REV. JANUARY 03, 2002
BMW: The 7-Series Project (A)
As he accelerated past the security gates of BMW’s Research and Engineering Center, Carl-Peter
Forster, director of Prototype and Pilot Manufacturing, thought about the 7-series project meeting. It was June 12, 1991, exactly two years, eight months, and five days until the scheduled start of production of the completely redesigned 7-series luxury sedan. The project, code-named E-99, was reaching a critical milestone. Over the next several months, engineering prototypes1 had to be designed, built and tested so that one last round of design revisions could be made in time for launch.
Traditionally, BMW hand-built and assembled its prototype cars in its …show more content…
Few other car companies in the world could match BMW in performance, handling, and safety; automotive critics regularly voted BMW’s models the best cars in the world in their respective class. Juxtaposed to this background of advanced technology was a culture that prized the craft traditions of Europe. Skilled workers and technicians were still required to go through a rigorous three-year apprenticeship. BMW’s chairman, Eberhard von Kuenheim was proud of the apprenticeship program and the people it produced: “They think in hundredths of millimeters. That’s the foundation of our quality.”5
Germany, the most important geographical market for BMW, accounting for over one-third of the company’s total sales, was also where BMW competed head-to-head with the much larger DaimlerBenz in what many observers consider the most demanding and sophisticated luxury car market in the world. In Germany, BMW held a 7% share of the total market, and ranked fifth behind Mercedes,
Volkswagen-Audi, Ford, and Opel. Over 70% of BMW’s sales came from Europe, with the remaining