BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG Munich Bavaria Germany 1916 — Chapter 1


Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
Aktiengesellschaft (AG)
Traded as FWBBMW
Industry Automotive
Predecessor Rapp Motorenwerke
Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW)
Automobilwerk Eisenach
Founded March 7, 1916; 99 years ago
Founder Franz Josef Popp, Karl Rapp,Camillo Castiglioni
Headquarters Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Area served
Key people
Norbert Reithofer
(Chairman of the Supervisory Board)
Harald Krüger
(Chairman of the Management Board)
Products Luxury vehicles, sports cars,motorcycles, bicycles
Production output
2,117,965 Automobiles (2014)
about 120,000 Motorcycles (2014)
Revenue 80.401  billion (2014)
€8.707 billion (2014)
Profit €5.817 billion (2014)
Total assets €182.72 billion (2015)
Total equity €3.839 billion (2014)
Owner Stefan Quandt: 17.4%
Johanna Quandt: 16.7%
Susanne Klatten: 12.6%
Public float: 53.3%
Number of employees
116,324 (2014)
Divisions Mini
BMW Motorsport
BMW Motorrad
Slogan “Sheer Driving Pleasure” (Worldwide)
“The Ultimate Driving Machine” (United States)
“The Ultimate Driving Experience” (Canada)
Website BMW Group
BMW Automobiles

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (About this sound pronunciation; English: Bavarian Motor Works; BMW) is a German luxury automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. BMW is headquartered in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It also owns and produces Mini cars, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad, and plug-in electric cars under the BMW i sub-brand. BMW is one of the best-selling luxury automakers in the world. The company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index.

Main article: History of BMW  :

History of BMW


 BMW towers and museum, Munich, Germany

BMW AG originated with three other manufacturing companies, Rapp Motorenwerke and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw) in Bavaria, and Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in Thuringia. Aircraft engine manufacturer Rapp Motorenwerke became Bayerische Motorenwerke in 1916. The engine manufacturer, which built proprietary industrial engines after World War I, was then bought by the owner of BFw who then merged BFw into BMW and moved the engine works onto BFw’s premises. BFw’s motorcycle sideline was improved upon by BMW and became an integral part of their business.

BMW became an automobile manufacturer in 1929 when it purchased Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, which, at the time, built Austin Sevens under licence under the Dixi marque. BMW’s team of engineers progressively developed their cars from small Seven-based cars into six-cylinder luxury cars and, in 1936, began production of the BMW 328 sports car. Aircraft engines, motorcycles, and automobiles would be BMW’s main products until World War II. During the war, against the wishes of its director Franz Josef Popp, BMW concentrated on aircraft engine production, with motorcycles as a side line and automobile manufacture stopped altogether.

After the war, BMW survived by making pots, pans, and bicycles until 1948, when it restarted motorcycle production. Meanwhile, BMW’s factory in Eisenach fell in the Soviet occupation zone and the Soviets restarted production of pre-war BMW motorcycles and automobiles there. This continued until 1955, after which they concentrated on cars based on pre-war DKW designs. BMW began building cars in Bavaria in 1952 with the BMW 501 luxury saloon. Sales of their luxury saloons were too small to be profitable, so BMW supplemented this with building Isettas under licence. Slow sales of luxury cars and small profit margins from microcars caused the BMW board to consider selling the operation to Daimler-Benz. However, Herbert Quandt was convinced to purchase a controlling interest in BMW and to invest in its future.

Quandt’s investment, along with profits from the BMW 700, brought about the BMW New Class and BMW New Six. These new products, along with the absorption of Hans Glas GmbH, gave BMW a sure footing on which to expand. BMW grew in strength, eventually acquiring the Rover Group (most of which was later divested), and the license to build automobiles under the Rolls-Royce marque.

History of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw)

Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik

A series of double-hulled aircraft for Russia at the Otto factories

1910 Biplane_of_Gustav_Flugmachinfabrik1910

 an Otto B-type pusher biplane, license-built by Pfalz, in front of the Pfalz factory, circa 1914

Gustav Otto, the son of inventor and industrialist Nikolaus August Otto, was a pioneer aviator in Bavaria. In 1910, Otto received German aviation license no. 34, proving his competence in an AviatikFarman. In the same year, Otto set up a training school and an aircraft factory, The factory, which was named Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik in 1913, was located on Lerchenauer Strasse, east of the Oberwiesenfeld troop maneuver area in the Milbertshofen district of Munich. Otto concentrated on building Farman inspired pushers and became the main supplier for the Bayerische Fliegertruppen (Royal Bavarian Flying Corps). Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik, renamed Otto Werke in January 1915, did not get orders from the Prussian military due to unexplained quality issues. The military urged Otto to revise his production line, but the issues were not resolved. Suffering financially, the Otto company was purchased by a consortium, which included MAN AG as well as some banks, in February 1916.

Gustav Otto had other companies grouped under AGO Werke, which from 1914 developed different aircraft from Otto-Werke. AGO had similar problems as Otto Werke and closed in 1918. AGO’s facilities were taken over by AEG.

Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw)

One month after buying Otto Werke, the investors established a new business, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFw), on the company’s premises. BFW manufactured aircraft under license from the Albatros Flugzeugwerke of Berlin. Within a month of being set up, the company was able to supply aircraft to the war ministries of Prussia and Bavaria. However, major quality problems were encountered at the start, with German air crews frequently complaining about serious defects in the first machines from BFw. The same thing had happened with aircraft from Otto Werke before the takeover. These deficiencies were due to a lack of precision in production. The majority of the workforce had been taken over by BFw from Otto Werke. Organizational changes and more intensive supervision of the assembly line resolved these problems by the end of 1916. BFw was able, in the months that followed, to turn out over 100 aircraft per month with a workforce of around 3,000, and rose to become the largest aircraft manufacturer in Bavaria.

1920 Helios M2B15 1920

 Helios motorcycle built by BFw before the merger with BMW. TheM2B15 engine was supplied by BMW

The end of the war hit BFw hard, since military demand for aircraft collapsed. The company’s management was forced to find new products in order to survive. Because aircraft were largely built from wood at that time, BFw was equipped with the very latest joinery plant and held enough stock of materials to build about 200 aircraft, which was worth 4.7 million reichsmarks. The company used the machinery and the materials in the production of furniture and fitted kitchens. In addition, from 1921 onwards, The company also built a motorized bicycle called the Flink and a motorcycle called the Helios. The Helios used a BMW M2B15 engine.

1916 Advertisement_for_BFW

 Advertisement for BFw in 1916

In the autumn of 1921 the Austrian financier Camillo Castiglioni first announced his interest in purchasing BFw. While most of the shareholders accepted his offer, MAN AG initially held on to its shareholding in BFw. But Castiglioni wanted to acquire all the shares. He was supported in this by BMW’s Managing Director Franz Josef Popp who, in a letter to the chairman of MAN, described BFw as a “dead factory, which possesses no plant worth mentioning, and consists very largely of dilapidated and unsuitable wooden sheds situated in a town that is extremely unfavorable for industrial activities and whose status continues to give little cause for enthusiasm”. By the spring of 1922, Castiglioni bought MAN’s shares in BFw, so that the company belonged exclusively to Castiglioni. In May of the same year, when Castiglioni acquired BMW’s engine business from Knorr-Bremse, he merged the aircraft company BFw into the engine builder BMW.

A later, unrelated BFw

Main article: Messerschmitt

The name Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG was revived in 1926 when Udet-Flugzeugbau GmbH was changed into a joint-stock company. In the early stages, BMW AG held a stake in this company and was represented by Popp, who held a place on the Supervisory Board. In time this company was renamed to Messerschmitt, an important and leading aircraft company for the Third Reich.

Origin and history of BMW to the end of World War I

Rapp Motorenwerke

In 1913 Karl Rapp established Rapp Motorenwerke near the Oberwiesenfeld. Rapp had chosen the site because it was close to Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik, with whom he had contracts to supply his four-cylinder aircraft engines.

Rapp was sub-contracted by Austro-Daimler to manufacture their V12 aircraft engines. Austro-Daimler at the time was unable to meet its own demands to build V12 Aero engines. The officer supervising aero-engine building at Austro-Daimler on behalf of the Austrian government was Franz Josef Popp. When it was decided to produce Austro-Daimler engines at Rapp Motorenwerke, Popp was delegated to Munich from Vienna to supervise engine quality.

Popp did not restrict himself to the role of observer, becoming actively involved in the overall management of the company. On 7 March 1916, Rapp Motorenwerke became Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. Popp convinced Karl Rapp to accept the application of Max Friz, a young aircraft engine designer and engineer at Daimler. At first Rapp was going to turn down Friz’s request; however, Popp successfully intervened on Friz’s behalf, because he recognized that Rapp Motorenwerke lacked an able designer. Within a few weeks Friz designed a new aircraft engine which, with an innovative carburettor and a variety of other technical details, was superior to any other German aero-engine. Later, this engine would gain world renown under the designation “BMW IIIa”.

Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH 1917


 BMW IIIa engine

The departure of Karl Rapp in 1917 enabled a fundamental restructuring of BMW GmbH, formerly Rapp Motorenwerke. While the development side was placed under Max Friz, Franz Josef Popp took over the post of Managing Director. Popp held this key position until his retirement in 1942, and was instrumental in shaping the future of BMW.

For the small BMW business, the large orders received from the Reichswehr for the BMW IIIa engine were overwhelming. Under Karl Rapp only a small number of engines had been produced and the manufacturing facilities were not in any way adequate to handle the mass production now required. Not only did BMW lack suitable machine tools but, to a very large degree, skilled manpower as well. However, the most serious drawback was in the small and aging workshops. Nevertheless, under the state-controlled war economy, officials in the relevant ministries were able to give BMW extensive practical support. So in a short time BMW got the skilled workers and machinery it needed. In addition, the Munich company received a high level of financial assistance, which enabled it to build a completely new factory from the ground up, in the immediate vicinity of the old workshops. Due to the share capital being too small, both the building of the new plant and the working capital needed for materials and wages had to be financed with external funds, i.e. bank loans or state assistance. The war ministries of Bavaria and Prussia (then both separate kingdoms within the Kaiser’s Empire) did not, however, wish to go on supporting BMW with loans and guarantees, and therefore urged the flotation of a public limited company.

BMW R35-roundel

 BMW roundel on a 1939 BMW motorcycle

The name-change to Bayerische Motoren Werke compelled management to devise a new logo for the company, therefore the famous BMW trademark is designed and patented at this time. However, they remained true to the imagery of the previous Rapp Motorenwerke emblem (which was designed by Karl’s brother, Ottmar Rapp). Thus, both the old and the new logo were built up in the same way: the company name was placed in a black circle, which was once again given a pictorial form by placing a symbol within it. By analogy with this, the blue and white panels of the Bavarian national flag were placed at the center of the BMW logo. Not until the late 1920s was the logo lent a new interpretation as representing a rotating propeller. The BMW Trademark, called a “roundel”, was submitted for registration on the rolls of the Imperial Patent Office, and registered there with no. 221388 on 10 Dec 1917.


In 1917 Julius Auspitzer’s son-in-law, Max Wiedmann, held about 80 percent of the shares in Rapp Motorenwerke. He had obtained most of these shares from his father-in- law in 1914 and had thus become a figure of great influence in the business. Even after the name-change to Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, Wiedmann remained the principal shareholder in the company. Wiedmann’s capitulation in July 1918 opened the way for the founding of a public limited company. On 13 August 1918 BMW AG was entered as a new company in the Commercial Register and took over from BMW GmbH all its manufacturing assets, order book and workforce. The old BMW GmbH was renamed “Maschinenwerke Schleißheimerstrasse” and was wound up on 12 November 1918. The share capital of BMW AG amounting to 12 million reichsmarks was subscribed by three groups of investors. One third of the shares was taken up in equal parts by the Bayerische Bank and the Norddeutsche Bank. A further third of the shares (worth 4 million reichsmarks) was acquired by the Nuremberg industrialist, Fritz Neumeyer. This ensured that 50 percent of the capital (6 million reichsmarks) was in the hands of Bavarian businesses or banks. The Bavarian government placed the highest value on this strong local shareholding. The final one-third of the BMW shares were taken up by a Viennese financier, Camillo Castiglioni.

