Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (German pronunciation: [baˈjʁɪʃə mɔˈtɔʁen̩ ˈvɛɐ̯kə]; German for Bavarian Motor Works), usually known under its abbreviation BMW (German pronunciation: [ˈbeˈemˈve]), is a German luxury vehicles, motorcycle, and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. Headquartered in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, it also owns and produces Mini cars and serves as the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad, and plug-in electric cars under the BMW i sub-brand. It is one of the best-selling luxury automakers in the world.[10] The company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index.[11]


BMW was established as a business entity following a restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft manufacturing firm in 1917. After the end of World War I in 1918, BMW was forced to cease aircraft-engine production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty.[13] The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production as the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted in 1923,[14] followed by automobiles in 1928–29.[15][16][17]

The first car which BMW successfully produced and the car which launched BMW on the road to automobile production was the Dixi, based on the Austin 7 and licensed from the Austin Motor Company in Birmingham, England.

BMW's first significant aircraft engine, and commercial product of any sort, was the BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine of 1918, known for good fuel economy and high-altitude performance.[7] With German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. The factory in Munich made ample use of forced labour: foreign civilians, prisoners of war and inmates of the concentration camp Dachau . Among its successful World War II 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, 1944–1945–era jet-powered "emergency fighter", the Heinkel He 162 Spatz. The BMW 003 jet engine was first tested as a prime power plant in the first prototype of the Messerschmitt Me 262, the Me 262 V1, but in 1942 tests the BMW prototype engines failed on takeoff with only the standby Junkers Jumo 210 nose-mounted piston engine powering it to a safe landing.[7][7] The few Me 262 A-1b test examples built used the more developed version of the 003 jet, recording an official top speed of 800 km/h (497 mph). The first-ever four-engine jet aircraft ever flown were the sixth and eighth prototypes of the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance-bomber, which used BMW 003 jets for power. Through 1944 the 003's reliability improved, making it a suitable power plant for air frame designs competing for the Jägernotprogramm's light fighter production contract. which was won by the Heinkel He 162 Spatz design. The BMW 003 aviation turbojet was also under consideration as the basic starting point for a pioneering turboshaft powerplant for German armored fighting vehicles in 1944–45, as the GT 101.[7] Towards the end of the Third Reich, BMW developed some military aircraft projects for the Luftwaffe, the BMW Strahlbomber, the BMW Schnellbomber and the BMW Strahljäger, but none of them were built.[7][7]

By the year 1958, the automotive division of BMW was in financial difficulties and a shareholders meeting was held to decide whether to go into liquidation or find an alternative. It was decided to carry on by trying to cash in on the current economy car boom exploited so successfully by German ex-aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmitt and Heinkel. BMW bought the rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta. BMW's version of the tiny cars were to be powered by a modified form of BMW's motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet.

Since 1959, the controlling majority shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft has been the Quandt family, which owns about 46% of the stock. The rest is in public float.

BMW acquired the Hans Glas company based in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1966. Glas vehicles were briefly badged as BMW until the company was fully absorbed. It was reputed that the acquisition was mainly to gain access to Glas' development of the timing belt with an overhead camshaft in automotive applications,[7] although some saw Glas' Dingolfing plant as another incentive. However, this factory was outmoded and BMW's biggest immediate gain was, according to themselves, a stock of highly qualified engineers and other personnel. The Glas factories continued to build a limited number of their existing models, while adding the manufacture of BMW front and rear axles until they could be closer incorporated into BMW.

In 1992, BMW acquired a large stake in California based industrial design studio DesignworksUSA, which they fully acquired in 1995. In 1994, BMW bought the British Rover Group[7] (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), and owned it for six years. By 2000, Rover was incurring 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 in February 2009, after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years.[24] He was replaced by Adrian van Hooydonk, Bangle's former right-hand man. Bangle was known for his radical designs such as the 2002 7-Series and the 2002 Z4. In July 2007, the production rights for Husqvarna Motorcycles was purchased by BMW for a reported 93 million euros. BMW Motorrad plans to continue operating Husqvarna Motorcycles as a separate enterprise. All development, sales and production activities, as well as the current workforce, have remained in place at its present location at Varese.

