BMW was established as an aircraft engine manufacturer
PLANE BREAKS RECORD
BMW’s biplane reached an altitude of 32,000 feet and set a world record
BMW manufactured the R32
BMW introduced the Dixi, its first car
BMW IN THE OLYMPICS
The first two electric cars made by BMW premiered in the Olympics in Munich, Germany
Artist Alexander Calder painted the BMW driven by Hervé Poulain at the 24 Hours of Le Man
Forbes.com listed BMW as the most reputable company in the world
The Ultimate Driving Machine*
Bayerische Moteren Werke AG is Quite a Mouthful
BMW, the abbreviation for Bayerische Moteren Werke AG, didn’t start out making cars – they made aircraft engines during World War I**. Following the war, BMW moved to making motorcycles and finally cars in 1928-1929. After WWII and into the 1950s, BMW suffered financially and considered bankruptcy. However, they piggybacked on the economy car resurgence started by other ex-aircraft manufacturers and began their way back. They motorized their tiny cars with modified BMW motorcycle engines.
World War I and II Plane Engines
In 1919 the 32,000-foot altitude reached by the BMW bi-plane was a world record and is the height at which most commercial airlines fly. At the end of WWI, the Treaty of Versailles forbade BMW from producing any more planes, hence the move to cars. However, as Germany began to re-arm in the 1930s, BMW again created aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe.
As BMW became more and more successful post-war, they made a number of acquisitions, including DesignworksUSA, the Rover Group (Rover, Land Rover, MG), the Mini, and Husqvarna. They employed such designers as Chris Bangle and Adrian van Hooydonk. Currently, BMW employs over 106,000 people worldwide. They own Mini and Rolls-Royce cars and Husqvarna motorcycles, chainsaws, and lawn care equipment.
In 2012, Forbes.com listed BMW as the most reputable company in the world. Rankings are based on such standards as people’s wiliness to purchase, recommend, work for, and invest in. BMW has sponsored such events as the 2012 London Olympics, PGA Golf Championship, and the Australian Film Institute. The company is a charter member of the U.S. EPA’s National Environmental Achievement Track, and in 2012 named as the most sustainable auto company for the 8th year in a row. BMW was the first automotive company to appoint a chief environmental officer and they continue to look for ways to be mindful of the environment.
BMWs are more than beautiful machines, they are also objects of art, employing and inspiring famous artists to design and extol their cars. For example, artist Gerhard Richter created Red, Yellow, Blue – a series of paintings for the BMW headquarters’ lobby. In 1975, artist, Alexander Calder painted the BMW car driven by Hervé Poulain at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Subsequently artists including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, and Roy Lichtenstein created their own version of the BMW art car.
Did You Know?
- BMW is known for its April Fools jokes – in 2010, they “offered” BMWs with different color badges for customers to show their political party affiliation.
- The blue and white colors on BMW’s round logo are from the Bavarian flag; the kidney shaped grille is a trademark feature on every BMW since 1933.
- BMW made its first electric car in 1972; the battery life was 20 minutes.
- BMW headquarters is designed like their famous 4-cylinder engine.
* This has been BMW’s tagline for the better part of 40 years.
** The famous Red Baron flew a BMW plane.
Check out BMW’s European ridesharing program, Drivenow
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