Despite the growing number of alliances between carmakers, BMW seems determined to go-it-alone and is accelerating a shift to battery-powered vehicles, developing lightweight carbon parts and cutting spending.
Bloomberg News said that it a stance that has pleased investors, with the shares gaining 58% in the last year, but analysts say the challenge will be to maintain the momentum as rivals become bigger and spend more on research and development.
Recent consolidation moves in the car industry have seen Porsche merge with Volkswagen, which has also taken a 19.9% stake in Suzuki. Daimler, Renault and Nissan last month announced a share swap to cement closer ties and last year Fiat last year bought a stake in Chrysler.
The Quandt family which owns 46% of BMW have fought to keep the company independent. Herbert Quandt, who inherited a 30% stake in BMW from his father, helped block a takeover offer from Daimler in 1959. Two of his children, Stefan Quandt and Susanne Klatten, now sit on the company’s supervisory board.
BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer will today lay out his vision for the carmaker at the company’s annual meeting. He is targeting EUR6bn (US$7.4bn) in cost cuts by 2012, moving forward plans to roll out an electric-powered city car by two years to 2013 and investing in carbon-fibre parts to gain an edge in lightweight technology.
The company announced earlier this year that it is also developing front-wheel drive technology for the BMW brand as well as for Mini.
BMW has increased sales by 27percent since 2000. It aims to boost earnings before interest and tax from carmaking to at least 8% of sales by 2012.
Bloomberg nates that with a 2010 sales target of 1.3m vehicles, BMW falls short of the target of 5m cars that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne maintains is needed for survival.
Although it is not seeking alliances or mergers, BMW is cutting development costs by cooperating with PSA Peugeot Citroen on the Mini brand and forming a purchasing partnership with Mercedes.
The two German luxury carmakers have reached agreements that will help each company reduce spending by about EUR100m (US$125m) a year by 2012 according to BMW’s purchasing chief Herbert Diess.