Main article: Camillo Castiglioni

During the war, Castiglioni had been one of the principal players in the Austro-Hungarian aircraft industry, and for a long time had had links with Rapp Motorenwerke. So he had probably already been influential in negotiating the major order from Austro-Daimler Motoren to Rapp Motorenwerke in 1916 and would have received a large commission on this. However, Castiglioni’s interests were not restricted to Austria. As early as 1915, by merging a number of companies, he had founded Brandenburgische Flugzeugwerke in the Berlin area, which supplied aircraft to the German navy. It seemed only logical that he would want to extend his network of companies by adding a German aero-engine manufacturer.

First crisis for BMW AG – WWI aftermath

Winter 1918 factory closure

In order to enable companies to resume civil production as rapidly as possible, a central demobilization office was set up as soon as the war was over, and branches opened right across Germany. The Commissioner for Demobilization with responsibility for Bavaria ordered the closure of BMW’s Munich plant with effect from 6 December 1918. The employees of the fledgling company faced locked factory gates and a future that was far from certain. The reason given by the civil servants for this factory closure was the general shortage of raw materials such as coal and metals. The small supplies of coal that were still on hand had to be made available for the freezing population, and such supplies of metals as remained were diverted to consumer industries. As a former armaments manufacturer, BMW was sent away empty-handed.The end of the war in November 1918 had a huge impact on the entire German aircraft industry. Since 1914 the military had been placing lucrative orders with aircraft and aero-engine firms. But now, military demand collapsed completely. Civil aviation was still in its infancy, and no substitute business could be expected from that quarter. The end of the war hit BMW particularly hard, since the BMW IIIa aero-engine was the only product the company was building in 1918, and suddenly there was no more demand for aircraft engines.

Factory reopened

BMW’s top management was not discouraged by the compulsory closure decreed by the government. When permission was given for the gates to re-open on 1 February 1919, Managing Director Franz Josef Popp got the design department working constantly in order to have new products ready to sell to the peacetime market. Engines were designed for boats, cars, trucks and motorcycles. From the outset, BMW tried to remain an engine manufacturer. At the same time it also supplied industrial customers with products from its aluminum foundry.

In 1919 BMW was forced to give up building aircraft engines completely, which it had initially continued on a modest scale. The Allies had banned Germany from building aircraft and aircraft engines, and in addition had demanded that all aviation assets manufactured up to that date should be handed over or destroyed. While the new BMW engines for civilian use were technically advanced, they could not provide the company with long-term security in a highly competitive market. The top management therefore began looking for alternatives.

On 18 June 1919, BMW obtained a license agreement for the production of brake assemblies with the Berlin-based company Knorr-Bremse AG. The contract was to run for ten years and was intended to provide BMW with employment and profits until 1930. At that time, Knorr-Bremse manufactured state-of-the-art pneumatic brakes for trains and had the benefit of large, long-term contracts, which it could not, however, handle at its own factory. For this reason the Berlin company was looking for a manufacturer to license – and found it in Munich. One advantage BMW had in negotiating the contract was the announcement by the Bavarian government that they would be prepared to fit Bavarian trains with Knorr brakes provided they were manufactured in Bavaria.

Company sold to Knorr-Bremse

Return of Castiglioni and merger with BFw From the summer of 1919 onward, the manufacture of pneumatic brakes increasingly overshadowed engine production. The brake business occupied the majority of the BMW workforce, which was once again being expanded. This reorientation of the BMW product range had an effect on the ownership structure. As soon as the war ended, most of the BMW shareholders had lost interest in the company. Only the major shareholder Camillo Castiglioni still believed at first that BMW had a future, and took up all the company shares himself. However, Castiglioni was not an entrepreneur who took the long view; he was an astute financier in search of a quick return. The manufacture of railway brakes provided an opportunity to build up a solid business with sure profits, albeit small ones – too small for Castiglioni. In August 1920, when the chairman of Knorr-Bremse AG, Johannes Vielmetter, offered to buy all of Castiglioni’s shares in BMW, the Viennese speculator accepted. BMW was now wholly owned by the Knorr-Bremse company of Berlin. The new proprietors made only minor alterations to the structure of BMW, since they wished neither to change the management nor to get involved in the production process.

Under the leadership of Knorr-Bremse, BMW’s growth was considerable. Between the end of 1918 and 1921 the workforce grew from 800 to 1,800. In addition, the company set up its own training program with classes at the factory. In this way, in 1921 alone, BMW was able to offer solid technical training to some 200 young people. However, the price for this comfortable commercial situation was dependence on Knorr-Bremse and the abandonment of its core business of building aircraft engines.

In 1922, Castiglioni offered to buy BMW’s engine-building division, aluminum foundry, name, and trademark from Knorr-Bremse. Castiglioni declared that he intended to set up an engine manufacturing plant of his own, and so he asked for the drawings, patents and machine tools needed for manufacturing the engines. He also wanted to take with him to his new company several key figures such as the chief designer, Max Friz, and the chief executive, Franz Josef Popp. The remainder of the company, including the premises, would remain under Knorr-Bremse’s ownership and would be renamed. On 20 May 1922, Castiglioni bought the BMW name and engine-building business from Knorr-Bremse for 75 million reichsmarks. The remainder of the company became a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse and was renamed Süddeutsche Bremse AG.

Castiglioni did not purchase BMW’s premises in his transaction with Knorr-Bremse. Instead, he merged his Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw) into BMW and established BMW’s factory and headquarters at BFw’s premises. BMW was moved into the same buildings of Gustav Otto’s former Otto-Flugzeugwerke on Lerchenauer Strasse 76. BMW’s headquarters have been at that address ever since.

BMW, with some 200 workers housed in the former BFw’s old wooden sheds, began production on a modest scale. Initially its output was BFw motorcycles, proprietary engines, and spare parts for aircraft engines. To begin with, business for the “new” BMW AG did not go particularly well. The market for proprietary engines was still as hotly contested in 1921 as it had been in 1919 when BMW had gone into brake manufacture to secure its long-term future.

In 1923, while Germany suffered through a year of runaway inflation and numerous attempted coups, BMW made a successful new start: the company resumed production of aviation engines, selling them mainly to the Soviet Union, and it launched the first motorcycle of its own design, the R32.

R32 motorcycle

BMW R32-pn

 R32: the first BMW motorcycle

At the German Motor Show in Berlin (September 28 – October 7, 1923) BMW exhibited the R32 to the public for the first time. The first motorcycle from BMW convinced the experts immediately, and was an instantly popular product with consumers. A comment in the magazine DER MOTORWAGEN read: “And finally, the culmination of the exhibition, the new BMW motorcycle (494 cc) with the cylinders arranged transversely. Despite its youth it is a remarkably fast and successful motorcycle.”

The R32 had a 500 cc air-cooled horizontally opposed engine, a feature that would resonate among their various models for decades to come, albeit with displacement increases and newer technology. The major innovation was the use of a driveshaft instead of a chain to drive the rear wheel. To this day the driveshaft and boxer engine are still used on BMW motorcycles.


Austin-licensed BMW Dixi

1930 BMW Dixi

 BMW’s first automobile, the BMW Dixi 1930

BMW’s automobile history had begun much earlier than 1924, if only in the form of proposals and prototypes. Correspondence from 1918 shows the first use of the term “automobile” in BMW history, but no details are known to exist. BMW later manufactured several four-cylinder and two-cylinder engines that powered a variety of agricultural vehicles in the early 1920s. The spectrum of machinery driven across the land by BMW units ranged from single-track cars to huge farm tractors. Around 1925 two specially hired BMW designers, Max Friz and Gotthilf Dürrwächter, both former employees of Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart, were commissioned by BMW’s Managing Director Franz Josef Popp to design a BMW production car. The prototype of this design was the first car known to be made by BMW.

In 1928, BMW bought the Eisenach-based Dixi Automobil Werke AG from Gothaer Waggonfabrik. Dixi’s sole product at the time of the purchase was the 3/15 PS, a licensed copy of the Austin 7, production of which had begun in 1927. The Dixi 3/15 became the BMW 3/15, BMW’s first production car, upon the absorption of Dixi Werke into BMW.

BMW designs its own cars

Towards the end of 1930, BMW attempted to introduce a new front axle with independent wheel suspension for both their models, the BMW ‘Dixi’ 3/15 DA4 and BMW ‘Wartburg’ DA3, but this resulted in accidents with the prototypes because of construction faults. However, as the license with Austin would end in 1932, BMW decided upon the development of a completely new model and called in the help of German engineer Josef Ganz. He was hired as a consultant engineer at BMW in July 1931. At first, Josef Ganz negotiated with BMW about possible manufacture of his innovative rear-engined Maikäfer prototype at BMW. However, BMW decided for a different model, more along the lines of the previous Dixi model. Therefore, with the assistance of Ganz, work started on the development of the BMW AM1 (Automobilkonstruktion München 1), a small car with a front-mounted engine, rear-wheel drive, and independent wheel suspension with swing-axles.

Six-cylinder cars

BMW 303 1

 BMW 303

In 1933, BMW introduced the 303. Larger and more conventional than the AM-series 3/20, the 303 used BMW’s new M78 engine, making it the first BMW automobile to use a straight-six engine. The 303 was also the first BMW to use the “kidney grille” that would become a characteristic of BMW styling. The 303 formed the basis for the four-cylinder 309 and the larger-engined 315 and 319, while the 303 chassis supported the 315/1 and 319/1 roadsters and the restyled 329.

The 303 platform was supplemented and later supplanted by the 326, a larger car with a more rigid frame. Introduced in 1936, the 326 was BMW’s first four-door sedan. A shortened version of the 326 frame was used in the 320, which replaced the 303-framed 329, in the 321, which replaced the 320, and in the 327 coupé.

1939 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé

 BMW 328 Brescia Grand Prix coupé

The 328 replaced the 315/1 and 319/1 roadsters in 1936. Unlike the 303-based 315/1 and 319/1, the 328 had a purpose-built frame. While the 315/1 and 319/1 had M78 engines in a higher state of tune than in the respective 315 and 319 sedans, the 328’s M328 engine had a specially-designed hemispheric cylidner head and other modifications that brought its power to 80 PS (59 kW). From its introduction at the Eifelrennen race at the Nürburgring in 1936, where Ernst Henne drove it to win the 2.0 litre class, to the overall victory of Fritz Huschke von Hanstein at the 1940 Brescia Grand Prix during World War II, the 328 was a legendary performer, with more than 100 class wins in 1937 alone.

An extended version of the 326’s frame was used in the 335, a luxury car with the 3.5 litre M335 engine. The 335 was built from 1939 to 1941.

World War II

The German invasion of Poland and commencement of hostilities meant that manufacturing facilities in Germany were directed by the Nazi regime to re-focus on the manufacture of products required to support the war effort. For BMW, that meant an emphasis on production of aircraft engines. In 1939, BMW bought Spandau-based Brandenburgische Motorenwerke, also known as Bramo, from the Siemens group of companies and merged it with its aircraft engine division under the name BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH. A new factory at Allach, outside Munich, began production of aircraft engines later that year.

Franz Josef Popp argued against this policy, contending that, although financially lucrative, the change in focus would mean that the BMW AG would be heavily dependent on decisions made by the Nazi regime. In June 1940, he wrote to the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Emil Georg von Stauss, explaining that the situation could “threaten the very existence of BMW AG if there were any setback to aero engine production”. This change in focus did in fact lead to a significant increase in external control from political and military agencies, weakening the position of the BMW management and eroding the position of Franz Josef Popp, whose leadership of BMW had been relatively autonomous and autocratic to that point. Statutes enacted on October 1, 1940 required all subsidiaries to transfer profit and loss responsibility to BMW AG. Expansion of the aero engine business required several injections of capital to Flugmotorenbau GmbH, with the total capitalization of BMW AG increasing in stages to RM 100 million by 1944. Further restructuring was carried out in 1944, with centralization of sales in BMW AG and the GmbHs acting only as property companies.

