Using active ownership to create change at BMW

Using active ownership to create change at BMW

On May 11th, BMW has its annual general meeting 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 Europe’s biggest brands get on track.

BMW used to be a pioneer in e-mobility, but now they run 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.

Why are we doing this?

Climate change is happening far quicker than anticipated. Transport accounts for over 10% of the world’s GHG emissions, with 96% of that caused by road transport in Germany. 

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and concrete phase-out dates for the production of combustion engine vehicles, BMW hasn’t. It continues to rely on outdated technologies for combustion engines as well as for the soon-likely-to-be-obsolete plug-in-hybrids.

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.

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. 

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).

We are entering a new era of impact investing

Lots of impact investors are taking action and they’re doing so out of genuine interest. These are normal everyday people who have invested money into the company and are concerned about its trajectory. 

Often, companies the size of BMW will invest huge amounts of money to find board candidates like Susan. The inyova community has done the leg work and is presenting a candidate for free. This is born out of their sincere interest to see BMW re-instate itself as a key player in the automotive industry. 

I can’t wait to see how this campaign takes shape and how BMW responds to our candidate. At Inyova, we’ve always underlined the importance of being an active owner, and this is just the beginning of Inyova voicing our impact investors’ values. 

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