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BMW AG (German: [ˈbeːˈʔɛmˈveː]; originally an initialism for Bayerische Motoren Werke in German, or Bavarian Motor Works in English) is a German multinational company which currently produces luxury automobiles and motorcycles, and also produced aircraft engines until 1945.

The company was founded in 1916 and has its headquarters in Munich, Bavaria. BMW produces motor vehicles in Germany, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 2015, BMW was the world's twelfth largest producer of motor vehicles, with 2,279,503 vehicles produced.[2] The Quandt family are long-term shareholders of the company, with the remaining shares owned by public float.

Automobiles are marketed under the brands BMW (with sub-brands BMW M for performance models and BMW i for plug-in electric cars), Mini and Rolls-Royce. Motorcycles are marketed under the brand BMW Motorrad.

The company has significant motorsport history, especially in touring cars, Formula 1, sports cars and the Isle of Man TT.


Main articles: History of BMW and History of BMW motorcycles

1916–1923: Aircraft engine production[edit]

BMW IIIa aircraft engine

BMW's origins can be traced back to three separate German companies: Rapp Motorenwerke, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, and Automobilwerk Eisenach. The history of the name itself begins with Rapp Motorenwerke, an aircraft engine manufacturer. In April 1917, following the departure of the founder Karl Friedrich Rapp, the company was renamed Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW).[3](p11) BMW's first product was the BMW IIIa aircraft engine. The IIIa engine was known for good fuel economy and high-altitude performance.[4] The resulting orders for IIIa engines from the German military caused rapid expansion for BMW.

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.[5] To maintain in business, BMW produced farm equipment, household items and railway brakes. In 1922, former major shareholder Camillo Castiglioni purchased the rights to the name BMW, which led to the company descended from Rapp Motorenwerke being renamed Süddeutsche Bremse AG (known today as Knorr-Bremse). Castiglioni was also an investor in another aircraft company, called "Bayerische Flugzeugwerke", which he renamed BMW.[6]
The disused factory of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke was re-opened to produce engines for buses, trucks, farm equipment and pumps, under the brand name BMW. BMW's corporate history considers the founding date of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (7 March 1916) to be the birth of the company.

1923–1939: Motorcycle and car production[edit]

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

As the restrictions of the Armistice Treaty began to be lifted, BMW began production of motorcycles in 1923,[7] with the R32 model.

BMW's production of automobiles began in 1928, when the company purchased the Automobilwerk Eisenach car company. Automobilwerk Eisenach's current model was the Dixi 3/15, a licensed copy of the Austin 7 which had begun production in 1927. Following the takeover, the Dixi 3/15 became the BMW 3/15, BMW's first production car.[8][9][10]

In 1932, the BMW 3/20 became the first BMW automobile designed entirely by BMW. It was powered by a four-cylinder engine, which BMW designed based on the Austin 7 engine.

BMW's first automotive straight-six engine was released in 1933, in the BMW 303. Throughout the 1930s, BMW expanded its model range to include sedans, coupes, convertibles and sports cars.

1939–1945: World War II[edit]

BMW 801 engine

With German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. The factory in Munich made ample use of forced labour: foreign civilians, prisoners of war and inmates of the Dachau concentration camp.[11] 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 power plant 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.[12][13]

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 power plant for air frame 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.[14] 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.[15][16]

1945–1959: Post-war rebuilding[edit]

BMW Isetta with a front opening door

During World War II, many BMW production facilities had been heavily bombed. BMW's facilities in East Germany were seized by the Soviet Union and the remaining facilities were banned by the Allies from producing motorcycles or automobiles. During this ban, BMW used basic secondhand and salvaged equipment to make pots and pans, later expanding to other kitchen supplies and bicycles.

In 1947, BMW was granted permission to resume motorcycle production and its first post-war motorcycle - the R24 - was released in 1948. BMW was still barred from producing automobiles, however, the Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) was producing cars in England based on BMW's pre-war models, using plans that BAC had taken from BMW's German offices.

