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Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) AG
TypeAktiengesellschaft (Template:FWB)
HeadquartersMunich, Germany
Key peopleNorbert Reithofer (CEO and Chairman of Board of Management)
Joachim Milberg (Chairman of Supervisory Board)
IndustryAutomotive industry
ProductsAutomobiles, motorcycles, bicycles
Revenue€56.02 billion (2007)[1]
Operating income €4.212 billion (2007)[1]
Profit €3.135 billion (2007)[1]
Employees107,500 (2007)[1]
DivisionsBMW Motorrad
SubsidiariesRolls-Royce Motor Cars

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), (English: Bavarian Motor Works) is an independent German automobile manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also produces motorcycles, is the owner of the MINI brand and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

Company history

BMW Headquarters in Munich, Germany
Main article: History of BMW

After World War I, BMW were forced to cease aircraft (engine) production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty.[2] The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923 once the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted[3], followed by automobiles in 1928.

The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is often alleged to portray the movement of an airplane propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky--an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, which was actually twelve years after the roundel was created.[4][5] In fact, the emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew. The Rapp logo was combined with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria to produce the BMW roundel so familiar today. The early success of the outstanding BMW IIIa inline-six aviation engine, from 1917-18 in World War I, with the Luftstreitkräfte in a limited number of Fokker D.VII fighters, as well as a number of prototype "inline-six" fighters from various manufacturers, might have actually influenced the BMW logo's design.

BMW's first significant aircraft was the BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine of 1918, much preferred for its high-altitude performance. With German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. Among its successful WWII 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, 1944-45-era jet-powered "emergency fighter", the Heinkel He 162 Salamander, and was tested in the A-1b version of the world's first jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262.

By 1959 the automotive division of BMW was in financial difficulties and a shareholders meeting was held to decide whether to go into liquidation or find a way of carrying on. It was decided to carry on and to try to cash in on the current economy car boom enjoyed so successfully by some of Germany's ex-aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmitt and Heinkel. Therefore the rights to manufacture the tiny Italian Iso Isetta were bought using a modified form of BMW's own motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet. The dominating shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft since 1959 is the Quandt family. Stefan Quandt, Johanna Quandt and Susanne Klatten (born Quandt) together own about 46% of the stocks. The rest is in public float.

BMW AG bought the British Rover Group[6] (which at the time consisted of the Rover, Land Rover and MG brands as well as the rights to defunct brands including Austin and Morris) in 1994 and owned it for six years. By 2000, Rover was making huge losses and BMW decided to sell the combine. 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.

Chief designer Chris Bangle announced his departure from BMW after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years. He will be replaced by Adrian van Hooydonk, Bangle's former right hand man. Bangle was famously (or infamously) known for his radical designs such as the 2002 7-Series and the 2002 Z4.


Total world production in 2006 was 1,366,838 vehicles produced in 5 countries. [7]

Country Make Cars (2006) Models
Germany BMW 905,057 Others
United Kingdom Mini 187,454 All Minis
Rolls-Royce 67 All Rolls-Royce
Austria BMW 114,306 BMW X3
USA BMW 105,172 BMW X5, X6
South Africa BMW 54,782 BMW 3-Series
Total 1,366,838


See also: BMW Motorrad and History of BMW motorcycles
The R32, the first BMW motorcycle.

BMW began building motorcycle engines and then motorcycles after World War I. Its motorcycle division is now known as BMW Motorrad. Their first successful motorcycle, after the failed Helios and Flink, was the "R32" in 1923. This had a "Boxer" twin engine, in which an ICCE cylinder protrudes into the air-flow from each side of the machine. Apart from their singles (basically to the same pattern), all their motorcycles had used this distinctive layout until the early 1980s. Many BMWs are still produced to this pattern, which is designated the R Series.

BMW roundel in 1939

During the Second World War, BMW produced the BMW R75 motorcycle with a sidecar attached. Featuring 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 1983 came the K Series (affectionately known as "The Flying Brick"),(Correction, "The flying brick" was the nickname of The BMW K1 model) still shaft drive but now water cooled and with either 3 or 4 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 1170 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 and hexhead engines are available in the R1100S and R1200S, producing 98 hp (73 kW) and 122 hp (91 kW), respectively.

In 2004, BMW introduced the new K1200S Sports Bike which marked a departure for BMW. It is both powerful (the engine is a 167 hp (125 kW) unit derived from the company's work with the Williams F1 team) and significantly lighter than previous K models. It was BMW's latest attempt to keep up with the pace of development of sports machines from the likes of Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki. Innovations include a unique electronically adjustable front and rear suspension, and a Hossack-type front fork BMW calls Duolever.

