The Next 100 Years


Over the last year we’ve reviewed BMW’s history from 1916 to 2016. BMW’s first 100 years were fraught with several near death experiences. Being a German company didn’t help. At the end of both world wars BMW almost went out of business. In 1959 there was a third brush with corporate death that almost ended with BMW becoming a part of Mercedes-Benz. Since the Quandt investment in 1959 and the debut of the New Class in 1961 things have improved. And even when things have gone poorly, BMW has had the strength to weather the storm.

BMW’s theme for their centennial year is The Next 100 Years. The company starts its second century from a position of strength. They have great products and one of the strongest brands in the world. But they will face an industry entering a period of upheaval that is unprecedented.

The industry will have to take cars out of the environmental discussion. Private car ownership may cease to be desirable. The comprehensive cost of cost ownership is too high. BMW competitors will likely be new companies with disruptive technologies rather than their traditional rivals. And what does ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ mean when cars drive themselves?

There is much to admire in BMW’s comprehensive approach to their i cars, in particular the revolutionary end-to-end solution for the production of carbon fiber to reduce weight. But will the Germans be up to the challenges of Silicon Valley and Asia? The history isn’t good.

In the meantime, these are the good old days. How is it that we can still buy a street car that will do 150 mph? What justification is there for that? I don’t know how this has been overlooked but every day at the track in a BMW is a gift. Let’s enjoy the extraordinary performance of these cars for as long as we can.