Production of automobiles resumed in 1952, with the BMW 501 large sedan. Throughout the 1950s, BMW expanded their model range with sedans, coupes, convertibles and sports cars. In 1954, the BMW 502 was BMW's first to use a V8 engine. To provide an affordable model, BMW began production of the Isetta micro-car (under license from Iso) in 1955. Two years later, the four-seat BMW 600 was based on a lengthened version of the Isetta design. In 1959, the BMW 600 was replaced by the larger BMW 700 coupe/sedan.

1959–1968: Near bankruptcy and New Class[edit]

New Class sedan

By 1959, BMW was in debt and losing money.[17] The Isetta was selling well but with small profit margins.[18] Their 501-based luxury sedans were not selling well enough to be profitable and were becoming increasingly outdated.[19]Their 503 coupé and 507 roadster were too expensive to be profitable.[19] Their 600, a four-seater based on the Isetta, was selling poorly.[20] The motorcycle market imploded in the mid-1950s with increasing affluence turning Germans away from motorcycles and toward cars.[21] BMW had sold their Allach plant to MAN in 1954.[22] American Motors and the Rootes Group had both tried to acquire BMW.[23]

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.[18][23] 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.[23] In 1960, the development program began for a new range of models, called the "Neue Klasse" (New Class) project. The resulting New Class four-door sedans, introduced in 1962, are credited for saving the company financially and establishing BMW's identity as a producer of leading sports sedans.

In 1965, the New Class range was expanded with the 2000 C and 2000 CS luxury coupes. The range was further expanded in 1966 with the iconic BMW 02 Series compact coupes.

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,[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

1968–1978: New Six, 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series[edit]

E9 3.0 CSL

In 1968, BMW began production of its first straight-six engine since World War II. This engine coincided with the launch of the New Six large sedans (the predecessor to the 7 Series) and New Six CS large coupes (the predecessor to the 6 Series).

The first 5 Series range of mid-size sedans were introduced in 1972, to replace the New Class sedans. The 5 Series platform was also used for the 6 Series coupes, which were introduced in 1976. In 1975, the first model of the 3 Series range of compact sedans/coupes was introduced. The 7 Series large sedans were introduced in 1978.

1978–1989: M division[edit]

E30 M3

The 1978 BMW M1 was BMW's first mid-engined sports car and was developed in conjunction with Lamborghini. It was also the first road car produced by BMW's motorsport division, BMW M. In 1980, the M division produced its first model based on a regular production vehicle, the E12 M535i. The M535i is the predecessor to the BMW M5, which was introduced in 1985 based on the E28 platform.

In 1983, BMW introduced its first diesel engine, the M21. The first all-wheel-drive BMW - the E30 325iX - began production in 1985, and in 1987 the E30 was BMW's first model produced in a wagon/estate body style.

The 1986 E32 750i was BMW's first V12 model. The E32 was also the first sedan to be available with a long-wheelbase body style (badged "iL" or "Li").

The BMW M3 was introduced in 1985, based on the E30 platform.

1989–1994: 8 Series, hatchbacks[edit]

E31 8 Series

The 8 Series range of large coupes was introduced in 1989 and in 1992 was the first application of BMW's first V8 engine in 25 years, the M60. It was also the first BMW to use a multi-link rear suspension, a design which was implemented for mass-production in 1990 E36 3 Series.

The E34 5 Series, introduced in 1988, was the first 5 Series to be produced with all-wheel drive or a wagon body style.

In 1989, the limited-production Z1 began BMW's line of two-seat convertible Z Series models.

In 1993, the BMW 3 Series Compact was BMW's first hatchback model (except for the limited production 02 Series "Touring" models). These hatchback models formed a new entry-level model range below the other 3 Series models.

In 1992, BMW acquired a large stake in California-based industrial design studio DesignworksUSA, which they fully acquired in 1995.

The 1993 McLaren F1 is powered by a BMW V12 engine.

1994–1999: Rover ownership, Z3[edit]

Z3 roadster

In 1994, BMW bought the British Rover Group[27] (which at the time consisted of the Rover, Land Rover, Mini 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 off several of the brands. 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.

