BMW: The Ultimate German Machine

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There would only be a handful that would not recognise the famous circular blue and white logo of BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works). Part of the legendary “German Big 3, this German automobile company was conceived in the year 1916 by Franz Josef Popp (others being Audi and Mercedes-Benz). Its headquarters are located in Munich, Germany. BMW is among the most admired and well respected brands in the world.

The company also owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and Mini Cars. They produce motorcycles under the name of BMW Motorrad, and BMWi is a sub-brand which caters to the research and development of electric cars. The German automaker has managed to influence popular culture and capture the imagination of many across the globe.

History of the company:

Karl Friedrich Rapp in 1913 constituted Rapp-Motorenwerke first as the company which manufactured bicycles near Munich. Later on the company gave birth to Flugwerk – the aircraft production unit of the company. They started by manufacturing their own variety of airplane engines. During the same time Gustav Otto joined Rapp and they both created the Gustav Flugmaschinefabrik. Though, this duo was not going to last a very long time, but it is important to mention that they both did a considerable amount of work for the company.

BMW’s origin stories in-fact begins with the Rapp Motorenwerke company which at that time in 1917 was undergoing the restructuring process. In-fact, the company’s logo also was developed by modifying the Rapp Motorenwerke company logo and combining it with the blue and white colours from the Bavarian flag.

The company saw a lot of business coming in during World War I. At this time they produced their flagship V12 aircraft engines but there were problem concerning reliability of the engines due to excessive vibration. Though the modified version of the same engine was quite successful and set many records. It is rather fascinating to know that by the year 1927, the company held nearly one third of the aviation records of the time and as the years passed by there came in more number of records.

Furthermore, as soon as World War I ended (1918) BMW ceased the production of aircraft engines and moved to manufacturing motorcycles in 1923. This was due to the Versailles Armistice Treaty. Once the restrictions were lifted, the company resumed the production of motorcycles in 1923 and later on followed it with automobile production in 1928-29. Based on the Austin 7 model of the Austin Motor Company (Birmingham, England), BMW produced its first ever automobile and named it as Dixi.

Moreover, until World War II aircraft engines, motorcycles and automobiles would be BMW’s main products. Just around the time when the War ended not only was their Munich plant heavily damaged but also the US army had asked them to dismantle their plants. Furthermore, in the interim time period they were also asked to repair the Allied army’s motorised equipment’s. Amidst all this turmoil the first BMW bicycle came to life.

It took them a little while to recover but BMW returned with quite a bang. After nearly five years of absence and almost after a period of two decades they introduced an all new motorcycle in New York. It was to become the famous R68 model.

Towards the end of 1950’s BMW faced financial difficulties and it was with the help of Herbert Quandt that BMW was able to sail through. Since 1959 the majority of the company shares are owned by the Quandt family.

Through the 1960’s and 70’s BMW grew and acquired a lot of companies from Europe and America and launched many of its famous models like the ‘sporty sedan 1500’ and many others. It was during the first half of the 1980’s that they started developing a new formula 1 engine and renewed many of its older models such as the 5 series. Its iconic M3 model was also created around the middle of the decade along with the luxurious 7 series E32. Till this time the Bavarian carmaker had become a well-established global player and was aggressively expanding across continents.

During the early 1990’s the company bought and further took control of many companies in the United States and Germany. The year 1993 is quite crucial in the carmakers history because it retrofitted the 3 series with a new body version and gave new life to its ultra-luxurious 8 series line with a new v8 and v12 engine variants.

During the 1995 Le Mans 24 hours’ race, McLaren F1 GTR which was equipped with the super powerful BMW engine won the race and reinstated the company’s capacities and reliability. Also, in the latter half of the decade, specifically in the year 1998 during the Paris-Dakar Rally of that year, BMW returned after a 12 year absence and competed in the classic race with its heavy-duty motorcycle F650. The next year BMW saw the strongest motorcycle sales in its recorded history.

Into the new millennium

BMW AG entered the new millennium with a lot of wisdom from its past experiences. The company decided to realign with the changing dynamic world. They clarified their focus on to the premium segment vehicles from BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce. The following brands saw many new models being launched in the international market. Their Strategy Number ONE was concretised using the four pillars of growth, shaping the future, profitability, and access to technology and customers. Value generation and long term relations as motto’s were reshaped and presented during the first decade of the new millennium.

