BMW Motorrad CEO visits PH
When the top executive of a premium motorcycle brand makes the Philippines his first-ever visit as a newly installed CEO, you know the distributor occupies a special place in BMW’s motorcycle business.
Last week, SMC Asia Car Distributors Corporation (SMC-ACDC), the distributor for BMW vehicles in the country, hosted an intimate media round table meet-and-greet with BMW Motorrad CEO Dr. Markus Schramm and a couple of BMW Motorrad executives at the San Miguel Corp. (SMC) head office.
The very busy SMC boss, Ramon Ang, was also briefly present during the start of the round table talks, but made sure everyone was settled in before going to his next meeting.
SMC acquired a majority stake of Asian Carmakers Corp. (ACC), BMW’s Philippine distributor led by Gov. Jose Alvarez, in 2017.
Schramm succeeded Stephan Schaller last May as CEO of BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of the same brand.
Schramm has been with the BMW Group since 1991, and has held several key management roles in sales, aftersales, strategy, planning and controlling.
“I have the best job in the company,” said Schramm, who is a passionate motorcycle rider and an accomplished marathon runner. “The Philippines is one of the fastest growing market for BMW Motorrad, and this is the first country I have visited since I took over this job,” he added.
Accompanying him was Timo Resch, BMW Motorrad VP for Sales and Marketing, and Miguel Llabres-Pohl, BMW Motorrad Asia’ regional director.
Both Schramm and Resch have big shoes to fill as BMW Motorrad is enjoying a 7-year streak with a record 164,153 motorcycle and maxi scooter units sold in 2017 as overall sales increased by 13.2 percent from 2016.
By 2020, BMW Motorrad is looking to hit 200,000 units.
BMW has expanded its product range with innovative and emotionally engaging models, and has seemed to hit the spot with the premium motorcycle segment, powered by strong sales in Europe and Asia.
Schramm is no stranger to challenges. He once ran 100 kilometers in an ultra marathon on the harsh and unforgiving Antarctic icelands.
“Freedom is part of our brand. it is important to be dominated by life experience. We now have programs to cater to a growing trend of customers who want to ride our bikes abroad. So we need to create more riding opportunities,” he said, noting that the Philippines has a lot to offer in the leisure riding market.
Its sales in Europe also hit an all time high with France leading the pack with 24.3% growth, Spain with 17.6% and Italy with 17.3% growth from 2016. On the Asian front, China and Japan are among the Asian markets with the strongest double-digit growth.
What’s interesting in Asia is BMW’s presence in the Philippines. “We only sold 28 units on the first year BMW Philippines starting bringing in motorcycles in 2009,” said Spencer Yu, SMC-ACDC president.
In 2017, sales grew to 470 units, or a whopping 68 percent growth from 2016.
Yu was named president of SMC-ACDC last year, bringing in his wealth of experience in the luxury vehicle business.
Yu was formerly the sales director for Lexus Manila, and has been in the automotive industry since the 1990s.
For the Philippine growth strategy, Yu said BMW PH has begun to put up motorcycle-dedicated dealerships so it can focus growing the business.
“In the beginning, BMW Motorrad and the motorcycle business has been considered as a side business to supplement the BMW car sales in the country. So motorcycles are showcased inside BMW car showrooms. Now, it is time to grow it into a separate profit center,” Yu said.
The first stand alone BMW Motorrad dealership will soon rise on a 1,200-square meter facility in Davao City owned by local businessman Wilson Lu, who is an avid rider himself and owns at least five BMW motorcycles prior to signing up with BMW.
With a strong presence in Luzon market, SMC ACDC is looking at growing the business in the Visayas and Mindanao market.
When asked what is the typical profile of BMW Motorrad customers locally, “Our top selling bike is the most expensive one. The top of the line model, which sells at about P1.6 million, is our best selling R1200 GS model, which is about 37 percent of the business. You see, a typical Sunday luxury sports car driver spends about P20 to P30 million for a supercar, that’s the price of admission to play with the big boys. With motorcycles, you can be riding with the big boys for much less—and relatively cheap, and you will be able to play with the big boys already. There is also no discrimination if you ride a less expensive model like an R90 which costs about 40 percent less. You are giving the same level of respect, which is amazing,” Yu added.
We asked Dr. Schramm if he had heard about San Miguel beer before coming to the Philippines. “I first tried San Miguel beer when I took a vacation in the Caribbean many years ago with my family. At first, I thought it was a Spanish beer, and I liked it. Now that I know it comes from one of our partners, I like it even better!”