BMW is an international producer of luxury automobiles and motorcycles that has been in business since the early 1900’s. The company has produced airplane engines, motorcycles, farm equipment, pots and pans, luxury aircraft interiors, electric vehicles, sports cars, and more throughout its long history, and is one of the top-selling luxury brands worldwide. It is also considered among the most valuable companies in operation and owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as well as MINI.
BMW finds its competition in the form of homeland rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz as well as other challengers from across the globe. Such brands include Lexus, Infiniti, Cadillac, Lincoln, Genesis, Acura, Porsche, Jaguar, and more. The luxury market is fiercely competitive and vehicles from this niche are generally on the cutting edge of innovation and technological advancements, which means BMW’s vehicles are cut from only the finest of cloths, use only high-quality materials, and often require special care and maintenance for optimal performance.
While BMW’s conventional lineup of cars and SUVs performs exceptionally well on the market, the M series lineup often steals the show for the German luxury maker in the eyes of enthusiasts. With BMW’s exceptional standard of refinement coupled with precise engineering, increased power, and sharper handling, offerings from the BMW M division can easily be classified as some of the best driver’s cars on the market next to the likes of Porsche. Unlike other brands that focus on an appealing package or increased fuel economy, BMW’s focus has always been on driver experience. This focus on driver experience is made apparent by one of BMW’s most popular taglines: The Ultimate Driving Machine.
The Brief History of BMW
The Beginning Through World War 1
Unlike other automobile manufacturers that were started for the express purpose of designing and manufacturing vehicles, BMW can actually trace its origins back to three separate companies: Rapp Motorenwerke, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, and Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach. The company that would eventually become BMW, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFw), was founded on March 7, 1916, and produced airplane engines for the German war effort during World War 1. Another company, Rapp Motorenwerke, also produced airplanes engines for the German war effort during World War 1, but in 1917 after the departure of its founder, the company changed its name to Bayerische Motorenwerke, or BMW.
BMW produced the BMW IIIa airplane engine for the German air force for the final few months of the war, which German pilots revered as the most powerful aircraft engine of any plane on either side of the war. Unfortunately for BMW, they were banned from producing any more aircraft engines per the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, so they pivoted to producing farm equipment, railway brakes, and household items in order to stay in business.
In 1922, Camillo Castiglioni, a former majority shareholder, purchased the rights to the BMW name, which was then applied to another company the Castiglioni also had a stake in: BFw. So, BFw became BMW, and BMW – formerly Rapp Motorenwerke – became Süddeutsche Bremse AG, now Knorr-Bremse. BFw’s old factory was reopened and BMW began producing engines for trucks, buses, pumps, and farm equipment.
Post-War Through World War 2
In 1923, BMW produced its first ever motorcycle, the BMW R32. The third company in BMW’s history, Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach (FE), was purchased in 1928. FE had been producing a licensed copy of the Austin 7 for the German market known as the Dixi 3/15, which then became BMW’s first car. BMW used this license agreement as a stepping stone to develop and release their own vehicle, which was accomplished in 1932 with the BMW 3/20, which was powered by a four-cylinder engine based on Austin’s design for the 7.
In 1933 the first BMW with a straight-six engine was produced under the 303 label. The BMW 303 was also the first BMW vehicle to feature the iconic ‘kidney grille’ that would become ingrained in BMW’s design language. BMW would go on to expand their lineup with family sedans, sports cars, convertibles, roadsters, and more motorcycles during the 1930’s but inevitably, German rearmament and the onset of the Second World War would change things for the Bavarian company.
With the Nazi regime now in power, all able factories were redirected to production that would support the war effort. Coming from a history of airplane engines, BMW found it easy to shift back into airplane engine production after acquiring Brandenburgische Motorenwerke and merging it with their aircraft division, thus forming BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH and creating a new factory outside of Munich.
Between then and the end of 1945, BMW produced over 30,000 aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe, as well as 500 jet engines. During this time, they produced the BMW 801 – a 41.8L 14-cylinder radial aircraft engine good for anywhere between 1,500 – 2,000 horsepower. It was fitted to a German fighter which would go on to become a legendary terror of the skies: the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.