BMW R75 + sidecar Sahara

 BMW R75 military sidecar outfit

The emphasis on aero engines caused significant changes in BMW AG’s business. Motorcycle production located at the Munich manufacturing facility abandoned production of non-military motorcycles by 1940, producing only the R12 and the R75, which were supplied to the Wehrmacht. At the beginning of 1942, motorcycle production was transferred to Eisenach so that the Munich plant could be dedicated to aero engine fabrication, and in 1942, BMW abandoned motorcycle production altogether. BMW also ceased production of automobiles in 1940, since cars were not being produced for the military. Only automobile repair facilities were retained, along with a development department.

BMW 003 jet engine 100 4189

 BMW 003 jet engine

A wide range of aero engines was ultimately produced for the Luftwaffe, including one of the most powerful engines of the time – the BMW 801. Over 30,000 aero engines were manufactured through 1945, as well as over 500 jet engines such as the BMW 003. To enable this massive production effort, forced labor was utilized, consisting primarily of prisoners from concentration camps such as Dachau. By the end of the war, almost 50% of the 50,000-person workforce at BMW AG consisted of prisoners from concentration camps. BMW also developed some military aircraft projects for the Luftwaffe towards the last phase of the Third Reich, the BMW Strahlbomber, the BMW Schnellbomber and the BMW Strahljäger, but none of them were built.

BMW AG plants were confiscated by Allied troops at the end of the war, and production of aero and jet engines for the Luftwaffe was shut down.

Second crisis for BMW AG – WWII aftermath

BMW R24 motorcycle

 R24 motorcycle

BMW AG was heavily bombed towards the end of the war, reducing most of the company’s production facilities to rubble. In fact, by the end of the war, the Munich plant was completely destroyed. Of its sites, those in eastern Germany (Eisenach-Dürrerhof, Wandlitz-Basdorf and Zühlsdorf) were seized by the Soviets.

After the war the Munich factory took some time to restart production in any volume. BMW was banned from manufacturing motor vehicles by the Allies. During this ban, BMW used basic secondhand and salvaged equipment to make pots and pans, later expanding to other kitchen supplies and bicycles. Permission to manufacture motorcycles was granted to BMW by United States authorities in 1947, and production of the R24 began in 1948.

East German 340 with BMW badge Taschkent-10-A

 East German 340 with BMW badge

In the east, the company’s factory at Eisenach was taken over by the Soviet Awtowelo group. Production of the R35 motorcycle was restarted in 1945, with the 321 automobile following late that year. A mildly revised 327 entered production in 1948, followed by the 326-based 340 in 1949. These were sold under the BMW name with the BMW logo affixed to them. To protect its trademarks, BMW AG legally severed its Eisenach branch from the company. Awtowelo continued production of the 327 and 340 under the Eisenacher Motorenwerk (EMW) brand with a red and white version of the logo until 1955.

1948 Bristol 400 with double kidney grille

 1948 Bristol 400 with double-kidney grille

In the west, the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) inspected the factory, and returned to Britain with plans for the 327 model and the six-cylinder engine as official war reparations. Bristol then employed BMW engineer Fritz Fiedler to lead their engine development team. In 1947, the newly formed Bristol Cars released their 400 coupé, a lengthened version of the BMW 327. that featured BMW’s double-kidney grille.

While Alfred Böning had returned to BMW and developed the R24 and Fritz Fiedler had gone to work for Bristol, Alex von Falkenhausen and Ernst Loof had each started companies that built sports cars and racing cars. Von Falkenhausen started Alex von Falkenhausen Motorenbau (AFM), while Loof, in partnership with Georg Meier and Lorenz Dietrich, started Veritas. AFM and Veritas both competed in Formula 2, but both companies had shut down operations by 1954, when both von Falkenhausen and Loof were back at BMW.

Three approaches to car manufacture

1951 BMW 331 prototype 531 1951 01

 1951 BMW 331 prototype

By the end of the 1940s BMW had returned to motorcycle manufacture but still had not restarted automobile manufacture. Kurt Donath, technical director of BMW and general manager of the Milbertshofen factory, solicited manufacturers, including Ford and Simca, to produce their vehicles under licence. In particular, Donath was looking to produce old models under licence, so that he could buy tooling along with the licence.

While Donath was trying to find a car to build under licence, chief engineer Alfred Böning developed a prototype for a small economy car powered by a motorcycle engine. Called the BMW 331, the prototype used a 600 cc motorcycle engine, a four-speed gearbox, and a live rear axle. The body was designed by Peter Schimanowski and resembled a BMW 327 in miniature.

The BMW 331 was proposed for production to the management, where it was vetoed by sales director Hanns Grewenig. Grewenig, a banker and former Opel plant manager, believed that BMW’s small production capacity was best suited to luxury cars with high profit margins, similar to the cars BMW made just before the war. To this end, he had Böning and his team design the 501.

When the 501 was introduced in 1951, its cost of approximately DM15,000 was about four times the average German’s earnings. It was also much heavier than expected and underpowered with a development of BMW’s pre-war two litre six. Delays in receiving and setting up equipment caused production of the 501 to be delayed until late 1952, with body construction, originally expected to be done in-house, being done by Karosserie Baur in Stuttgart for more than a year.

In 1954, the 501 was given an improved, more powerful version of its six-cylinder engine and split into two models, the 501A at basically the same trim level and a price reduction of DM1,000, and a decontented 501B at a further price reduction of DM1,000 below the 501A’s price. In addition, the 502, basically a 501 with an even higher trim level and a 2.6 L aluminium V8 engine designed by Bőning and Fiedler, was introduced to lead BMW’s luxury sedan range. The expanded line for 1954 doubled the sales of BMW’s luxury cars.

1956 BMW 507

 1956 BMW 507

Influenced by the public response to the introduction of Mercedes-Benz’s 300SL and 190SL show cars at the International Motor Sports Auto Show in New York in February 1954, the management of BMW approved Grewenig’s proposal to build a sports car based on the 502. Preliminary design sketches were seen by U.S. importer Max Hoffman, who suggested to industrial designer Albrecht von Goertz that he should submit design proposals to BMW’s management as an alternative. Based on these proposals, BMW contracted the design of the sports car and a four-seat grand tourer to von Goertz in November 1954. The 507 roadster was introduced at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York in the summer of 1955, while the 503 four-seater was introduced in September of that year at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Hoffman told BMW that he would order 2000 507s if he could sell them for US$5,000 each. When the selling price was given as about twice that, and higher than the 300SL, he withdrew his offer. 412 units of the 503 and 253 of the 507 were built during their production runs from 1956 (May for the 503, November for the 507) to March 1959.

BMW Isetta Moto Coupe Muenchen

 BMW Isetta Moto Coupe

Motorcycles were BMW’s largest money earner at the time, and their sales had peaked in 1954. Germans were turning away from mopeds and motorcycles toward light automobiles such as the Messerschmitt and the Goggomobil. Eberhard Wolff, BMW’s head of automotive development, saw the Iso Rivolta Isetta bubble car at the 1954 Geneva Motor Show and suggested to his managers the possibility of building the Isetta under licence. BMW entered talks with Iso Rivolta and bought both a licence to manufacture the Isetta and all the tooling needed to manufacture its body. Production of BMW’s version of the Isetta began in 1955; more than ten thousand Isettas were sold that year. BMW made more than a hundred thousand Isettas by the end of 1958, and a total of 161,728 by the end of production in 1962.

BMW knew that it needed a four-seat family car to keep up with the rising wealth and expectations of the German people, but it could not access funding to develop a new car for this market. They therefore developed the 600, a four-seat car based on the Isetta. The 600 used the front suspension, the front seats, and the front-mounted door from the Isetta, but used a new, longer ladder frame with a longer, four-seat body, a rear-mounted 0.6 L flat-twin motorcycle engine, and a full-width rear track. The 600’s rear suspension was BMW’s first use of the semi-trailing arm system that would be used on their sedans and coupes until the 1990s. Released in 1957, the 600 could not compete against the larger, more powerful Volkswagen Beetle. Production ended in 1959 after fewer than 35,000 were built.

Third crisis for BMW AG – a company for sale

BMW 700 coupé at Schaffen-Diest Fly-drive 2013

 BMW 700

Bmw 1602 2 v sst

 BMW 1602

By 1959, BMW was in debt and losing money. The Isetta was selling well but with small profit margins. Their 501-based luxury sedans were not selling well enough to be profitable and were becoming increasingly outdated. Their 503 coupé and 507 roadster were too expensive to be profitable. Their 600, a four-seater based on the Isetta, was selling poorly. The motorcycle market imploded in the mid-1950s with increased affluence turning Germans away from motorcycles and toward cars. BMW had sold their Allach plant to MAN in 1954. American Motors and the Rootes Group had both tried to acquire BMW.

At BMW’s annual general meeting on 9 December 1959, Dr. Hans Feith, chairman of BMW’s supervisory board, proposed a merger with Daimler-Benz. The dealers and small shareholders opposed this suggestion and rallied around a counter-proposal by Dr. Friedrich Mathern, which gained enough support to stop the merger. At that time, the Quandt Group, led by half-brothers Herbert and Harald Quandt, had recently increased their holdings in BMW and had become their largest shareholder. By the end of November 1960, the Quandts owned two-thirds of BMW’s stock between them.

By this time BMW had launched the 700, a small car with an air-cooled, rear-mounted 697 cc boxer engine derived from the engine powering the R67 motorcycle. It was available as a 2-door sedan and as a coupe, both versions having been designed by Giovanni Michelotti. There was also a more powerful RS model for racing.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1961, BMW launched the 1500, a compact sedan with front disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension. This modern specification further cemented BMW’s reputation for sporting cars. It was the first BMW to officially feature the “Hofmeister kink“, the rear window line that has been the hallmark of all BMWs since then.

The “New Class” 1500 was developed into 1600 and 1800 models. In 1966, the two-door version of the 1600 was launched, along with a convertible in 1967. These models began the ’02’ series, of which the 2002 was the best known, and which was continued until 1976 when it was replaced by the BMW 3 Series.

By 1963, with the company back on its feet, BMW offered dividends to its shareholders for the first time since World War II.

Expansion- Hans Glas GmbH

Autowerk BMW-München
Autowerk BMW-München
 München, BMW Autowerk, 1968

By 1966, the Munich plant had reached the limits of its production capacity. Although BMW had initially planned to build an entirely new factory, the company bought the crisis-ridden Hans Glas GmbH with its factories in Dingolfing and Landshut. Both plants were restructured, and in the following decades BMW’s largest plant took shape in Dingolfing.

Bmw 5 series e12 2 v sst

 BMW 5 series (E12)

In 1968, BMW launched its large “New Six” sedans, the 2500, 2800, and American Bavaria, and coupés, the 2.5 CS and 2800 CS.

Of major importance to BMW was the arrival of Eberhard von Kuenheim from Daimler-Benz AG. Just 40 years old, he presided over the company’s transformation from a national firm with a European-focused reputation into a global brand with international prestige.

BMW became commercially successful by the mid 1960s. In December 1971, BMW moved into their current headquarters in Munich. The architecture of the headquarters building is based on four cylinders.

In 1972, the 5 Series was launched to replace the New Six sedans, with a body styled by Bertone. The new class coupes were replaced by the 3 Series in 1975, and newly introduced larger sedans became the 7 Series in 1977. Thus the three-tier sports sedan range was formed, and BMW essentially followed this formula into the 1990s. Other cars, like the 6 Seriescoupes that replaced the CS and the M1, were also added to the mix as the market demanded.

From 1970 to 1993, under von Kuenheim, turnover increased 18-fold, car production quadrupled and motorcycle production tripled.


