BMW used to be a pioneer in e-mobility, but now they are running a strong risk of becoming the Blackberry of the automotive industry: becoming obsolete for failing to embrace change.
But this doesn’t have to be its fate. BMW has ingenious engineers, a strong brand and a history of innovation. If BMW embraces the challenge posed by the mobility transition, it can be tremendously successful for decades to come – and be a major contributor to creating carbon-free mobility solutions.
On May 11th, BMW has its annual general meeting (AGM), and with the help of Inyova investors, we’re nominating Professor Susan Shaheen, a professor at the University of California Berkeley and expert in low-carbon mobility systems, for the supervisory board. We believe her expertise can help BMW transition to a future of clean mobility and provide diversity on the board.
This is impact investing on a new level. For the first time ever, thousands of impact investors can jointly take action and help one of the world’s biggest brands get on track – and they can do it all with a single click in the Inyova app.
Why are we doing this?
Climate change is happening far quicker than anticipated. Transport accounts for over 10% of the world’s GHG emissions. 96% of German transport emissions are caused by road transport.
But solutions are developed and deployable. Transport has one of the largest emission saving potentials!
And solutions are working in the market, too – as BMW’s competitors prove day in and day out. But while many automakers have committed to strong e-mobility strategies and concrete phase-out dates for the production of combustion engine vehicles, BMW hasn’t. It continues to rely on outdated technologies for combustion engines as well as for the soon-likely-to-be-obsolete plug-in hybrids. In addition, they lobby against crucial climate regulation to keep these outdated, climate-change-fuelling technologies alive.
The window of opportunity to adapt is closing rapidly. If BMW wants to keep up with its competitors, it needs to invest in new technologies and business models now. We are certain that if BMW implements change, it has the potential to be a key contributor to a low-carbon mobility system.
Please find more details on our rationale and various sources and references in our Investor Briefing.
What do we propose and how does it help?
The board plays a critical role in overseeing a fundamental transition of a company.
Currently, the supervisory board could benefit from much more in-depth, state of the art expertise in low-carbon mobility technologies and strategies. This is where Professor Susan Shaheen’s expertise and market experience could help strengthen them.
Aside from being a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California and a leading expert in mobility strategies, she also has experience in board positions. Professor Shaheen has also worked closely with various large automakers, including German ones.
We consider her expertise and experience, her industry access and her strategic insight to be of high relevance to BMW’s strategy.
How can Inyova customers get involved?
With our brand new shareholder engagement feature, Inyova customers who are invested in BMW through Inyova will be able to show that they support our nomination of Susan Shaheen by voting to “support the campaign” within the app.
This feature is a huge milestone in making shareholder engagement available to everyone by letting Inyova customers easily vote on a decision that will be taken at BMW’s AGM.
Swiss residents, by supporting this campaign, you confirm that Inyova is speaking on your behalf and can exercise your voting rights at BMW’s AGM on 11 May 2022.
German residents, by clicking the button, you are confirming that you are showing us that you stand behind this campaign. However, due to regulatory requirements, Inyova will not be able to formally vote on your behalf at the AGM (although we are planning to make this available in the future). Your backing is still very important as it demonstrates that you stand for change.
What is active ownership?
Owning shares in a company makes you an owner of the company. Becoming an active owner simply means that you use your ownership rights to engage with and influence the company that you are invested in.
Here are some ways in which you can become an active owner:
- You can make use of your shareholder rights like the right to vote, attend or speak at an AGM.
- You can also engage with a company, which is just a fancy way of saying you can start a dialogue with these companies. Here, the aim is usually to address your concerns with the company and to influence their direction.
In this case, Inyova has been in contact with BMW about their current business model and offered to propose a candidate for their board; a proposal that BMW rejected.
Inyova is filing an election proposal at BMW’s AGM suggesting to bring Susan onto BMW’s supervisory board instead of the candidate proposed by the company.
How can BMW get back on track?
We believe there are a couple of things that BMW needs to do in order to move back from laggard to champion:
- Give a clear commitment to zero-emissions mobility.
- Rather than lobby against the implementation of climate policies, we want BMW to embrace innovation in climate-friendly technologies as an engine for future growth.
- Upskill their supervisory board through the nomination of an e-mobility expert like Susan. Beyond adding valuable expertise, this decision would also be a key market signal.
Why is Professor Susan Shaheen the perfect fit for the supervisory board?
Susan Shaheen is a widely recognized international expert and thought leader in innovative mobility and the strategic requirements in managing mobility transitions.
Susan Shaheen has worked extensively with leading carmakers and mobility technology innovators in Germany, Europe and globally and will provide in-depth views on the industry’s state of the art as well as industry access and presence in the US, one of BMW’s key markets.
She will boost the board’s diversity in terms of age, gender and nationality as she is a US national from Northern California and will also bring extensive independent board experience.
Susan is a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, Co-Director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) Berkeley and Director of the UC ITS’s Resilient and Innovative Mobility Initiative.
Susan Shaheen is likely to affect positive change including maximising long-term shareholder value by contributing profound academic and practical insight into critical competitive dimensions, as well as industry access to priority geographic markets and innovation markets.
Why not just remove BMW from the Inyova universe?
BMW has been part of the Inyova universe since 2017 as it used to be considered a pioneer.
While our current view of BMW is critical, we believe that they can be an important player in fighting climate change. Through active ownership, the Inyova community is determined to make their voices heard and help implement positive change.
We’re aware that there is already a strong debate within BMW concerning their environmental impact, but we want to express shareholder concern and strengthen the voices of progress.
That said, we’ll keep monitoring BMW closely. If we don’t see it embracing a low-carbon strategy, it may be removed from the Inyova universe (companies are removed if they no longer meet our criteria).