BMW has named Franciscus van Meel as chief of BMW M, the carmaker’s in-house performance unit. Van Meel will join BMW on Oct. 1, 2014 but will take on the new role effective January 2015. He will succeed Friedrich Nitschke, who will retire from BMW at the end of this year.
Van Meel was managing director of Audi’s quattro unit until April 2014, but was reassigned to China after Audi development chief Ulrich Hackenberg lost confidence in him over delays to the next-generation R8 and issues with its planned electric version.
He also had held management roles in chassis development and the technical steering of vehicle projects. During his term at BMW M, the BMW M Performance Automobiles unit was set up to fill in the gap in terms of performance between BMW models and their M counterparts.
Since becoming the BMW M’s chair, Nitschke saw the development of the new generations of the BMW M3 and BMW M4 models. Herbert Diess, BMW's development boss, said in the statement. Sales at the division surged 16 percent in 2013 to 31,200 vehicles.