The BMW 801 would be the most-produced radial engine of WWII; BMW pumped out around 28,000 of them using forced labor to stabilize production on such a massive and time-intensive scale. Prisoners from concentration camps, most commonly Dachau, were utilized, and by the end of the war, 25,000 of the workers had come from concentration camps. The end of World War II saw most of BMW’s factories bombed and destroyed. Production at the Munich factory was able to resume after a great deal of effort, but thanks to bans from the allied forces on BMW’s automobile production, the company got by selling pots and pans made from salvaged and scrapped materials; a great lesson in humility, no doubt.
Post-War Through the 1960’s
In 1947, BMW received permission from U.S. authorities to resume the production of motorcycles, so BMW came out with the R24 motorcycle a year later. BMW’s East Germany facilities had been claimed by the Soviets, which were able to produce vehicles before the Germans got permission; specifically at the Eisenach plant. The Soviets at Eisenach produced the R35 motorcycle in 1945, and would go on to produce vehicles under the BMW name and logo until the companies were legally severed in 1949. The Soviets would continue to produce BMWs under the EMW label using the colors red and white until 1955. During this time, the English came over to BMW’s offices to collect war reparations and walked out with plans for the BMW 327, later stretched out and sold as the Bristol 400, as well as designs for their six-cylinder engine.
After producing motorcycles for a few years, BMW started reaching out to companies like Ford and now-defunct Simca in an attempt to produce their vehicles under license. When unsuccessful, they turned to in-house solutions and came up with a plan for a super-compact car powered by a motorcycle engine. When this idea was inevitably shot down, BMW turned to focus on what they thought they could excel at: low-volume high-profit margin luxury vehicles.
Their first attempt, the 501, was far too expensive and underpowered when it arrived in 1952. It was revised for 1954 in an expanded lineup at a reduced cost which doubled sales for BMW. During this, Mercedes was touting its 300SL golden child which got BMW thinking about making a roadster, so they came out with the 503 and 507 roadsters which were far too expensive to be profitable; only 665 were produced between the two models.
Motorcycle sales were keeping BMW afloat during this period and sales peaked around 1954. While small cars were originally declined as a solution, it was a very small car that inevitably saved BMW from going under or becoming irrelevant in the automotive market at the time. As Germans were moving away from mopeds and motorcycles in favor of microcars, it was the Iso Rivolta Isetta that would fill the void BMW was desperately clawing to get out of. In 1955, BMW began selling the Isetta under license and sold more than ten thousand units in the first year; by the end of production in 1962, they will have sold 161,728 copies.
Learning the ultimate lesson in letting the past die, BMW tried to reiterate the Isetta into what they called the 600, which was basically a four-seat family variant of the Isetta. Unfortunately, it tanked miserably because by then, the Volkswagen Beetle had arrived on scene.
By the end of the 1950’s BMW was in all but financial ruin. Motorcycle sales dropped due to the growing prosperity of post-war Germany, luxury BMW models were outdated and selling poorly, their roadsters were too expensive and the Isetta, while still selling strong, had small profit margins and couldn’t sustain the company for long. On December 9, 1959, a merger was proposed with Daimler-Benz that would have dissolved BMW had it not been vetoed by shareholders.
The same year, BMW had already begun selling its new rear-engined 700 in the form of a 2-door sedan, coupe, and convertible. The 700 is largely responsible for bringing BMW back from the brink and sold over 180,000 units in the 5 years it was marketed and produced. The engine was a boxer setup derived from the R67 motorcycle and BMW also produced a racing ‘RS’ version which did quite well for itself. This car was the first of a very important line of succession that solidified the BMW reputation.
In 1961, BMW unveiled the 1500 sedan at the Frankfurt Motor Show with front disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension. The 1500 was the first new car with a new motor (the four-cylinder M10 engine) BMW had produced since the 303 back in 1933 before the war. The 1500 was the beginning of a new era for the Germans, as the car was then developed into a “new class” of BMW which ushered in a new era for the German luxury brand, now associated with sporty coupes and lightweight sports cars.
After years of financial uncertainty, instability, and borderline ruin, BMW finally broke even in 1962, and in 1963 increased sales by another 47%, allowing the company to pay dividends to its shareholders for the first time in 20 years.