BMW was one of the earliest manufacturers to offer 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 sophisticated electronic stability control, or anti-skid technology - a first for production motorcycles - 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 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.

Motorcycle clubs

BMW motorcycles have invoked worldwide interest from clubs. The two largest BMW motorcycle clubs in the world, the BMW Riders Association and the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America are headquartered in the United States.


Large-scale production models

1 Series

Main article: BMW 1 Series

The 1 Series was launched globally in Autumn 2004 and shares many structural, chassis, powertrain, hardware and electronic elements with the larger 3 Series. The model was started to provide a lower point of entry into the BMW range as the 3 Series moved gradually up-market. Initially launched as a 5-door hatchback, a 3-door version was also launched in July 2007. The 1 Series is priced between the MINI and the current E90 3 Series. Because the coupe is the only rear wheel drive vehicle in its class, it is somewhat considered the successor to the BMW 2002.

The 1 Series coupe and convertible went on sale in the United States in model year 2008 as the 128i and the 135i. The convertible, unlike the 3 Series convertible, uses a soft-top instead of a folding hardtop. This is lighter, cheaper to manufacture and preserves more trunk space than the folding hardtop would allow. It offers luxury, with premium surround sound, 6-disc CD changer, satellite radio, an optional navigation system, and optional remote engine start.

3 Series

Main article: BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is an executive car manufactured since model year 1975. The 3 Series is currently in its fifth generation, the E90 Current models include the sport sedan (E90), station wagon (E91), coupe (E92), and convertible (E93). It offers luxury. It has standard premium sound, and an optional navigation system.

The 3 series is one of BMW's most important models, as it accounts for a majority of its worldwide sales.

5 Series

Main article: BMW 5 Series

A mid-size executive car. For model year 2008, BMW has revised the 5 Series with a slightly redesigned interior, subtle exterior details, and new motor options.

  • The M5 is the Motorsport division's version of the 5 Series. The new M5 (built on the E60 5 series chassis) is powered by a F1-inspired V10 engine, producing 507 hp (378 kW) and is mated with a 7-speed sequential manual gearbox (SMG) transmission, which is capable of a top speed of about 330 km/h (production variants are restricted to 250 km/h, or 155 mph). BMW has also recently added a 6-speed manual transmission for 2007 and newer models.

6 Series

Main article: BMW 6 Series

The 6 Series is BMW's grand touring luxury sport coupe, based on the 5 Series' platform. Currently available as the 650i in coupe and convertible models in the U.S., the 6 Series returned in 2004 after a 15-year absence from BMW's model lineup.

  • M6: A high performance version of the 6 Series. Developed by BMW's M Division, it is powered by the same 5.0 L V10 507 hp (378 kW) engine seen in the BMW M5. It is currently available in Russia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia and South Africa.

7 Series

Main article: BMW 7 Series
BMW 7-Series (F01)

BMW's full-size flagship executive sedan. Typically, BMW introduces many of their innovations first in the 7 Series. For example, the somewhat controversial iDrive system debuted in the 7 Series. The 7 Series Hydrogen, featuring one of the world's first hydrogen fueled combustion engines, is fueled by liquid hydrogen and emits only water vapor. Since the infrastructure for refueling a hydrogen internal combustion engine is not widely available, the V12 engine also runs on gasoline. Numerous engines power the 7 Series worldwide. BMW offers diesel, straight 6, V8 and V12 motors, as well as the Alpina tuned supercharged V8. It is also available in a bulletproof version.


Main article: BMW X3
BMW X3 (current generation)

BMW's second crossover SUV debuted in November 2003 as a Model Year 2004 (called SAV or Sports Activity Vehicle by BMW) and is based on the E46/16 3 Series platform. For 2007, the X3 is powered by the N52 inline 6 cylinder engine that debuted on the 2006 E90 3 Series. In 2007 a face lift was given to the X3, including an X-drive update, suspension adjustments, an engine upgrade, and aesthetics inside and out.

Marketed in Europe as an off-roader, it benefits from BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system.


Main article: BMW X5
2007 E70 BMW X5

The BMW X5 (E53) is a mid-size luxury SUV (SAV) sold by BMW since 2000. It features all-wheel drive and a line of straight-6 and V8 engines. For non-U.S. models there is a 3.0 L diesel engine.

The BMW E70 automobile platform replaced the BMW E53 as the X5's underpinnings in November 2006. The E70-based X5 SUV features many new technological advancements including BMW's iDrive system as standard equipment and, for the first time in a BMW, an optional third row seat.

