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BMW to expand ties with Korea in e-mobility

Chairman of German luxury carmaker expects to see further growth in Korea

BMW Group chairman Harald Krueger makes a speech during the annual kick-off meeting of BMW Korea on Monday. BMW Korea
BMW Group chairman Harald Krueger makes a speech during the annual kick-off meeting of BMW Korea on Monday. BMW Korea
   BMW will expand partnership with Samsung and Korean car component makers in the transition to an era of electric mobility, top management of the German luxury carmaker said Monday. 

“We have had good cooperation with Samsung in such areas as batteries and cells (used for electric vehicles). The long-term partnership with Samsung will get more important as electric mobility gains traction in the future,” Harald Krueger, chairman of BMW’s board of management, said during a press conference in Seoul.

The partnership between BMW and Samsung has already been strengthened for electric car parts. The all-new 2016 BMW 7-Series, for instance, features a Samsung Tablet in the rear that can control features in the car.

Besides Samsung, the chairman, who came to Korea to attend the annual kick-off meeting of BMW Korea, also underlined the importance of partnerships with local car parts makers.

“There are already many good suppliers here (for the BMW). This is why we set up an R&D center in Korea, aimed at working closer with them,” he said.

Increasing its ties with Korean companies is part of the reason why BMW considers Korea as a key strategic market in the world. More importantly, Korea is a big and growing market for the German premium carmaker.

According to annual sales figures, released by the automaker on Monday, BMW retained the title of world’s biggest luxury carmaker for the sixth consecutive year by selling 1.91 million vehicles in 2015.

Korea was the 8th-biggest market in the world for the automotive group last year. It saw a 19 percent increase in sales of BMW and Mini cars in the Korean market last year from a year ago. On top of that, it sold 2,000 BMW motorbikes here, a 24 percent increase from the previous year. 

“BMW Korea, which had sold only 2,000 units per year 15 years ago, sold more than 50,000 units in 2015. In my opinion, it is quite an achievement,” the group chairman said, adding the business success can be attributed to the dedication and efforts of BMW Korea employees, trusted partners and dealers.

“I am optimistic about the Korean market. We will see a further growth this year. This makes Korea even more important for us,” Krueger said.

Overseas markets with growth potential are more important than ever before as BMW has to deal with the slowdown in China, its biggest overseas market, in addition to fiercer competition from German rivals, including Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

For a sustainable business success in Korea, the chairman promised to invest more in many areas, including sales network, customer services and social contributions, this year.

Regarding his insights on the future of the auto industry, the head of BMW forecast the acceleration of e-mobility. However, he also underlined a bridging role of diesel cars in transition to the eco-car era.

“We need diesel technology for emissions reduction target for the next 10 years. Diesel technology itself is very important, but electric mobility will increase and get more and more important in the future,” he said.

Asked about the growing competition from tech giants like Apple and Samsung in the electric and driverless cars, he said BMW takes every competition serious. “But I am not worried about competition (from the tech sector) as BMW is driven by innovation and new technologies and builds new cars combined with the Internet and digital technologies.’’

By Seo Jee-yeon(jyseo@heraldcorp.com)







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