sustainable.

 

These focal points also shed light on the topics you requested through the shareholder portal.

 

Turning visions into reality.

This is the first topic I would like to talk about today.

What you see right here is nothing less than the future: pure BMW – taken to a whole new level. This is where all the big topics of future mobility come together: Electric. Fully digitalised. Sustainable.

 

For now, they are still Vision Vehicles – but they will be on the roads in a very similar form very soon. Last year, I promised you a new Vision Vehicle, which we then unveiled at the IAA MOBILITY. The BMW Vision Neue Klasse celebrated its premiere here in Munich. You’ll see right away that it’s a sporty sedan.

 

No other car at the IAA received as much media coverage and positive feedback – which is just one more reason to bring along another highlight for you today: The BMW Vision Neue Klasse X – a car that very clearly reimagines the BMW X philosophy in a totally new way.

 

Both vehicles will compete in high-volume segments – because we want our innovations to have a broad impact, not just in niche segments. Both vehicles underline that the NEUE KLASSE is consistent and broad at the same time.

Consistent – in terms of design, technology and sustainability. Broad – with respect to the other models that will follow.

 

These are the two bookends of the NEUE KLASSE – with lots of room in-between that we intend to exploit. And we deliver on our promises:

Within 24 months of the start of production, there will be at least six different models on the market.

 

Our industry has never seen speed quite like this before – but if anyone can do it, then it’s us at BMW. We are picking up the pace on a massive scale.

 

Our new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, will lead the way, with the launch of the first X model in late 2025. This will continue seamlessly in 2026 with the Sedan at our main plant in Munich, as well as Plant Shenyang in China. In 2027, the NEUE KLASSE will also ramp up in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

 

Our customers ask: How far can I drive on electric power? How quickly can I charge my car?

 

We are able to tell them: at least 30 percent farther and 30 percent faster. In practice, this means that: It only takes ten minutes to charge your car for a 300-kilometre trip – hardly enough time to grab a coffee!

 

This is possible thanks to the new sixth-generation round cells.  We are using them for the first time in the NEUE KLASSE – which means you can look forward to an even higher-level “BMW driving experience”.

 

What might look like a Playstation is actually four super-brains, each integrating several highly intelligent control units. This opens up new possibilities – from powertrain and driving dynamics, to automated driving, to how we interact with our cars.

 

The most important aspect for our customers is: What does the NEUE KLASSE feel like on the road? The Board of Management already had the chance to drive the pre-series – and, believe me, it gave us goosebumps.

 

The magnitude of the technological wave we are unleashing becomes even clearer when you realise:

The innovations of the NEUE KLASSE will be incorporated into all BMW models in the coming years, regardless of their drive technology. In simple terms: Soon, all BMW technology will be NEUE KLASSE. The NEUE KLASSE is set to become our innovation and technology booster for all future areas of activity, including design.

 

We aren’t just taking mobility to a new level; the BMW Group is also becoming a NEW company. I believe this is entirely in your interest as our shareholders.

 

My second topic for today reflects our belief in the effectiveness of technology openness.

 

The heart of the NEUE KLASSE is electric – running on its own, new architecture. If demand for electric vehicles continues to grow as forecast, we will be able to leverage corresponding economies of scale.

 

But the world is a big place – which is why we continue to serve all markets with premium products. With us, everyone can find the right drivetrain to suit their needs. Anything else would be unwise from a business perspective.

 

Using technology clusters and modules enables us to be highly flexible. Think of it like this: We can roll out innovations and technological advances across all architectures and segments, and scale them efficiently.

 

We don’t distinguish between “old” and “new” vehicles – instead, we deliver cutting-edge technology across all areas. And, moreover, we offer the best overall package. This is what we aspire to – and it is perhaps the underlying secret of your company’s success.

 

Let me give you a current example: Following on from the new BMW 5 Series Sedan, the new BMW 5 Series Touring also comes in four drive technologies. The BMW i5* is all-electric, with an impressive everyday range of over 500 kilometres.

