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BMW is a Germany-based company which currently produces automobiles and motorcycles, and 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 and the United States. In 2015, BMW was the world's twelfth largest producer of motor vehicles, with 2,279,503 vehicles produced.[3] The Quandt family are long-term shareholders of the company, with the remaining stocks 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.

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

BMW Isetta with a front opening door

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

BMW 132 engine

BMW 801 engine
1916—1923: Aircraft engine production[edit]
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).[4](p11). BMW's first product was the BMW IIIa aircraft engine. The IIIa engine was known for good fuel economy and high-altitude performance.[5] 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.[6] 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. The disused factory of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke was re-opened to produce engines for busses, 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]
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 1920, 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]
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]
During World War II, many BMW production facilities had been heavily bombed. BMW's facilities in East Germany were seized by the Soviet Government 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 forbidden 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 licence 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]
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 increased 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]
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 iconic 3 Series range of compact sedans/coupes was introduced. The 7 Series large sedans were introduced in 1978.

1978—1989: M division[edit]
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 plaftorm.

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]
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 the 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]
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 aluminium.

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

The 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 as BMW's entry level models.

The 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.

Chief designer Chris Bangle announced his departure from BMW in February 2009, after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years.[28] 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[29] 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."

Company name and logo[edit]

The round BMW logo used for all models
"BMW AG" is an abbreviation for the German name "Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft" (German pronunciation: [ˈbaɪ̯ʁɪʃə mɔˈtʰɔʁn̩ ˈvɛɐ̯kə] (About this sound listen)). "Bayerische Motoren Werke" translates into English as "Bavarian Motor Works",[30] while Aktiengesellschaft signifies it is a corporation owned by shareholders.

The English slang terms Beemer, Bimmer and Bee-em are variously used for BMWs of all kinds,[31][32] cars and motorcycles.[33][34]

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,[35][36][37] in the manner of a "true aficionado"[38] and avoid appearing to be "uninitiated."[39][40] The Canadian Globe and Mail prefers Bimmer and calls Beemer a "yuppie abomination,"[41] while the Tacoma News Tribune says it is a distinction made by "auto snobs."[42] Using the wrong slang risks offending BMW enthusiasts.[43][44][45] 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.[46]

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.[47] The BMW logo still used today was created in 1917, albeit with various minor styling changes.[48]

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.[49]

See also: BMW Motorrad and History of BMW motorcycles

The R32 motorcycle, the first BMW motor vehicle.

The 2015 BMW R1200RT
BMW began production of motorcycle engines and then motorcycles after World War I.[50] Its motorcycle brand is now known as BMW Motorrad. Their first successful motorcycle after the failed Helios and Flink, was the "R32" in 1923, though production originally began in 1921.[51] 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 BMW's are still produced in this layout, which is designated the R Series.

The entire BMW Motorcycle production has, since 1969, been located at the company's Berlin-Spandau factory.

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.

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