The current generation incorporates safety innovations for the crossover segment, such as a unique rear framing section to protect 3rd row occupants from injury due to an impact.

The U.S. E70 features either a 3.0si(253 hp)or a 4.8i(350 hp) powertrain. In most parts of Europe, either a 3.0d(232 hp)or a 3.0sd(282 hp) powertrain is available. It has been announced that the X5 M will be released in 2008. It will feature the V12 engine from the 7 Series, which will provide the car with 432 hp (322 kW). The X5 M will feature a full body kit, new alloy wheels, and generally a revised look.


Main article: BMW X6

A crossover coupe SUV released by BMW in December 2007.

An all new version of the 550i/650i's engine is being used in the X6 with twin turbo technology from the 135i/335i. The standard engines 340 bhp (250 kW) will be increased to 410 bhp (310 kW).


Main article: BMW Z4

A 2-seater roadster and coupe which succeeded the Z3. From 2006 the Z4 Roadster is available as a 3.0i (3.0 L I6 with 215 hp), a 3.0si available with the new generation 3.0 L I6 with 255 hp (190 kW), a 2.5si with a 2.5 I6 with 218 bhp (163 kW) or a 2.0i with a 150 bhp (112 kW) 2.0 L I4. The Z4 coupé is available only in the high-performance 3.0si trim powered by the 3.0 L 255 hp (190 kW) I6. The Z4 (E84) was built at the Spartanburg plant. Its successor, also named Z4 (E89) - this time a coupé-convertible with folding hardtop- will be built in Regensburg alongside the (E93) 3-Series Cabrio.

  • Z4 M The new Z4 M roadster and coupe have been released with an E46 M3 motor (3.2 L, 333 hp) and also features the M braking, suspension, and styling characteristics.


Main article: BMW M


Main article: BMW M3
E92 M3 Coupé

Based on the 3 Series, the M3 defined an entirely new market for BMW: a race-ready production vehicle. Since its debut, the M3 is heralded in enthusiast circles, in large part due to its unique geometry and award winning engines. The newest platform became available the Autumn of 2007 in Europe, and second quarter of 2008 for the U.S. in Coupe (E92), and later the Cabriolet (E93), and Sedan (E90) variants.


Main article: BMW M5

Based on the 5 Series, the M5 is the M division's 507 hp (378 kW) V10-powered version of the E60 5 series which accelerates to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.7 seconds.[8]


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BMW M6 Coupe
BMW M6 Convertible
Main article: BMW M6

The M6 is the M division's version of the 6 Series. The M6 shares its drivetrain with the M5. The V10 produces 508 hp (379 kW) and 383lb/ft (520Nm) of Torque. The production M6 debuted at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. It is currently available in a coupe and a convertible version. There is speculation that an M6 CSL version is to be released in the future.

The vehicle is based on the 6 Series coupe and convertible, which were launched in 2004.

Carbon fiber and other light materials are used in places like the bumpers and roof that are far from the centre of gravity and/or high up, so that they not only reduce the overall weight but improve the handling by reducing the moment of inertia and the centre of mass height.

The previous generation was launched in 1983, but ended in 1989 with around 5,855 sold.

Z4 M

Main articles: BMW M Coupe and BMW M Roadster
BMW Z4 M Roadster

The Z4 M is powered by the same 3.2-litre straight-six engine featured in the BMW M3(E46), detuned slightly to fit in the Z4's smaller engine bay. The engine’s performance figures are: 3,246 cc displacement, 330 bhp (246 kW) at 7,900 rpm, 262 lb·ft (355 N·m) of torque at 4,900 rpm, 8,000 rpm redline. Output per litre is 103 bhp (77 kW), and power-to-weight ratio is 9.9 lb/bhp. Acceleration to 60 mph (100 km/h) comes in 4.8 seconds and top speed is limited electronically to 155 mph (249 km/h).


  • 1990 BMW M8 Prototype: A high-performance version of the 8 Series coupe that was designed to compete with Ferrari and other exotics. It was never put into production because of the lack of a market for such a car.
  • 1999 Z9: a concept car designed by Adrian van Hooydonk that marked a departure from BMW's traditional conservative style, causing some controversy among BMW enthusiasts. This later on became the 6-series.
  • BMW 750hL: showcased at Expo 2000 at the BMW World exhibit. A 7 Series sedan powered by a hydrogen fuel cell engine. As of March 2007, there are as many as 100 750hL vehicles worldwide for testing & publicity purposes.See the BMW website.
  • 2001 BMW X-Coupe
  • 2007 BMW CS Concept: Was set to be turned into a production vehicle, but later canceled.
  • 2008 Concept 1 series tii: A high-performance tuned version of the 1 Series. "tii" references the 2002tii model.
  • 2008 BMW GINA: concept based on the structure of a Z8 with a light fabric skin and hydro-electric technology to allow the shape to change.[9]
  • 2008 BMW Concept X1: BMW first Sports Activity Vehicle in the compact class.