 

Plug-in hybrids also remain extremely popular. For the new BMW 5 Series, the PHEV variant could account for about 20 percent of our sales in Europe.

 

This shows we are right on track with our ten attractive PHEV models. And of course, the new 5 Series is also well received as a highly efficient combustion engine.

 

Focused technology openness is not something that is achieved overnight. You know my position: Building cars is a highly complex task. New market players are realising this too.

 

It is a strength of your company – and I believe it is also a unique selling point: The ability to master this complexity, seamlessly, and to effectively orchestrate, scale and further develop technologies.

 

Our sales figures confirm this: BMW is maintaining its leading position in the global premium segment. Our strongest growth last year came from the upper premium and luxury class, as well as our all-electric models, or BEVs for short. We delivered over 375,000 BEVs to customers in 2023 – an increase of almost 75 percent over the previous year. 

 

This dynamism is also reflected in our share of the global BEV market: At 4.1 percent, it is already significantly higher than our share of the total global market, which remains stable at 3.3 percent.

 

Demand for BEVs will continue to climb – although not in a linear fashion; it will be dynamic and market-specific. We reiterate this time and again – and it holds true in multiple markets.

 

We see e-mobility as the fastest-growing drive technology – today and in the future. By 2030, all-electric vehicles should account for about half of our deliveries. We remain committed to this goal and are steering the ramp-up in line with demand. We will stay flexible – even well into the 2030s.

 

We are aligning our strategic planning accordingly – and enabling our architectures. In this way, we can respond quickly at all times. More than 15 BEV models will be available this year across all BMW Group brands.

 

Here, you can see the MINI Aceman*.

 

In April, it celebrated its world premiere at AUTO CHINA. The Aceman is offered exclusively as a all-electric vehicle.

It fills the gap between the Cooper* and the Countryman*, which has now grown significantly in size. The new Cooper is already sold out – at least for the next four months. The only thing missing is the new MINI Convertible, which will be released in the second half of the year.

 

Together, these models form the NEW MINI Family, which is effectively the counterpart to the NEUE KLASSE at BMW: MINI's leap into the future.

 

And: We produce the New MINI Family worldwide: at our Spotlight joint venture in China; in Oxford, in the UK; and, for the first time, also in Germany, at Plant Leipzig.

 

We talked about bookends earlier. Now, with our brands, let's jump from MINI go-kart feeling to our luxury brand, Rolls-Royce. Spectre* certainly hit the ground running. What a phenomenal start! 

 

In the first quarter of this year, this model alone accounted for 38 percent of Rolls-Royce deliveries. That is how we do e-mobility in the luxury class. Spectre glides along effortlessly, like a flying carpet. Our luxury brand's vehicles have never been as compelling and as differentiated as they are today. And let’s not forget that they also earn a significant contribution margin for the company.

 

BMW Motorrad is also reporting profitable growth, having celebrated its centenary in September. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz attended the anniversary celebrations at Plant Berlin-Spandau.

 

We shared two major milestones with him:

First, the inauguration of the new “BMW Motorrad Welt”. What BMW Welt in Munich is to cars, we now also have in Berlin for our two-wheeled vehicles. Second, the world premiere of the R 1300 GS. Many people – myself included, as a motorcycle enthusiast – have been eagerly awaiting the next-generation GS. The trade press was practically euphoric about it.

 

For those who prefer an electric ride in the city, BMW Motorrad’s second electric model, the CE 02, is perfect.

 

Our core BMW brand also has a slew of upcoming, exciting vehicles, with 14 launches and numerous model variants this year alone.

 

The BMW 1 Series will be released onto the market in the compact class.

 

And we will launch the new BMW X3 – one of our most popular models overall. The new X3 will be available with a highly-efficient combustion engine and as a plug-in hybrid variant.

 

We recently presented our new and future vehicles to our retailers, including 1,500 retailers from all over Europe in Amsterdam. We did the same in Las Vegas for over 1,000 dealers from the Americas region. I got the sense at both events that our retailers are genuinely excited about what is to come.

