NEW YORK – BMW AG has learned “an expensive lesson” from the disastrous acquisition of the Rover Group and seeks no further takeovers, CEO Helmut Panke says.

“We are not looking for any acquisitions,” Panke tells the International Motor Press Assn. at a breakfast kicking off the 104th New York International Motor Show. “We will grow from within and go our own way.”

Panke predicts future industry consolidation will come in the mass-market segment, not the premium vehicle sector.

BMW CEO
Helmut Panke

Meanwhile, the BMW chief says the strong euro has not cut into BMW’s margins.

“We were unaffected last year and will only be minimally affected this year,” he says. BMW did considerable currency hedging to protect itself from harm in this area, Panke reveals, predicting the dollar will strengthen and the euro will weaken in the midterm.

BMW also is protected against currency fluctuation through its increasing manufacturing presence in South Carolina, he notes.

Panke says BMW is highly successful despite being such a small company. “Some people think there is a secret” to BMW’s success, he says. “If there were, do you think I would share it with you?”

Many industry observers consider Toyota Motor Corp. as the benchmark in the mass market, he points out. “(But) many see us as a benchmark in the premium segment.”

That is driven by BMW’s strategy of serving the individual customer and never building boring cars, he says. “Our customers expect nothing less from us.”

Panke rejects fuel-cell vehicles and hybrids as a BMW solution to environmental problems because neither can be “an ultimate driving machine.”

He says that better-performing diesels – “not your father’s black-fumed diesels” – are an attractive solution, and notes that the BMW 318 D sold in Europe achieves better fuel efficiency than the Toyota Prius.

However, Panke says BMW has no intention of introducing diesels into the U.S. at this time. “Diesels are not welcome here yet,” he says.