In 1995, the E38 725tds was the first 7 Series to use a diesel engine. The E39 5 Series was also introduced in 1995 and was the first 5 Series to use rack-and-pinion steering and a significant number of suspension parts made from lightweight aluminum.

The BMW Z3 two-seat convertible and coupe models were introduced in 1995. These were the first mass-produced models outside of the 1/3/5 Series and the first model to be solely manufactured outside Germany (in the United States, in this case).

In 1998, the E46 3 Series was introduced, with the M3 model featuring BMW's most powerful naturally aspirated engine to date.

1999–2006: SUV models, Rolls-Royce[edit]

E53 X5

BMW's first SUV, the BMW X5 (E53), was introduced in 1999. The X5 was a large departure from BMW's image of sporting "driver's cars", however, it was very successful and resulted in other BMW X Series being introduced. The smaller BMW X3 was released in 2003.

2001 E65 7 Series was BMW's first model to use a 6-speed automatic transmission.

In 2002, the Z4 two-seat coupe/convertible replaced the Z3. In 2004, the 1 Series hatchbacks replaced the 3 Series Compact models like BMW's entry-level models.

2003 Rolls-Royce Phantom was the first Rolls-Royce vehicle produced under BMW ownership. This was the end result of complicated contractual negotiations that began in 1998 when Rolls-Royce plc licensed use of the Rolls-Royce name and logo to BMW, but Vickers sold the remaining elements of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars to Volkswagen. In addition, BMW had supplied Rolls-Royce with engines since 1998 for use in the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph.

In 2005, BMW's first V10 engine was introduced in the E60 M5. The E60 platform is also used for the E63/E64, which reintroduced the 6 Series models after a hiatus of 14 years.

2006–2013: Shift to turbocharged engines[edit]

F01 ActiveHybrid 7

BMW's first mass-production turbocharged petrol engine was the six-cylinder N54, which debuted in the 2006 E92 335i. In 2011, the F30 3 Series was released, with turbocharged engines being used on all models. This shift to turbocharging and smaller engines was reflective of general automotive industry trends. The M3 model based on the F30 platform is the first M3 to use a turbocharged engine.

BMW's first turbocharged V8 engine, the BMW N63, was introduced in 2008. Despite the trend to downsizing, in 2008 BMW began production of its first turbocharged V12 engine, the BMW N74. In 2011, the F10 M5 became the first M5 model to use a turbocharged engine.

In 2007, the production rights for Husqvarna Motorcycles was purchased by BMW for a reported 93 million euros.

The BMW X6 SUV was introduced in 2008. The X6 attracted controversy for its unusual combination of coupe and SUV styling cues.

In 2009, the BMW X1 compact SUV was introduced. The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo fastback body style was also introduced in 2009, based on the 5 Series platform.

Controversial designer Chris Bangle announced his departure from BMW in February 2009, after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years.[28]

BMW's first hybrid-powered car, the F01 ActiveHybrid 7, was introduced in 2010.

2013–present: Electric/hybrid power[edit]


BMW released their first electric car, the BMW i3 city car, in 2013. The i3 is also the first mass-production car to have a structure mostly made from carbon-fiber. BMW's first hybrid sportscar (and their first mid-engined car since the M1) is called the BMW i8 and was introduced in 2014. The i8 is also the first car to use BMW's first inline-three engine, the BMW B38.

In 2013, the BMW 4 Series replaced the coupe and convertible models of the 3 Series. Many elements of the 4 Series remained shared with the equivalent 3 Series model. Similarly, the BMW 2 Series replaced the coupe and convertible models of the 1 Series in 2013. The 2 Series was produced in coupe (F22), five-seat MPV (F45) and seven-seat MPV (F46) body styles. The latter two body styles are the first front-wheel drive vehicles produced by BMW. The F48 X1 also includes some front-wheel-drive models.

The BMW X4 compact SUV was introduced in 2014.

The 2016 G11 740e and F30/F31 330e are the first plug-in hybrid versions of the 7 Series and 3 Series respectively.

