New bosses for BMW on the way

Senior management changes are underway at BMW Group Asia and Performance Motors

SINGAPORE — BMW Group Asia has a new managing director on the way, and so does BMW’s authorised dealer Performance Motors Limited.

The incoming boss for the latter company is Christopher Wehner (above), who takes up the new role on August 1st. BMW Group Asia imports the cars here, while Performance Motors retails them.

Paul de Courtois (below), the current managing director, is moving to Zurich to become chief executive and president of BMW AG Switzerland.

A statement from BMW Group Asia said Mr Wehner has been with BMW Group since 2000. He started his career with the group as general manager for product, price and brand strategy for Mini.

He was then the vice president for brand strategies, product requirements and revenue targets for the BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands for five years before becoming the “Head of Product Management, Midsize Class” at BMW.

Mr Wehner will be heading a division that spans 13 markets, most of them in developing economies: Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Bangladesh, Guam, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

At Performance Motors, the managing director post will be taken up next month by Arnt Bayer (below), who is moving over from Sime Darby Auto Performance, a Porsche distributor for Malaysia at which he was the chief executive.

Sime Darby is also the parent company of Performance Motors.

Mr Bayer has spent time in Singapore before. The German national joined Porsche in 1998 and was posted here in 2005 to become regional sales manager for Porsche Asia Pacific, where he was in charge of 12 markets.

A fitness enthusiast and triathlete, he has cycled more than 1,100km so far this year.

Mr Bayer takes over the top job at Performance Motors from Horst Herdtle, who took up the role himself in November 2015.

Although relatively brief, his time at Performance Motors was a busy period for the business. Mr Herdtle oversaw a major renovation of the company’s flagship premises at 303 Alexandra Road, and in 2016 brought “BMW Geniuses” into the showroom — product specialists tasked with telling customers about the cars without trying to sell them one.

“As the BMW Geniuses don’t have any sale targets, the customer can have an in-depth but relaxed and carefree discussion with them,” he said of them at the time.

He also oversaw the return of the BMW M business to the Sime Darby fold, via a joint venture with Munich Automobiles. The resulting business, Performance Munich Autos, brought the retail of BMW’s high performance M cars closer to town, as the showroom moved from Teban Gardens to 315 Alexandra Road.

Mr Herdtle (above) also paid particular attention to Performance Motors’ BMW motorcycle division. He was a common fixture at the brand’s local launch events, and moved the business into more spacious premises at 315 Alexandra Road to accommodate a growing BMW Motorrad product portfolio and to improve the retail experience.

Another new face at BMW in Singapore is Ritu Chandy, who became the regional chief executive of BMW Group, Financial Services’ Asia-Pacific operations on July 1st. The carmaker’s lending arm is active in 10 markets, either making loans directly to customers or via local partnerships, as it does here.

Before this, Ms Chandy (above) was the chief financial officer and vice president of finance for the group’s North America operations, but this stint will be her second in Singapore. From 2010 to 2014, she was head of treasury for the Asia-Pacific region, and led teams based here and in Beijing responsible for forex, interest rate risk and debt funding.

Earlier this year, BMW headquarters installed a regional chief here as part of a “strategic realignment” that saw the group reorganise its sales territories. From January 1st, Hildegard Wortmann has been responsible for the entire Asia Pacific region outside of China. Ms Wortmann has been based in Singapore to allow her to be closer to customers, dealers and importers in key markets, a BMW statement said.

Prior to taking up the new role here, Ms Wortmann (below) was the head of BMW Brand. She describes the global relaunch of the Mini brand, on which she worked as head of brand communication, as her “big break” within BMW.

When it comes to size, however, her current post fits the bill. Ms Wortmann’s territory is enormous territory, numbers-wise. Asia accounted for 423,148 cars in the first half of 2018 for BMW Group, making it the second-largest sales region for the company after Europe. By volume it is larger than China, and twice the size of the USA.

If the Mini relaunch was Ms Wortmann’s big break, heading up Asia could be an enormous one.

about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.