In June 2012, BMW was listed as the #1 most reputable company in the world by[25] Rankings are based upon aspects such as "people's willingness to buy, recommend, work for, and invest in a company is driven 60% by their perceptions of the company and only 40% by their perceptions of their products."

Shareholder structure

by types

  • Strategic investors: 46.7%
  • Institutional investors: 39.7%
    • North America: 13.5%
    • United Kingdom and Ireland: 7.7%
    • Other Europe: 12.1%
    • Germany: 3.5%
    • Rest of the world: 3.0%
  • Other investors: 13.6%


In 2006, the BMW group (including Mini and Rolls-Royce) produced 1,366,838 four-wheeled vehicles, which were manufactured in five countries.[26] In 2010, it manufactured 1,481,253 four-wheeled vehicles and 112,271 motorcycles (under both the BMW and Husqvarna brands).[28]

The BMW X3 (E83) was made by Magna Steyr, a subsidiary of Magna of Canada, in Graz, Austria under license from BMW until 2010. More than 45,973 were produced in 2009. Starting October 2010, the new BMW X3 (F25) is produced at BMW US Manufacturing Company, Greer, Spartanburg County, South Carolina.

It is reported that about 56% of BMW-brand vehicles produced are powered by petrol engines and the remaining 44% are powered by diesel engines. Of those petrol vehicles, about 27% are four-cylinder models and about nine percent are eight-cylinder models.[29] BMW also has local assembly operation using complete knock down components in Thailand, Russia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, for 3, 5, 7 series and X3.[31]

Worldwide sales

Vehicles sold in all markets according to BMW's annual reports.

2014 [8]1,811,719302,1834,063123,495**

Since 2008, motorcycle productions and sales figures include Husqvarna models. Excluding Husqvarna, sales volume up to 2013: 59,776 units.

China sales

BMW sells vehicles in China through "more than 440 BMW sales outlets and 100 Mini stores," delivering 415,200 units to this network between January and November 2014.[32]

Annual production



BMW began production of motorcycle engines and then motorcycles after World War I. Its motorcycle brand 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 a cylinder projects into the air-flow from each side of the machine. Apart from their single-cylinder models (basically to the same pattern), all their motorcycles used this distinctive layout until the early 1980s. Many BMW's are still produced in this layout, which is designated the R Series.

During the Second World War, BMW produced the BMW R75 motorcycle with a sidecar attached. Having 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 1982, came the K Series, shaft drive but water-cooled and with either three or four 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 1,170 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 engines are available in the R1100S and R1200S, producing 98 and 122 hp (73 and 91 kW), respectively.

In 2004, BMW introduced the new K1200S Sports Bike which marked a departure for BMW. It had an engine producing 167 hp (125 kW), derived from the company's work with the Williams F1 team, and is lighter than previous K models. Innovations include electronically adjustable front and rear suspension, and a Hossack-type front fork that BMW calls Duolever.

BMW introduced 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 electronic stability control, or anti-skid technology 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 an 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.

BMW Group, on 31 January 2013 announced that Pierer Industrie AG has bought Husqvarna for an undisclosed amount, which will not be revealed by either party in the future. The company is headed by Stephan pierer (CEO of KTM). Pierer Industrie AG is 51% owner of KTM and 100% owner of Husqvarna.


New Class

The New Class (German: Neue Klasse) was a line of compact sedans and coupes starting with the 1962 1500 and continuing through the last 2002s in 1977. Powered by BMW's celebrated four-cylinder M10 engine, the New Class models had a fully independent suspension, MacPherson struts in front, and front disc brakes. Initially a family of four-door sedans and two-door coupes, the New Class line was broadened to two-door sports sedans with the addition of the 02 Series 1600 and 2002 in 1966.

Sharing little in common with the rest of the line beyond power train, the sporty siblings caught auto enthusiasts' attention and established BMW as an international brand. Precursors to the famed BMW 3 Series, the two-doors' success cemented the firm's future as an upper tier performance car maker. New Class four-doors with numbers ending in "0" were replaced by the larger BMW 5 Series in 1972. The upscale 2000C and 2000CS coupes were replaced by the six-cylinder BMW E9, introduced in 1969 with the 2800CS. The 1600 two-door was discontinued in 1975, and the 2002 was replaced by the 320i in 1975.