 

Especially for Europe, I have to stress: The retailers will remain by our side in the new sales system – that won’t change. We are already using direct sales for MINI in China and reporting positive experiences in the first European countries. We will be transitioning the BMW brand to the new direct and fully digitalized sales model in Europe from 2026, as planned.

 

You, our shareholders, also wanted to know:

How are we progressing with hydrogen?

 

Our BMW iX5 Hydrogen* is currently on a world tour, undergoing real-life testing. It is very well received, everywhere it goes. Our pilot fleet is raising awareness of hydrogen's role in the energy transition – both for mobility and across industries. You rightly expect us to meet the European Union's CO2 requirements.

 

In 2023, the BMW Group significantly outperformed the CO2 fleet limit set for us by the EU by more than 20 percent. This year, we expect to see another slight reduction, with all brands and drivetrain variants contributing.

 

Technology-centric, with a clear focus on e-mobility – we are always consistent in our actions: This is how we are reshaping perception of your company.

 

What the New York Times writes is precisely researched.

 

In March, the New York Times praised our drivetrain strategy as far-sighted and consistent. It described BMW as a “winner in electric vehicles” – and Tesla's only serious competitor. We can certainly live with that. People expect us to consider things carefully and come up with practical solutions – because we consistently demonstrate our ability to do so.

 

In part three, I’ll look at the reasons for our global success – which, now, more than ever, requires us to act regionally. If you look closely, your company stands out as one of the automotive industry's few “truly” global manufacturers.

 

Something like this has to grow systematically – and we have been expanding our footprint for this purpose over the decades.

 

Let me give you three examples:

China – our biggest single market; Europe – our most important sales region; the US – our “second home”:

 

First: China, where we employ about a fifth of our workforce. It is – after Germany – our second-largest R&D location. BMW enjoys a high level of trust there – and not just among our own customers. We are highly regarded as a company, because we enter into serious, long-term commitments.

 

This year, we are celebrating 30 years “at home in China” and more than two decades of commitment in Shenyang.

 

In April, we signed a new investment agreement with Liaoning Province, worth 20 billion renminbi or 2.5 billion euros. The Shenyang production site of our BBA joint venture is transforming into a BMW iFACTORY.

 

Also in April, I was part of German Chancellor Scholz's economic delegation to China. Shortly after that, I was in Beijing at AUTO CHINA, where Prime Minister Li Qiang visited precisely one non-Chinese manufacturer – and that was the BMW Group.

A phrase I hear a lot in China is “China speed”. This is a dynamic country – and we are picking up the pace to keep up: Just last week, our six-millionth vehicle produced in Shenyang since 2003 rolled off the assembly line. We only reached the five million mark about a year earlier. This means we turned out one million vehicles in just 15 months – that is true “China speed”.

Second: Europe.


We sell nearly a third of all our vehicles in the European Union, where we operate ten plants and maintain a broad supplier base. We all benefit from a united Europe – every single day – and should channel all our collective efforts into preserving it.

 

BMW maintains a global outlook. This is something the chair of the General Works Council and I have reiterated. We urge our associates to pay close attention whenever seemingly simple solutions are proposed for complicated issues.

Enjoying democracy means living democracy – and that includes participation, exercising your right to vote and raising your voice to stand up for democracy. That is why we have asked everyone to vote on June 9.

 

What applies to Europe, applies even more to Germany: We need the best minds – and the smartest minds think very carefully about where they want to go. That is why we support the “We stand for values” initiative.

 

In Germany, we have many debates about emotionally charged trigger points. There is broad consensus on meta-topics. This is how sociologist Steffen Mau describes it. His latest study comes to the conclusion: We are not a divided society.

 

As a result, we shouldn’t speak ill of our country and Germany as a location, but leverage our potential. I can only agree with that.

 

Third: the USA.

