The responsibilities of Bob Devine, managing director of BMW Financial Services responsible for the U.S. market, shrank last year when parent BMW AG sold Land Rover Ltd. to Ford Motor Co. and the company dropped Land Rover Financial Services.
But there's growth on the horizon.
This year Devine is gearing up for the U.S. return of the Mini brand, scheduled for the first quarter of 2002. In addition, BMW takes over the Rolls-Royce brand in January 2003.
Devine, 54, joined BMW Financial Services in 1992 after 13 years at Ford Motor Credit Co. He also spent nine years in auto-related banking. He spoke last month with Staff Reporter Jim Henry at BMW of North America Inc. headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.
What's happening with Mini?
Right now we are developing technical materials and collateral materials. We anticipate announcing dealers at the end of March. There is a joint launch team for the whole Mini launch, and Financial Services is a part of that.
Is the Mini buyer different from the BMW buyer? Are you scrambling to come up with first-time buyer programs?
We think the Mini buyer is going to be a very conscientious, quality-focused buyer - a quality applicant, from a creditworthiness point of view. We do not expect a dramatic change from the BMW buyer.
Will Mini buyers be aware of the BMW connection?
We will establish a separate identity for the Mini product. In doing this, we expect to follow the same footprint we learned with Land Rover.
How about Rolls-Royce?
That's part of the Mini project. Wherever feasible, when we come up with something, we try and do it for Mini and Rolls-Royce at the same time. That's part of what we learned with Land Rover.
I thought Rolls-Royce buyers were cash buyers. Is there much call for loans or leases on Rolls-Royces?
No, but we want to be prepared.
What could there possibly be in common between Mini and Rolls-Royce?
We need to adjust our systems to accommodate different brands. For instance, we want to make sure there are no inappropriate limits on a dollar amount. We never envisioned financing a car for more than $200,000 before, and maybe we'll have to be able to do that.