Rover 75 silver front right side

 The Rover 75, the only new Rover released under BMW

Between 1994 and 2000, under the leadership of Bernd Pischetsrieder, BMW owned the British Rover Group, having bought it from British Aerospace. This brought the active Rover, Mini and Land Rover brands as well as rights to many dormant marques such as Austin, Morris, Riley, Triumph and Wolseley under BMW ownership.

The venture was not successful. Already struggling after years of industrial disputes, Rover had a poor reputation but in trying to improve its image it would become a rival to the BMW market segment. BMW found it difficult to reposition the English automaker alongside its own products and the Rover division was faced with endless changes in its marketing strategy. In the six years under BMW, Rover was positioned as a premium automaker, a mass-market automaker, a division of BMW and an independent unit. A five part BBC documentary, When Rover Met BMW (1996), gave some insight into the difficulties faced by the two firms.

It is possible that some development work on the Rover R30 model may have eventually benefitted the BMW 1 Series.

BMW was more successful with the Mini, MG and Land Rover brands, which did not have parallels in its own range at the time.

In 2000, BMW disposed of Rover after years of losses, with Rover cars going to the Phoenix Venture Holdings for a nominal £10 and Land Rover going to the Ford Motor Company. The German press ridiculed the English firm as “The English Patient“, after the film. BMW itself, protected by its product range’s image, was largely spared the blame. Even the British press was not particularly sympathetic towards Rover.

BMW retained the rights to Mini, Triumph and other marques. MINI has been a highly successful business, though the other names have not been used yet. Following the bankruptcy of MG Rover in 2005, the Rover name was sold to Ford in 2006 after BMW gave it a first refusal offer in 2000. However, Ford did not release any Rover-badged cars before selling the name to Tata Group, while the MG brand has been relaunched by Nanjing Automobile of China.

Design controversy

BMW 7er E65 Bangle butt 82 schwarz hl

 Controversial BMW 7 Series (E65)“Bangle butt”

In the early 2000s, BMW undertook another of its periodic cycles of redoing the design language of its various series of vehicles, under the auspices of the then design chief Christopher Bangle. These controversial designs often featured unconventional proportions with complex concave and convex curved surfaces combined with sharp panel creases and slashes, a design cue called “flame surfacing”. Much of the new language did not rest well with BMW enthusiasts or the automotive press which referred to the new designs as “Bangled” or “Bangle-ised”. Although Bangle did not pen all of the new designs himself, as the design chief he was ultimately responsible for the direction that the company took and thus received much of the criticism. As Bangle had been promoted within the company to the BMW Group Head of Design, leaving him in charge of not only BMW but also Rolls-Royce and Mini, some questioned what long-term effect the disaffection of BMW traditionalists for these designs will have on sales, and on the company’s future. Sales at BMW have increased every year since some of his most debated designs have gone into production.

Many aspects of the “controversial” designs are now beginning to surface in other auto manufacturer’s designs. Though the design debuted and was popularized by BMW’s 7-Series, Hyundai incorporated this design cue in 1999, three years before the 7-Series was released, and Maybach incorporated it since its first showing in 1997.

Bangle was also responsible for many ‘conservative’ BMW designs and has worked at BMW for almost a decade. The first X5 sketches (which closely resembled the production car), were designed by him, and under his tenure the E46 3 Series came to be. Despite much of the scorn heaped on Chris Bangle, his design selections were approved by the entire executive board of BMW AG, including the majority owners, the Quandt family. BMW’s design team has won numerous awards with him at the helm.

Production outside Germany

BMW Zentrum Spartanburg USA

 BMW manufucturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA

BMW’s Rosslyn, South Africa, plant was the first BMW assembly line established outside Germany, with production starting in 1973. The wholly owned subsidiary now exports over 70% of its output. In the mid-1990s, BMW invested R1bn to upgrade the Rosslyn factory. The plant now exports over 50,000 3 Series cars a year, mostly to the USA, Japan, Australia, Africa and the Middle East.

BMW started producing automobiles at its Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant in 1994. Today, the plant manufactures the BMW X5, BMW X6, BMW X3, BMW X4, and respective Motor Sport versions.

The Spartanburg plant is open six days a week, producing automobiles approximately 110 hours a week. It employs about 4,700 people and manufactures over 600 vehicles daily. Recently, the plant has undergone a major renovation switching from 2 production lines down to one. Both the X5 and the X6 are produced in the same line, one right after the other.

Outside Germany, the largest output of the BMW Group comes from British factories. The Hams Hall plant manufactures four-cylinder BMW engines for use around the world in 3-Series, 1-Series and Z4 vehicles. This is in addition to MINIs and Rolls-Royces made in Oxford and Goodwood.

BMW signed agreement in 1999 with Avtotor to produce cars in Kaliningrad, Russia. Factory has been assembling 3 and 5 -series cars.

Starting from October 2004, BMWs intended for the Chinese market are produced in Shenyang, China. BMW has established a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Brilliance to build BMW 3 Series and 5 Series that have been modified for the needs of local markets.

The BMW X3 was manufactured in Graz, Austria between 2004 and 2007 by Magna Steyr with mainly German components. The X3 production will be moved to the Spartanburg plant due in part to high production and transportation costs of what was meant to be the “more affordable” SUV. North American pricing, after said costs, were nearly on par with the larger, American-built X5.

In 2005, BMW Group built a new manufacturing facility in Egypt. This plant builds 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, and X3 vehicles for the African and Middle East markets.

BMW opened its first assembly plant in Chennai, India in March 2007 to assemble 3-series and 5-series vehicles. The 20 Million Euro plant aims to produce 1,700 cars per year in the medium term, though this could rise to up to 10,000 cars if demand grows. The new factory may also be used to help boost the production of BMW’s super-successful MINI. BMW India headquarters is located in Gurgaon outside Delhi.


2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost the new 'baby' Rolls

 2010 Rolls-Royce Ghost, based on the F01 platform

In the early 1990s, BMW and Rolls-Royce Motors began a joint venture that would see the new Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and Bentley Arnage adopt BMW engines.

In 1998, both BMW and Volkswagen tried to purchase Rolls-Royce Motors. Volkswagen outbid BMW and bought the company for £430 million, but BMW outflanked its German rival. Although Volkswagen had bought rights to the “Spirit of Ecstasy” mascot and the shape of the radiator grille, it lacked rights to the Rolls-Royce name. Rolls-Royce plc (the aero-engine business) retained the rights over the Rolls-Royce trademark and wished to strengthen its existing business partnership with BMW which extended to the BMW Rolls-Royce joint venture. Consequently, BMW was later in 1998 allowed to acquire the rights to use the name “Rolls-Royce and “RR” logo on cars for £40 million.

In a separate deal BMW agreed to let Volkswagen use the name “Rolls-Royce and “RR” logo on cars until 2003 on condition that BMW would get the right to the grille and mascot from 2003, onwards.

BMW supplied the engines to the current Seraph/Arnage range and their supply contract had a clause that allowed BMW to stop the supply of engines the day another owner, (than then Vickers plc), took over the company. BMW could effectively stop Volkswagens Seraph/Arnage production. This might have biased the deal.

Volkswagen was permitted to build Rolls-Royces with all three trademarks at its Crewe factory until 2003. Volkswagen shifted its emphasis to the Bentley brand during that time.

BMW had all three key Rolls-Royce trademarks in 2003, by which time they had a new factory and a new model. The new factory at Goodwood produced the new Rolls-Royce Phantom, unveiled on January 2, 2003, and officially launched at the Detroit Auto Show on January 5, 2003. The model, priced around US$330,000, has experienced record sales worldwide of 796 Phantoms sold in 2005. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, BMW’s subsidiary manufacturing Rolls-Royces, has since launched the Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Automated cars

On 3 August 2015, Nokia announced that it had reached a deal to sell its Here digital maps division to a consortium of three German automakers—BMW, Daimler AG, and Volkswagen Group, for €2.8 billion. This was seen as an indication that the automakers were interested in automated cars.

That was the History, back to the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG


 BMW Headquarters in Munich. The towers and museum are visible in the back right.


 BMW Isetta with a front opening door.

1930 BMW dixi model_3_15PS

 BMW model 3/15PS (BMW Dixi) from 1930


 BMW 132 engine


 BMW 801 engine

BMW was established as a business entity following a restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft manufacturing firm in 1917. After the end of World War I in 1918, BMW was forced to cease aircraft-engine production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production as the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted in 1923, followed by automobiles in 1928–29.

The first car which BMW successfully produced and the car which launched BMW on the road to automobile production was the Dixi, based on the Austin 7 and licensed from the Austin Motor Company in Birmingham, England.

BMW’s first significant aircraft engine, and commercial product of any sort, was the BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine of 1918, known for good fuel economy and high-altitude performance. With German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. Among its successful World War II engine designs were the BMW 132 and BMW 801 air-cooled radial engines, and the pioneering BMW 003 axial-flow turbojet, which powered the tiny, 1944–1945–era jet-powered “emergency fighter”, the Heinkel He 162 Spatz. The BMW 003 jet engine was first tested as a prime powerplant in the first prototype of the Messerschmitt Me 262, the Me 262 V1, but in 1942 tests the BMW prototype engines failed on takeoff with only the standby Junkers Jumo 210 nose-mounted piston engine powering it to a safe landing. The few Me 262 A-1b test examples built used the more developed version of the 003 jet, recording an official top speed of 800 km/h (497 mph). The first-ever four-engine jet aircraft ever flown were the sixth and eighth prototypes of the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance-bomber, which used BMW 003 jets for power. Through 1944 the 003’s reliability improved, making it a suitable powerplant for airframe designs competing for the Jägernotprogramm‘s light fighter production contract. which was won by the Heinkel He 162 Spatz design. The BMW 003 aviation turbojet was also under consideration as the basic starting point for a pioneering turboshaft powerplant for German armored fighting vehicles in 1944–45, as the GT 101. Towards the end of the Third Reich, BMW developed some military aircraft projects for the Luftwaffe, the BMW Strahlbomber, the BMW Schnellbomber and the BMW Strahljäger, but none of them were built.

By the year 1958, the automotive division of BMW was in financial difficulties and a shareholders meeting was held to decide whether to go into liquidation or find an alternative. It was decided to carry by trying to cash in on the current economy car boom exploited so successfully by German ex-aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmitt and Heinkel. BMW bought the rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta. BMW’s version of he tiny cars were to be powered by a modified form of BMW’s motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet.

Since 1959, the controlling majority shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft has been the Quandt family, which owns about 46% of the stock. The rest is in public float.

BMW acquired the Hans Glas company based in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1966. Glas vehicles were briefly badged as BMW until the company was fully absorbed. It was reputed that the acquisition was mainly to gain access to Glas’ development of the timing belt with an overhead camshaft in automotive applications, although some saw Glas’ Dingolfing plant as another incentive. However, this factory was outmoded and BMW’s biggest immediate gain was, according to themselves, a stock of highly qualified engineers and other personnel. The Glas factories continued to build a limited number of their existing models, while adding the manufacture of BMW front and rear axles until they could be closer incorporated into BMW.

2012 BMW 328i F30 vl 2

 BMW 3-Series (F30)

In 1992, BMW acquired a large stake in California based industrial design studio DesignworksUSA, which they fully acquired in 1995. In 1994, BMW bought the British Rover Group (which at the time consisted of the RoverLand Rover and MG brands as well as the rights to defunct brands including Austin and Morris), and owned it for six years. By 2000, Rover was incurring huge losses and BMW decided to sell the combine. The MG and Rover brands were sold to the Phoenix Consortium to form MG Rover, while Land Rover was taken over by Ford. BMW, meanwhile, retained the rights to build the new Mini, which was launched in 2001.

Chief designer Chris Bangle announced his departure from BMW in February 2009, after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years. He was replaced by Adrian van Hooydonk, Bangle’s former right-hand man. Bangle was known for his radical designs such as the 2002 7-Series and the 2002 Z4. In July 2007, the production rights for Husqvarna Motorcycles was purchased by BMW for a reported 93 million euros. BMW Motorrad plans to continue operating Husqvarna Motorcycles as a separate enterprise. All development, sales and production activities, as well as the current workforce, have remained in place at its present location at Varese.