BMW would continue to develop this new class of cars with the 1800, 1600, and 2000 throughout the 1960s and early 70s. In 1968, BMW started toying around with a design for an inline-six engine – the first the company would produce since World War II. This groundbreaking new engine would not only be introduced to power BMW’s New Six line of full-size luxury sedans, but would continue to power BMW cars until 1994.
Something very special happened in the late 60s when BMW’s director of product planning and the engineer behind the M10 engine realized they had both swapped a 2.0L engine into their respective 1602s. They produced a joint-proposal based on this idea, and as a direct result of their success here, the BMW 2002 came to life in 1969.
The 1970s to 2000
BMW’s New Six large sedans and New Six CS large coupes laid the groundwork for what would become, within the next decade, BMW’s famed 7 and 6 series lineups, respectively. These cars were largely successful in competing with Mercedes and all-around performance, to boot. It was the beginning of BMW’s come-up as a luxury/sports car brand, which was further exemplified by the addition of the 3.0L models in 1971. Compared with their Mercedes-Benz counterparts, these cars were more powerful and handled much more sharply.
In 1972, BMW opened its first manufacturing facility outside of Germany near Pretoria, South Africa. That same year, the 5 series was introduced to phase out the New Six sedans and was followed by the more compact 3 series in 1975, the 5 series-based 6 series in 1976, and the 7 series in 1978. In 1973, the 2002 Turbo was introduced, but thanks to the oil crisis of 1973, only 1,672 were ever produced. That year also saw the construction and completion of BMW’s new unique ‘four-cylinder’ headquarters as well as a fishbowl-style BMW museum in its plaza.
In 1978, BMW got ambitious and partnered with Lamborghini to create the first car to come from BMW’s new M-Division: the BMW M1. The idea behind the M1 was to create and mass produce a racing car for the purpose of gaining entrance to the world of racing, but after complications with its Italian partner on this homologation special, BMW ended up producing the car for general consumption. Production volume was capped at a mere 453 units – 20 of which were race editions created for the M1 Procar Championship. The 3.5L 6-cylinder engine produced around 273 hp in street models, but turbocharged race variants were pushing 850 hp.
The following year, BMW entered a joint venture with Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG and established a factory outside of Steyr, Austria. In 1982 BMW would assume sole responsibility and begin production of diesel engines in 1983. The Steyr plant remains the head of BMW diesel operations to this day. In 1985, BMW Technik GmbH was launched with the purpose of innovating and designing new technologies for BMW to use throughout the rest of the lineup.
The E30 platform was the basis for many BMW firsts, including the first AWD BMW in 1985 – the 325iX – and BMW’s first attempt at a wagon variant, which was dubbed the ‘touring’ trim in 1987. Also in 1985, the world was introduced to the very first generation of M-Power sedans in the form of the M3 and M5. The following year, the 750i would become BMW’s first V12 model.
In 1987 BMW would open another plant to help relieve pressure from its Munich facility and to help meet demand more easily for the highly-popular 3 series. In 1989, BMW began producing the first vehicle designed by the Technik GmbH division: the short-lived Z1 coupe, which would go on to become the very popular Z-Coupe lineup. Also in 1989, BMW came out with the 8 series, which would be the first line of BMW cars to utilize a V8 engine in 25 years.
In 1990, BMW opened the FIZ (Forschungs- und Innovationszentrum) as the research and innovation center under which all of BMW’s R&D arm resided. In 1992, the company acquired a large part of DesignworksUSA, which had helped with the design of the seats in the 8 series sedan. DesignworksUSA would later be contracted to design the exterior of the E46 3 series in 1998 after BMW acquired the company in its entirety in 1995.
In 1993 BMW introduced its first hatchback in the form of the 3 series Compact, BMW’s newest entry-level vehicle. The same year, McLaren would build the world-famous F1, which was powered by a BMW V12. in 1994 BMW acquired Rover, which encompassed the Rover, Land Rover, Austin, MG, and Morris brands. Also in 1994, BMW opened its first manufacturing plant in the US, which led to the production of BMW’s first car that was produced entirely outside of Germany – the BMW Z3.