Current models

The 1 Series, originally launched in 2004, is BMW's smallest car. Currently available are the second generation hatchback (F20/F21) and its two-door counterparts, the 2 Series coupe and convertible (F22/F23). The 3 Series, a compact executive car manufactured since model year 1975, is currently in its sixth generation (F30); models include the sports sedan (F30), the fourth generation station wagon (F31) and the Gran Turismo. Starting with the current generation, the 3 Series coupe and convertible are now branded as 4 Series models (F32 and F33 respectively). The 5 Series is a mid-size executive car, available in sedan (F10) and station wagon (F11) forms. The 5 Series Gran Turismo (F07), which debuted in 2010, created a segment between station wagons and crossover SUV.[33]

BMW's full-size flagship executive sedan is the 7 Series. Typically, BMW introduces many of their innovations in the 7 Series, such as the iDrive system. The latest generation (G11) debuted in 2015. Based on the 5 Series' platform, the 6 Series is BMW's grand touring luxury sport coupe/convertible (F12/F13). A 2-seater roadster and coupe which succeeded the Z3, the Z4 has been sold since 2002.

The X3 (F25), BMW's second crossover SUV (called SAV or "Sports Activity Vehicle" by BMW) debuted in 2010 and replaced the X3 (E83-), which was based on the E46 3 Series' platform, and had been in production since 2003. Marketed in Europe as an off roader, it benefits from BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system. The all-wheel drive X5 (E53) was BMW's first crossover SUV (SAV), based on the 5-Series, and is a mid-size luxury SUV sold by BMW since 2000. A 4-seat crossover SUV released by BMW in December 2007, the X6 is marketed as a "Sports Activity Coupe" (SAC) by BMW. The X1 is now in its second generation and extends the BMW X-lineup.

The BMW i is a sub-brand of BMW founded in 2011 to design and manufacture plug-in electric vehicles.[34][35] The sub-brand initial plans called for the release of two vehicles; series production of the BMW i3 all-electric car began in September 2013,[37] and the market launch took place in November 2013 with the first retail deliveries in Germany.[38] The BMW i8 sports plug-in hybrid car was launched in Germany in June 2014.[39] Combined sales of the BMW i brand models reached the 50,000 unit milestone in January 2016. As of December 2015, sales by model totaled 41,586 i3's and 7,197 i8's.[40] Two years after its introduction, the BMW i3 ranked as the world's third best selling all-electric car in history.[41]

In February 2016, BMW announced the introduction of the "iPerformance" model designation, which will be given to all BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles from July 2016. The aim is to provide a visible indicator of the transfer of technology from BMW i to the BMW core brand. The new designation will be used first on the plug-in hybrid variants of the latest BMW 7 Series, the BMW 740e iPerformance being the first of such plug-in hybrids.[42]

M models

BMW produce a number of high-performance derivatives of their cars developed by their BMW M GmbH (previously BMW Motorsport GmbH) subsidiary.

The current M models are:

  • M2 - Coupé (2015 to present)
  • M3 – F80 Sedan (2013 to present)
  • M4 – F82 Coupé/F83 Convertible (2013 to present)
  • M5 – F10 Saloon (2011 to present)
  • M6 – F06 Gran Coupé/F12 Convertible/F13 Coupé (2012 to present)
  • X5 M – F15 SAV (2014 to present)
  • X6 M – F16 SAV (2014 to present)


BMW has been engaged in motorsport activities since the dawn of the first BMW motorcycle in 1923.

Motorsport sponsoring


Formula One – F1

BMW has a history of success in Formula One. BMW powered cars have won 20 races. In 2006 BMW took over the Sauber team and became Formula One constructors. In 2007 and 2008 the team enjoyed some success. The most recent win is a lone constructor team's victory by BMW Sauber F1 Team, on 8 June 2008, at the Canadian Grand Prix with Robert Kubica driving. Achievements include:

  • Driver championship: 1 (1983)
  • Constructor championship: 0 (Runner-up 2002, 2003, 2007)
  • Fastest laps: 33
  • Grand Prix wins: 20
  • Podium finishes: 76
  • Pole positions: 33

BMW was an engine supplier to Williams, Benetton, Brabham, and Arrows. Notable drivers who have started their Formula One careers with BMW include Jenson Button, Juan Pablo Montoya, Robert Kubica, and Sebastian Vettel.

