In conversation: Dr. Matthias Meyer about “Metropolitan Ideas”

1. The topic of the 8th German Innovation Summit is “sustainable strategies”. What connects BMW with this topic?

MeyerSustainability is an integral part of the BMW Group’s corporate strategy and sustainable economic activity is embedded as a business objective at Group level. By entering the electro mobility field in 2013, we have set a strong signal for emission-free mobility in urban agglomerations. By introducing the new BMW i family, we are positioning ourselves as the innovation leader in the area of electro mobility. The all-electric BMW i3 is purpose built for electric drive. Our industry is experiencing a technological transformation. We want to be the pioneers and the driving force for this development. In order to achieve that, we are pursuing two parallel paths: evolution and revolution. Evolution is the further development of highly efficient combustion engines, lightweight construction and hybrid drives. Revolution, on the other hand, for us means emission-free mobility with new methods of propulsion, combined with ambitious goals with regards to resource-saving production, new material and innovative mobility services. In order to achieve long-lasting success, we are constantly asking ourselves how we can further strengthen our innovative abilities. This is exactly the topic we will be discussing at the 8th Innovation Summary. During a workshop with experts from other industries, we will discuss the question “how an established company can stay innovative?”.

2. What do you think about the mega trend urbanisation?

Urbanisation is a trend that has been going on for a long time. Today, and in the future, it will strongly influence mobility. By now more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2030 it will already be 60 per cent. Urbanisation is accompanied by the development of “Megacities”, which have more than 8 million inhabitants. Worldwide there are now more than 30 such megacities, with a total of ca. 280 million inhabitants. While these cities keep growing increasingly, the challenges such as lack of space and pollution are also growing. With the growing population density, the mobility needs in urban areas will also change.

3. Urbanisation and “Metropolitan Ideas”: Which specific requirements do you see for mobility and infrastructure?

Due to changing conditions as a result of urbanisation, climate change or regulations, the customer requirements are also changing with regards to mobility. Premium is more and more defined by the sustainability of products. For the future viability of unrestricted mobility, a transport system must be able to withstand encumbrances such as complex traffic situations with different transport users. The mobility infrastructure of cities is often subjected to long development cycles and cannot be changed on short notice (e.g. construction of an underground transport network). Therefore, the customer demands for mobility can often only be satisfied by new mobility concepts. One of the keys are new mobility services such as car sharing offers, parking lot and reservation services or intermodal routing. Besides these things, private transport will continue to play an important role in the future. Our customer particularly demands to use his “mobility time” effectively and efficiently while at the same time being able to enjoy maximum comfort. It is exactly in this area that we will see new innovative offers in the future, which is not least driven by the increasing automation of driving.

4. How do you assess the relevance of the topic with regards to the innovation process?

Urban space is an important source for our innovation process. Many new trends develop in urban spaces. They are often an early indicator of the future developments and an important impulse for innovation. BMW is represented by its own design and innovation centres worldwide in metropolitan regions, amongst others New York, Tokyo and Shanghai. Our goal is to grasp and understand the customer needs in these places. Only then, adequate solutions can be developed that enthral the customers. Apart from the urbanisation trend, the metropolitan areas are also birth places for other exciting developments and trends such as the sharing economy. Sharing economy clearly shows the switch from owning to using. We address these customer demands consistently, among other things through our car-sharing service DriveNow. However, BMW also directly uses the innovative potential within cities and invests through its venture capital unit in start ups in the areas of mobility services, for example in JustPark, a market place for private parking spaces. Here, everyone can easily rent out his parking space.

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