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 (BMW), ( ) is  a  German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the MINI brand, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
BMW is known for its performance and luxury vehicles.

Company history



After World War I, BMW was 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 1928-29.

The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is portrayed by BMW as the movement of an aircraft propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky – an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, twelve years after the roundel was created. The emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew, combined with the white and blue colors of the flag of Bavariamarker, reversed to produce the BMW roundel.

BMW's first significant aircraft engine 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. The BMW 003 jet engine was tested in the A-1b version of the world's first jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262, but BMW engines failed on takeoff, a major setback for the jet fighter program until successful testing with Junkers engines.

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. The rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta were bought, the tiny cars themselves were to be powered by a modified form of BMW's own motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet. The controlling majority shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft since 1959 is the Quandt family, which owns about 46% of the stock. The rest is in public float.

In 1992, BMW acquired a large stake in Californianmarker-based industrial design studio DesignworksUSA, which they fully acquired in 1995. In 1994, BMW 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), 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. 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.

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. Quandt's first wife, Magda, later married the Nazi propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels.

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

Former Danish freedom fighter Carl Adolf Sørensen (b. ca. 1927) has been asked to meet with the Quandt family and possibly receive compensation, but has repeatedly refused to do so on the grounds that it is too late. In 1943, as a 17-year-old, he and 39 other resistance fighters were sent to Germany where they worked with dangerous chemicals, some dying within a few months, and only four of the group are still alive (as of May 2009).

Production

Total world production of four-wheeled vehicles in 2006 was 1,366,838 vehicles produced in 5 countries.
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


Motorcycles



BMW began building 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 BMWs are still produced in this layout, which is designated the R Series.

BMW roundel in 1939
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, 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 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.

Automobiles

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 featured 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, the 2002 replaced by the 320i in 1975.

Current models

BMW 3-Series (E90)
The 1 Series, launched in 2004, is BMW's smallest car, and available in coupe/convertible (E82/E88) and hatchback (E81/E87) forms. The 3 Series, a compact executive car manufactured since model year 1975, is currently in its fifth generation (E90); models include the sport sedan (E90), station wagon (E91), coupe (E92), and convertible (E93). Since its first generation, the 3-Series is considered to be the benchmark, and competitors are often judged on how close they come to this car. In some countries, it has even outsold significantly cheaper models, most notably Ford Mondeo in the UK, and accounts for a majority of BMW's worldwide sales. The 5 Series is a mid-size executive car, available in sedan (E60) and station wagon (E61) forms. The 5 Series Gran Turismo (F07), beginning in 2010, will create a segment between station wagons and crossover SUV.

BMW 7-Series (F01)
BMW's full-size flagship executive sedan is the 7 Series. Typically, BMW introduces many of their innovations first in the 7 Series, such as the somewhat controversial iDrive system. The 7 Series Hydrogen, featuring one of the world's first hydrogen fueled internal combustion engines, is fueled by liquid hydrogen and emits only clean water vapor. The latest generation (F01) debuted in 2009. Based on the 5 Series' platform, the 6 Series is BMW's grand touring luxury sport coupe/convertible (E63/E64). A 2-seater roadster and coupe which succeeded the Z3, the Z4 (E85) has been sold since 2002.

BMW X3 SUV (E83)
The X3 (E83), BMW's first crossover SUV (called SAV or "Sports Activity Vehicle" by BMW) debuted in 2003 and is based on the E46/16 3 Series platform. Marketed in Europe as an off-roader, it benefits from BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system. The all-wheel drive X5 (E70) is a mid-size luxury SUV (SAV) 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 the BMW. The upcoming X1 extends the BMW Sports Activity Series model lineup.

BMW M models

BMW M3 Coupé (E92)
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 V8-powered 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 V10-powered version of the E60 5 Series. The M6 is the M division's version of the 6 Series, and shares its drivetrain with the M5. The Z4 M, or M Coupe/M Roadster, is the M division's version of the Z4. The X5M is the M division's version of the X5, and the X6M is the M division's version of the X6. Both the X5M and X6M share the same V8 twin scroll twin turbo.

Motorsport

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

Sponsoring



Motorcycle



Formula One

BMW has a history of success in Formula One. BMW powered cars have won 20 races. The most recent win is a lone constructor team's victory by BMW Sauber F1 Team, on 8 June 2008, at the Canadian Grand Prixmarker with Robert Kubica driving. Achievements include:

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

In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One at the end of the 2009 season.

