Interview with Sergio Solero, Sales Director of BMW Italy – 1^st Part

Sergio Solero

Interview Date: July 31, 2012

Professional Profile: Sergio Solero

Notes: Interview by Pietro Montagna

Among its many commitments, in Italy and abroad, we were able to reach Dr. Sergio Solero, Sales Director of BMW and Mini cars in Italy.
The replies received worth the long wait, thanks to the right perception of the spirit of our blog by Dr. Solero. Starting from this premise we wish you a good reading and, above all, good reflections.

Will the distribution change? And if so, how?

Given that the dealers are key strategic partners for our business, obviously we are also evaluating innovative systems, as well as examining how to improve the current supply chain, making the network more effective and efficient. In this sense, the brand BMW i will give us a unique opportunity for innovation.
Sales of products and services BMW i in fact, will be managed through an innovative multi-channel model in selected markets. In addition to the proven traditional sales channel, ie the authorized dealers, BMW i will organize a mobile sales team, a Customers Interactive Centre (CIC) and a system for online sales.
All the new platforms will be fully connected to each other, which will allow customers to adapt the channel selected to their needs and/or switch at any time between the channels during the real buying process, if they wish.

The Internet channel is a response to the customer’s needs, always available to access information and to purchase products at any time and from any location. The traditional sales channel offered by the official BMW dealers network will continue to play an important role in the sales of vehicles. But with the advantage of reducing the risks minimizing volumes ,financial costs of the stock, etc.

The expansion of the system in a multi-channel model provides the dealers with more resources when it comes to get the most from the time spent with clients.

The great global crisis that is particularly afflicting the automotive world, as some experts say, is worse than that of the early 1900s. The recurring leitmotif is that nobody has a clue how to treat it considering that those who already lived and experienced it are no longer alive. In your personal vision, do you have an idea of how to reverse this negative period into an opportunity?
Fortunately, I have the privilege of working in a group that in the recent years has faced up in advance with respect to the competitors, and with a clear vision, this difficult time.

In 2007, thanks to the launch of the Strategy Number ONE, based on the optimization of investments, lean processes and investments on new products, the BMW Group has succeeded in the world, facing this difficult transition better and more effectively than other competitors. The result reached in 2011 was remarkable as the best year in its history, both in terms of volumes, revenues and profits.

This proves that, in times of crisis, it is essential to have a clear long-term strategy and to be faster than the others to face the change.

And even in Italy, in the middle of this storm, we are trying to do the same, with a clear strategy for revising the distribution processes, supporting our dealer’s network in order to maintain the best quality of service possible to our customers.

In the last years there have been an attention to the BRICs and every day we see real marathons for investing in these Low Cost countries. In your long experience what’s your opinion about the future of the BRICs? What do you think will be the “Next Generation” worthy the attention of the investors and able to replace the BRICs?
In BMW Group we are not talking about BRIC but rather BRIKT (markets in which our sales have increased by 11 times in the last 10 years), where the last two letters to identify South Korea and Turkey. Two strongly expanding markets for our business, where we see a great potential for the future.

As for Brazil, Russia and India, we can only be proud for the performance and if we think of China, then, the figure is even more obvious: sales increased by 10 times in the last six years and in the first six months of 2012 we grew of 30.7% in this market for a total of 121,614 units. Among the new markets, interest rates will also record growth in Indonesia (+48% in the first half of this year).

In general, South America has an important development potential in the medium to long term.

Could you tell us what you think are the two main evils of the industry today?
We cannot deny that the moment is difficult in Italy. The projections for 2012 GDP talk about a decline around 1.5%. Consumer confidence is falling. These are important economic factors with which we must deal.

There are further two very important elements for the automotive sector. The first are the economic maneuvers very unfavorable for the entire sector (increase in taxes, insurance, fuel), and the second, the continuous control on the drivers of luxury cars for tax purposes, that we understand, but that often leads to a not acceptable equation that identifies the owners of these cars with tax evaders. All this leads to a significant decline in the market which also had a negative impact on tax revenues and as a whole on one of the most strategic sectors of the economy.

Since 2007, France has adopted a of bonus/malus system in which motivates people to buy less polluting cars and penalize the most polluting vehicles. The system – at no cost for citizens and the state – redistributes resources among those who consume more and less CO2. Would you agree the introduction of a similar system in Italy and why?
In recent years in Italy we have witnessed a steady growth of the fiscal pressure on the car’s world that has excessively affected the industry sector. Moreover, the measures, including those recently introduced, are marked by an old paradigm.

The extra taxes, for example, penalize cars with greater power (> 185kW), when all the rest of Europe has put in place fiscal measures related to CO2 emissions in line with the EU objectives of sustainability. For example, there are cars well below 185kW which emit much more CO2 than some of our cars with 190kW. Once again, in Italy we have missed an opportunity to achieve two goals: to improve the environment and stimulate the purchase of more efficient cars, while still providing tax revenues.

In summary, therefore, we support measures that go in the direction of sustainable mobility. After all, our European fleet in 1995 was recorded with an average of 210 g / km of CO2 which are now down to 145 g / km. We have invested € 1.2 billion in all technological solutions enclosed in EfficientDynamics concept to get to this remarkable achievement!

 …the second part.

(Translated by Raffaele Vincenti)

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