BMW North America is about to undergo a shift in leadership. Current CEO Jim O’Donnell will reportedly retire effective October 1, 2011, and will be succeeded by Ludwig Willisch.
O’Donnell has been in his current position since April of 2008 and has had a successful run increasing BMW’s sales here in the United States. During the first half of 2011, the BMW Group (BMW and Mini combined) reported an increase of 15.1 percent. O’Donnell oversaw the introduction of the critically-praised 335d performance diesel, and the new 2012 650i coupe, still offered with a manual transmission (same goes for the upcoming M5), much to the delight of American enthusiasts.
O’Donnell first joined the BMW group in 1990 as the Director of Sales, Commercial Manager and Dealer Development Manager at BMW (UK) Ltd. Before coming to the United States, O’Donnell held a number of posts including Sales and Marketing Director of BMW South Africa and Managing Director of BMW (UK).
BMW gives no official reasoning for his retirement, but Automotive News notes BMW company policy requires employees to retires at age 60. O’Donnell is 61.
He will be replaced by Ludwig Willisch, who currently leads BMW’s sales operations in Europe and Japan. Willisch, 54, will work alongside O’Donnell for one month prior to the transition. Willisch also has a long history with BMW, including a stint as the president of BMW’s M performance division in Munich.
Source: Automotive News (subscription required), BMW