In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One at the end of the 2009 season.[11] The team was sold back to the previous owner, Peter Sauber, who kept the BMW part of the name for the 2010 season due to issues with the Concorde Agreement. The team has since dropped BMW from their name starting in 2011.

Sport cars

Touring cars

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

BMW announced on 15 October 2010 that it will return to touring car racing during the 2012 season. Dr. Klaus Draeger, director of research and development of the BMW Group, who was in charge of the return to DTM racing (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), commented that "The return of BMW to the DTM is a fundamental part of the restructuring of our motorsport activities. With its increased commitment to production car racing, BMW is returning to its roots. The race track is the perfect place to demonstrate the impressive sporting characteristics of our vehicles against our core competitors in a high-powered environment. The DTM is the ideal stage on which to do this."[11]



BMW Connected Drive

In 1980, BMW began pioneering driver assistance technology. The BMW 745i was the first vehicle to be fitted with an on-board computer with external temperature display.[11] Today, BMW's progressive technology is known as ConnectedDrive and consists of advanced services and apps that are controlled through the on-board computer. In 2014, BMW announced the roll out of additional ConnectedDrive functions based around telecommunications, information technology and global positioning system data. The new services and apps were made available to Australian delivered cars built during April/ March period.[11]

In addition to the existing ConnectedDrive driver assistance systems; Intelligent Parking, Intelligent Driving, and Intelligent Vision,[11] the enhancement introduced new systems including Real Time Traffic Information, Concierge Services, Intelligent Emergency Call, Internet, BMW Teleservices, Remote Services and Connective Technology.[11]

In 2015, BMW Australia launched a customer portal that included integrated access to the new services and apps.[11]


In football, BMW sponsors Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt.[11]

It was an official sponsor of the London 2012 olympics providing 4000 BMWs and Minis in a deal made in November 2009.[13] The company also made a six-year sponsorship deal with the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) in July 2010.[13]

BMW has sponsored various European golf events such as the PGA Championship at Wentworth, the BMW Italian Open and the BMW International Open in Germany.[13]

In 2012, BMW Australia announced a 2-year sponsorship agreement with the Australian Film Institute’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards. As part of the agreement, BMW supplied a fleet of vehicles renowned for appearing in feature films.[13] The vehicles supplied included a range of elegant BMW limousines, iconic BMW’s of the past and the BMW 6 Series which featured in Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol. The automotive company also sponsored the South African national Rugby team. The sponsorship was cancelled due to controversies on the Rugby team's part.

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.[13] It is also a member of the South Carolina Environmental Excellence Program.[13]

In 2012, BMW was named the world's most sustainable automotive company for the eighth consecutive year by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. The BMW Group is the only automotive enterprise in the index since its inception in 1999. In 2001, the BMW Group committed itself to the United Nations Environment Programme, the UN Global Compact and the Cleaner Production Declaration. It was also the first company in the automotive industry to appoint an environmental officer, in 1973.[13] BMW is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.[13]

BMW is industry leader in the Carbon Disclosure Project's Global 500 ranking and 3rd place in Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index across all industries. BMW is listed in the FTSE4GoodIndex. The BMW Group was rated the most sustainable DAX 30 company by Sustainalytics in 2012.[13]

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]

BMW offers 49 models with EU5/6 emissions norm and nearly 20 models with CO2 output less than 140 g/km, which puts it on the lowest tax group and therefore could provide the future owner with eco-bonus offered from some European countries.

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] The BBC's Jorn Madslien questioned whether the Hydrogen 7 was "a truly green initiative or merely a cynical marketing ploy" [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.[14] In the United States, only the Cruise Bike and Kid's Bike models are sold.

