It seems nothing generates fear inside German luxury-car makers like the visage of Elon Musk.
Inside a bright auditorium at an abandoned airfield near Munich, rows of men and women gaze at images flashing by on a giant screen: a Mercedes sedan, Porsche and Jaguar SUVs and the face of Musk.
"We're in the midst of an electric assault," the presenter intones as the Tesla chief's photo pops up. "This must be taken very seriously."
The audience was composed of BMW Group employees flown in for a combination pep rally/horror film intended to make them afraid about the future of the industry. The takeaway: The market is shifting in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago, and BMW must adapt.
BMW is trying to fend off rivals such as Mercedes-Benz and new competitors such as Tesla. "BMW is falling behind in electrics," says Ingo Speich, a fund manager at Union Investment.
Since January, the carmaker has taken 14,000 engineers, marketers and factory managers, about 10 percent of its work force through daylong events to prepare them for a time when customers may order a robo-taxi by app instead of buying a car. In a temporary building at a BMW test track, they participate in workshops and discussions of car-sharing apps, laser sensors and batteries.
"We were reminded of what we're trying to achieve," said Michael Manz, who develops sensors for self-driving cars at BMW. "It gets us focused on where we're going."