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Country: Germany

Year: 1916

The official founding date of the German automobile firm BMW is March 7, 1916, when the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG, a maker of aircraft engines, was established. In 1922, the company was renamed Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW). On the other hand, the name BMW dates back to 1913, when the first corporation was known as BMW (which in German appears as Rapp Motorenwerke). BMW’s first product was the BMW IIIa, a straight-six airplane engine. BMW stayed in business after World War I ended, making motorcycle engines, farm equipment, home products, and railway brakes. In 1923, the BMW R 32 was the company’s first motorcycle.

BMW established a car company in 1928 when it bought Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, which produced Austin Sevens under the Dixi label. Its first vehicle sold under the BMW brand was the 3/15, a rebadged Dixi. In 1930, BMW expanded its portfolio into sports vehicles and larger luxury cars during the 1930s.

BMW’s main products until World War II were aircraft engines, motorbikes, and automobiles. BMW concentrated on aviation engine production during the war, despite the wishes of its director Franz Josef Popp.

During the war, automotive and motorcycle production ceased when BMW’s factories were bombed during the war. So instead, pots, pans, and bicycles once again became the company’s lifeblood.

BMW resumed motorcycle production in 1948 and vehicle production in 1952 with the BMW 501 luxury sedan. In 1955, BMW broadened its lineup with the introduction of the BMW Isetta. However, because of slow luxury vehicle sales and slim profit margins from producing the Isetta, BMW was under considerable financial stress, so much so that Daimler Benz nearly took them over in 1959.

BMW was saved by an investment from Herbert Quandt and Harald Quandt, enabling the company to continue as an independent manufacturer. Their second savior was in the BMW 700, whose success allowed the company to get back on its feet.

As a manufacturer of performance sedans, BMW’s reputation began in 1962 with the introduction of the “Neue Klasse” sedan. A few years later, BMW added a coupe and line of premium sedans that would cement the company’s reputation for sports sedans.

In 1972, The BMW 5 Series mid-size sedan line debuted, followed by the BMW 3 Series compact sedan in 1975.  Finally, the BMW 6 Series luxury coupes appeared in 1976, followed by the BMW 7 Series large luxury sedans in 1978.

Also, in 1978, BMW introduced its first vehicle under its “M” badge, a mid-engined supercar designed for Lamborghini. The BMW M5 debuted in 1984, while the BMW M3 debuted in 1986. BMW also debuted its first V12 engine in the 750i luxury vehicle in 1986.

The company bought the Rover Group in 1994, but the deal failed, and BMW suffered significant financial losses. As a result, BMW sold off most of the Rover brands in 2000, leaving only Mini. In 1998, BMW purchased the Rolls-Royce trademark.

In 1995, BMW introduced its first mass-produced two-seat roadster to its lineup, the BMW Z3. Its first SUV, the X5, appeared four years later in 1999.

In 2006, BMW released its first mass-produced turbocharged gasoline engine. The BMW ActiveHybrid 7 was the first hybrid BMW, while the BMW i3 city car, the manufacturer’s first production electric vehicle, debuted in 2013.  The 2014 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer multi-purpose vehicle was BMW’s first front-wheel-drive automobile after years of earning a name for sports rear-wheel-drive cars (MPV).