BMW X3 Project General Manager, Magna Steyr
Gerhard Stiegler has played a key role in the BMW X3's success.
Not long after he completed his work on the Mercedes-Benz M class SUV project in 1999, the Magna Steyr four-wheel-drive specialist was called into the president's office.
Magna Steyr, a contract coachbuilder in the Styrian region of Austria, had been awarded the contract to build the X3 in Graz.
Stiegler was asked to be project general manager. He would be responsible for engineering and building the premium SUV.
But he only had 30 months to complete the car.
"It was not an easy task," Stiegler says. "The Bavarians and the Styrians had to get to know and respect one another. When there were differences of opinion we sat together until we agreed, like they do when electing a pope."
The two sides obviously did something right. High demand for the car, which was launched in Europe in January, has forced Magna Steyr to add a third shift, boosting annual production from 60,000 units to 100,000.
The Bavarians and Styrians continue to work together.
BMW handles design and Magna Steyr is in charge of development.
Stiegler says of the X3: "It's really the coronation of a project leader's career."