After World War I, BMW (and Germany) were forced to cease aircraft (engine) production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923 once the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted, 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, an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, which was actually twelve years after the roundel was created. 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 power plant 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 Spatz, 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 (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.
Total world production in 2006 was 1,366,838 vehicles produced in 5 countries.
|United Kingdom||Mini||187,454||All Minis|
|USA||BMW||105,172||BMW X5, X6|
|South Africa||BMW||54,782||BMW 3-Series|
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.
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 and , respectively.
In 2004, BMW introduced the new K1200S Sports Bike which marked a departure for BMW. It is both powerful (the engine is a 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.
Project i is a special division of BMW, dedicated to building low emission city cars .
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.
The BMW 3 Series is a compact 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).
The 3 series is one of BMW's most important models, as it accounts for a majority of its worldwide sales.
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.
BMW's second crossover SUV debuted in 2004 (called SAV or Sports Activity Vehicle by BMW) and is based on the E46 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.
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 . The X5 M will feature a full body kit, new alloy wheels, and generally a revised look.
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 will be increased to 410 bhp.
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.
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 in 4.7 seconds.
The M6 is the M division's version of the 6 Series. The M6 shares its drivetrain with the M5. The V10 produces 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.
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, at 7,900 rpm, of torque at 4,900 rpm, 8,000 rpm redline. Output per litre is , and power-to-weight ratio is 9.9 lb/bhp. Acceleration to comes in 4.8 seconds and top speed is limited electronically to .
BMW made many cars over the years which have had great impact on the world of motoring.
2.5, 2.8, 3.0, 3.3 "New Six" sedans
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.
BMW has been engaged in motorsport activities since the dawn of the first BMW motorcycle.
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, 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 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).
The system of letters is:
For example, a BMW 760Li is a fuel-injected 7 Series with a long wheel base and 6.0 litres of displacement.
However, there are exceptions. The 2007 BMW 328i is a 3 Series that has a 3.0 litre engine. The 2007 BMW 335i also has a 3.0 litre engine; however, it is twin-turbocharged, which is not identified by the nomenclature.
The 'L' signifies special luxury variants. Most notable being the L7 (most famous of which are E23 and E38 based) and L6 (E24 based). They traditionally featured extended leather as well as special interior appointments.
The 'M' - for Motorsport - identifies the high-performance M vehicle 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.
The 'Z' identifies a two seater 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' / 'M Roadster' in Canada)
A capitalized 'X' may supersede the series number (e.g. X3 and X5) which refers to the Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) lineup, all of which feature BMW's xDrive.
Both X & Z vehicles will have 'i' or 'si' follow the engine displacement denoted in litres. 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.
Also, station-wagons/estates are traditionally given the "Touring" or "Sport Wagon" tagline, depending on country of sale.
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.
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,[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.
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.