Sports car



Touring car

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

Rally



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.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.

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 states.

At brand level, too, BMW does better than its main competitors in the premium segment by significantly more than half a litre of fuel consumption with an average level of 160 g CO2/km. The vehicles of the next best competitor have a CO2 emissions level of 16 grams more than the models of the brand BMW, with the next competitor after this at a level which is as much as 28 g higher than the brand BMW - equal to a whole litre of diesel. Between 2006 and 2008, the brand BMW achieved a reduction in fuel consumption of 16%, more than doubling the reduction attained by the next best premium segment competitor. At the same, BMW vehicles are still well ahead of their competitors in terms of average engine output.

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.

Bicycles

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. In the United States, only the Cruise Bike and Kid's Bike models are sold.

BMW slang

The English slang terms Beemer, Beamer, Bimmer and Bee-em are variously used for BMWs of all kinds, 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, in the manner of a "true aficionado" and avoid appearing to be "uninitiated."

The Canadian Globe and Mail prefers Bimmer and calls Beemer a "yuppie abomination," while the Tacoma News Tribune says it is a distinction is made by "auto snobs." Using the wrong slang risks offending BMW enthusiasts. An editor of Business Week is satisfied that the question is resolved in favor of Bimmer by noting that a Google search yields 10 times as many hits compared to "Beemer."

Comparably, the motorcycle marque BSA is sometimes pronounced Beezer.

The initials BMW are pronounced 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). These are not actually slang, but are the normal way that such letters and numbers are pronounced in German.

In Spanish, the brand is pronounced "Be-eme-doble-u" which literally is "Be-em-double-vee". The slang for it can be seen as "Bemeta".

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. 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, etc.

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

However, there are exceptions. The BMW 125i/128i is a 3.0 naturally-aspirated engine, not a 2500cc or 2800cc engine as the series designation number would leave one to believe. The 2007 BMW 328i is a 3 Series that has a 3.0 liter engine. The E36 and E46 323i and E39 523i had 2.5 liter engines. The E36 318i made after 1996 has a 1.9L engine (M44) as opposed to the 1.8L (M42) used in the 92-95 models. 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).

Previous X & Z vehicles had 'i' or 'si' following the engine displacement number (denoted in liters). BMW is now globally standardizing 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 3.0L twin-turbo fuel-injected engine).

Community

From the summer of 2001 until October, 2005, BMW hosted the 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 3,000 people attended in 2006, and over 1,000 BMW cars were present. In 2007, the event was held on May 5.

The arts

1975 BMW 3.0CSL painted by Alexander Calder.


Manufacturers employ designer 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. The headquarters buildingmarker, designed in 1972 by Karl Schwanzer has become a European icon, and artist Gerhard Richter created his Red, Yellow, Blue series of paintings for the building's lobby. In 1975, Alexander Calder was commissioned to paint the 3.0CSL driven by Hervé Poulain at the 24 Hours of Le Mansmarker. This led to more BMW Art Cars, painted by artists including David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. The cars, currently numbering 16, have been shown at the Louvremarker, Guggenheim Museum Bilbaomarker, and, in 2009, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Artmarker and New York's Grand Central Terminalmarker. BMW was the principal sponsor of the 1998 The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition at the Solomon R.marker Guggenheim Museummarker and other Guggenheim museums, though the financial relationship between BMW and the Guggenheim was criticized in many quarters.

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


Overseas subsidiaries

South Africa

BMWs have been assembled in South Africa since 1970, when Praetor Monteerders' plant was opened in Rosslyn, near Pretoriamarker. 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.

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, Singaporemarker, and Hong Kong, as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1997, BMW South Africa has produced vehicles in left hand drive for export to Taiwanmarker, the United States and Iranmarker, as well as South America.

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

United States



BMW Manufacturing Comarker has been manufacturing the X5 and, more recently, the X6 in Spartanburg, South Carolinamarker, USA. 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.

India

BMW established in 2006 a sales subsidiary in Gurgaonmarker (National Capital Region) and a state-of-the-art assembly plant for BMW 3 and 5 Series started operation in early 2007 in Chennaimarker. 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.

China

In May 2004 BMW opened a factory in Shenyangmarker, north-east China, in a joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive. 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.

Canada

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.

Austria

The BMW X3 is made by Magna Steyr, a subsidiary of a Canadian company, in Graz, Austria under license from BMW.

Related companies



See also



References

External links




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