BMW Germany: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, commonly known as the BMW, is a German luxury vehicle, sports car, motorcycle, and engine manufacturing company which was founded in the year 1916. BMW is the parent company of Mini and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The company produces motorcars under the BMW Motorsport division and motorcycles under BMW Motorrad, and plug-in electric cars under the BMW i sub-brand and the “iPerformance” model designation within the regular BMW lineup.
7 March 1916; 101 years ago
Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Franz Josef Popp, Karl Rapp, Camillo Castiglioni
In 1918, after the end of World War I, BMW was forced to cease aircraft-engine production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The first car which BMW successfully produced and the car which launched BMW on the road to automobile production was the Dixi, based on the Austin 7 and licensed from the Austin Motor Company in Birmingham, England.
The first significant aircraft engine and commercial product of BMW was the BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine of 1918 which was known for good fuel economy and high-altitude performance. BMW’s 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 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). Through 1944 the 003’s reliability improved, making it a suitable power plant for airframe designs competing for the Jägernotprogramm’s light fighter production contract. 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.
In 1912, BMW established as a business entity following a restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft manufacturing firm which named as the Aerowerke Gustav Otto. In 1918, BMW forced to cease aircraft-engine production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. BMW consequently shifted to motorcycle production as the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted in 1923.
Since 1959, the controlling majority shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft has been the Quandt family, which owns about 46% of the stock. The rest is in public float. In 1966, BMW acquired the Hans Glas company based in Dingolfing, Germany. Glas vehicles briefly badged as BMW until the company fully absorbed. However, this factory was outmoded and BMW’s biggest immediate gain was, according to themselves, a stock of highly qualified engineers and other personnel. 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.
In 1994, BMW bought the British Rover Group which was consisted of the Rover, Land Rover,Mini and MG brands as well as the rights to defunct brands including Austin and Morris. Also, in 1995, BMW acquired a large stake in California-based industrial design studio DesignworksUSA. In February 2009, Chris Bangle, the chief designer who announced his departure from BMW after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years. Bangle famous for his radical designs such as the 2002 7-Series and the 2002 Z4. In July 2007, BMW purchased production rights for Husqvarna Motorcycles. BMW Motorrad plans to continue operating Husqvarna Motorcycles as a separate enterprise.
In June 2012, BMW was listed as the #1 most reputable company in the world by Forbes.com. 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.”
After World War I BMW began production of motorcycle engines and motorcycles. Its motorcycle brand now known as BMW Motorrad. In 1923, BMW introduced the “R32” which the first successful motorcycle of the company. “R32” had a “boxer” twin engine, in which a cylinder projects into the air-flow from each side of the machine. Until the early 1980s all BMW motorcycles used single-cylinder layout. During the World War II, BMW produced the BMW R75 motorcycle with a sidecar attached which was combined with a lockable differential, this made the vehicle very capable off-road, an equivalent in many ways to the Jeep.
In early 1990s, BMW updated the airhead Boxer engine which became known as the oilhead. In 2004, BMW added a built-in balance shaft which increased capacity to 1,170 cc and enhanced performance to 100 hp (75 kW) to 85 hp (63 kW) as compared between the R1200GS and R1150GS. Also, in 2004, BMW introduced a sports bike named as K1200S which marked a departure for BMW. K1200S 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.
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. BMW 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. 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.
In 2011, BMW i was founded to design and manufacture plug-in electric vehicles and it is a sub-brand of BMW. The sub-brand initial plans called for the release of two vehicles; series production of the BMW i3 all-electric car began in September 2013. Two years after its introduction, the BMW i3 ranked as the world’s third best selling all-electric car in history. Global sales of the BMW i3 achieved the 50,000 unit milestone in July 2016.
In june 2014, the BMW i8 sports plug-in hybrid car launched in Germany. In February 2016, BMW announced the introduction of the “iPerformance” model designation, which given to all BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles. The aim to provide a visible indicator of the transfer of technology from BMW I to the BMW core brand. The new designation used first on the plug-in hybrid variants of the latest BMW 7 Series. In 2015, BMW in cooperation with SCHERM Group started deploying electric trucks on European roads, making it the first company to ever do so. The truck itself manufactured by the Terberg Group, which is one of the world’s largest independent specialist vehicle suppliers.