The name BMW has come to mean luxury, status, class and driving pleasure. They are a global brand, defining the industry with their brilliance in automobile engineering. However, do we all know their journey to the top? Probably not.
This is the brand history of BMW, one of the leading vehicle manufacturers across the globe.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, known as BMW, is a German MNC manufacturer of luxury vehicles and motorcycles with its headquarters in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. March 7, 1916, the date of founding the Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke has been made the birthdate of BMW.
Timeline – From Inception to Its Evolution
In 1913, Gustav Otto founded the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik near Munich.
In the October of the same year, Karl Friedrich Rapp founded his company Rapp-Motorenwerke and supplied aircraft engines during World War I.
Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik merged into Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke GmbH (BFW) in 1916.
In 1917, Rapp-Motorenwerke transformed into Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH that was later converted into a public limited company in 1918.
BMW AG completely transferred its operations to BFW in 1922. The company’s production facilities relocated to Munich’s Oberweisenfeld Airfield, where lies the company’s main plant even today.
The company had only built engines until 1923 when it introduced its first-ever fully built vehicle – a motorcycle R32.
After another 5 years, BMW bought Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, an automobile manufacturing company that began BMW’s venture into building cars.
The Second World War propelled BMW into becoming an armament firm and it also continued to make motorcycles and automobiles. Even then, their aero-engines contributed to a major part of the sales. This was when BMW started the company’s expansion with new production plants to meet the demands for armaments.
After BMW AG contracted out the aero-engine division to BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH, Flugmotorenfabrik Eisenach GmbH was formed in 1939.
In March 1948, BMW introduced an updated version of the pre-war motorcycle model R-23, now christened R-24 that sold 9144 units in 1949 alone. As for the cars post-war, the first one to be launched was the BMW-501 in 1952. The 501 was built as a saloon car to seat six with an upgraded version of the 6-cylinder engine used in the BMW 326.
In 1960, with the government’s financial assistance, the company was restructured under the management of Herbert Quandt.
Following that, in 1961, BMW 1500, a compact and sporty 4-door middle-class sedan was introduced, which restored BMW’s status in the automobile industry as a trustable car manufacturer.
BMW bought and established 2 more new plants in the mid-1960s at Dingolfing and Landshut. The Dingolfing plant then remained the biggest BMW plant for many decades after that.
To meet the increasing demands of automobile production, motorcycle production was transferred from the Munich plant to Berlin-Spandau in 1969. Outside of Germany, BMW began a new and first production plant in South Africa. This Rosslyn facility was where the BMW 3 Series was first manufactured in 1984.
BMW Motorsport GmbH was begun as a wholly-owned subsidiary that encompassed all of the company’s motor racing interests, which is still pulling in a lot of success for the company.
The late 1980s and the early 1990s marked the peak of BMW’s expansion. The Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, USA opened in 1994 from where BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6 models are still being manufactured. Also in 1994, BMW bought the Rover Group that included some popular brands like Rover, Land Rover, MG, Triumph, and Mini. Currently, BMW retains only the Mini brand and sold off the rest unable to meet their ambition for long.
1998 was one of BMW’s most historic years with its acquisition of the brand and naming rights of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. They took on full control of Rolls-Royce by the year 2003.
More Important Events in BMW’s History
10 January 1999 – Unveiling New Vehicle Concept of BMW X5.
2000 – BMW planned to focus primarily on the global automobile market.
2001– Launch of Mini Brand. The first model from Mini, the MINI Hatch was introduced. New series and variants introduced in Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, BMW and Mini brands.
2003 – West Sussex plant started manufacturing Rolls-Royce automobiles. The first model was the Rolls-Royce Phantom.
2004 – Development of X Series Sports Activity Vehicles, and the BMW 1 Series.
2005 – Plant Leipzig began production.
2007 – Strategy Number ONE: Growth, Shaping The Future, Profitability, Access to Technology and Customers.
September 2009 – Launch of the Rolls-Royce Ghost.
2011 – The innovative car-sharing scheme, DriveNow, was introduced.
2013 – Rolls-Royce Wraith, the most dynamic and powerful Rolls-Royce ever was launched. BMW i3, the brand’s first fully-electric series-produced car.
2014 – BMW i8 was launched.
BMW has seen numerous ups and downs since its birth almost 117 years back. The company has grown despite two World Wars tying down its legs, ambitions that were lost, a fluctuating economy, and now a pandemic. There is not much that can keep this brand from thriving as they produce the world’s best driving experience.