Out of production

  • M1: a 1970s mid-engine sports car, designed in conjunction with Lamborghini. As Lamborghini went into bankruptcy the production was shifted to the largest independent motor vehicle company in Germany, Karmann in Osnabrueck.
  • Z3: a 2-seater roadster. Appeared in the James Bond film GoldenEye, marking the first time Pierce Brosnan played Bond and the first time the MI6 agent's gadget-laden car wasn't British.
    • M coupé and roadster: high-performance hard-top and soft-top versions of the Z3.
  • 8 Series: a fast, high-technology coupé of the 1990s.
  • Z1: a late 1980s two-seater with innovative modular construction; only 8,000 were made. Best known for its vertically sliding doors.
  • Z8: a roadster and halo car with design based on the classic 507 roadster from the 1950s. Appeared in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, marking the last time Bond would drive a BMW. Only 5000 were built, the last 500 being a special edition built by Alpina but sold directly from BMW. It was built on an aluminum space frame design.


BMW 319/1 – built in 1935
BMW 3/15 "Dixi"
1936 BMW Model 319 4-Window Cabriolet
1958 BMW Model 507 Roadster

BMW made many cars over the years which have had great impact on the world of motoring.

  • 3.0 CSL
  • M1
  • M3
  • M5
  • M6 (e24) First production line M car. Supercoupe capable of over 150 mph (240 km/h)
  • M Roadster
  • Dixi, 3/20, 303, 309, 315, 319, 320, 321, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 335
  • Isetta, 600, 700
  • 501, 502, 503, 507
  • 3200 CS, 2000 CS, 2002 Turbo
  • New Sixes (2500/2800/Bavaria/2.5/2.8/3.0/3.3): Predecessor to today's 7 Series
  • New Class (1500/1502/1600/1800/1802/2000/2002): Predecessor to the 3 Series

Series generations

Internally, BMW associates an "e-code" for each generation of a series ("E" stands for Entwicklung, German for development or evolution). These "chassis codes" only change to signify a major redesign of a series, or the introduction of a new series. BMW AG reported in September 2006 that BMW would switch to the letter "F" for their future models, beginning with the F01 7 Series replacement.

2.5, 2.8, 3.0, 3.3 "New Six" sedans

  • BMW E9 — (1969–1975) 2800CS, 3.0CS, 3.0CSL "New Six" Coupés
  • BMW E12 — (1974–1981) 5 Series
  • BMW E21 — (1976–1983) 3 Series
  • BMW E23 — (1977–1986) 7 Series
  • BMW E24 — (1976–1989) 6 Series
  • BMW E26 — (1978–1981) M1
  • BMW E28 — (1981–1987) 5 Series
  • BMW E30 — (1984–1991) 3 Series (1982-1983 E30 sold in Europe)
  • BMW E31 — (1989–1997) 8 Series
  • BMW E32 — (1986–1994) 7 Series
  • BMW E34 — (1988–1995) 5 Series
  • BMW E36 — (1992–1999) 3 Series
  • BMW E36/5 — (1995–1998) 3 Series Compact (US market known as "318ti")
  • BMW E36/7 — (1996-2002) Z3 Series Roadster
  • BMW E36/8 — (1998-2002) Z3 Series Coupé
  • BMW E38 — (1994–2001) 7 Series
  • BMW E38/2 — (1994–2001) 7 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW E38/3 — (1998–2001) 7 Series Protection
  • BMW E39 — (1995–2003) 5 Series
  • BMW E46/5 — (2000–2004) 3 Series Compact
  • BMW E46/4 — (1998–2005) 3 Series Sedan
  • BMW E46/3 — (1999–2005) 3 Series Touring/Sports Wagon
  • BMW E46/2 — (1999–2006) 3 Series Coupé
  • BMW E46/C — (1999–2006) 3 Series Convertible
  • BMW E52 — (2000–2003) Z8
  • BMW E53 — (2000–2006) X5
  • BMW E60 — (2004–present) 5 Series
  • BMW E61 — (2004–2007) 5 Series Touring/Sports Wagon
  • BMW E63 — (2004–present) 6 Series Coupé
  • BMW E64 — (2004–present) 6 Series convertible
  • BMW E65 — (2001–2007) 7 Series short wheelbase
  • BMW E66 — (2001–2007) 7 Series long wheelbase
  • BMW E67 — (2001–2007) 7 Series Protection
  • BMW E68 — (2005–2007) Hydrogen 7
  • BMW E70 — (2007-present) X5
  • BMW E71 — (2008) X6
  • BMW E81 — (2007-present) 1 Series (3-door)
  • BMW E82 — (2007-present) 1 Series Coupé
  • BMW E83 — (2004–present) X3
  • BMW E85 — (2003–present) Z4
  • BMW E86 — (2006–present) Z4 Coupé
  • BMW E87 — (2004–present) 1 Series (5-door)
  • BMW E88 — (2008) 1 Series Convertible
  • BMW E89 — (2009) Z4
  • BMW E90 — (2005–present) 3 Series
  • BMW E91 — (2005–present) 3 Series Touring/Sports Wagon
  • BMW E92 — (2006–present) 3 Series Coupé
  • BMW E93 — (2007–present) 3 Series Convertible
  • BMW F01 — (2008) 7 Series
  • BMW F02 — (2009) 7 Series long wheelbase

