Not since Carl Hahn and Ferdinand Piech has the offspring of a top auto industry executive (who was not part of the ownership family) risen as high as Hendrik von Kuenheim has at BMW. In fact, von Kuenheim even may have a shot at the job held by his father, Eberhard, once the top man in Munich.
Hahn, whose dad was a top official at the postwar Volkswagen, became CEO of VW in the 1980s. He was succeeded by Piech, whose father, Anton, was a VW manufacturing exec in the 1940s. (His mom's family owned Porsche.)
Now Hendrik von Kuenheim has been tapped to run BMW's important motorcycle division. The 48-year-old, who joined BMW in 1985, long has been considered a candidate for a top position. He heads BMW's sales and marketing unit in Spain and formerly was BMW's top man in Canada.
BMW finance chief Michael Ganal also has held the motorcycle position, as has Marco Freiherr von Maltzan, who until recently was CEO of supplier Beru.
The elder von Kuenheim, now 76 and a member of the European Automotive Hall of Fame, was CEO of BMW from 1970 until 1993 and head of the supervisory board from 1993 to 1999.