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Nicolai Müller

Senior PartnerCologne

Brings extensive automotive industry expertise—helping clients with transformation programs, strategy and organizational initiatives, and digital manufacturing projects—and is a key contributor to our electric mobility and lightweight research projects

For over 15 years, Nicolai has served McKinsey clients in the Automotive & Assembly Practice. As a member of the leadership team in Europe, he leads our activities in France and coleads McKinsey's Automotive and Innovation Center as well as orchestrates our digital manufacturing work. During his tenure with the firm, he has served over 20 OEMs and suppliers in the automotive and assembly industries.

Nicolai is an expert on strategies related to technology and innovation, large-scale operating models in engineering and procurement, and performance transformation.

Examples of his recent client projects include the following:

  • designing and supporting turnaround programs for the product divisions of automotive suppliers, including  identifying EBIT improvement levers across the value chain (such as procurement, manufacturing, engineering, and sales)
  • supporting a performance transformation program for a leading premium OEM, featuring different work-streams to reduce operational costs and accelerate decision-making processes
  • introducing a holistic product cost management system at a passenger car OEM, including a detailed assessment of the processes, tools, and methods for target costing, and defining the future system for proactive product cost management for new car development
  • designing and supporting a product development efficiency improvement program at an automotive supplier, including the design and implementation of an R&D cost controlling system
  • defining a go-to-market strategy for an Asian commercial vehicle company for medium-duty trucks, focused on attaining a granular understanding of market development in terms of both countries and customers, deriving product specifications and positioning based on customer insights and value propositions
  • designing and leading a top management leadership capability building program focused on the training over 40 top talents via a “field-and-forum” approach, imparting the skills they needed to lead business, self, and others

Nicolai has authored McKinsey studies on the performance of automotive suppliers and on key trends in the automotive industry. Before joining McKinsey, he studied in Bremen, Munich, and Paris. He is fluent in French and German.

Published work

Generative AI in operations: Capturing the value,” McKinsey & Company, January 2024

Indirect manufacturing costs: An overlooked source for clear savings,” McKinsey & Company, January 2023

Expanding electric-vehicle adoption despite early growing pains,” McKinsey & Company, August 2018

The global electric-vehicle market is amped up and on the rise,” McKinsey & Company, May 2018

Dynamics in the global electric-vehicle market,” McKinsey & Company, July 2017


University of Bremen
PhD, innovation and cooperation management

Technical University of Munich
MS, mechanical engineering

Ecole Centrale Paris
Ingénieur de Grandes Ecoles