Franz Jung, President and CEO, BMW Canada
Franz Jung, President and CEO, BMW Canada. Click image to enlarge

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By Chris Chase

Being in charge of the national operations of a major automaker is a job that requires a confident individual. And certainly, BMW Canada’s newest President and CEO, Franz Jung, comes across as a confident man.

“But it’s not my style to say that BMW is the best at everything,” he told me, during an interview in Ottawa in early July. “We are, however, the best (automaker) in certain areas.”

One of those areas, he believes, is the company’s engine technology. Jung believes that BMW’s engine expertise, along with the company’s commitment to make each of their vehicles as environmentally responsible as possible, will ensure the brand’s success both in the current economic environment, and in the future.

“We build the most efficient engines in the premium segment, when fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions are considered,” he says. “Many people view the Toyota Prius as the ‘king’ of environmentally conscious vehicles.” Jung believes, however, that an efficient, clean-running car and one that is fun to drive are not mutually exclusive.

He cites the company’s diesel models – the X5 xDrive35d and 335d – and future hybrid models, including the upcoming X6 hybrid. “We have to ensure that the brand’s sportiness is not compromised.”

But any changes that come to future BMW engines “will depend as much on us as on political will and infrastructure. Experts suggest that the gasoline and diesel engines will be around for a long time yet,” so that while the company is investing heavily in future technology, he believes much of that technology, at least in BMW vehicles, will include internal combustion engines.

In the nearer term, there are many changes coming to the BMW lineup that have some brand loyalists questioning the company’s vision. One such vehicle is the 5 Series GT, which is something of a “fastback” that seems to be a cross between a 5 Series sedan and the X6 Sports Activity Vehicle.

This, says Jung, will be positioned between the rest of the 5 Series range and the X5. He calls it “premium but practical,” and a more unique vehicle than a typical luxury sedan. One question many BMW fans fear to ask is whether the 5 Series GT (and, indeed, a possible future 3 Series GT model that the company is considering) will replace the 5 Series Touring (station wagon).

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