In 1998 the M3 featured BMW’s most powerful naturally aspirated motor yet, and in 1999, the company released the BMW X5, its first SUV. While this move was initially mocked, it turned out to be an incredibly smart play by BMW and the X5 was largely popular among consumers and critics alike.
The 2000s into the Modern Age
In 2000, BMW sold over the Rover conglomerate save for the rights to produce the new generation MINI, which they would release in 2001. The Z4 replaced the Z3 in 2002 and the following year, BMW produced the Rolls-Royce Phantom as the new owner of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. In 2004, BMW replaced the 3 series Compact as its entry-level model with the BMW 1 series hatchback. In 2005 BMW introduced its first V10 engine in the M5.
The following year, BMW would introduce its first mass-produced turbocharged gasoline engine in the form of the inline-6 motor instilled in the BMW 335i. Despite industry trends of downsizing engines and equipping them with turbos instead, BMW would go on to turbocharge a V8 and then a V12 in the next few years.
In 2008, BMW came out with the X6 followed by the X1 in 2009. The company would then produce its first hybrid vehicle in 2010. In 2013, BMW unveiled its first all-electric vehicle in the form of the BMW i3, followed by a mid-engined hybrid sports car, the BMW i8, in 2014. The i8 is unique in that it combines the power of a 3-cylinder turbocharged engine with a battery pack to generate power. It quickly became the best-selling hybrid sports car on the market.
2013 and 2014 saw various restructuring moves for the company’s sales models including the addition of the 4 series to replace some 3 series models while some 2 series models replaced some of the 1 series models. 2014 also saw the introduction of the BMW X4 compact SUV. In 2016, BMW introduced its first plug-in hybrid models for the 3- and 7 series lineups.
What Does BMW Stand For?
While in the German language BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, the English translation would be Bavarian Motor Works. BMW’s headquarters are located in Munich in the German state of Bavaria. While the official BMW building was not constructed until 1973, the company has operated out of Bavaria since before the advent of World War 1 and has since expanded its operations to several production facilities across the globe.
Where are BMWs Made?
BMW has four production plants in Germany: three of these are in the state of Bavaria in the cities of Munich and Regensburg and the town of Dingolfing. There’s one more German factory in the state of Saxony in Leipzig. The company also has a plant in Greer, South Carolina; Rosslyn, South Africa; and Shenyang, China. Motorcycles are produced in the Berlin factory and the company has assembly operations in Russia, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Egypt.
Also known as BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of BMW has been around since World War 1. While projects prior to the First World War was generally unsuccessful, the brand made a breakthrough in 1923 with the R32. This motorcycle was the first of many R series motorcycles which featured horizontally opposed or “boxer” engines, which made up the majority of BMW Motorrad production through the 1980s and remain popular to this day.
During the Second World War, the company produced the R75 motorcycle, which was quite capable off-road thanks to the addition of a motorized sidecar with a locking differential. The K series was introduced in 1982 and featured inline 3 or 4 cylinder engines and water-cooling. Shortly thereafter, the F and G series chain-driven bikes were introduced with parallel and twin Rotax engines.
BMW has consistently been an innovator in the world of motorcycles and has updated industry standards many times in the past with their cutting-edge technology, safety features, and precision performance. BMW briefly owned Husqvarna and produced Husqvarna motorcycles for a period of time in the late 2000s before selling the brand to Pierer Industrie AG, the majority shareholder of KTM.
Beamer, Bimmer, or Beemer?
You may have heard/seen one, two, or all three of these terms regarding BMW’s vehicles, and you might’ve thought they were all interchangeable, but that’s a common misconception. The terms Beemer and Beamer refer exclusively to BMW motorcycles and come from a time when BMW’s cars were insignificant people movers and struggled to make a real impact on the market. BMW’s motorcycles faced stiff competition on the track against BSA’s bikes, which were called Beesers. From this rivalry, we got Beemers and Beesers. When BMW started getting serious about its four-wheeled offerings, the car enthusiasts wanted a new term to differentiate the bikes from the cars, so they settled on Bimmer. The kicker? All three words are pronounced exactly the same! (BEE-MUR)
BMW racing victories started out in the world of motorcycles in 1939 with Georg Meier’s Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Senior Race. Motorsport was then put on hold with the advent of World War 2, but BMW returned to racing after the war and most notably dominated motorcycle sidecar racing with their powered sidecars. Road racing faded away for BMW motorcycles until 2009 with the official resumption of Beemer racing via the BMW S1000RR’s entry in the World Superbike Championship. BMW motorcycles have won the Dakar Rally six times, in 1981, ’83, ’84, ’85, 1999, and 2000.
