Bavarian luxury car and motorcycle manufacturer BMW is one of Germany’s famed ‘big three’ automakers. Known for its “the Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan, BMW has consistently delivered fun, exciting, yet stylish and luxurious vehicles that appeal to people from all walks of life. BMW is headquartered in Munich, Germany, and together with its subsidiaries (i.e. Mini, Rolls Royce, and motorcycle brand BMW Motorrad), it produces well over two million vehicles annually.
BMW’s story started in 1913 when a company called Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH was set up in Munich to supply the German military with aircraft engines during the First World War. The engines were being fitted into airplanes at a company called the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik, also in Munich. In 1916, the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik’s name was changed to Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW). The next year, the Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH’s name was also changed to Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. “Bayerische Motoren Werke” is translated in English as “Bavarian Motor Works”, which is initialized as “BMW”. That was the first time that the BMW name came into being. Many people say that BMW’s logo is a stylized propeller and that it pays homage to BMW’s aircraft-engine-building roots. However, this is not true. According to BMW, when the Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH’s name was also changed to Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, its circular logo was modified to include the “BMW” initials in gold font and the colors of the Bavarian flag (white and blue) in the center.
After the First World War, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG started focusing on making railway brakes, motorcycle engines, and farm equipment. It enjoyed outstanding success in the production of railway brakes. In 1920, however, owing to the insistence of a major investor called Camillo Castiglioni, Berlin-based Brakes Company Knorr-Bremse AG acquired a majority of BMW’s share capital. Castiglioni also orchestrated the transfer of all the assets of the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG to Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG. He then had Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG renamed as Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, hence reestablishing BMW. BMW started focusing on car manufacturing in the 1920s and ended up buying into a small automaker called Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in 1928. Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach was building Dixi cars, which, basically, were slightly modified British Austin Seven cars. Therefore, the first BMW car was a re-badged Dixi. BMW steadily expanded its range of vehicles from that point while still building motorcycles and aircraft engines.
BMW has excelled in powertrain development and motorsports over the years. Its 1,400-horsepower BMW M10 4-cylinder engine gave Nelson Piquet the victory at the 1983 World Formula One Championship. BMW has also been dominant in other racing competitions like Formula Two and the World Touring Car Championship. In motorcycle racing, BMW has won many titles in racing competitions like the Isle of Man TT, the Dakar Rally, and the Superbikes racing series.
Today, BMW offers the 1 Series, 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, 7 Series, 8 Series, and Z Series sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, and convertibles. It also offers electric and hybrid vehicles (i Series), SUVs and crossovers (X Series), and performance models (M Series).
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