Van Meel is the second high-profile defector from Audi to join BMW. The Volkswagen Group subsidiary’s former sales chief, Peter Schwarzenbauer, left Audi for BMW following his replacement by Luca de Meo in 2012.
Under Nitschke, the BMW M Performance Automobiles unit was created to help close the performance gap between BMW models and their most expensive, highest powered M equivalents.
In addition, the new generations of the BMW M3 and BMW M4 models were developed since he became chairman of BMW M GmbH in May 2011.
"The position of M GmbH on the market has never been better in the company's history and it continues to achieve sales record after sales record,” Herbert Diess, BMW's development boss, said in the statement.
According to the company, total M-division sales rose 16 percent last year to 31,200 vehicles.