BMW (IW 1000/31) earlier this month announced it will bring a fresh face to its top position.
Starting in May Harald Krueger, BMW’s head of production, will succeed CEO Norbert Reithofer, who is slated to become chairman of the supervisory board.
The 49-year-old Krueger is being brought in a year before Reithofer turns 60 – the mandatory retirement age for top executives at BMW.
“We have taken the first steps for a generational change, which combines the need for continuity and experience with the creative energy of the younger generation,” Stefan Quandt, deputy chairman of the supervisory board said in a statement on the transition.
Krueger, who has risen through the ranks during his 22-year career at BMW, brings a breadth of experience in manufacturing to the position.
He has led production for BMW since April 2013, was the head of engine production at Hams Hall – a BMW plant in the U.K., and was a project engineer at BMW’s production facility in Spartanburg, S.C.
Krueger will take over a company that has a greater stake in electric vehicles than its major competitors – Mercedes-Benz and Audi – and that leads global luxury car market sales.
While Krueger has yet to reveal his plans for BMW as chief executive, he has been a semi-public face as the company’s head of production.
On the NAFTA region:
In July, BMW announced plans to build a production facility in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, a decision Krueger at the time said underscored the company’s “commitment to the NAFTA region.”
“With a planned annual capacity of 150,000 units for the new plant in Mexico, the BMW Group will be even better positioned to take advantage of the growth potential in the entire region. The Americas are among the most important growth markets for the BMW Group. We are continuing our strategy of ‘production follows the market.’”
To that end, BMW is investing $2.2 billion into its operations in the NAFTA region through 2019, including upping production at its Spartanburg plant, expanding its joint venture carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake, Washington, and building a plant in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
As manufacturers, including BMW, adopt processes in keeping with Industry 4.0, Krueger stressed that BMW “regards its workforce as the key to a lean production."
“So for the BMW Group, Industry 4.0 does not mean a production without people, and also not necessarily increasing automation. On the contrary, this is about making reasonable use of new technology and networking opportunities in order to provide ideal support to people in production and support areas,” Krueger said.