BMW nomenclature

BMW vehicles follow a certain nomenclature; 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.[14] However, more recent cars use those two numbers as a performance index, as e.g. the 116i, 118i and 120i (all 2,0L petrol-powered), just like the 325d and 330d (both 3,0L diesel) share the same motor block while adjusting engine power through setup and turbocharging. A similar nomenclature is used by BMW Motorrad for their motorcycles.

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

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 and Limit Slip Differential on pre-95 model etc.

For example, the BMW 750iL is a fuel-injected 7 Series with a long wheelbase and 5.4 litres of displacement. This badge was used for successive generations, E65 and F01, except the "i" and "L" switched places, so it read "Li" instead of "iL".

When 'L' supersedes the series number (e.g. L6, L7, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as a special luxury variant, having 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 capitalised and supersedes the series number (e.g. X3, X5, etc.) it identifies the vehicle as one of BMW's Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV), their brand of crossovers, with BMW's xDrive. The second number in the 'X' series denotes the platform that it is based upon, for instance the X5 is derived from the 5 Series. Unlike BMW cars, the SAV's main badge does not denote engine size; the engine is instead indicated on side badges.

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).

Previous X & Z vehicles had 'i' or 'si' following the engine displacement number (denoted in litres). BMW is now globally standardising this nomenclature on X & Z vehicles by using 'sDrive' or 'xDrive' (simply meaning rear or all-wheel drive, respectively) followed by two numbers which vaguely represent the vehicle's engine (e.g. Z4 sDrive35i is a rear-wheel-drive Z4 roadster with a 3.0 L twin-turbo fuel-injected engine).[14]

BMW last used the 's' for the E36 328is, which ceased production in 1999. However, the 's' nomenclature was brought back on the 2011 model year BMW 335is and BMW Z4 sDrive35is. The 335is is a sport-tuned trim with more performance and an optional dual clutch transmission that slots between the regular 335i and top-of-the-line M3.[14][14]

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 lineup on the official BMW website.


There are exceptions to the numbering nomenclature.[14]

The M version of the BMW 1 Series was named the BMW 1 Series M Coupe rather than the traditional style "M1" due to the possible confusion with BMW's former BMW M1 homologation sports car.

The M versions of the Sports Activity Vehicles, such as the X5 M, could not follow the regular naming convention since MX5 was used for Mazda's MX-5 Miata.

For instance in the 2008 model year, the BMW 125i/128i, 328i, and 528i all had 3.0 naturally aspirated engines (N52), not a 2,500 cc or 2,800 cc engine as the series designation number would lead one to believe. The '28' is to denote a detuned engine in the 2008 cars, compared to the 2006 model year '30' vehicles (330i and 530i) whose 3.0 naturally aspirated engines are from the same N52 family but had more output.

The 2008 BMW 335i and 535i also have 3.0-litre engine; however the engines are twin-turbocharged (N54) which is not identified by the nomenclature. Nonetheless the '35' indicates a more powerful engine than previous '30' models that have the naturally aspirated N52 engine. The 2011 BMW 740i and 335is shares the same twin-turbo 3.0 engine from the N54 family but tuned to higher outputs, although the badging is not consistent ('40' and 's'). The 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe's twin-scroll single turbo 3.0L inline-6 engine makes similar output to the older twin turbo inline-6 engines.[14]

The E36 and E46 323i and E39 523i had 2.5-litre engines. The E36 318is made after 1996 has a 1.9 L engine (M44) as opposed to the 1.8 L (M42) used in the 1992 to 1995 models. The E36 316i "Contour" manufactured between 1999 and 2000 could be fitted with the 1.9 L M43B19 (M43). The E39 540i had a 4.4 L M62 engine, instead of a 4.0 L as the designation would suggest.

The badging for recent V8 engines (N62 and N63) also does not indicate displacement, as the 2006 750i and 2009 750i have 4800 cc (naturally aspirated) and 4400 cc (twin-turbocharged) engines, respectively.

Carsharing services

In June 2011, BMW and Sixt launched Drivenow, a joint-venture that provides carsharing services in several cities in Europe and North America. As of December 2012, DriveNow operates over 1,000 vehicles, which serve five cities worldwide and over 60,000 customers.[14]

BMW has expanded its DriveNow car-sharing service in Seattle, rebranded as ReachNow.[15]

Light and Charge

BMW has developed street lights equipped with sockets to charge electric cars, called Light and Charge.[15]


From the summer of 2001 until October 2005, BMW hosted The Hire, showcasing sporty models being driven to extremes.[15] 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 3,000 people attended in 2006, and over 1,000 BMW cars were present. In 2007, the event was held on 5 May.