Recently BMW has become concerned with the rising number of their vehicles being imported from the United States into Canada and with the cooperation of the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (a private contractor to the federal Government of Canada) has placed impediments to the importation of BMW vehicles into Canada. BMW now requires owners importing their cars into Canada to pay a fee of $300 (CDN) for a document guaranteeing the vehicle's admissibility into Canada and $500 (CDN) for a letter advising the Registrar of Imported Vehicles that there are no outstanding recalls on that vehicle. This, however can be circumvented by removing all BMW badges from the vehicle, with popular replacement choices being Toyota or Mitsubishi badges.


Main article: BMW in motorsport
BMW Sauber F1 Team Logo.
BMW first entered Formula One as a fully-fledged team in 2006.

BMW has been engaged in motorsport activities since the dawn of the first BMW motorcycle.


Formula car

  • Formula One - BMW has won 19 grand prix as an engine supplier. BMW won its first race as a constructor on 8 June 2008 at the Grand Prix of Canada with Robert Kubica driving.
    • BMW Sauber F1 Team - current BMW works Formula One team
    • WilliamsF1 - former Formula One partner from 2000-2005, and designer of BMW's Le Mans winning sports car
    • Brabham - Former Formula One partner, winning the Drivers Championship in 1983
    • Arrows - used BMW engines from 1984 to 1986
    • Benetton - used BMW engines in 1986 with which Gerhard Berger took his first F1 victory.

Sports car

  • Le Mans 24 Hours - BMW won Le Mans in 1999 with the BMW V12 LMR designed by Williams Grand Prix Engineering. Also the Kokusai Kaihatsu Racing team won the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans with a McLaren F1 GTR race car.
  • Nürburgring - BMW won the 24 Hours Nürburgring 18 times and the 1000km Nürburgring 2 times (1976 and 1981).
  • 24 Hours of Daytona - BMW won 1 time (1976)
  • Spa 24 Hours - BMW won 21 times
  • McLaren F1 - Successful mid-1990s GT racing car with a BMW designed engine. It won the BPR Global GT Series in 1995 and 1996 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995.

Touring car

BMW has a long and successful history in touring car racing.

  • European Touring Car Championship (ETCC) - Since 1968, BMW won 24 drivers' championships along with several manufacturers' and teams' titles.
  • World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) - BMW won four drivers' championship (1987, 2005, 2006 and 2007) and three manufacturers' titles (2005–2007).
  • DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft) - the following won the DTM drivers' championship driving BMWs:
    • 1989: Roberto Ravaglia, BMW M3
    • 1987: Eric van der Poele, BMW M3
  • The DRM (Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft) was won by Harald Ertl in a BMW 320i Turbo in 1978
  • British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) - BMW won the drivers' championship in 1988, 1991, 1992 and 1993 and manufacturers' championship in 1991 and 1993.
  • Japanese Touring Car Championship (JTCC) - BMW (Schnitzer) flew from Europe to Japan to compete in the JTCC and won the championship in 1995.
  • Mille Miglia - BMW won Mille Miglia in 1940 in with a 328 Touring Coupé. Previously in 1938 the 328 sport car also obtained a class victory.


