Just recently, we interviewed Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director of BMW Group Middle East to know more about #NextGen, their latest innovations and plans for the region.
What was the inspiration behind #NextGen?
The concept of #NextGen has been developed a couple of years ago. Nowadays, people are becoming more and more digital savvy; they prefer to have the latest information within a very short timespan. At BMW, we decided to refocus our product launch strategies by transitioning into a digital concept.
#NextGen is a first-of-its-kind platform where we elaborate about our technologies and showcase our latest innovations. It has various content hubs which contains highlights, discussions, videos and more information on our new products.
We have started preparing for this global digital event long back and it was certainly fun for us to see the reaction of the audience.
How difficult was it to transition to doing this totally digitally after years of doing everything through physical events?
The transition was quite easy as we have been preparing for this for a while. As I’ve mentioned, we have already made significant progress in reducing our carbon footprint by going more into digital spaces.
The idea, strategy and vision of #NextGen was already there so the main challenge was more about the bandwidth – to be able to perform such a premium event on a global scale. The outcome however, was very positive. There were no technical glitches and overall, it was a very entertaining approach towards launching our products and concepts.
How has your strategy changed to reflect the current situation?
The major thing that COVID-19 has revealed is that digital transformation needs to happen much faster than we have anticipated. Being in it and hopefully past it in the near future, we could see that digital transformation is something that would stay.
In the automotive industry, customers would be more keen on having less physical touch points with the showrooms and more digital platforms to connect, communicate and experience cars. We have already started this last year in the region when we introduced a lot of virtual showrooms where our customers can book for test drives, pay for a car and have it delivered online. In terms of our employees, we have enhanced our mobile working setups so that our staff can effectively and flexibly work from home.
This digital transition has already been a part of our strategy before but the coronavirus crisis helped us to really speed up the process.
What does the future of mobility look like for the BMW Group?
It’s very difficult to anticipate the future. This is the reason why we believe in creating our own future. Mobility goes into different directors and as you know, BMW is the provider of premium individual mobility.
Individual mobility and personal space are becoming more important – hence, consumers may look for a different interior in the future. In #NextGen, we presented the MINI Vision Urbanaut, a redefined interior vision in a future of automated driving.
Apart from that, electrification and emission free driving are also important. In the region, BMW is pioneering in offering hybrid cars. Ten years ago, we have launched the first Hybrid 7 Series. Furthermore, we have shown you our flagship fully electric car in #NextGen, the iX.
The entire concept of mobility and driving experiences is driven by the needs of its consumers. That’s why BMW is collaborating with similar partners who have the same vision of providing a tailor made experience.
What steps are you taking to strengthen the Middle East dealer network?
You can see that we’re doing a major refurbishment of Euro Motors, the authorized BMW showroom in Bahrain. The refurbishment includes the use of the latest stat-of-the-art technology in Augmented Reality (AR). It will be the latest and the most innovative showroom in the region.
This is only half of the story. The other half is our virtual showrooms where you can basically go online and virtually check out every car that we have on stock. There is also a price transparency where you can look at the prices and financing schemes. These elements that have been put in place have been a part of our strategy over the last couple of years.
Right now, we are happy that we have right tools and instruments to navigate through this pandemic and beyond.
What new milestones would you like to achieve, both in terms of yourself as a Managing Director and for the company?
Let’s start with the company. The topic of electrification is very important for our region. When we launched our electric vehicles, there was a strong demand in here, even now with the iX. Launching these concepts here would be a milestone. I would really like to see those cars being embraced by our customers alongside the digitalization of our products and systems.
On a personal level, it’s been my second time being in the region. I’ve been working here for almost five years and I love it; it’s my home. When I took over the role of being the Managing Director of BMW Group Middle East, I started a restructuring strategy for the region. This strategy is now being implemented together with my team and I see myself continuing it to create an added value for our employees, business partners and most importantly, our customers.