 

We refer to the US as our “second home”. Next year will be our 50th year in the United States.
In 2023, your company was once again one of the largest net exporters of vehicles from the US by value. Germany is the only place where we have a higher purchasing volume than the US, which currently totals 6.7 billion euros annually.

 

For over 25 years, we have been a local partner – particularly in South Carolina. Today, Spartanburg is our largest plant – and the whole of the surrounding region has grown with us.

 

China, Europe and the US: Three examples of how our local presence forges close ties with the regions and markets.

 

We are living proof that everyone benefits when people work together. That is also one of the reasons why your company continued to grow in all major regions of the world in 2023.

 

We do business around the globe – and benefit from an integrated global economy.

 

Now, our global world order is evolving – from a “unipolar world” to a “multi-polar world”, especially in the last 10-15 years. Authors like Carlo Masala talk about the highly integrated and largely self-sufficient economic areas now emerging. We remain committed to open markets and free trade.

 

I also say this with a view to the European Union's current deliberations over Chinese imports of electric cars. A 360-degree perspective would be better: 20 percent of all BEVs sold in Europe last year came from China; well over half were western brands, including BMW.

 

Protectionism triggers a spiral effect: Tariffs lead to new tariffs, with protectionism rather than cooperation.

 

My over 30 years of experience at BMW suggest that solutions come about when we reach out to one another – and when we are prepared to make compromises ourselves.

 

That is how we build a consensus that makes us stronger as a society and an economy and enables us to take action.

You are justified in asking how your company secures access to diversified, fragmented markets.

 

The answer is: by continuing to invest at local level. Also, by finding local solutions and partners for the upstream value chain.

 

“Local for local” is our recipe for success – and we are now applying this same principle to producing cells for the batteries needed for e-mobility.

 

Who has control over technological expertise and urgently needed raw materials? That is what decides the competitiveness of companies and economic areas. We locate production facilities for BMW high-voltage batteries close to our vehicle plants – in Hungary, the US and China. Just a few days ago, we laid the foundation stone for the high-voltage battery assembly in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

 

The benefits for us are clear: Short transport distances and supply stability in the event of unforeseen events around the globe.

 

And to get really local: Have you heard of Irlbach-Straßkirchen in Lower Bavaria? It will supply Gen6 batteries for our plants in Bavaria from 2026 onwards. The process wasn’t entirely straightforward. Residents wanted to know: What are the benefits for our region? We engaged in in-depth discussions with them to build trust. Ultimately, an overwhelming majority voted in favour of the new BMW location.

 

As you can see: Global only works at local level – and this also applies to our supply chains.

 

We have learned in recent years how vulnerable and susceptible to disruption they can be. Take a guess: How many parts do you think our plants worldwide need to be supplied with every day? The answer is:
36 million. The right quantities have to be in the right place, at the right time, in the best quality.

 

Our digitalised “i Supply Chain” strategy ensures resilient supply chains.

 

Our “RiskHub” uses AI and data analytics to identify quality issues in the supplier network early. We also adopt a proactive approach to avoid supply bottlenecks.

 

You might already have heard of Catena-X. There’s tremendous potential here: Automotive manufacturers, suppliers and, soon, recyclers, are creating a shared data ecosystem that makes sprawling supply chains transparent and allows us to track the carbon footprint of individual components. The type, quantity and source of the raw materials installed can also be digitally documented, allowing us to “trace” them.

 

And we are about to embark on a pilot project: Plant Landshut produces the kidney grille for the BMW iX* – one component made of many individual components. We will be using data from Catena-X to measure the total carbon footprint of production.

Wherever we collaborate with suppliers, we do so as partners, always treating each other as equals. This is important to me.

 

Chapter four of my speech focuses on the car as a digital companion: We are making mobility more human, more intelligent and more sustainable.

 

The world of bits and bytes is highly dynamic. Digitalisation, hand in hand with artificial intelligence, is fundamentally changing how we experience mobility. The questions you submitted through the shareholder portal indicate that this interests you, too.

