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BMW‘s reputation as one of the world’s premiere luxury auto brand can only be matched by its tenacity and interesting history. Tracing its humble roots in aircraft engine manufacturing, BMW has braved through two world wars, financial loss, industrial disputes, and staggering debt, only to rebuild its empire to unprecedented heights.

A century has passed, and BMW continues to epitomize resilience and luxury both in its used and new vehicles. Now with 30 global assembly locations in 14 countries, and almost 118,000 employees in its current automotive division alone, here’s a brief rundown of how it all started for this German company.


Birth of an Icon

The 1900s was a focal point in BMW’s evolution. It was in 1913 when Karl Rapp created the Rapp Motorenwerke and was subcontracted to create V12 aircraft engines for Austro-Daimler to meet demands.

In 1917, the company changed its name to  Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW), which prompted them to create a new logo in 1920. It’s now the famous BMW trademark design: a black circle with the logo inside. The blue and white panels of the Bavarian national flag eventually represented the rotating propeller in 1920.

It was also around this time when BMW transitioned to automobile manufacturing by purchasing the company Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in 1928. The company, which began building Dixi 3/15 prior to the buyout, updated the name to BMW 3/15PS. This is considered BMW’s first production car.

World War Years

World War 2 was a more challenging time for BMW. The war prompted the company to stop production, and it became the exclusive aircraft engine builder for the German Air Force during World War 2.  


Post-War Years

The end of the 1940s saw BMW return to motorcycle manufacturing. In the 1950s, BMW produced its first post-war automobile, the 501, and eventually expanded its model range with sedans, coupes, convertibles, and sports cars This restored the company’s status as a manufacturer of good quality vehicles.

A New Beginning

The 1960s became a fresh start for the German company. The New Class line of cars establishes BMW’s identity as a manufacturer of sport sedans and the entire product range is restructured to appeal to different market niches.


Rise of an Icon

In 1971, BMW established its own financial subsidiary organization–BMW Kredit–to finance the growing number of BMW dealerships all over the world. This also became the foundation for the then-new automotive leasing market emerging that time.

BMW also launched its BMW Motorsport subsidiary in 1972, which established the company as a manufacturer of powerful, high-quality vehicles. This also paved the way for it to venture more in creating sports cars for the average consumer.


Growth of an Automotive Giant

The 1990s saw BMW expand its empire. It opened its facility in the U.S. and initially produced Z3 roadsters. Today, it also manufactures the BMW X Series of SUVs and crossover models.

It was also this time when they bought the Rover Group, which they sold in 2000. However, they retained the Mini in their lineup.

BMW also bought the Rolls-Royce Group which was still partly owned by Volkswagen during that time. However, the company gained full ownership of Rolls-Royce in 2002.


Moving Forward

The millennium was still a year of expansion, and among the significant ones was establishing its base in the People’s Republic of China. Two plants were created: the Dadong plant, which was located in Shenyang, and another one was added in Shenyang later on: Plant Tiexi.

As the future moves forward, BMW has adopted Strategy Number ONE using four pillars: “Growth”, “Shaping the future”, “Profitability”, and “Access to Technology and Customers”. Its objectives are to “be profitable and enhance long-term value in times of change”.

Its mission statement for up to the year 2020 is to be the world’s leading provider of premium products and services for individual mobility.



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