In June 2012, BMW was listed as the #1 most reputable company in the world by Rankings are based upon aspects such as “people’s willingness to buy, recommend, work for, and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company and only 40% by their perceptions of their products.”

Shareholder structure

by ownership

by types

  • Strategic investors: 46.7%
  • Institutional investors:
    • North America: 15.8%
    • United Kingdom and Ireland: 11.8%
    • Other Europe: 5.7%
    • Germany: 4.8%
    • Rest of the world: 2.5%
  • Other investors: 12.7%



 BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany: Spot welding of BMW 3 series car bodies with KUKA industrial robots.

In 2006, the BMW group (including Mini and Rolls-Royce) produced 1,366,838 four-wheeled vehicles, which were manufactured in five countries. In 2010, it manufactured 1,481,253 four-wheeled vehicles and 112,271 motorcycles (under both the BMW and Husqvarna brands).

The BMW X3 (E83) was made by Magna Steyr, a subsidiary of Magna of Canada, in Graz, Austria under license from BMW until 2010. More than 45,973 were produced in 2009. Starting October 2010, the new BMW X3 (F25) is produced at BMW US Manufacturing Company, Greer, Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

It is reported that about 56% of BMW-brand vehicles produced are powered by petrol engines and the remaining 44% are powered by diesel engines. Of those petrol vehicles, about 27% are four-cylinder models and about nine percent are eight-cylinder models. BMW also has local assembly operation using complete knock down components in Thailand, Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, for 3, 5, 7 series and X3.

Worldwide sales

Vehicles sold in all markets according to BMW’s annual reports.

Year BMW MINI Rolls-Royce Motorcycle*
2005 1,126,768 200,428 797 97,474
2006 1,185,088 188,077 805 100,064
2007 1,276,793 222,875 1,010 102,467
2008 1,202,239 232,425 1,212 115,196
2009 1,068,770 216,538 1,002 100,358
2010 1,224,280 234,175 2,711 110,113
2011 1,380,384 285,060 3,538 113,572
2012 1,540,085 301,525 3,575 117,109
2013 1,655,138 305,030 3,630 115,215**
2014 [2] 1,811,719 302,183 4,063 123,495**

*Since 2008, motorcycle productions and sales figures include Husqvarna models. **Excluding Husqvarna, sales volume up to 2013: 59,776 units.

China sales

BMW sells vehicles in China through “more than 440 BMW sales outlets and 100 Mini stores,” delivering 415,200 units to this network between January and November 2014.

Annual production

Year BMW MINI Rolls-Royce Motorcycle*
2005 1,122,308 200,119 692 92,013
2006 1,179,317 186,674 847 103,759
2007 1,302,774 237,700 1,029 104,396
2008 1,203,482 235,019 1,417 118,452
2009 1,043,829 213,670 918 93,243
2010 1,236,989 241,043 3,221 112,271
2011 1,440,315 294,120 3,725 118,865
2012 1,547,057 311,490 3,279 125,284
2013 1,699,835 303,177 3,354 110,129


BMW R32-pn

 The R32 motorcycle, the first BMW motor vehicle.

2015 BMW R1200RT

 The 2015 BMW R1200RT

BMW began production of motorcycle engines and then motorcycles after World War I. Its motorcycle brand is now known as BMW Motorrad. Their first successful motorcycle, after the failed Helios and Flink, was the “R32” in 1923. This had a “boxer” twin engine, in which a cylinder projects into the air-flow from each side of the machine. Apart from their single-cylinder models (basically to the same pattern), all their motorcycles used this distinctive layout until the early 1980s. Many BMWs are still produced in this layout, which is designated the R Series.

During the Second World War, BMW produced the BMW R75 motorcycle with a sidecar attached. Having a unique design copied from the Zündapp KS750, its sidecar wheel was also motor-driven. Combined with a lockable differential, this made the vehicle very capable off-road, an equivalent in many ways to the Jeep.

In 1982, came the K Series, shaft drive but water-cooled and with either three or four cylinders mounted in a straight line from front to back. Shortly after, BMW also started making the chain-driven F and G series with single and parallel twin Rotax engines.

In the early 1990s, BMW updated the airhead Boxer engine which became known as the oilhead. In 2002, the oilhead engine had two spark plugs per cylinder. In 2004 it added a built-in balance shaft, an increased capacity to 1,170 cc and enhanced performance to 100 hp (75 kW) for the R1200GS, compared to 85 hp (63 kW) of the previous R1150GS. More powerful variants of the oilhead engines are available in the R1100S and R1200S, producing 98 and 122 hp (73 and 91 kW), respectively.

In 2004, BMW introduced the new K1200S Sports Bike which marked a departure for BMW. It had an engine producing 167 hp (125 kW), derived from the company’s work with the Williams F1 team, and is lighter than previous K models. Innovations include electronically adjustable front and rear suspension, and a Hossack-type front fork that BMW calls Duolever.

BMW introduced anti-lock brakes on production motorcycles starting in the late 1980s. The generation of anti-lock brakes available on the 2006 and later BMW motorcycles pave the way for the introduction of electronic stability control, or anti-skid technology later in the 2007 model year.

BMW has been an innovator in motorcycle suspension design, taking up telescopic front suspension long before most other manufacturers. Then they switched to an Earles fork, front suspension by swinging fork (1955 to 1969). Most modern BMWs are truly rear swingarm, single sided at the back (compare with the regular swinging fork usually, and wrongly, called swinging arm). Some BMWs started using yet another trademark front suspension design, the Telelever, in the early 1990s. Like the Earles fork, the Telelever significantly reduces dive under braking.

BMW Group, on 31 January 2013 announced that Pierer Industrie AG has bought Husqvarna for an undisclosed amount, which will not be revealed by either party in the future. The company is headed by Stephan pierer (CEO of KTM). Pierer Industrie AG is 51% owner of KTM and 100% owner of Husqvarna. <BMW> <BMW> Example.jpg|Caption1 BMW.jpg|Caption2 <> </gallery>


Main article: List of BMW vehicles :

List of BMW vehicles

The following is a List of BMW vehicles indexed by year of introduction.








BMW 501 Barockengel


1965 BMW 3200 CS BMW 3200 Cabrio BMW 3200 CS Silver BMW 3200 CS3200 CS coupe 1962–1965 (based on the 503)

1963 BMW 1500 FrontSeit 1963 BMW 1500 sedan


1976-81 BMW-E12-Front 1976-81 BMW-E12-Heck BMW E12 520i, rear BMW E12 Interior BMW E12, Front ViewE12 mid-sized sedan 1972–1981 (first of the “5 series” mid-size sedans)

1982 BMW e21 316E21 compact sedan and convertible 1975–1983 (first of the “3 series” compact sedans)



M coupe 1998–2002 (first-generation M Coupe)



BMW X4 2014–present

Concepts and prototypes

M models

Main article: BMW M § Lineup

Production series codes[edit]

  • BMW 501 — (1952–1958) 6 cylinder Limousine
  • BMW 502 — (1954–1964) 8 cylinder Limousine
  • BMW 503 — (1956–1959) 8 cylinder Coupe and Cabriolet
  • BMW 507 — (1955–1959) 8 cylinder Roadster
  • BMW 3200 CS — (1956–1959) 8 cylinder Coupe and 1 Cabriolet
  • BMW Typ100 — (1955–1962) Isetta
  • BMW Typ106 — (1957–1959) 600
  • BMW Typ107 — (1959–1965) 700
  • BMW Typ110 – (1961–1964) 700 Cabriolet
  • BMW Typ114 — (1966–1976) 1600-2, 1602-2002TI, 1502
  • BMW Typ115 — (1963–1964) 1500
  • BMW Typ116 — (1964–1966) 1600
  • BMW Typ118 — (1963–1971) 1800-1800TI/SA
  • BMW Typ120 — (1966–1970) New Class Coupe 2000C/CS
  • BMW Typ121 — (1966–1972) 2000-2000tii
  • BMW E3 — (1968–1977) 2.5, 2.8, 3.0, 3.3 “New Six” Sedans
  • BMW E9 — (1969–1975) 2800CS, 3.0CS, 3.0CSL “New Six” Coupes
  • BMW E12
    BMW M535i — (1974–1981) 5 Series Sedan/M535i Sedan
  • BMW E21 — (1976–1983) 3 Series Sedan/Convertible
  • BMW E23 — (1977–1986) 7 Series Sedan
  • BMW E24
    BMW M635i — (1976–1989) 6 Series Coupe/M635i Coupe
  • BMW E26 — (1978–1981) M1 Coupe
  • BMW E28
    BMW M5 E28 — (1981–1987) 5 Series Sedan/M5 Sedan
  • BMW E30
    BMW M3 E30 — (1983–1991) 3 Series Sedan/Coupe/Touring/Convertible/M3 Coupe/Convertible
  • BMW Z1 — (1988–1991) Z1 Roadster
  • BMW E31 — (1989–1999) 8 Series Coupe
  • BMW E32 — (1986–1994) 7 Series Sedan
  • BMW E32 — (1987–1994) 7 Series Sedan long wheelbase
  • BMW E34
    BMW M5 E34 — (1988–1995) 5 Series Sedan/M5 Sedan
  • BMW E34 — (1991–1996) 5 Series Touring
  • BMW E36
    BMW M3 E36 — (1991–1999) 3 Series Coupe/M3 Coupe
  • BMW E36 — (1994–1999) 3 Series Touring
  • BMW E36
    BMW M3 E36 — (1991–1999) 3 Series Sedan/M3 Sedan
  • BMW E36
    BMW M3 E36 — (1993–1999) 3 Series Convertible/M3 Convertible
  • E36/5 — (1994–2000) 3 Series Compact
  • E36/7
    BMW M Roadster E36/7 — (1995–2002) Z3 Roadster/Z3 M Roadster
  • E36/8
    BMW M Coupe E36/8 — (1997–2002) Z3 Coupe/Z3 M Coupe
  • BMW E38 — (1994–2001) 7 Series Sedan
  • BMW E38/2 — (1994–2001) 7 Series Sedan long wheelbase
  • BMW E38/3 — (1998–2001) 7 Series Sedan Protection
  • BMW E39
    BMW M5 E39 — (1995–2003) 5 Series Sedan/M5 Sedan
  • BMW E39/2 — (1996–2003) 5 Series Touring
  • BMW E46
    BMW M3 E46 — (1999–2006) 3 Series Coupe/M3 Coupe
  • BMW E46 — (1999–2006) 3 Series Touring
  • BMW E46 — (1998–2006) 3 Series Sedan
  • BMW E46/5 — (2000–2004) 3 Series Compact
  • BMW E46
    BMW M3 E46 — (1999–2006) 3 Series Convertible/M3 Convertible
  • BMW E52 — (1999–2003) Z8 Roadster
  • BMW E53 — (1999–2006) X5 Sport Activity Vehicle
  • BMW E60
    BMW M5 E60 — (2003–2010) 5 Series Sedan/M5 Sedan
  • BMW E61
    BMW M5 E61 — (2003–2007) 5 Series Touring/M5 Touring
  • BMW E63
    BMW M6 E63 — (2003–2010) 6 Series Coupe/M6 Coupe
  • BMW E64
    BMW M6 E64 — (2003–2010) 6 Series Convertible/M6 Convertible
  • BMW E65 — (2001–2007) 7 Series short wheelbase
  • BMW E66 — (2001–2007) 7 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW E67 — (2001–2007) 7 Series Protection
  • BMW E68 — (2005–2007) Hydrogen 7
  • BMW E70
    BMW X5 M — (2007–2013) X5 Sports Activity Vehicle/X5 M Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW E71
    BMW X6 M — (2008–present) X6 Sports Activity Coupe/X6 M Sports Activity Coupe
  • BMW E72 — (2009–2011) X6 Hybrid Sports Activity Coupe
  • BMW E81 — (2007–2012) 1 Series Hatchback 3-door
  • BMW E82
    BMW 1M Coupe — (2007–2013) 1 Series Coupe/1M Coupe
  • BMW E83 — (2004–2012) X3 Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW E84 — (2009–present) X1 Compact Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW E85
    BMW M Roadster E85 — (2002–2008) Z4 Roadster/Z4 M Roadster
  • BMW E86
    BMW M Coupe E86 — (2006–2008) Z4 Coupe/Z4 M Coupe
  • BMW E87 — (2004–2011) 1 Series Hatchback 5-door
  • BMW E88 — (2008–2013) 1 Series Convertible
  • BMW E89 — (2009–present) Z4 Roadster
  • BMW E90
    BMW M3 E90 — (2005–2011) 3 Series Sedan/M3 Sedan
  • BMW E91 — (2005–2011) 3 Series Touring
  • BMW E92
    BMW M3 E92 — (2006–2013) 3 Series Coupe/M3 Coupe
  • BMW E93
    BMW M3 E93 — (2007–2013) 3 Series Convertible/M3 Convertible
  • BMW F01 — (2008–present) 7 Series
  • BMW F02 — (2009–present) 7 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW F03 — (2008–present) 7 Series Protection
  • BMW F04 — (2011–present) 7 Series ActiveHybrid
  • BMW F06
    BMW M6 F06 — (2011–present) 6 Series Gran Coupe/M6 Gran Coupe
  • BMW F07 — (2009–present) 5 Series Gran Turismo
  • BMW F10
    BMW M5 F10 — (2011–present) 5 Series Sedan/M5 Sedan
  • BMW F11 — (2012–present) 5 Series Touring
  • BMW F12
    BMW M6 F12 — (2011–present) 6 Series Coupe/M6 Coupe
  • BMW F13
    BMW M6 F13 — (2011–present) 6 Series Convertible/M6 Convertible
  • BMW F15 — (2013–present) X5 Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW F16 — (2014) X6 Sports Activity Coupe
  • BMW F18 — (2010–present) 5 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW F20 — (2011–present) 1 Series Hatchback 5-door
  • BMW F21 — (2012–present) 1 Series Hatchback 3-door
  • BMW F22 — (2013–present) 2 Series Coupe
  • BMW F23 — (2014) 2 Series Convertible
  • BMW F25 — (2010–present) X3 Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW F26 — (2014–present) X4 Sports Activity Coupe
  • BMW F30 — (2012–present) — 3 Series Sedan
  • BMW F31 — (2012–present) 3 Series Touring
  • BMW F32 — (2013–present) 4 Series Coupe
  • BMW F33 — (2013–present) 4 Series Convertible
  • BMW F34 — (2013–present) 3 Series Gran Turismo
  • BMW F35 — (2012–present) 3 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW F36 — (2014) 4 Series Gran Coupe
  • BMW F45 — (2014) 2 Series Active Tourer
  • BMW F46 — (2014) 2 Series 7 Seat Gran Tourer
  • BMW F47 — (2017) X2 Compact Sports Activity Coupe
  • BMW F48 — (2015) X1 Compact Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW F49 — (2015) X1 7 Seat Compact Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW F52 — (2015–present) 1 Series Sedan
  • BMW F80 — (2014–present) M3 Sedan
  • BMW F82 — (2014–present) M4 Coupe
  • BMW F83 — (2014–present) M4 Convertible
  • BMW F85 — (2015) X5 M Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW F86 — (2015) X6 M Sports Activity Coupe
  • BMW F87 — (2015) M2 Coupe
  • BMW G01 — (2017) X3 Sports Activity Vehicle
  • BMW G11 — (2016) 7 Series short wheelbase
  • BMW G12 — (2016) 7 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW G30 — (2016) 5 Series


