BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is a natural at making people feel at ease. His warm disposition, genuine smile and attentiveness let the people in his presence know that he really cares about what they have to say.
Perhaps this explains why BMW has been so successful at forming or advancing alliances -- even with arch rivals -- during Reithofer's first four years of leadership.
BMW and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz share parts and a hybrid powertrain. Saab will put BMW engines in future models and may use one of the Munich-based automaker's platforms to underpin its 92 entry-premium car. PSA and BMW announced Monday they will extend their engine partnership to include jointly developing, purchasing and producing hybrid powertrain components for front-wheel-drive vehicles.
When asked earlier this month how much these alliances depend on a his ability to get along with competitors such as Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Saab Chairman Victor Muller and PSA boss Philippe Varin, Reithofer said personality plays a big role, but that is not his main concern.
“A cooperation agreement has to outlast my time as CEO," he said. "Only then can it be considered a good cooperation agreement.”
Without being specific, BMW has said that the parts sharing alliances with Daimler and PSA will save it a fortune by creating economies of scale for key components. Selling engines and other technologies to companies such as Saab will keep BMW factories busy while generating some extra cash. With his contract now extended until 2016, Reithofer has plenty of time to continue making positive long-term relationships.