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Famous Logos Part XII – BMW - Famous Logos Part XII – BMW - Famous Logos Part XII – BMW - Famous Logos Part XII – BMW - Famous Logos Part XII – BMW


Early History:

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, more commonly known as BMW, was founded in 1916 in Munich, Germany. Initially, BMW focused on aircraft engine production during World War I. However, after the war, with the restrictions on aircraft manufacturing, BMW shifted its focus to motorcycle production.

The history of the BMW Group reaches back to 1916. Today, the four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce, and BMW Motorrad make the BMW Group one of the world’s leading premium suppliers of automobiles, motorcycles, as well as mobility services. Since the beginning of its history, the company has kept its sight firmly set on the future and has consequently put sustainability and efficient resource management into the centre of its strategy. Learn more about the history and historical focus of the BMW Group.  

After the end of the war, railway brakes and inboard engines were manufactured following the prohibition on the production of aero-engines. After the company was sold to Knorr Bremse AG in 1920, financier Camillo Castiglioni acquired engine production along with the workforce and production facilities, the company name and the blue and white logo. He then transferred everything to “Bayerische Flugzeuge-Werke AG” (BFW). That same year the company relocated to the production facilities of BFW at Munich’s Oberwiesenfeld airfield. The main plant and the headquarters of the BMW Group are still at this location today.

From 1917, each of the company’s products proudly displayed the BMW emblem, which incorporates the Bavarian state colours. At the end of the 1920s, the emblem made its first appearance in the company’s advertising as a rotating propeller – in a form that has been regularly reinterpreted since.

The success story of BMW motorcycles started at the Berlin Motor Show in 1923. The aero-engine manufacturer presented its first motorcycle with the BMW R 32. The quality of the machine was a major factor for success. All the parts likely to need repair were encapsulated and the drive shaft was easier to service than standard chains or belts. The Boxer engine with cylinders mounted transverse to the direction of motion remains a characteristic feature of BMW motorcycles to this day, alongside the cardan shaft. The very successful overall design of the R 32 was penned by Max Friz and is regarded as a milestone in motorcycle history.

Entry into Automobiles

BMW became an automobile manufacturer in 1928 by purchasing the company known as Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach. Until the Second World War broke out, all BMW cars were made at this plant in the Thuringia region of Germany. The first BMW small car was built under licence from the Austin Motor Company in 1929, but was superseded by the company’s own designs in 1932.

Post-World War II

During the era of National Socialism, BMW underwent a transformation from a mobility company to an armaments firm and became one of the most important enterprises operating in the German war economy. The production of motorcycles and automobiles continued but the aero-engine business line contributed the lion’s share of the company’s sales. New sites were developed and production was massively ramped up to meet the demand for armaments.

After World War II, BMW faced financial challenges. However, the introduction of the BMW 501 luxury sedan in the 1950s marked the beginning of the brand’s recovery.

Sports Cars and Performance: In the 1960s and 1970s, BMW solidified its position as a producer of high-performance and sporty cars. The “New Class” series and the iconic BMW 2002 contributed to the brand’s success.

Starting in 1933, aircraft construction in Germany received substantial financial support from the government. In 1934, BMW AG outsourced its aero-engine division to BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH. Two years later, Flugmotorenfabrik Eisenach GmbH was jointly established by the AG (public limited company) and the GmbH (private limited company) and the letters BMW were included in the name in 1939.

Global Expansion

The 1980s and 1990s saw BMW’s global expansion, with the establishment of manufacturing plants in various countries. The brand became synonymous with driving pleasure and precision engineering.

Starting in 1970, BMW began building an administrative tower block in the north of Munich. Its unusual shape soon led to it to be known as the “four-cylinder building”, and it soon became a notable landmark in the city’s architecture. The BMW Museum was installed next to it in a bowl-shaped building that is still one of a kind to this day. The new building complex was officially opened on 18 May 1973.

BMW Sales Director Bob Lutz implemented a policy of reclaiming sales responsibility for all major markets from importers from 1973 on. This responsibility was gradually transferred to separate subsidiary companies. France was the first country where BMW established its own sales company in 1973. Many other countries followed over the next few years and transformed the BMW Group into a company operating on the global stage.

Modern Era:

In July 1998, BMW acquired a piece of automotive history. Following long negotiations, the company obtains the brand and naming rights for Rolls-Royce motor cars from Rolls-Royce plc. Rolls-Royce is held entirely by Volkswagen until the end of 2002, when BMW takes on full responsibility for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, along with all rights. The new Rolls-Royce plant and a new company headquarters are built in Goodwood, in southern England. This is the sixth facility constructed since 1904, scheduled to manufacture newly developed Rolls-Royce models from the start of 2003.

In 2000, after the sale of the Rover Group, the modernised Oxford car factory, used since 2001 to build the MINI, remained in BMW’s possession as did the new engine production plant in Hams Hall and the new press shop in Swindon. Initial production forecasts of 100,000 units per annum more than doubled to over 230,000 units in 2007 owing to high global demand.

The BMW Group embarked on a new era of electric mobility. With the BMW i3, the new BMW i brand presented the first all-electric series-production model from the BMW Group. Propelled by an electric motor – and thus entirely emission-free – this vehicle delivers a completely new driving experience that is compelling for its agility and sheer fun. Sustainability has never been so electrifying.

Ever since the BMW i3 was launched in 2013, the array of electrified vehicles offered by the BMW Group has been steadily expanding. In 2022, customers could choose from a selection of eleven fully electric variants across eight model ranges, creating the broadest such product portfolio in the premium segment. What makes electrification at the BMW Group special is that the electric drive systems are developed and produced in-house. Indeed, the electric motors and high-voltage batteries offer myriad ways for the brand to put its unique stamp on a vehicle – as BMW combustion engines have done traditionally. BMW electric drive systems stand out from the crowd through the absence of rare-earth metals used in their manufacture, their high level of efficiency and the trailblazing advances made in reducing CO2 and increasing sustainability in the supply chain.

Visual Identity Evolution:

The iconic BMW logo, representing a spinning aircraft propeller against a blue sky, reflects the brand’s origins in aviation. The logo has undergone subtle modifications over the years but has maintained its distinctive circular shape.

BMW cars are known for their “kidney grille” design, a feature that has become a signature element of the brand. The design language emphasises sleek lines, a focus on aerodynamics, and a driver-centric cockpit.

BMW Group and Subsidiary Brands:

Apart from the BMW brand, the BMW Group owns several other well-known brands:

Mini, acquired by BMW in 1994, known for compact, stylish cars.
Rolls-Royce, acquired by BMW in 1998, produces ultra-luxury automobiles.
BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of BMW. Offers a range of motorcycles.
BMW i, focuses on electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, Includes models like the BMW i3 and i8.
Alpina, an independent company recognised by BMW, specialises in high-performance versions of BMW cars.
Dinan, a performance engineering company specialising in BMW upgrades.

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