BMW's performance division has been run by Dr. Friedrich Nitschke since 2011, developing, among other products, the new M3 and M4. But soon the good doctor will be retiring, and BMW has just named his successor.
Taking Nitschke's place as chairman of BMW M GmbH will be Franciscus van Meel (pictured at right), who until recently served as managing director of Audi Quattro GmbH – the rival outfit that makes Ingolstadt's performance models, including the R8 supercar and RS line of performance models.

Van Meel will join BMW on October 1, presumably to learn the ropes from Nitschke before the 59-year-old executive steps down at the end of the year. Back in January, Audi named Heinz Peter Hollwerweger as head of Quattro GmbH and reassigned van Meel to its Beijing R&D center, a role which evidently didn't suit him as well as creating Autobahn-storming German muscle cars.
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Franciscus van Meel assumes management of BMW M GmbH
23.09.2014

Munich. Franciscus van Meel (48) will take over as Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH from 1 January 2015. He is the successor to Dr. Friedrich Nitschke (59) who will be retiring at the end of the year.

Francisus van Meel, who will already be joining the BMW Group on 1 October, was last active as Managing Directory of quattro GmbH, a subsidiary of Audi AG. Since 1996 he has held various management positions in chassis development and the technical steering of vehicle projects at Audi AG before becoming Managing Director of quattro GmbH in 2012.

Dr. Friedrich Nitschke worked for the BMW Group for a total of 36 years. Since joining the company in 1978 he has held management positions in various company areas before taking over as director of development strategy, steering and testing. From 2007 to 2011 he headed vehicle development of the MINI brand. In 2011 he became Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW M GmbH. Under his leadership the category BMW M Performance Automobiles was created as well as the new generation of the BMW M3 and BMW M4 models developed.

Dr. Herbert Diess, Member of the Board of Management for Development: "The position of M GmbH on the market has never been better in the company's history and it continues to achieve sales record after sales record. Friedrich Nitschke has done outstanding work over the past years and has made a crucial contribution to the success of the company. The entire Board of Management of BMW AG would like to express its gratitude to him."

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