  • RAC Rally - The 328 sport car won this event in 1939.
  • Paris Dakar Rally - BMW motorcycles have won this event 6 times.
  • Tour De Corse - The BMW M3 - E30 won this event in 1987


The term "Beemer" started as a slang term for the acronym "BMW," adapted from the early-20th century British pronunciation of BSA (as /ˈbisə/ or /ˈbizə/), whose motorcycles were often racing BMWs. Over time, the term became closely associated with BMW motorcycles.

In the United States, the term "Bimmer" was later coined to refer (exclusively) to BMW automobiles. As such, use of the word "Beemer" to refer to a BMW automobile is frowned upon by some BMW enthusiasts, [10] because it is the term used for motorcycles. Although the distinction is arbitrary, the media, movies, and people still use the term "Beemer" to refer to the automobiles.

The initials BMW are pronounced [beː ɛm ˈveː] in German. The model series are referred to as "Einser" ("One-er" for 1 series), "Dreier" ("Three-er" for 3 series), "Fünfer" ("Five-er" for the 5 series), "Sechser" ("Six-er" for the 6 series), "Siebener" ("Seven-er" for the 7 series).

On the motoring programme Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson famously commented "only a cock would buy a BMW", referring to the culture of travelling salesmen driving BMWs. In 2008, Clarkson commented that the new "cock car" is an Audi, as "the BMW drivers have traded them in". [11]

Older BMW cars belonging to 5 and 7 series enjoyed (and, to a falling degree, still continue to do so) a similar reputation in Russia because of their popularity with local organised crime in early to mid-nineties. This even led to BMW acronym being ironically deciphered as "racketeers' battle car" (Russian: боевая машина вымогателей). In particular, black comedy movie Dead Man's Bluff by Alexei Balabanov features scenes with gangsters of early post-Soviet years driving an E34 5 Series.

Environmental record

The company is a charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Environmental Achievement Track, which recognizes companies for their environmental stewardship and performance. It is also a member of the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program and is on the Dow Jones Sustainability Group Index, which rates environmentally friendly companies.[12] BMW has taken measures to reduce the impact the company has on the environment. It is trying to design less-polluting cars by making existing models more efficient, as well as developing environmentally friendly fuels for future vehicles. Possibilities include: electric power, hybrid power (combustion, engines and electric motors)hydrogen engines. [13]

However, there have been some criticisms directed at BMW, and in particular, accusations of greenwash in reference to their BMW Hydrogen 7. Some critics claim that the emissions produced during hydrogen fuel production outweigh the reduction of tailpipe emissions, and that the Hydrogen 7 is a distraction from more immediate, practical solutions for car pollution. [14]


BMW has created a range of high-end bicycles sold online and through dealerships. They range from the Kid's Bike to the EUR 4,499 Enduro Bike. [15] In the United States, only the Cruise Bike and Kid's Bike models are sold. [16]


BMWs follow a certain nomenclature in the naming of their vehicles; usually a 3 digit number is followed by 1 or 2 letters. The first number represents the series number. The next two numbers traditionally represent the engine displacement in cubic centimeters divided by 100.[17]

The system of letters can be used in combination, and is as follows:

  • i = fuel-injected
  • d = diesel
  • h = hydrogen
  • g = compressed natural gas/CNG
  • e = eta (efficient economy, from the Greek letter 'η')
  • x = BMW xDrive all wheel drive
  • L = long wheelbase
  • C = coupe
  • c = cabriolet (convertible)
  • T = touring (wagon/estate)
  • t = hatchback
  • s = sport††

historic nomenclature indicating "td" refers to "Turbo Diesel", not a diesel hatchback or touring model (524td, 525td)

†† typically includes sport seats, spoiler, aerodynamic body kit, upgraded wheels, etc.

For example, a BMW 760Li is a fuel-injected 7 Series with a long wheel base and 6.0 liters of displacement.

However, there are exceptions.[18] The 2007 BMW 328i is a 3 Series that has a 3.0 liter engine. The 2007 BMW 335i also has a 3.0 liter engine; however it is twin-turbocharged, which is not identified by the nomenclature.

The 'M' - for Motorsport - identifies the vehicle as a high-performance model of a particular series (e.g. M3, M5, M6, etc). For example, the M6 is the highest performing vehicle in the 6 Series lineup. Although 'M' cars should be separated into their respective series platforms, it is very common to see 'M' cars grouped together as its own series.

When 'L' supersedes the series number (e.g. L6, L7, etc) it identifies the vehicle as a special luxury variant, featuring extended leather and special interior appointments. The L7 is based on the E23 and E38, and the L6 is based on the E24.

