OXFORD, England — This month, before Oliver Zipse knew that he would be named CEO of BMW Group, he gave an impassioned talk here to the media about the best way forward into electric vehicles and automotive mass production.
Zipse, 55 and a 28-year veteran of the German luxury automaker, was speaking to the automotive press, but he could have been talking to BMW’s board as it seeks direction for the disruptive decade ahead.
The independent family-controlled automaker faces a challenge: It is known for the agile, sporty performance characteristics of its cars and crossovers, but it must electrify its powertrains without losing its high-end racy street cred — and it must do that with only a handful of busy manufacturing plants around the world.
Zipse’s focus on answering that challenge earned him the CEO post last week. BMW’s supervisory board, while meeting at the company’s biggest assembly plant, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, said Zipse will take the role on Aug. 16, replacing Harald Krueger, who will step down in August.