BMW USA will get a new boss in October
Veteran BMW executive Ludwig Willisch, who has led the company's sales operations in Europe and Japan, will take over as CEO of BMW of North America on Oct. 1.
The 55-year-old German will replace Jim O'Donnell, 61, who will retire.
O'Donnell, a native of Scotland, has held the job since July 2008. Willisch will arrive in the United States on Sept. 1 and work alongside O'Donnell during a one-month transition.
Since May 2009, Willisch has been head of BMW Group's European sales outside of Germany. Before that he was president of BMW M GmbH, the brand's performance division in Munich.
He began his BMW career in 1996 as head of the sales office in Duesseldorf, Germany. He later ran the sales subsidiaries in Germany, Japan and Sweden.
O'Donnell, BMW's top executive in the United Kingdom from 2000 until being named to his current post, leaves with BMW in good shape in the United States.
Last month, BMW outsold Mercedes-Benz to extend its lead as the top-selling luxury brand this year. And BMW is on track to outsell Lexus in the United States for the first time since 1997.
Willisch began his career with BMW in sales.
Through June, BMW's sales rose 13 percent to 113,705, while Mercedes was up 7 percent to 110,926 and Lexus fell 18 percent to 88,010. "They're too far behind now to catch up," O'Donnell said of Lexus this month.
Last year BMW Group sales, including Mini, rose 10 percent to 266,269, while BMW-brand sales rose 12 percent to 220,113.Contact Automotive News