Big interview

75,000 employees around the world got the infrastructure they needed to work remotely. That encompassed everything from VPNs to better bandwidth. BMW’s HR team also helped managers cope with the upended work environment, offering management tips and encouraging less hierarchical decision-making. All this was bolstered by an even more sweeping shift, with BMW establishing a number of Covid-19 “task forces” to monitor events on the ground. Among other things, these groups covered employee health, the supply of markets, and the reduction of supply stocks, and met first on a daily then a weekly basis. Even a cursory look at BMW’s figures suggest that all this effort paid off – and that €43bn market cap is just the start. By September 2020, for instance, pre- tax profits had risen 9.6% compared with the same period in 2019. That’s shadowed by an 8.6% increase in car deliveries, to over 675,000. Yet as Peter explains, these successes were down to much more than getting to grips with a planet in lockdown. “Our strong credit rating enabled us to secure our liquidity and maintain good access to the capital market on the one hand, while finding efficiencies, reducing costs, safeguarding earnings and protecting our free cash flow on the other.” All the same, Peter is keen to emphasise that these savings weren’t made “at the expense” of BMW’s long-term plans, but

Finance Director Europe /

rather to help push them forward. As he puts it: “We have not postponed anything.”

Get the wheel rolling Spend a few minutes on BMW’s website and you’ll probably come across a simple, forthright slogan: no premium without responsibility. It’s certainly a catchy line – but hardly unique in the slick corporate world of multinationals. Jump into the details, however, and you begin to think that the company’s sustainability plans really are special. That begins with how BMW reports its environmental progress. Earlier this year, for the first time ever, it combined its financial and sustainability reports into a single document – heralding a world where sales and growth are inseparable from the good of the planet. “As a premium manufacturer, we really want to set a good example for the industry and take responsibility,” explains Peter. “The report will immediately make our targets and actions transparent, traceable and measurable – year after year.”

Nor has the Bavarian conglomerate stopped there. As Peter highlights again and again, the pandemic may have been a bump in the road – but it never stopped BMW’s long trek towards environmental transformation. “The BMW Group is expanding its competitive advantage,” he explains, “in the current, far-reaching transformation of the entire automotive

Dr Nicolas Peter (pictured) says that the pandemic has accelerated the process of change at BMW.


The company’s pre-tax profits rose by this amount compared with the same period in 2019.


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