Germany's automotive ranks are undergoing a generational shift. When Harald Krueger rises to CEO at BMW Group and Herbert Diess takes over as chairman of the Volkswagen brand this year, four of the six heads of Germany's biggest automotive brands will be in their late 40s to mid-50s.
These leaders need to ensure that more than 450,000 people employed building vehicles in Germany keep their jobs as:
- Development costs rise to cope with tougher emissions and safety regulations.
- Demands of young drivers, who grew up in the digital age, change.
- New challengers such as Google and Apple join the industry.
"The auto industry is at the crossroads and everyone is worried about the future -- new types of technology, new types of business models, new markets and competitors," said Christoph Stuermer, global lead analyst at PwC's Autofacts unit.
Stuermer is optimistic about the future because he believes executives such as Krueger and other rising stars in their 40s are not wedded to the companies' pasts.
"This is a revolution for an industry that remains overly bureaucratic," Stuermer added. "These leaders promise a new way of handling challenges, which are coming quicker and with greater complexity, so we need people willing to act swiftly, question things and lead change."