The History of BMW

Who knew that the BMW company originally started as an airplane engine company? This past 100 years has seen the BMW through the struggles of war and now stability, as refined, and quality German designed luxury vehicles grace the market. Three companies merged to become BMW; they were Rapp Motorenwerke, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, and Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach. These three companies came together to build and refine engines and later create luxury cars of the finest of German engineering.

In 1917, the first BMW logo was created in honor of Karl Rapp’s original logo. Many believe that the colors alternating in a circle represent an airplane propeller spinning. Although the BMW logo has gone through subtle changes over the years, it has always retained its basic form.

In 1922 the BMW company moved its headquarters to Munich. Today the headquarter and primary plant employ over 9,000 people and make over 200,000 cars a year.

In 1923 BMW produced its first motorcycle called the R32. The design was so efficient it is still in use today. Motorcycles were a big step for the company because, before this, they only made engines. Transitioning into entire vehicles was a new enterprise altogether.

In 1928 BMW started designing their first car. When it went into production, they used a car plant in Thuringia where another manufacturer had been; they were the third auto manufacturer in Germany. It took BMW 4 years to design and produce its first car, whose design was borrowed from the Austin Motor Company.

During the second world war, the BMW plan fell under the control of the government. It supported the German military, devoting their time and resources to making planes and manufacturing war materials. It was a dark time for the BMW company, which was forced to import workers because their german workers had been drafted into the military. The demand for production was high, and the number of workers was low. In 1942 prisoners of war were forced to work along with prisoners from concentration camps in inhumane conditions. BMW came out publicly to express sincere regret over this dark period in their history and acknowledge it as a tragic period.   

When the Germans lost the war, Allied forces came in to dismantle the plants. Parts of the plants were shipped overseas as part of war reparations. To save their manufacturing plants, BMW began making pots and pans and other kitchen items until they were allowed once again to build motorcycles and cars. 

Post-War BMW
Recovering from the costs of war was incredibly challenging. Thankfully, it was easier than after WW1. BMW was finally able to begin producing vehicles again in 1951 and was pulled in 1958. The 501 was BMW’s first car off the line. Although it did not thrive in the luxury vehicle market, it did help establish the company as a reputable auto manufacturer.

After being nearly bought out by Daimler-Benz, in 1959, BMW, with help from the government, was able to keep its independence and was reopened under new management in 1960. The prior 15 years had been filled with uncertainty and instability.

In the 1960s and 1970s, BMW was able to grow and build into a multi-faceted company. In 1970, BMW opened a lending division called BMW Kredit, which helped secure financial stability for the company as well as their dealership throughout the world. In the 1970’s BMW began branching out their production plants. South Africa was the first leap. The BMW company was conscientious about ensuring fairness, safety, and avoiding racism within their walls.

In 1972 BMW began building sport vehicles targeting the everyday driver. In 1973 BMW built a set of towers to house their growing team. These buildings in Munich still grace the skyline today. This symbolized BMW’s transition into becoming a key world player and opened offices in France. In 1990 BMW opened its research institute in Munich. This centre still employs over 7,000 scientists, designers, engineers, managers, and technical staff.

In 1994 BMW came active in America. South Carolina houses the largest manufacturing plant. The South Carolina plant was dedicated to building the Z3 roadster. Today it still produces the Z3 as well as the BMW X series. All X series BMW’s are made in the USA. In 1994 BMW purchased the Rover Group, which manufactures the Mini, MG, and Land Rover. They kept the Mini and sold off the rest of the Rover Group in 2000. BMW then acquired the Roll-Royes group as they continued to grow.

The future of the BMW Group is looking bright. Today, the BMW Group is owned by Strategie Number ONE, which focuses on the future and profitability of the BMW Group, whose aim is to be THE leading luxury manufacturer of the world.

Please schedule an appointment today, and our team will take great care of your BMW and get it well-prepared to keep you safely on the roads while getting the most out of its performance too. You’ll see why clients from Richmond, Short Pump, The West End, The Fan District, and surrounding areas have chosen Bimmer Rescue as their premier auto repair service. You’ll find us at 6401F Dickens Place in Richmond, VA 23230. We look forward to serving you soon!

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