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BMW hits the gas on digitalization in China

Hu Yumo
The German automaker aims to offer an online-to-offline premium experience that integrates digitalization, both inside and outside of the car.
Hu Yumo

German automaker BMW said the company is speeding up digitalization in China in order to better meet consumers' demands.

Jochen Goller, president and chief executive officer of BMW Group Region China, said that “digitalization is already an integral part of our research and development, production, in-car digital experience and multi-touchpoint customer journey."

BMW's goal is to set up an online-to-offline premium brand experience that integrates digitalization both inside and outside of the car.

Facing market competitors such as Tesla's over-the-air updates, traditional car manufacturers realize the importance and urgency of digitalization and are now pushing forward transformation. Chinese consumer demand for connectivity between cars and mobile phones is also a reason why traditional auto giants are actively promoting digitalization.

BMW has pushed remote software updates to 500,000 BMW vehicles worldwide that have the seventh generation of BMW's iDrive infotainment system. This involves more than 200,000 units in China, including various models such as the new BMW 3 series and BMW 8 series.

The upgrades cover digital services, driver assistance systems, vehicle electronics and drivetrain software. They also include safety patches and new features such as digital services to further enrich in-car digital experiences.

In addition to remote software upgrades, BMW has introduced a series of new digital functions this year, such as the new-generation BMW intelligent personal assistant, the new-generation BMW digital key and Tencent WeScenario.

This is not the first time that BMW has decided to accelerate its pace of digitalization. BMW China established Lingyue Digital Information Technology Company Ltd in 2019. Through the establishment of Lingyue, it aims to review the business process from customer's perspective and to build a seamless online-to-offline customer experience.

BMW said digitalization is not just about technology but more about a change in organizational structure, management system and corporate culture.

While constantly expanding collaboration with leading tech companies, BMW has set up the largest research and development footprint outside Germany in China, with more than 1,100 engineers, of whom more than 400 are software developers. 

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