 

Intelligent, self-learning systems have long been part of our strategy for the automotive production of the future. You know this as BMW iFACTORY.

 

Digital added value can be experienced directly in our vehicles, but our approach here remains: Not everything that is possible also makes sense in a car.

 

Our Head-Up Display is a classic. 20 years ago, we brought this technology from the aeroplane into the car. Now, we are revolutionising this display concept in the NEUE KLASSE.

 

Take a look for yourselves: Our “BMW Panoramic Vision” uses the full width of the windscreen. Pure high-tech. But we also use digitalization to increase security. In this case, we reduce distraction while driving.

 

We have grown used to always getting the latest updates from our digital devices – and people expect the same from their cars. Over the air means we can update software in the vehicle at any time, without bringing it in to the workshop. We chose this route early.

 

Today, your company has the world’s largest fully upgrade-compatible fleet in the market. We can already reach more than 7.5 million vehicles. 

 

The BMW 5 Series sets the standard for automated driving. It is the first car in Germany to be approved for partially automated driving at speeds up to 130 km/h on motorways.

 

This means you can take your hands off the steering wheel while driving. Your car can also change lanes by itself, when you briefly glance in the side mirror. Active Lane Change Assistant with eye confirmation – a somewhat unwieldy name for a genuine world first.

 

Since March 2024, Highway Assist has also been available in the BMW 7 Series, X5, X6, X7, iX and XM*. That's level 2+.

 

The new BMW 7 Series does even more:

You can even temporarily turn your attention away from the road. It fascinates me, every time the car regulates its own speed, distance and tracking. That is Level 3 highly automated driving – available in the new BMW 7 Series since March. A digital driving experience needs to ensure the safety of all road users.

 

That is why your company only introduces mature technical solutions onto the road– no beta versions. No experiments at the expense of our customers. You can always rely on that.

 

Since summer 2023, we have been testing automated driving and parking functions all the way up to Level 4 fully automated driving at our new centre for automated driving in Sokolov in the Czech Republic.

Esteemed Shareholders,

 

The US publication Time Magazine and the online platform “Statista” analysed and compared 750 international companies: Your company did exceptionally well to make it into the top ten and was, in fact, the highest-ranked automotive manufacturer. 

 

Revenue growth, sustainability and employee satisfaction – many people consider these to be conflicting goals. We find a way to reconcile them.

 

Our markets are dynamic and the geopolitical environment uncertain. This impacts us – just like it does other companies.

 

You are counting on us to remain successful – and, indeed, we will! We have ambitious plans for the current financial year. We expect to see a slight increase in sales, compared to the previous year, as well as a significantly higher percentage of all-electric vehicles.

 

The first fourth months of 2024 show that we are on track for all key performance indicators.

 

As CEO of BMW, I travel the world a lot. Everywhere I go, I see not only how valuable individual mobility is for many people, but how essential it is.

 

My experience is also that the BMW Group is appreciated and recognised in all corners of the globe. All of this encourages us to continue forging our own BMW way.

 

We are able to withstand the headwinds when we have confidence in our direction – which we usually do.

 

Your company is part of the global community. We engage with it – and evolve in and alongside it. That is extremely important.

 

The BMW way is also about our capacity for resonance – a term from physics that is also used in sociology.

 

So, what do I mean by capacity for resonance?

I’m talking about our ability to perceive and understand our relationship with the world – in Germany and elsewhere. We pay attention to developments, absorb them – and give something back to society in return. 

 

This is a natural process we actively participate in and control.

 

We remain open to all input, but never allow ourselves to be influenced without careful consideration or emotionalised by trigger points. Above all, we avoid drifting aimlessly.

 

We are in permanent resonance with our evolving society – consciously and for our mutual benefit. And always focused on effectiveness.

 

The following therefore holds true for your company:


“Strong today – strong tomorrow”.

 

Another compelling reason for you to continue to stand by us!

 

Thank you.

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