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Jim O'Donnell, who has helmed the BMW's North American operations since 2008, is planning to retire later this year. He will hand over his reins to seasoned executive Ludwig Willisch. O'Donnell has helped raise sales output in his many years in control, and BMW is currently ahead of Mercedes-Benz year-to-date while on pace to pass Lexus for the first time since 1997.

Last week, BMW North America chairman and chief executive officer, Jim O'Donnell, told the Detroit News that – among other anti-electric vehicle comments:

The Mercedes-Benz Baltimore vehicle process center has secured a five-year contract to inspect, process, and repair pre-delivery BMW and Mini vehicles arriving in the United States. It's a deal that makes economic sense for both companies, say that automakers. BMW models currently arrive in Charleston, South Carolina, and are shipped to nearby Spartanburg (home of BMWs assembly plant) for inspection and pre-delivery work. That plant is "no longer appropriate" once the X3 starts production next y

Speaking to an Automotive Press Association luncheon today in Detroit, Jim O'Donnell made it clear that BMW was firmly committed to diesel technology even as it begins to roll out hybrid and electric vehicles. BMW delivered 500 electric MINI Es earlier this summer and recently announced its first two hybrid models, the X6 and 7 ActiveHybrids. Nonetheless, O'Donnell indicated that the diesels are better suited to some of the larger models than the hybrids or electrics. At this point, diesels fit