Today the company has overseas subsidiaries in many countries including Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, India, Japan, Mexico, United States, South Africa, etc.

Cultural value:

BMW’s campaign pushed their cars and bikes as “The Ultimate Driving Machine” in the 1970’s and later on became their focus leapt towards the ‘Joy’ of driving their machines but then again in 2012 their slogan changed to “The Ultimate Driving Machine” through which in-fact the entire world knows BMW.


BMW also sponsors many sporting events and leagues. You would have spotted their logos during Olympics, various European Golfing events and PGA Championships, motor sporting events going by the name of Formula BMW along with Formula One (F1) racing tournaments. Furthermore, their vehicles have also played a pivotal role in many movies, among the most popular being the BMW i3 in the movie Mission Impossible starring Tom Cruise.

Experts have credited the success of BMW to the entrepreneurial culture that they have propagated over the years. Their ideas revolve around the ways and manners through which workers/employees are made to feel connected and responsible towards the company.

Popular models:

BMW cars have a distinct personality, owners of BMW’s have also claimed to feel associated and mark out the particular bond which lasts a life time. A BMW’s “true passion runs deeper”, so goes the company’s motto and truly indeed. The German workmanship has managed to produce the following portfolio:

  • BMW 1 series: This is the small family car segment offered by the company. They are reliable, light on the pocket, desirable and surprising in every respect. 1 series is all about comfort and efficiency. The cars in this segment are available in both diesel and petrol variants. 1.6 118iM Sport, 116D sport, 120d, 118i M, 125d M Sport are among the popular models under this series.
  • BMW 3 Series: This is the largest selling segment of the brand. Strong performance, efficiency, and excellent handling are among the many reasons for the popularity of this segment. The 320d, E90 335i, F30 320i, etc. are the most popular cars in this series.
  • BMW 4 Series Coupe: The compact executive coupe was first released in the year 2012 with the intention to replace the 3 series. The coupe has a retractable hard-top and shares its features with the F30 3 series. The models under this segment are available as: 420d, 428i, 428i xDrive, 435i, and 435i xDrive.
  • BMW 5 series: It was conceived as the successor to the 4 series as a mid-sized luxury car in the sedan body type segment. Furthermore in 2009 a hatchback model was also developed. The first of the fifth series was developed and produced in 1981 as the E12, then came the E28, E34, E39, E60, and the latest generation F10 came in 2010.
  • BMW X Series: It was designed to enhance the things that the user can do with the car. This segment was developed for the crossover and SUV categories of cars. The newer models are equipped with the intelligent BMW xDrive mechanism which is an all-wheel drive system. BMW X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 are the cars that the segment includes.
  • BMW Z Series: The Z models are the roadsters and include Z1, Z3, Z 4, Z8, and Z9 based on different variants of engine capacities.
  • BMW GT: The first BMW grand tourismo was the 2009 5 series GT. This series can be distinguished on the basis of tall-roof, a longer well base, and on being designed as a fastback sedan with 5 doors. The other BMW model that carries the GT tag is the 3 series type F30.

BMW has been producing motorcycles since 1921 under the brand name Motorrad. Since 2004 they have the following segments:

  • K series: It has two variants: an in-lined four cylinders, liquid cooled engine and water cooled straight engine type. This segment was designed for the super sport motorcycles. In 2011 tow six-cylinder variants were launched.
  • R series: This category of motorcycles satiates the dual purpose of touring and sporting.
  • F series: It was redesigned in 2006 and includes bikes of F650 and F800 series which use the 798 cc engines.
  • G series: The off-roading motorbikes are equipped with the G series. It includes bikes such as: G650 Xchallenge hard endure, the G650 Xcountry, and the G650 Xmoto verities.
  • HP2 series: Essentially designed for street racing purposes. A bike such as the R1200S which was the part of the 24 hours endurance races since 2008 was reintroduced as the HP2 Sport.
  • S1000RR: It is basically a sports bike and has competed in the various Superbike World Championships.

There are no hierarchical barriers and the intent of the company has always been located in the very earth their seeds began to germinate. BMW is symptomatic of the German spirit of industriousness, dexterity, hard work and innovation.