Monday, December 1, 2014

Breaking: Jacob Harb No Longer Manager of Electric Vehicles at BMW NA

Jacob Harb (left) pictured with Oliver Walter of BMW at the LA Auto Show in 2012
I've just learned that Jacob Harb is no longer the Manager of Electric Vehicles for BMW of North America. Harb has held the position for a little over two years since the position was vacated by Richard Steinberg, who left the post in August of 2012 to assume the position of CEO of BMW's new car sharing program DriveNow.

This is a bit surprising since I just talked with Jacob at the LA Auto Show a couple weeks ago where we discussed upcoming plans for BMW i. BMW hasn't announced who Harb's successor will be yet, but being close to BMW's e-mobility program I'd like to throw a couple names out there that they'll likely consider:

1) Jose Guerrero. Jose is the i3 Product Manager for North America. He knows as much about the i3 & i8 and anybody at BMW and is good in front of a camera, which is important for department heads who need to be available for interviews. 

2) Joan Bowen. Joan is BMW's EV and i Brand Marketing Manager and has been in the BMW's EV program since 2011. She may be a long shot because her expertise is in marketing but I wouldn't rule her out.

3) Rob Healey. Rob is BMW's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Manager and was previously the technical coordinator for the MINI-E and ActiveE. Rob has been involved in BMW's e-mobility program since 2008 and knows the technical side of the business as well as anybody working for any EV manufacturer. 

4) Don Smith. Don is the BMW i Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy manager and has been working closely with Harb for a while now. Don may have the easiest transition into the position as anybody there because he has been working directly with Harb. 

Honestly, I'd feel OK with any of the above mentioned people. I've had the opportunity to meet them all on many occasions and I know they are all very capable executives. I just hope BMW selects someone with extensive electric vehicle program experience. These cars are different, they require different strategies for marketing, sales and aftersales. It's too late in the game to start over with another top manager who doesn't have experience specific to electric cars. BMW needs a strong leader for BMW i and I really hope they choose wisely.

Once I get confirmation on the new (or interim) department head, I'll report it here.

13 comments:

  1. Good. They need a shakeup there. The i3 launch was disasterous. I completely agree with you that they need someone with extensive electric vehicle program management. BMW should poach someone from Nissan to come in and take over.

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    1. It's not as easy as just poaching someone from Nissan. Nissan has made their fair share of missteps also. Getting the right person is what is important. As I pointed out above BMW has some good people there already, but I'm sure they are also reviewing a list of possible candidates from outside the organization also.

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  2. Tom, with all due respect, who appointed you the head of the selection committee? And thanks for you saying you would approve of the people on this list. We at BMW NA were worried about what you might think!

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    1. I'm just speculating on who we might see take over, many of the readers here are interested in this. Anyway, if you really were from BMW NA, you'd use the proper channels to offer me your private thoughts. ;)

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  3. Your insights are greatly appreciated, Tom. You are without doubt the most qualified person outside of BMW to comment on this subject, and anyone who thinks otherwise has apparently been living under a rock for the last five years.

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  4. Agree with Chris completey. Tom has every right to make recommendation here if he chooses. He has been more helpful than anybody at BMW for this car. Thank you Tom and please keep this going here!

    MP

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  5. Thanks Chris & Mirko. I think the anonymous commenter was reading into it incorrectly anyway. It seems he was under the impression I was somehow trying to tell BMW who to promote, as if I think they would actually listen to me for something like this! I was just speculating on who may end up with the position. I've had a lot of exposure to the inner workings of BMW e-mobility program, and I know most of the people there very well since I've been dealing with them for many years now, so I think I can make guesses here as well as anyone. Hopefully we'll have an announcement on this soon. :)

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  6. Don't know much about these fine people, but we do know something about Tom who has proven to be the most veracious advocate for electric BMWs.
    Let's nominate him for the job :)

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  7. Thanks for the vote of confidence vdiv!

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  8. Tom, I do like your comment about after sales strategy. The i3 is very different than a regular ICE car. I for one would like more contact from BMW. It could be thru social media, e mail, regular mail or even a phone call or two. BMW has reached out a few times and I do appreciate this. I even like the extras they have sent our way such as Carbon fiber, Electronaut extras etc. This extra communication may not be required in 5 years from now but for today more info would be very helpful. Your blog is the best source for this information today! Thanks for doing it. Ed B

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  9. I think Don Smith would be the most likely candidate for the job. Tom, on another point; you have the combo connector so I assume that you have a 2015 model?

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    1. It's my belief that Don is indeed the acting interim manager of Electric Vehicles now, but there is no indication if that will be a permanent position or not.

      I have a 2014 i3. CCS fast charge was optional for 2014, but it was indeed available, so yes I have it. The only difference is the 2015 i3s will have it standard on all cars.

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  10. Excellent information. thanks for sharing..!

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