Now that BMW AG no longer owns Rover, maybe the German automaker will stop eating its young. Too many talented executives have been sacrificed to this hopeless cause.
BMW may never recover from it. The old sense of unity, stability and confidence may have been buried in the trenches of the English Midlands, along with two generations of senior management.
Their mistake: chasing size for size's sake, a timely lesson as merger mania sweeps the global auto industry.
Now, who is left to run BMW?
Wolfgang Ziebart, 50, and Carl-Peter Forster, 45, were elevated to the management board 13 months ago, when Bernd Pischetsrieder was fired and Wolfgang Reitzle departed.
Ziebart, an impassioned product development boss, led the Rover emergency turnaround team in October 1998. Forster, the new production boss, was heir apparent to Pischetsrieder's successor, BMW Chairman Joachim Milberg.
At BMW, being heir apparent is a death sentence.
Ask Reitzle, whom with former Chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim once supplied the genes that determined the corporate appearance of BMW. He then got passed over and all but kicked out.
Ziebart had been an engineer at BMW since 1977; Forster since 1986. They were there when BMW walked upright out of the ocean.
Now they are history, along with Henrich Heitmann, former CEO of BMW in the United States, who became head of sales and marketing the day Pischetsrieder and Reitzle left.
Why did they have to go?
Couldn't BMW sell Rover and not cut the heart out of the management board in the process?
What's wrong with this company?
That's easy. It all stems from the insane decision to buy a dying company.
BMW should have passed on Rover - a company kept on life support for some 30 years, first by the British government and later by Honda.
But BMW wanted to grow. It wanted to be a deal maker instead of a carmaker. The result was one of the biggest wastes of time, talent and money in the history of this or any other industry.
IS BIGGER BETTER?
It proves one thing. Size matters far too much to modern auto companies. BMW's miserable experience forces every automaker in the world to reassess whether bigger is really better.
One analyst surveying last week's carnage said, 'BMW has demonstrated that it urgently needs to be present at the entry level.'
Is that so? BMW doesn't need to do anything urgently except become BMW again. Size is an extraneous issue.
Nissan is bigger than Renault. Porsche has the biggest profit margins in the auto industry. Fiat didn't need General Motors because it was too small. It needed GM because it had lost more than a third of its market share in Europe in the last 10 years.
The events of last week must have sent shivers through Louis Schweitzer and Carlos Ghosn, who are trying to save Nissan.
Chasing size for its own sake is the worst form of distraction. BMW was the best in the 1980s and early 1990s. Then it made every mistake an auto company can make.
The Peugeot family went through much of the same 15 years earlier. It bought Chrysler Europe and almost lost its company.
Now BMW's Quandt family has learned. Who will be next?