Main article: BMW i
  • BMW i01 — (2014–present) i3 compact electric city car
  • BMW i12 — (2014–present) i8 electric sports car

Model nomenclature

Since 1972, BMW model names have generally been a 3 digit number followed by 1, 2 or 3 letters

  • the first digit represents the chassis type (e.g. 3 series, 5 series)
  • the last two digits represent the engine displacement in litres times 10.
  • the letters provide additional information on the model variant (see below).

Commonly used letters at the end of the model name are:

For example, the BMW 760iL is a fuel-injected 7 Series with a long wheelbase and 6.0 liters of displacement. A 318i represents a 3 series with a 1.8 L engine, in this case the “i” means that the engine is fuel-injected. This badge was used for successive generations, E65 and F01.

When ‘L’ supersedes the series number (e.g. L6, L7, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as a special luxury variant, featuring extended leather and special interior appointments. The L7 is based on the E23 and E38, and the L6 is based on the E24.

When ‘X’ is capitalized and supersedes the series number (e.g. X3, X5, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as one of BMW’s Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV), their brand of crossovers. Predominantly these vehicles feature BMW’s xDrive, though both the E84 X1 and the F15 X5 offer rear wheel drive, badged as sDrive vehicles. The second number in the ‘X’ series denotes the platform that it is based upon, for instance the X5 is derived from the 5 Series. Unlike BMW cars, the SAV’s main badge does not denote engine size, the engine is instead indicated on side badges.

The ‘Z’ identifies the vehicle as a two-seat roadster (e.g. Z1, Z3, Z4, etc.). ‘M’ variants of ‘Z’ models have the ‘M’ as a suffix or prefix, depending on country of sale (e.g. ‘Z4 M’ is ‘M Roadster’ in Canada).

Previous X & Z vehicles had ‘i’ or ‘si’ following the engine displacement number (denoted in liters). BMW is now globally standardizing this nomenclature on X & Z vehicles by using ‘sDrive’ or ‘xDrive’ (simply meaning rear or all wheel drive, respectively) followed by two numbers which vaguely represent the vehicle’s engine (e.g. Z4 sDrive35i is a rear wheel drive Z4 roadster with a 3.0 L twin-turbo fuel-injected engine).

The ‘s’ code has meant different things at different times. The E30 325iS was an options pack for the 325i, however the E30/E36 318iS models used different engines to E30/E36 318i models. The ‘s’ code was dropped in 1999 after the 325tds model (the last use in North America was for the 1995 325is). However, the ‘s’ code was revived on the 2011 model year BMW 335is and BMW Z4 sDrive35is. The 335is has a more powerful engine, sports options and an optional dual clutch transmission that slots between the regular 335i and top-of-the-line M3.

The ‘M’ – for Motorsport – identifies the vehicle as a high-performance model of a particular series (e.g. M3, M5, M6, etc.). For example, the M6 is the highest performing vehicle in the 6 Series lineup. Although ‘M’ cars should be separated into their respective series platforms, it is very common to see ‘M’ cars grouped together as its own lineup on the official BMW website.

A similar nomenclature is used by BMW Motorrad for their motorcycles.


There are exceptions to the numbering nomenclature, most commonly relating to SUV models, turbocharged engines and differing specification despite the same engine capacity.

SUV models
The M versions of the X5 M and X6 M, could not follow the regular naming convention, since “MX5” was used for Mazda‘s MX-5 Miata and MX-6.

Turbocharged engines
The 2008 BMW 335i and 535i also have 3.0-liter engine; however the engines are twin-turbocharged (N54) which is not identified by the nomenclature. Nonetheless the ’35’ indicates a more powerful engine than previous ’30’ models that have the naturally aspirated N52 engine. The 2011 BMW 740i and 335is share the same twin-turbo 3.0 N54 engine, although the badging is not consistent (’40’ and ‘s’). Due to the move to turbocharged engines, the 2009 750i has a 4.4 L turbocharged engine, compared with a 4.8 L naturally-aspirated engine for the 2006 750i.

Due to the increased use of turbocharging recently, it will become increasingly common for the last two digits to not represent the engine capacity (for example the F30 328i uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine).

Different specification levels but same engine capacity
In the 2008 model year, the BMW 125i, 128i, 328i, and 528i all had 3.0 naturally aspirated engines (N52), not a 2,500 cc or 2,800 cc engine as the series designation number would lead one to believe. The ’28’ is to denote a detuned engine in the 2008 cars, compared to the 2006 model year ’30’ vehicles (330i and 530i) whose 3.0 L naturally aspirated engines are from the same N52 family but had more output.

A similar situation occurred with the E36/E46 323i and E39 523i models. These models all used 2.5-litre engines. However, the previous 325i and 525i models were higher in the model range than their replacements, therefore the replacements were called 323i and 523i (which also provided a bigger gap to the future 328i and 528i models). BMW has not produced a 2.3-litre gasoline engine since the early 1990s.

The opposite situation occurred with the 1996 E36 318i, since it used a 1.9 L engine (M44) as opposed to the 1.8 L (M42) used in the 1992 to 1995 models. This was done to avoid changing the model code for the base model (i.e. otherwise consumers would need to be taught that the base model was now called 319i).

Another example of an exception is the 1980s 325e and 525e models. These cars actually used 2.7-litre engines (which were tuned for fuel economy rather than power).



BMW Motorrad has produced motorcycles bearing the BMW name since the introduction of the BMW R32 in 1923. Prior to that date it produced engines for other manufacturers’ motorcycles.

Present day

See also


  1. Jump up^ Lewin, Tony (2004), The Complete Book Of BMW: Every Model Since 1950, MotorBooks International, p. 307, ISBN 978-0-7603-1951-2, retrieved 2011-04-28
  2. Jump up^ Zoellter, Juergen (June 2009), “BMW E1 Concept – Car News; Electric Car, Take Two.”, Car and Driver, retrieved 2011-04-28
  3. Jump up^ “Concept Cars; Diminutive BMW”, Popular Science (Bonnier Corporation) 243 (1), July 1993: 37, ISSN 0161-7370, retrieved 2011-04-28
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b “BMW-Zukunft der Vergangenheit”, de:Motor Klassik (in German) (de:Motor Presse Stuttgart), 18 April 2011, retrieved 2011-04-28
  5. Jump up^ “BMW Just 4/2”, Popular Science (Bonnier Corporation) 248 (1), January 1996: 14, ISSN 0161-7370, retrieved 2011-04-28
  6. Jump up^ Greg Migliore (2008-06-10). “Future vision? BMW reveals fabric-skinned concept after six years”. Retrieved 2008-06-11.
  7. Jump up^ W.P. BMW Group Canada Inc.
  8. Jump up^ FAQ from the BMW Z4 Press Conference, as reported by BMWBLOG, May 8, 2009.
  9. Jump up^ “Preview: 2011 BMW 335is Coupe – Posted Driving”. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
  10. Jump up^ Cunningham, Wayne (2010-07-13). “2011 BMW 335is (photos) – CNET Reviews”. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
  11. Jump up^ Carver, Robert. BMW San Antonio. BMW Information

New Class

Main article: BMW New Class

The New Class (German: Neue Klasse) was a line of compact sedans and coupes starting with the 1962 1500 and continuing through the last 2002s in 1977. Powered by BMW’s celebrated four-cylinder M10 engine, the New Class models had a fully independent suspension, MacPherson struts in front, and front disc brakes. Initially a family of four-door sedans and two-door coupes, the New Class line was broadened to two-door sports sedans with the addition of the 02 Series 1600 and 2002 in 1966.

Sharing little in common with the rest of the line beyond power train, the sporty siblings caught auto enthusiasts’ attention and established BMW as an international brand. Precursors to the famed BMW 3 Series, the two-doors’ success cemented the firm’s future as an upper tier performance car maker. New Class four-doors with numbers ending in “0” were replaced by the larger BMW 5 Series in 1972. The upscale 2000C and 2000CS coupes were replaced by the six-cylinder BMW E9, introduced in 1969 with the 2800CS. The 1600 two-door was discontinued in 1975, and the 2002 was replaced by the 320i in 1975.

