BMW names Bernhard Kuhnt as new CEO for North America

Ludwig Willisch retains broader Americas position

February 2, 2017 @ 10:43 am

Bernhard Kuhnt will be responsible for the U.S. market, BMW said.

BMW said it named Bernhard Kuhnt to become CEO of BMW of North America effective March 1.

With the change, Ludwig Willisch, 60, is stepping down from his role as CEO of the U.S. business. Willisch retains his position as head of BMW Group Region Americas, according to the announcement. He had held the dual role since 2012. Kuhnt and the operating heads of all BMW sales subsidiaries in North, Central and South America, report to Willisch.

Kuhnt, 49, will be responsible for the U.S. market, BMW said. He currently is responsible for the BMW Group importer markets, overseeing sales in more than 80 countries.

Petter Witt, who has been executive vice president of operations for BMW of North America, will leave his position at the end of February, “moving on to a new role outside the company,” according to the press release.

In his new position as CEO, Kuhnt will appoint a successor to Witt, the announcement said.

“I am delighted to welcome Bernhard Kuhnt to our Americas team,” Willisch said in the statement. “Bernhard brings many years of experience in the global automotive industry to his new role here in the United States. At the same time, we are sorry to say goodbye to Petter Witt, but wish him the greatest success in his new business endeavor.”

BWM’s U.S. brand sales slipped 9.5 percent to 313,174 vehicles in 2016 — well behind Mercedes-Benz’s 340,237 luxury-vehicle deliveries and Lexus’ 331,228 deliveries. While BMW sales were up 0.1 percent to 18,109 vehicles in January — good for second place among luxury brands — they were still far behind Mercedes-Benz’s 25,527 deliveries.

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