BMW slang

The initials BMW are pronounced [ˈbeː ˈɛm ˈveː] in German.[15] 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). These are not actually slang, but are the normal way that such letters and numbers are pronounced in German.[15]

The English slang terms Beemer, Bimmer and Bee-em are variously used for BMWs of all kinds,[15][15] cars and motorcycles.

In the US, specialists have been at pains to prescribe that a distinction must be made between using Beemer exclusively to describe BMW motorcycles, and using Bimmer only to refer to BMW cars,[86][16][16] in the manner of a "true aficionado"[16] and avoid appearing to be "uninitiated."[16][16] The Canadian Globe and Mail prefers Bimmer and calls Beemer a "yuppie abomination,"[90] while the Tacoma News Tribune says it is a distinction made by "auto snobs."[16] Using the wrong slang risks offending BMW enthusiasts.[16][16][16] An editor of Business Week was satisfied in 2003 that the question was resolved in favor of Bimmer by noting that a Google search yielded 10 times as many hits compared to Beemer.[17]

The arts

Manufacturers employ designers for their cars, but BMW has made efforts to gain recognition for exceptional contributions to and support of the arts, including art beyond motor vehicle design. These efforts typically overlap or complement BMW's marketing and branding campaigns.[17] BMW Headquarters designed in 1972 by Karl Schwanzer has become a European icon,[94] and artist Gerhard Richter created his Red, Yellow, Blue series of paintings for the building's lobby.[17][17] In 1975, Alexander Calder was commissioned to paint the 3.0CSL driven by Hervé Poulain at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This led to more BMW Art Cars, painted by artists including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. The cars, currently numbering 17, have been shown at the Louvre, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and, in 2009, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and New York's Grand Central Terminal.[94] BMW was the principal sponsor of the 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and other Guggenheim museums, though the financial relationship between BMW and the Guggenheim was criticised in many quarters.[17][17]

In 2012, BMW brought out the BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors, which had, amongst others, the Dikeou Collection. It is the first global guide to private and publicly accessible collections of contemporary art worldwide.

The 2006 "BMW Performance Series" was a marketing event geared to attract black car buyers, and included the "BMW Pop-Jazz Live Series," a tour headlined by jazz musician Mike Phillips, and the "BMW Film Series" highlighting black filmmakers.[17]

April Fools

BMW has garnered a reputation over the years for its April Fools pranks, which are printed in the British press every year. In 2010, they ran an advert announcing that customers would be able to order BMWs with different coloured badges to show their affiliation with the political party they supported.

Overseas subsidiaries


On 9 October 2014, BMW's new South American automobile plant in Araquari, Santa Catarina produced its first car. BMW intend to increase its production capacity to over 30,000 vehicles a year. The new site is intended to create around 1,300 new jobs, of which 500 have already been filled.[17]


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.[17]


Signing a deal in 2003 for the production of sedans in China,[7] May 2004 saw the opening of a factory in the North-eastern city of Shenyang where Brilliance Auto produces BMW-branded automobiles[7] in a joint venture with the German company.[102]


Bavarian Auto Group is a multinational group of companies established in March 2003 when it was appointed as the sole importer of BMW and Mini in Egypt, with monopoly rights for import, assembly, distribution, sales and after-sales support of BMW products in Egypt. Since that date, BAG invested a total amount of US$100 million distributed on seven companies and 11 premises in addition to three stores.


BMW India was established in 2006 as a sales subsidiary in Gurgaon (National Capital Region). A state-of-the-art assembly plant for BMW 3 and 5 Series started operation in early 2007 in Chennai. Construction of the plant started in January 2006 with an initial investment of more than one billion Indian Rupees. The plant started operation in the first quarter of 2007 and produces the different variants of BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW 7 Series, BMW X1, BMW X3, Mini Cooper S, Mini Cooper D and Mini Countryman.[7]


Yanase Co., Ltd. is the exclusive retailer of all imported BMW (passenger cars and motorcycles) products to Japanese consumers, and has had the exclusive rights to do so since the end of World War II.