Current models

BMW_2014 BMW X1 xDrive20d_(E84,_2._Facelift)_–_Frontansicht,_7._Dezember_2014,_Düsseldorf

BMW X1 xDrive20d (E84)

2011 BMW 535i -- NHTSA_2

BMW 5-Series (F10)

The 1 Series, originally launched in 2004, is BMW’s smallest car. Currently available are the second generation hatchback (F20) and first generation coupe/convertible (E82/E88). The 3 Series, a compact executive carmanufactured since model year 1975, is currently in its sixth generation (F30); models include the sport sedan (F30), and fourth generation station wagon (F30), and convertible (E93), and the Gran Turismo. In 2014, the 4 Series has been released and replaced the 3 Series Coupe and Convertible. The 5 Series is a mid-size executive car, available in sedan (F10) and station wagon (F11) forms. The 5 Series Gran Turismo (F07), which debuted in 2010, created a segment between station wagons and crossover SUV2012_BMW_Z4_--_2012_DC

BMW Z4 (E89)

BMW’s full-size flagship executive sedan is the 7 Series. Typically, BMW introduces many of their innovations first in the 7 Series, such as the iDrive system. The 7 Series Hydrogen, having one of the world’s first hydrogenfueled internal combustion engines, is fueled by liquid hydrogen and emits only clean water vapor. The latest generation (F01) debuted in 2009. Based on the 5 Series’ platform, the 6 Series is BMW’s grand touring luxury sport coupe/convertible (F12/F13). A 2-seater roadster and coupe which succeeded the Z3, the Z4 has been sold since 2002.

The X3 (F25), BMW’s second crossover SUV (called SAV or “Sports Activity Vehicle” by BMW) debuted in 2010 and replaced the X3 (E83), which was based on the E46 3 Series’ platform, and had been in production since 2003. Marketed in Europe as an off-roader, it benefits from BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The all-wheel drive X5 (E53) was BMW’s first crossover SUV (SAV), based on the 5 Series, and is a mid-size luxury SUV (SAV) sold by BMW since 2000. A 4-seat crossover SUV released by BMW in December 2007, the X6 is marketed as a “Sports Activity Coupe” (SAC) by BMW. The X1 extends the BMW Sports Activity Series model lineup.

The BMW i is a sub-brand of BMW founded in 2011 to design and manufacture plug-in electric vehicles. The sub-brand initial plans called for the release of two vehicles; series production of the BMW i3 all-electric car began in September 2013, and the market launch took place in November 2013 with the first retail deliveries in Germany. The BMW i8 sports plug-in hybrid car was launched in Germany in June 2014. As of June 2015, over 30,000 i brand vehicles have been sold worldwide since 2013, consisting of over 26,000 i3s and about 4,500 i8s. The all-electric BMW i3 ranked among the world’s top ten best selling plug-in electric vehicles as of May 2015.

M models

Main article: BMW M

2013 BMW M6 coupe NYIAS

BMW M6 (F13)

BMW produce a number of high-performance derivatives of their cars developed by their BMW M GmbH (previously BMW Motorsport GmbH) subsidiary.

The current M models are:

  • M3 – F80 Sedan (2013 to present)
  • M4 – F82 Coupé/F83 Convertible (2013 to present)
  • M5 – F10 Saloon (2011 to present)
  • M6 – F06 Gran Coupé/F12 Convertible/F13 Coupé (2012 to present)
  • X5 M – F15 SAV (2014 to present)
  • X6 M – F16 SAV (2014 to present)


Main article: BMW in motorsport

BMW has been engaged in motorsport activities since the dawn of the first BMW motorcycle in 1923.

Motorsport sponsoring


BMW S1000RR race


Formula One – F1

Main article: BMW in Formula One

BMW Sauber F1 Team Logo.

2006 BMW Jacques Villeneuve Canada Formula One

BMW first entered Formula One as a full-fledged team in 2006.

BMW has a history of success in Formula One. BMW powered cars have won 20 races. In 2006 BMW took over the Sauber team and became Formula One constructors. In 2007 and 2008 the team enjoyed some success. The most recent win is a lone constructor team’s victory by BMW Sauber F1 Team, on 8 June 2008, at the Canadian Grand Prix with Robert Kubica driving. Achievements include:

  • Driver championship: 1 (1983)
  • Constructor championship: 0 (Runner-up 2002, 2003, 2007)
  • Fastest laps: 33
  • Grand Prix wins: 20
  • Podium finishes: 76
  • Pole positions: 33

BMW was an engine supplier to Williams, Benetton, Brabham, and Arrows. Notable drivers who have started their Formula One careers with BMW include Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel.

In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One at the end of the 2009 season. The team was sold back to the previous owner, Peter Sauber, who kept the BMW part of the name for the 2010 season due to issues with the Concorde Agreement. The team has since dropped BMW from their name starting in 2011.

Sport cars

Touring cars

BMW has a long and successful history in touring car racing.

BMW announced on 15 October 2010 that it will return to touring car racing during the 2012 season. Dr. Klaus Draeger, director of research and development of the BMW Group, who was in charge of the return to DTM racing (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), commented that “The return of BMW to the DTM is a fundamental part of the restructuring of our motorsport activities. With its increased commitment to production car racing, BMW is returning to its roots. The race track is the perfect place to demonstrate the impressive sporting characteristics of our vehicles against our core competitors in a high-powered environment. The DTM is the ideal stage on which to do this.”



In football, BMW sponsors Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.

It was an official sponsor of the London 2012 olympics providing 4000 BMWs and Minis in a deal made in November 2009. The company also made a six-year sponsorship deal with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in July 2010.

BMW has sponsored various European golf events such as the PGA Championship at Wentworth, the BMW Italian Open and the BMW International Open in Germany.

In 2012, BMW Australia announced a 2-year sponsorship agreement with the Australian Film Institute’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards. As part of the agreement, BMW supplied a fleet of vehicles renowned for appearing in feature films. The vehicles supplied included a range of elegant BMW limousines, iconic BMW’s of the past and the BMW 6 Series which featured in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol.

Environmental record

The company is a charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‘s (EPA) National Environmental Achievement Track, which recognizes companies for their environmental stewardship and performance. It is also a member of the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program.

In 2012, BMW was named the world’s most sustainable automotive company for the eighth consecutive year by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. The BMW Group is the only automotive enterprise in the index since its inception in 1999. In 2001, the BMW Group committed itself to the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact and the Cleaner Production Declaration. It was also the first company in the automotive industry to appoint an environmental officer, in 1973. BMW is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

BMW is industry leader in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global 500 ranking and 3rd place in Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index across all industries. BMW is listed in the FTSE4GoodIndex. The BMW Group was rated the most sustainable DAX 30 company by Sustainalytics in 2012.

BMW has taken measures to reduce the impact the company has on the environment. It is trying to design less-polluting cars by making existing models more efficient, as well as developing environmentally friendly fuels for future vehicles. Possibilities include: electric power, hybrid power (combustion engines and electric motors) hydrogen engines.

BMW offers 49 models with EU5/6 emissions norm and nearly 20 models with CO2 output less than 140 g/km, which puts it on the lowest tax group and therefore could provide the future owner with eco-bonus offered from some European countries.

However, there have been some criticisms directed at BMW, and in particular, accusations of greenwash in reference to their BMW Hydrogen 7. Some critics claim that the emissions produced during hydrogen fuel production outweigh the reduction of tailpipe emissions, and that the Hydrogen 7 is a distraction from more immediate, practical solutions for car pollution.[54] The BBC’s Jorn Madslien questioned whether the Hydrogen 7 was “a truly green initiative or merely a cynical marketing ploy”


BMW has created a range of high-end bicycles sold online and through dealerships. They range from the Kid’s Bike to the EUR 4,499 Enduro Bike. In the United States, only the Cruise Bike and Kid’s Bike models are sold.

BMW nomenclature

BMW M5 F10 (8694398487)

BMW M5 (F10)

2012 BMW 730d xDrive (F01)

BMW 730d xDrive (F01)

2014 BMW X5 (F15) xDrive30d wagon (2015-06-27) 01

BMW X5 (F15)

BMW E71 X6 xDrive35i 01

BMW X6 (E71)

BMW vehicles follow a certain nomenclature; usually a 3 digit number is followed by 1 or 2 letters. The first number represents the series number. The next two numbers traditionally represent the engine displacement in cubic centimeters divided by 100. However, more recent cars use those two numbers as a performance index, as e.g. the 116i, 118i and 120i (all 2,0L petrol-powered), just like the 325d and 330d (both 3,0L diesel) share the same motor block while adjusting engine power through setup and turbocharging. A similar nomenclature is used by BMW Motorrad for their motorcycles.

The system of letters can be used in combination, and is as follows:

historic nomenclature indicating “td” refers to “Turbo Diesel”, not a diesel hatchback or touring model (524td, 525td)

†† typically includes sport seats, spoiler, aerodynamic body kit, upgraded wheels and Limit Slip Differential on pre-95 model etc.

For example, the BMW 750iL is a fuel-injected 7 Series with a long wheelbase and 5.4 litres of displacement. This badge was used for successive generations, E65 and F01, except the “i” and “L” switched places, so it read “Li” instead of “iL”.

When ‘L’ supersedes the series number (e.g. L6, L7, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as a special luxury variant, having extended leather and special interior appointments. The L7 is based on the E23 and E38, and the L6 is based on the E24.

When ‘X’ is capitalised and supersedes the series number (e.g. X3, X5, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as one of BMW’s Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV), their brand of crossovers, with BMW’s xDrive. The second number in the ‘X’ series denotes the platform that it is based upon, for instance the X5 is derived from the 5 Series. Unlike BMW cars, the SAV’s main badge does not denote engine size; the engine is instead indicated on side badges.

The ‘Z’ identifies the vehicle as a two-seat roadster (e.g. Z1, Z3, Z4, etc.). ‘M’ variants of ‘Z’ models have the ‘M’ as a suffix or prefix, depending on country of sale (e.g. ‘Z4 M’ is ‘M Roadster’ in Canada).

Previous X & Z vehicles had ‘i’ or ‘si’ following the engine displacement number (denoted in litres). BMW is now globally standardising this nomenclature on X & Z vehicles by using ‘sDrive’ or ‘xDrive’ (simply meaning rear or all-wheel drive, respectively) followed by two numbers which vaguely represent the vehicle’s engine (e.g. Z4 sDrive35i is a rear-wheel-drive Z4 roadster with a 3.0 L twin-turbo fuel-injected engine).

BMW last used the ‘s’ for the E36 328is, which ceased production in 1999. However, the ‘s’ nomenclature was brought back on the 2011 model year BMW 335is and BMW Z4 sDrive35is. The 335is is a sport-tuned trim with more performance and an optional dual clutch transmission that slots between the regular 335i and top-of-the-line M3.

The ‘M’ – for Motorsport – identifies the vehicle as a high-performance model of a particular series (e.g. M3, M5, M6, etc.). For example, the M6 is the highest performing vehicle in the 6 Series lineup. Although ‘M’ cars should be separated into their respective series platforms, it is very common to see ‘M’ cars grouped together as its own lineup on the official BMW website.


There are exceptions to the numbering nomenclature.

The M version of the BMW 1 Series was named the BMW 1 Series M Coupe rather than the traditional style “M1” due to the possible confusion with BMW’s former BMW M1 homologation sports car.

The M versions of the Sports Activity Vehicles, such as the X5 M, could not follow the regular naming convention since MX5 was used for Mazda‘s MX-5 Miata.

For instance in the 2008 model year, the BMW 125i/128i, 328i, and 528i all had 3.0 naturally aspirated engines (N52), not a 2,500 cc or 2,800 cc engine as the series designation number would lead one to believe. The ’28’ is to denote a detuned engine in the 2008 cars, compared to the 2006 model year ’30’ vehicles (330i and 530i) whose 3.0 naturally aspirated engines are from the same N52 family but had more output.

The 2008 BMW 335i and 535i also have 3.0-litre engine; however the engines are twin-turbocharged (N54) which is not identified by the nomenclature. Nonetheless the ’35’ indicates a more powerful engine than previous ’30’ models that have the naturally aspirated N52 engine. The 2011 BMW 740i and 335is shares the same twin-turbo 3.0 engine from the N54 family but tuned to higher outputs, although the badging is not consistent (’40’ and ‘s’). The 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe’s twin-scroll single turbo 3.0L inline-6 engine makes similar output to the older twin turbo inline-6 engines.

