The Frankfurt Motor Show got off to an unexpectedly rough start when BMW CEO Harald Krueger unexpectedly collapsed during the maker’s news conference, the first of the 2015 show.
Krueger stumbled suddenly while addressing a standing-room-only crowd in the large hall BMW is using to show off an assortment of new and older products. BMW staff quickly rushed the stage and helped Krueger to his feet and off the stage.
Moments later, a BMW official announced that the maker was canceling the news conference but would attempt to reschedule it later during the two-day Frankfurt Motor Show press preview.
A Krueger roundtable with journalists planned for later in the day was subsequently cancelled, though the maker’s chief financial officer did address some questions.
A BMW spokesman, Maximilian Schoeberl, disclosed that CEO Krueger was traveling extensively in recent weeks. He had not been feeling well prior to the start of the news conference but decided to proceed anyway.
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It was not immediately clear, even to observers who watched him fall from nearby, whether Krueger fainted, tripped or suffered a more serious ailment. As he began to pull himself up off the floor he appeared disoriented and rubbed the back of his head.
After Krueger was helped off the stage, another executive picked up his microphone and initially seemed ready to continue the news conference. But, after admitting, “I’m a bit at a lost for words,” he briefly stepped away, spoke to colleagues and returned to announce the event would not continue.
The 49-year-old executive, who took over as BMW’s CEO last year, was examined by a doctor and reported to be “doing well.” But he was advised to go home and cancel any other activities related to the auto show.
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Like its German rivals, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG, BMW takes great pride in turning its Frankfurt Motor Show news conference into a must-attend event. It even built a quarter-mile test track above the heads of showgoers, the track set to display several important new models had Krueger not fallen ill.
Those debuts include the new BMW 7-Series flagship, an update of the brand’s familiar 3-Series sedan, and the world introduction of the X1 Sports Activity Vehicle.
The media preview at the Frankfurt Motor Show has been known to create stress among both industry officials and reporters. From one end of the sprawling Frankfurt Messe to the other is more than a kilometer, or about three-quarters of a mile. More than 50 news conferences were scheduled during the opening press day alone.
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