In July 2014, BMW announced it was establishing a plant in Mexico, in the city and state of San Luis Potosi involving an investment of $1 billion. Taking advantage of lower wages in the country, and the terms of free trade agreements Mexico has with a host of other countries, were the motivating factors the company said. The plant will employ 1,500 people, and produce 150,000 cars annually, commencing in 2019.[105]

South Africa

BMWs have been assembled in South Africa since 1968,[7] when Praetor Monteerders' plant was opened in Rosslyn, near Pretoria. BMW initially bought shares in the company, before fully acquiring it in 1975; in so doing, the company 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 E23 M745i (1983), which used the M88 engine from the BMW M1, the BMW 333i (1986), which added a six-cylinder 3.2-litre M30 engine to the E30,[7] and the E30 BMW 325is (1989) which was powered by an Alpina-derived 2.7-litre engine.

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, Indonesia, Malaysia, 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.

BMWs with a VIN starting with "NC0" are manufactured in South Africa.

United States

The BMW Manufacturing Company opened in 1994, in South Carolina, and has been manufacturing all Z4 and X5 models, and more recently the X6 and X3, including those for export to Europe, on the same assembly line in Greer between Greenville and Spartanburg.[7] In an average work day the company builds 600 vehicles: 500 X5s and 100 Z4s. The engines for these vehicles are built in Munich, Germany. BMWs with a VIN starting with "4US and 5US" are manufactured at Spartanburg.

In 2010 BMW announced that it would spend $750 million to expand operations at the Greer plant. This expansion will allow production of 240,000 vehicles a year and will make the plant the largest car factory in the United States by number of employees.[7] BMW's largest single market is the United States.

Currently, the facility produces all BMW X3, X4, X5, X5 M, X6 and X6 M models.[109]


BMW began using the slogan 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' in the 1970s. In 2010, this long-lived campaign was mostly supplanted by 'Joy', a campaign intended to make the brand more "approachable" and to better appeal to women, but by 2012 they had returned to "The Ultimate Driving Machine", which has a strong public association with BMW.[7]

In 2013, BMW replaced the 'double-gong' sound used in TV and Radio advertising campaigns since 1998. The new sound, developed to represent the future identity of BMW, was described as "introduced by a rising, resonant sound and underscored by two distinctive bass tones that form the sound logo's melodic and rhythmic basis."[7] The new sound was first used in BMW 4 Series Concept Coupe TV commercial.[7] The sound was produced by Thomas Kisser of HASTINGS media music.[7]

The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew, combined with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria.[7] The logo has been portrayed as the movement of an aircraft propeller with the white blades cutting through a blue sky—first used in a BMW advertisement in 1929, twelve years after the roundel was created—but this is not the origin of the logo itself.[7]


Theft using OBD, 2012

In 2012, BMW vehicles were stolen by programming a blank key fob to start the car through the on-board diagnostics (OBD) connection.[7][7][7] The primary causes of this vulnerability lie in the lack of appropriate authentication and authorization in the OBD specifications, which rely largely on security through obscurity.[7]

ConnectedDrive, 2010-2014

Dieter Spaar was asked by ADAC to analyze ConnectedDrive and its hardware called Combox. He uncovered the following problems which allowed him e.g. to remotely open the car:[7]

  • BMW uses the same symmetric keys in all cars.
  • some services do not encrypt transported data while connecting to the BMW backend.
  • the integrity of the ConnectedDrive configuration is not protected.
  • the Combox discloses the vehicle identification number via NGTP (next generation telematics pattern) error messages.
  • data sent via SMS in NGTP format are encryped via the nowadays unsecure DES.
  • the Combox does not protect against replay attacks.

BMW was notified in advance of the publication to provide fixes. The transport is now encrypted and BMW's server certificate is verified. The updates were delivered via ConnectedDrive config change. All BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce cars produced between March 2010 and 8 December 2014 are vulnerable. Cars without battery or parked in places without mobile connection still may be vulnerable, an update can be initiated manually.

(German: Neue Klasse)1