BMW is arguably the most admired carmaker in the world. It’s financial performance is the envy of its competitors, and BMW products inspire near-fanatical loyalty. While many carmakers struggle with falling sales, profits and market share, demand for BMWs continues to grow, frequently outpacing production. Now, David Kiley-Detroit Bureau Chief at USA Today and author of Getting the Bugs Out, which covered Volkswagen’s demise and rebirth, goes inside the fabled German automaker to see how it does what it does so well. With unprecedented access to BMW executives, Kiley goes behind the walls of BMW’s famed “Four Cylinders” headquarters in Munich at a time when the company is in its most aggressive, and some say riskiest, expansion in its history and when some of the company’s new products, like the 7 Series sedan and Z4 roadster, are for the first time drawing as many barbs from critics as bouquets. Kiley covers intimate details of the boardroom drama surrounding the company’s nearly disastrous acquisition and subsequent sale of the British Rover Group and its expansion into selling MINI and Rolls Royce cars. Besides being a world-class carmaker, BMW is also considered one of the smartest consumer marketing companies and Kiley explores the extraordinary value and management of the BMW brand mystique. He also takes a revealing look at the mysterious and ultra-private Quandt family of Bad Homburg Germany, which owns a controlling stake in BMW: Johanna and Susanne Quandt, two of the wealthiest women in Europe and Stefan Quandt, one of the wealthiest bachelors on the continent.
David Kiley (Ann Arbor, MI) is the Detroit Bureau Chief at USA Today who has covered the auto industry for 17 years. He has been featured on Nightline, CNBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and the Today show. He is also the author of Getting the Bugs Out: The Rise, Fall, and Comeback of Volkswagen in America (0-471-26304-4), also available from Wiley.
Safe to say, I’m not alone in calling BMW the most admired car company in the world. I venture such a bold, highly subjective statement only after numerous conversations over the years with men and women working for car companies, car magazines, and advertising agencies. It’s a notion supported by my years of journalism covering the auto industry and test-driving any number of BMW’s. I’ve driven BMW’s for two decades now, judging them against vehicles built by Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, Saab, Lexus, Acura, Jaguar, and others. Every time I slip behind the wheel, it leaps out at me—an authenticity and a sure-footedness that characterizes nearly all the vehicles BMW produces. Their design, performance under the hood, and the balance and agility of each vehicle are superb. Even when a competitor surfaces and achieves more horsepower or a faster 0- to 60-mph time, most true car aficionados sense in their gut that those other cars are trying to be Bimmer beaters. Nearly every time, those posers, especially those competing against the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series, and M Series cars, play a poor Jayne Mansfield to BMW’s Marilyn Monroe, or an earnest Vic Damone to BMW’s Frank Sinatra. Not slop, but not the top.
Overall, it’s been a company grounded in nearly airtight consistency as well as authenticity when it comes to BMW-branded vehicles.