BMW is a worldwide well-known independent German automaker, established in 1913 in Munich, Germany, as an aircraft builder. The letters BMW stand for ‘Bayerische Motoren Werke’ (German) or, in English, Bavarian Motor Works.
Today, the German company no longer supplies air vehicles and has become a manufacturer of high-performance and deluxe cars and motorcycles. It is also the owner of other brands, such as Mini and Rolls-Royce.
BMW also has a long tradition in motorsports and is currently competing in the World Touring Car Championship and the American Le Mans Series.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
Origin: Germany, 1918
Since its first steps on vehicle building, BMW has committed itself to advanced technology and constant improvement. The Germany-based pioneers were the experienced aviator Gustav Otto and the owner of Rapp Motorenwerke (an aircraft engine factory), Karl Rapp. These men combined efforts in order to start a real aircraft industry, placed in Munich, which would serve the German military during the First World War by providing them the airplanes. So, in 1913, the company that would be the starting point for BMW is born.
It wasn’t until 1917 that a quite profound restructuration of the company demanded it to change its name to Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, and the BMW AG as we know it today was officially registered on August 1918.
When the War finally ceased, military aircraft was no longer needed, meaning all the factories that were only building war-purpose air vehicles, like BMW’s case, saw demands dramatically falling and were forced cut off production. The BMW factory closed as well, but that wouldn’t be for too long. In the beginning of 1919, the doors were opened up once again and the company’s concerns were all on fabricating new products. Unstoppable work of the design department originated engines for several types of vehicles, such as automobiles, trucks, motorcycles an boats. BMW also started manufacturing brakes as a way to guarantee the company’s prospects.
Although BMW had been regenerated as an engine designer and constructor, the factory’s production switched for motorcycles in 1923, introducing their R 32 model. Then, in 1927, the German factory bought Dixi, a car manufacturer company, and adopted it as BMW’s first car ever, labeled as BMW 3/15. The factory officially started producing these automobiles in 1928 but it wouldn’t be until 1933 that BMW would create and produce their own original cars.
During the period of the World War II, the German car brand once again was politically involved by successfully creating the engines for the army’s air and land vehicles. However, at the end of the War, with no more production requests from the army, car manufacture was menaced and eventually was dropped by BMW in 1940. Besides, the company’s plant in Munich had been bombed and was completely ruined, and the Allies didn’t allow it to keep on building vehicles. BMW would return to motorcycle manufacture in 1948 and only restarted passenger-car production in 1952.
In 1959, the also German car producer Daimler-Benz almost bought the BMW factory, but such acquisition ended up not being accomplished. In fact, sales for the Munich-based company suffered a significant boost in the 1960’s.
Then, in the following decade, the brand started building a positive reputation in motor sports. BMW became a worldwide recognized and esteemed brand, no longer being limited to the European market. The United States opened up for BMW and the brand was a great success amongst the American deluxe sports cars lovers.
Being a true leader in technology, BMW began using turbocharged engines in their vehicles and debuted series 5, 3 and 7, as well as their performance M versions, during the 1970’s. During the two following decades, the company’s car manufacture increased 400% and the motorcycle manufacture tripled.
Finally, in the late 90’s, the first North American BMW factory was inaugurated in the United States, specializing in the North American automobile demands.
The company’s car production enlarged even more when brands Mini and Rolls Royce were taken over by BMW. In 1994, the British automaker Rover Group – composed by Rover, Land Rover and MG brands – was acquired by BMW AG but such purchase wasn’t even near to fortunate and would only last for 6 years. In 2000, the Rover Group was sold but the Mini’s building rights, previously included in the Group, were kept and production of this brand was resurrected by BMW in 2001.
The current BMW model range offers several types of automobiles, such as coupés, sedans, sports cars, SUVs and wagons, all arranged in a number of “series”. Plus, the company also keeps with the motorcycle production.
Along its many years of existence, BMW has clearly set itself as one of the world’s most esteemed auto builders and has established a reputation for offering high levels of performance to its products.
The BMW badge was created and registered in 1917, consisting on a thick black ring bordered by a silver line, with the letters “BMW” printed over its top half, and white and blue panels on the inside of the black ring.
There are actually two theories concerning the origins of the white and blue panels, or “sky blue and white fields”. Some say they’re an analogy to a rotating propeller, reminding the years of the brand as an aircraft builder. This interpretation to the BMW symbol has been given in the late 1920’s. But the official explanation for the use of those elements is the connection to the white and blue Bavarian National Flag, since Bavaria is the place where BMW is set and has its mainstream production.
Along the many decades, the BMW badge has been very rarely upgraded and when it happened, the very slight changes were almost imperceptible. Thus, the original look of the logo has been maintained as much as possible.