2019 ALL STAR | U.S. EXECUTIVE, GLOBAL AUTOMAKER
BMW of North America
Bernhard Kuhnt has BMW well positioned in the annual U.S. luxury sales derby.
Propelled by new product and demand for luxury crossovers, BMW’s affable North America CEO has a shot at besting rival Mercedes-Benz — and regaining a title it last held in 2015.
Through October, BMW had a lead of 5,788 vehicles over Mercedes.
If BMW can hold on to its edge, it would be a bittersweet victory for Kuhnt, 52.
From 1983 to 2003, Kuhnt worked for Mercedes-Benz, including a stint as vice president of sales for Mercedes-Benz USA overseeing divisions in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Later, he headed Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Anaheim, Calif., and Chandler, Ariz., before joining Jaguar Land Rover in 2009.
In early 2015, BMW recruited Kuhnt and two years later put him in charge of the U.S. business, the automaker’s largest market outside of China.
If Kuhnt is anxious about snatching the sales crown from Mercedes, he’s not letting on.
“If we ... become No. 1, you know what, I am going to celebrate,” Kuhnt told Automotive News this year. “But, we don’t have T-shirts printed: ‘We want to be No. 1.’?”