Since 2005, the German automaker has been a Dow Jones Sustainability Index Leader—and for good reason. The company’s aim is to ensure consumers never have to compromise energy efficiency for sheer driving pleasure.
As a result, BMW is reimagining urban mobility, beginning with the BMW i Series of electric vehicles, which is now the banner for sustainable mobility. In 2014, the i3 ranked third among all-electric cars sold worldwide. According to BMW, a vast majority of those buyers were new BMW owners, meaning the i3 has become a vehicle for expanding the brand’s reach. BMW also introduced the sleek i8 plug-in hybrid sports car in 2015.
It’s not just excellent engineering that attracts consumers—BMW is encouraging the adoption of sustainable technologies by making them accessible and rewarding, while proactively addressing mass adoption’s potential challenges. In partnership with the California-based utility company PG&E, BMW is testing its “BMW i ChargeForward” program, which compensates i3 drivers for non-peak charging. It also partnered with TOTAL to open a multi-energy filling station in Munich. DriveNow, its ongoing joint venture with Sixt, which provides car-sharing services in Europe and the U.S., recently added a fleet of all-electric i3 cars.
BMW’s mobility services rely on making connectivity simpler and more personalized. The company became a leader in the category with ConnectedDrive—customizable services and apps that act as personal concierge and copilot. Its Real Time Traffic Information system is helping drivers cope with traffic more effectively, and a new research project, Dynamic Parking Prediction, aims to reveal parking availability using movement data from its vehicle fleets. BMW also recently teamed up with Audi and Daimler to buy Nokia’s high-definition mapping business for EUR €2.5 billion, protecting access to key technologies for connected and self-driving cars.
While busily developing new services, the company has not neglected its core offerings. This year, BMW showcased both its luxury expertise and technology prowess with the 7 Series. Unveiled as “Driving Luxury,” BMW’s marketing approach was all about the experience. It invited 25,000 individuals globally—a blend of BMW customers, buyers of other brands, and drivers who do not own cars—to test-drive the vehicle. While mobile recording devices were not allowed, participants were encouraged to generate social buzz by sharing their early experiences, garnering a great deal of attention.
With BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer stepping down in May 2015, successor Harald Krueger became the youngest CEO of a major automotive corporation, responsible for steering the brand into a future fueled by continued quality, sustainability, and innovation.