When 'X' is capitalized and supersedes the series number (e.g. X3, X5, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as one of BMW's Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV), featuring BMW's xDrive.

The 'Z' identifies the vehicle as a two seat roadster (e.g. Z1, Z3, Z4, etc). 'M' variants of 'Z' models have the 'M' as a suffix or prefix, depending on country of sale (e.g. 'Z4 M' is 'M Roadster' in Canada).

Both X & Z vehicles will have 'i' or 'si' following the engine displacement number (denoted in liters). The 'si' (e.g. X3 3.0si) identifies the vehicle as being equipped with the 'sport package' & is 'fuel-injected'. X & Z vehicles only denoting 'i' (e.g. X3 3.0i) identifies the vehicle as 'fuel-injected' and no sport package.


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BMW logo sign in Düsseldorf

From the summer of 2001 until October, 2005, BMW hosted the BMW Films website, showcasing sporty models being driven to extremes. These videos are still popular within the enthusiast community and proved to be a ground-breaking online advertising campaign.

Annually since 1999, BMW enthusiasts have met in Santa Barbara, CA to attend Bimmerfest. One of the largest brand-specific gatherings in the U.S., over 3000 people attended in 2006, and over 1000 BMW cars were present. In 2007, the event was held on May 5.

Overseas subsidiaries

South Africa

BMWs have been assembled in South Africa since 1970, when Praetor Monteerders' plant was opened in Rosslyn, near Pretoria. BMW acquired the company in 1973, which became BMW South Africa, the first wholly-owned subsidiary of BMW to be established outside Germany. Three unique models that BMW Motorsport created for the South African market were the BMW 333i, which added a 6-cylinder 3.2 litre engine to the BMW 3 Series,[[19] the BMW 325is which was powered by an Alpina derived 2.7 litre engine, and the E23 M745i, which used the engine from the BMW M1.

Unlike U.S. manufacturers, such as Ford and GM, which divested from the country in the 1980s, BMW retained full ownership of its operations in South Africa.

Following the end of apartheid in 1994, and the lowering of import tariffs, BMW South Africa ended local production of the 5-Series and 7-Series, in order to concentrate on production of the 3-Series for the export market. South African-built BMWs are now exported to right hand drive markets including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Hong Kong, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1997, BMW South Africa has produced vehicles in left hand drive for export to Taiwan, the United States and Iran, as well as South America.

BMW's with a VIN number starting with "NC0" are manufactured in South Africa.

United States

BMW factory in Spartanburg

BMW Manufacturing Co has been manufacturing the X5, and more recently, also the X6 in Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA.[20] The smaller X3 is slated to begin production in Spartanburg in 2009-2010.

BMW's with a VIN number starting with "4US" are manufactured in Spartanburg.


BMW established in 2006 a sales subsidiary in Gurgaon (National Capital Region) and a state-of-the-art assembly plant for BMW 3 and 5 Series started operation in early 2007 in Chennai. The construction of the plant started in January 2006 with an initial investment of more than one billion Indian Rupees. The plant started fullfledged operation in the first quarter of 2007 and produces the different variants of BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series.[21]


In May 2004 BMW opened a factory in Shenyang, north-east China, in a joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive.[22] The factory is expected to produce 30,000 3 and 5 Series annually. BMW also has plans for a 2nd factory in China where the 1 Series will be produced.[23]


In October 2008, BMW Group Canada was named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers by Mediacorp Canada Inc., which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[24]


Nazi connections

Günther Quandt, whose family became major shareholders of BMW 15 years after the war, was a member of the Nazi Party from 1933. After Hitler's election he was appointed to the position of Leader of the Armament Economy, which was a title given to industrialists who played a leading role in the Nazi war economy. Quandt's factories supplied ammunition, rifles, artillery and batteries for the Nazis and, it is claimed, used slave labourers from concentration camps in some of his factories[25]. Quandt's first wife, Magda, later married the Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels[26].

A documentary aired on German TV in 2007 claimed that Quandt not only utilized slave labour, but also sidestepped postwar recrimination. BMW has made no comment about the Quandts, but claims to have confronted its own wartime history via independent research projects [27]. The Quandt family responded by pledging to fund a research project into the family's Nazi past and its role under the Third Reich[28].

