Just days before a board meeting that was due to decide his future, BMW’s chief executive Harald Krüger has quit the carmaker. His decision has heaped unwanted pressure on BMW who will now be scrambling to find a successor to deal not only with falling profits but to try to catch up quickly with rival brands who have made significant strides in the development of electric vehicles.

BMW's supervisory board had been due to discuss renewing Krüger’s contract on July 18 - but after being informed that he would not be seeking a second term as CEO, they could turn their attentions to internal candidates Klaus Fröhlich (head of research and development) or Oliver Zipse (head of production) to take over from Krüger, who has held his post since 2015. Whoever take control will face plenty of complex challenges in the famous four-cylinder tower in Munich-Milbertshofen.

Krüger had overseen growth in the US and China with several new models but had come under increasing pressure for the slow progress made in electric cars; by 2023, BMW aims to bring 25 electrified models to the market with possibly 13 of them being fully electric. Too little too late? Maybe, but, right from the start, he had been perceived as a weak leader beginning with that unfortunate incident at his first IAA press conference in September 2015 where he fainted on stage. The following year, BMW lost its crown as the global luxury car sales leader to arch rival Mercedes and recent rumours had suggested a growing dissatisfaction with his performance.

“The BMW Group has been my professional home for more than 27 years. After more than ten years in the Board of Management, more than four of which as the CEO of the BMW Group, I would like to pursue new professional endeavours and leverage my diverse international experience for new projects and ventures,” said Krüger.

“Over the last years, the automotive industry has been shaped by enormous changes, which have brought about more transformation than in the previous 30 years. This has demanded tremendous efforts from every employee within the company. For their outstanding commitment, I would like to personally thank each and every one of them. It has always been a true honour for me to work with this tremendous team and to set the BMW Group on a path towards a successful future during the most significant transformation of this industry,” he added.