The E36 and E46 323i and E39 523i had 2.5-litre engines. The E36 318i made after 1996 has a 1.9 L engine (M44) as opposed to the 1.8 L (M42) used in the 1992 to 1995 models. The E39 540i had a 4.4 L M62 engine, instead of a 4.0 L as the designation would suggest.

The badging for recent V8 engines (N62 and N63) also does not indicate displacement, as the 2006 750i and 2009 750i have 4800 cc (naturally aspirated) and 4400 cc (twin-turbocharged) engines, respectively.

Carsharing services

In June 2011, BMW and Sixt launched Drivenow, a joint-venture that provides carsharing services in several cities in Europe and North America. As of December 2012, DriveNow operates over 1,000 vehicles, which serve five cities worldwide and over 60,000 customers.

Light and Charge

BMW has developed street lights equipped with sockets to charge electric cars, called Light and Charge.



BMW logo sign in Düsseldorf

From the summer of 2001 until October 2005, BMW hosted The Hire, showcasing sporty models being driven to extremes. These videos are still popular within the enthusiast community and proved to be a ground-breaking online advertising campaign.

Annually since 1999, BMW enthusiasts have met in Santa Barbara, CA to attend Bimmerfest. One of the largest brand-specific gatherings in the U.S., over 3,000 people attended in 2006, and over 1,000 BMW cars were present. In 2007, the event was held on 5 May.

BMW slang

The initials BMW are pronounced [ˈbeː ˈɛm ˈveː] in German. The model series are referred to as “Einser” (“One-er” for 1 series), “Dreier” (“Three-er” for 3 series), “Fünfer” (“Five-er” for the 5 series), “Sechser” (“Six-er” for the 6 series), “Siebener” (“Seven-er” for the 7 series). These are not actually slang, but are the normal way that such letters and numbers are pronounced in German.

The English slang terms Beemer, Bimmer and Bee-em are variously used for BMWs of all kinds, cars and motorcycles.

In the US, specialists have been at pains to prescribe that a distinction must be made between using Beemer exclusively to describe BMW motorcycles, and using Bimmer only to refer to BMW cars, in the manner of a “true aficionado” and avoid appearing to be “uninitiated.” The Canadian Globe and Mail prefers Bimmer and calls Beemer a “yuppie abomination,” while the Tacoma News Tribune says it is a distinction made by “auto snobs.” Using the wrong slang risks offending BMW enthusiasts. An editor of Business Week was satisfied in 2003 that the question was resolved in favor of Bimmer by noting that a Google search yielded 10 times as many hits compared to Beemer.

The arts

1975 Alexander Calder, BMW 3.0 CSL

1975 BMW 3.0CSL painted by Alexander Calder

Manufacturers employ designers for their cars, but BMW has made efforts to gain recognition for exceptional contributions to and support of the arts, including art beyond motor vehicle design. These efforts typically overlap or complement BMW’s marketing and branding campaigns. BMW Headquarters designed in 1972 by Karl Schwanzer has become a European icon, and artist Gerhard Richter created his Red, Yellow, Blue series of paintings for the building’s lobby. In 1975, Alexander Calder was commissioned to paint the 3.0CSL driven by Hervé Poulain at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This led to more BMW Art Cars, painted by artists including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. The cars, currently numbering 17, have been shown at the Louvre, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and, in 2009, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York’sGrand Central Terminal. BMW was the principal sponsor of the 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and other Guggenheim museums, though the financial relationship between BMW and the Guggenheim was criticised in many quarters.

In 2012, BMW brought out the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors, which had, amongst others, the Dikeou Collection. It is the first global guide to private and publicly accessible collections of contemporary art worldwide.

The 2006 “BMW Performance Series” was a marketing event geared to attract black car buyers, and included the “BMW Pop-Jazz Live Series,” a tour headlined by jazz musician Mike Phillips, and the “BMW Film Series” highlighting black filmmakers.

April Fools

BMW has garnered a reputation over the years for its April Fools pranks, which are printed in the British press every year. In 2010, they ran an advert announcing that customers would be able to order BMWs with different coloured badges to show their affiliation with the political party they supported.

Overseas subsidiaries


On October 9, 2014, BMW’s new South American automobile plant in Araquari, Santa Catarina produced its first car. BMW intend to increase its production capacity to over 30,000 vehicles a year. The new site is intended to create around 1,300 new jobs, of which 500 have already been filled.


In October 2008, BMW Group Canada was named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.


Main article: BMW Brilliance

Signing a deal in 2003 for the production of sedans in China, May 2004 saw the opening of a factory in the North-eastern city of Shenyang where Brilliance Auto produces BMW-branded automobiles in a joint venture with the German company.


Bavarian Auto Group is a multinational group of companies established in March 2003 when it was appointed as the sole importer of BMW and Mini in Egypt, with monopoly rights for import, assembly, distribution, sales and after-sales support of BMW products in Egypt. Since that date, BAG invested a total amount of US$100 million distributed on seven companies and 11 premises in addition to three stores.


BMW India was established in 2006 as a sales subsidiary in Gurgaon (National Capital Region). A state-of-the-art assembly plant for BMW 3 and 5 Series started operation in early 2007 in Chennai. Construction of the plant started in January 2006 with an initial investment of more than one billion Indian Rupees. The plant started operation in the first quarter of 2007 and produces the different variants of BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW 7 Series, BMW X1, BMW X3, Mini Cooper S, Mini Cooper D and Mini Countryman.


Yanase Co., Ltd. is the exclusive retailer of all imported BMW (passenger cars and motorcycles) products to Japanese consumers, and has had the exclusive rights to do so since the end of World War II.


In July 2014 BMW announced it was establishing a plant in Mexico, in the city and state of San Luis Potosi involving an investment of $1 billion. Taking advantage of lower wages in the country, and the terms of free trade agreements Mexico has with a host of other countries, were the motivating factors the company said. The plant will employ 1,500 people, and produce 150,000 cars annually, commencing in 2019.

South Africa

BMWs have been assembled in South Africa since 1968, when Praetor Monteerders’ plant was opened in Rosslyn, near Pretoria. BMW initially bought shares in the company, before fully acquiring it in 1975; in so doing, the company became BMW South Africa, the first wholly owned subsidiary of BMW to be established outside Germany. Three unique models that BMW Motorsport created for the South African market were the E23 M745i (1983), which used the M88 engine from the BMW M1, the BMW 333i (1986), which added a six-cylinder 3.2-litre M30 engine to the E30, and the E30 BMW 325is (1989) which was powered by an Alpina-derived 2.7-litre engine.

Unlike U.S. manufacturers, such as Ford and GM, which divested from the country in the 1980s, BMW retained full ownership of its operations in South Africa. Following the end of apartheid in 1994, and the lowering of import tariffs, BMW South Africa ended local production of the 5-Series and 7-Series, in order to concentrate on production of the 3-Series for the export market. South African–built BMWs are now exported to right hand drive markets including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1997, BMW South Africa has produced vehicles in left-hand drive for export to Taiwan, the United States and Iran, as well as South America.

BMWs with a VIN starting with “NC0” are manufactured in South Africa.

United States

BMW Zentrum Spartanburg

BMW Spartanburg factory

The BMW Manufacturing Company opened in 1994 and has been manufacturing all Z4 and X5 models, and more recently the X6 and X3, including those for export to Europe, on the same assembly line in Greer near Spartanburg. In an average work day the company builds 600 vehicles: 500 X5s and 100 Z4s. The engines for these vehicles are built in Munich, Germany. BMWs with a VIN starting with “4US and 5US” are manufactured at Spartanburg.

In 2010 BMW announced that it would spend $750 million to expand operations at the Greer plant. This expansion will allow production of 240,000 vehicles a year and will make the plant the largest car factory in the United States by number of employees. BMW’s largest single market is the United States.

Currently, the facility produces all BMW X3, X4, X5, X5 M, X6 and X6 M models.


BMW began using the slogan ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’ in the 1970s. In 2010, this long-lived campaign was mostly supplanted by ‘Joy’, a campaign intended to make the brand more “approachable” and to better appeal to women, but by 2012 they had returned to “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, which has a strong public association with BMW.

In 2013, BMW replaced the ‘double-gong’ sound used in TV and Radio advertising campaigns since 1998. The new sound, developed to represent the future identity of BMW, was described as “introduced by a rising, resonant sound and underscored by two distinctive bass tones that form the sound logo’s melodic and rhythmic basis.” The new sound was first used in BMW 4 Series Concept Coupe TV commercial. The sound was produced by Thomas Kisser of HASTINGS media music.


The round BMW logo used for all models

The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew, combined with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria. The logo has been portrayed as the movement of an aircraft propeller with the white blades cutting through a blue sky—first used in a BMW advertisement in 1929, twelve years after the roundel was created—but this is not the origin of the logo itself. The colors of the logo stands for the colors from the south part state of Beieren.


Theft using OBD, 2012

In 2012, BMW vehicles were stolen by programming a blank key fob to start the car through the on-board diagnostics (OBD) connection. The primary causes of this vulnerability lie in the lack of appropriate authentication and authorization in the OBD specifications, which rely largely on security through obscurity.

ConnectedDrive, 2010-2014

Dieter Spaar was asked by ADAC to analyze ConnectedDrive and its hardware called Combox. He uncovered the following problems which allowed him e.g. to remotely open the car:

  • BMW uses the same symmetric keys in all cars.
  • some services do not encrypt transported data while connecting to the BMW backend.
  • the integrity of the ConnectedDrive configuration is not protected.
  • the Combox discloses the vehicle identification number via NGTP (next generation telematics pattern) error messages.
  • data sent via SMS in NGTP format are encryped via the nowadays unsecure DES.
  • the Combox does not protect against replay attacks.

BMW was notified in advance of the publication to provide fixes. The transport is now encrypted and BMWs server certificate is verified. The updates were delivered via ConnectedDrive config change. All BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce cars produced between March 2010 and 8 December 2014 are vulnerable. Cars without battery or parked in places without mobile connection still may be vulnerable, an update can be initiated manually.

See also


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Author: Jeroen

In Dutch, my homelanguage: Ik ben Jeroen, tot januari 2015 was ik al dik 26 jaar werkzaam in een psychiatrisch ziekenhuis in een stad vlakbij Werelds grootste havenstad Rotterdam. Eerst als verpleegkundige/begeleider op high care, later op afdeling dubbeldiagnose (verslavingen) en ook nog een tijdje als administratief medewerker. Ik heb een spierziekte "Poli Myositis" (alle spieren zijn ontstoken) daardoor weinig energie. Sinds augustus 2015 is daarbij de diagnose Kanker gesteld, en ben ik helemaal arbeidsongeschikt geworden en zit middenin de behandelfase. Gelukkig ben ik daarnaast getrouwd, vader, en opa, en heb de nodige hobby's. Een daarvan is transportmiddelen verzamelen en daarmee een blog schrijven. Dit blog begon met bussen, maar nu komen ook sleepboten, auto's trucks en dergelijke aan bod. Kijk en geniet met me mee, reageer, en vul gerust aan. Fouten zal ik ook graag verbeteren. In English: I'm Jeroen, till januari 2015 I was already 26 years working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, near Rotterdam, Worlds biggest harbour with more than 98 nationalities living within it's borders. First I worked on closed high care ward and the last years on a ward with mainly addicted people. I liked my work very much. In 2007 I got ill. I got the diagnose Poli Myositis, a musscle dissease. Al my mussles are inflamed. And last august I got another diagnose. Cancer. It's plaveicelcel carcinoma and treated with Chemo and radioation. So I've even less energy than the last years. Still I try to make something of my life and the blog is helping with surviving with some pleasure.

6 thoughts on “BMW Bayerische Motoren Werke AG Munich Bavaria Germany 1916 — Chapter 1”

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