Members of the board of management are:

Harald Krüger, chairman
Milagros Caiña Carreiro-Andree, human resources
Klaus Fröhlich, development
Pieter Nota, sales and brand
Nicolas Peter, finance
Peter Schwarzenbauer, Mini, Rolls-Royce, BMW Motorrad
Andreas Wendt, purchasing and supplier network
Oliver Zipse, production

(as of 29 October 2018)[29]

Company name and logo[edit]

BMW badge on a 1931 Dixi

The name BMW is an abbreviation for Bayerische Motoren Werke (German pronunciation: [ˈbaɪ̯ʁɪʃə mɔˈtʰɔʁn̩ ˈvɛɐ̯kə] ( [About this sound] listen)). The German name is not grammatically correct, because motorenwerke is a single word in German. The term Bayerische Motorenwerke (which has been used in several German publications and advertisements in the past[30][31]) translates into English as Bavarian Motor Works, which has been used by BMW for marketing products in English-speaking countries.[32] The suffix AG, short for Aktiengesellschaft, signifies an incorporated entity which is owned by shareholders.

Flag of Bavaria

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.[33] The BMW logo still used today was created in 1917, albeit with various minor styling changes.[34]

The origin of the logo is often thought to be a portrayal of the movement of an aircraft propeller with the white blades cutting through a blue sky. However, this portrayal was first used in a BMW advertisement in 1929 - twelve years after the logo was created - so this is not the origin of the logo itself.[35]

The terms Beemer, Bimmer and Bee-em are commonly used slang for BMW in the English language[36][37] and are sometimes used interchangeably for cars and motorcycles.[38][39][40] In the United States, some people prescribe that "beemer" should be used specifically for motorcycles and "bimmer" should be used for cars.[41][42][43][44][45][46] Some of these people claim that "true aficionados" make this distinction[47] and those who don't are "uninitiated."[48] Usage in North American mainstream media also varies, for example The Globe and Mail of Canada prefers Bimmer and calls Beemer a "yuppie abomination",[49] and the Tacoma News Tribune says that it is "auto snobs" who use the terms to distinguish between cars and motorcycles.[50]


For the fiscal year 2017, BMW reported earnings of EUR€8.620 billion, with an annual revenue of EUR€98.678 billion, an increase of 4.8% over the previous fiscal cycle.[51] BMW's shares traded at over €77 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at US€55.3 billion in November 2018.[52]

Year Revenue
in bn. EUR€ Net income
in bn. EUR€ Total Assets
in bn. EUR€ Employees
2013 76.058 5.314 138.368 110,351
2014 80.401 5.798 154.803 116,324
2015 92.175 6.369 172.174 122,244
2016 94.163 6.863 188.535 124,729
2017 98.678 8.620 193.483 129,932

Current BMW Models
1 Series (F20) (2011–present) 5-door Hatchback    BMW Service Brisbane
1 Series (F21) (2011–present) 3-door Hatchback   
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2 Series (F22) (2014–present) Coupe and convertible    
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2 Series Active Tourer (F45) (2014–present) Compact MPV   
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3 Series (F30) (2012–present) Sedan and wagon   
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4 Series (F32/F33/F36) (2014–present) Coupe and convertible   
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5 Series (F10/F11) (2009–present) Sedan and wagon    
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6 Series (F12) (2010–present) Coupe, convertible, Gran Coupe   
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7 Series (G11) (2016–present) Sedan   
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3 Series Gran Turismo (2013–present) Progressive Activity Sedan   
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5 Series Gran Turismo (2009–present) Progressive Activity Sedan    
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BMW i3 (2013–present) all-electric car   
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BMW i8 (2014–present) plug-in hybrid sports car    
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X1 (F48) (2016–present) Compact Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)   
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X3 (F25) (2010–present) Compact Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)    
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4 (F26) (2014–present) Sports Activity Coupe   BMW Mechanic Brisbane
X5 (F15) (2014–present) Mid-Size Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)     
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X6 (F16) (2014–present) Sports Activity Coupe   
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Z4 (E89) (2009–present) Sports Roadster    
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