2009 job cuts

In February, 2009, BMW cut 850 jobs at their plant near Oxford, England. The third of the workers that were agency staff did not receive any redundancy pay. Agency staff expressed their fury at being given just one hour's notice of the redundancies. [29]

The joint general secretary of the union Unite , Tony Woodley, attacked the decision:

It is tough enough for workers in those car companies who have seen their market collapse in recent months, but BMW makes a top-selling product in Mini and owed it to their staff to treat them better. Sacking an entire shift like this, and targeting agency workers who have no rights to redundancy pay, is blatant opportunism on BMW's part and nothing short of scandalous[30]

Related companies

A Combined BMW MINI dealership in Moncton, Canada
  • Automobilwerk Eisenach
  • Isetta
  • Glas
  • Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited
  • Rover: Owned by BMW from 1994 to 2000, BMW retained the Mini after selling off the rest of the company (see MG Rover Group).
  • Land Rover: Sold to Ford, now bought by Indian automaker Tata; the current Range Rover was developed during BMW's ownership of the company and until recently was powered by their 4.4 L V8 petrol (gasoline) engine and BMW 3.0 L I6 diesel engine
  • MINI: A small hatchback; inspired by the original Mini, which was the British competitor to the Volkswagen Beetle.
  • Wiesmann: A company making sporty 2-seater roadsters and coupés for which BMW supplies the engine and transmission components.
  • Bavaria Wirtschaftsagentur GmbH: BMW Group subsidiary that offers insurance services.
  • AC Schnitzer: A tuning company specialising in BMW vehicles.
  • Alpina: A Motor Manufacturer in its own right, who creates vehicles based on BMW cars.
  • Breyton: A tuning manufacturer specialising in BMW cars.
  • Dinan Cars: A tuning company specialising in BMW and Mini cars
  • G-Power: A tuning company specialising in BMW vehicles.
  • Hartge: A tuning company specialising in BMW, MINI and Range Rover cars.
  • Hamann Motorsport: A Motor Styling and Tuning Specialist who creates vehicles based on BMW cars.
  • MK-Motorsport: A tuning company specialising in BMW cars.
  • Racing Dynamics: A tuning company and motor manufacturer specialising in BMW Group vehicles.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Annual Report 2007" (PDF). BMW Group. Retrieved on 2008-08-25. 
  2. "Fliegerschule St.Gallen - history" (in German). Retrieved on 2008-08-24. 
  3. Darwin Holmstrom, Brian J. Nelson (2002). BMW Motorcycles. MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 076031098X. Retrieved on 2008-08-24. 
  4. Jeff Dean (2007-01-09). "The Origin of the BMW Logo: Fact and Fiction" (PDF). Retrieved on 2008-08-24. 
  5. Uniquely BMW. BMW North America. 2006. 
  6. Albrecht Rothacher (2004). Corporate Cultures And Global Brands. World Scientific. pp. p239. ISBN 9812388567. 
  7. World Motor Vehicle Production, OICA correspondents survey
  8. "Equipment and Technical data" (PDF). BMW AG. Retrieved on 2008-05-17. 
  9. Greg Migliore (2008-06-10). "Future vision? BMW reveals fabric-skinned concept after six years". Retrieved on 2008-06-11. 
  10. "Bimmer vs. Beemer". Retrieved on 2007-06-23. 
  11. "Audi Drivers are the new cocks". youtube. Retrieved on 2007-06-23. 
  12. Grahl, C: “Green finishing”, page 35(4). Industrial Paint & Powder, 2006
  13. Bird, J and Walker, M: “BMW A Sustainable Future? ”, page 11. Wild World 2005
  14. ""Not as Green at it Seems"".,1518,448648,00.html. 
  15. BMW Online Shop
  16. BMWonline - 1-888-BMW-ONLINE (888-269-6654) BMW, clothes, clothing, shirts, sweaters, polos, models, miniatures, shirt, tee, tees, sweater, polo, model, miniature, jewelry, motorcycle, leathers, boots, gloves
  17. W.P. BMW Group Canada Inc.
  18. Carver, Robert. BMW San Antonio. BMW Information
  19. BMW South Africa - Plant Rosslyn
  20. BMW AG (2006-10-16). Out with the old, in with the new. Press release. Retrieved on 2008-09-04. 
  21. International BMW website
  22. BMW opens China factory -
  23. BMW China archive at China Car Times
  24. "Reasons for Selection, 2009 Greater Toronto's Top Employers Competition". 
  25. BMW's Quandt Family Faces Its Nazi Past
  26. The gigolo, the German heiress, and a £6m revenge for her Nazi legacy
  27. BMW's Quandt Family Faces Its Nazi Past
  28. Quandts to reveal Nazi-era links
  29. Uproar in Cowley as BMW confirms 850 job cuts at Mini factory
  30. BMW accused of 'scandalous opportunism' after scrapping 850 jobs at Mini factory

External links