While four-wheeled BMW models enjoyed some success in the 1930s, including a class win and 5th place overall in the 1939 24 Hours of Le Mans by the BMW 328, it wasn’t until the ’60s with the introduction of the new class that the company really started getting after it. It was the M10 engine of the new class that helped BMW achieve victory in Formula 2 with a modified 4-valve design and by adding a turbo to the setup (as well as some additional modifications), BMW was able to secure the Formula 1 championship in 1983 – all from a nearly decades-old modified version of an engine that powered their road-going sedans and coupes!
BMW M GmbH was formed in 1972 and developed a line of vehicles that would see BMW’s domination of racing circuits the world over. The first M car, the M1, was created specifically for a ProCar Championship to assert BMW’s race-worthiness. After that, the hugely popular E30 M3 went on to win more road races than any car in history and is considered the world’s most successful road race car. BMW went on to compete in and win several touring car championships throughout the 90s and early 2000s before taking a break. The company would return to touring car racing in 2012 following an announcement in 2010.
As far as accolades in endurance racing are concerned, BMW has won the 24 Hours of Spa 21 times, the 24 Hours Nürburgring 19 times, and the 24 Hours of Daytona three times. BMW also designed the V12 engine for the highly successful McLaren F1.
BMW M Series and Alpina
The idea behind BMW M GmbH is to take BMW’s road-going offerings and modify the engines, transmissions, suspension setups, brakes, aerodynamics, interiors, exteriors, tuning setups and more so that they’re more performance-oriented. M models are tested at BMW’s Nürburgring racing facility in a track environment to ensure optimal levels of performance. There are very few BMW vehicles that do not receive the “M treatment” and the brand’s SUV lineup is no exception. Buyers will find M variants of the majority of BMW vehicles and will realize them to be more powerful, better handling and all-around more enjoyable to drive and operate. In the industry, BMW’s M series competes with Mercedes’ AMG, Cadillac’s V, Lexus’ F, and Audi’s RS lineups.
Alternatively, BMW allows Alpina to produce high-end versions of BMW’s cars often utilizing the same assembly lines and production facilities. While BMW’s M division specializes in high-revving performance models, Alpina focuses more on luxury and low-RPM high-torque engines. Hallmarks of the Alpina lineup include 20-spoke alloy wheels, luxurious interiors often appointed in blue and green, and automatic transmissions. Most Alpina models are not sold in the U.S. and are a rare sight even in the countries they are produced.
In 2005, BMW produced the Hydrogen 7, which utilized a largely inefficient 6.0L V12 engine that ran using a combination of gasoline and liquid hydrogen. Deemed significantly less efficient than fuel cell technology, the Hydrogen 7 only saw around 100 examples produced, all of which were offered to high profile politicians, musicians, and executives. The 256 hp V12 does 0-62 mph in an abysmally slow 9.5 seconds and gets about 4.7 mpg on hydrogen; it has a curb weight of 5,100 lbs.
BMW claims to be leading the electrification of the auto industry, but as of 2018, the brand offers a mere four hybrid vehicles, not including the i series. The 3, 5, and 7 series sedans all offer a hybrid variant as well as the X5 SUV, and the BMW i8 features an electric motor powering the front wheels while a three-cylinder gasoline engine powers the rear axle. BMW introduced the i3 electric subcompact as its only all-electric offering in 2013, and it is the first mass-produced vehicle to feature a mostly carbon-fiber structure thanks to the use of CF-reinforced plastics. The i3 is primarily a city car and achieves a range of fewer than 150 miles.
Crash and Safety Ratings
Throughout BMW’s lineup, the IIHS has consistently reported Good (the highest rating) scores for nearly all BMW vehicles in nearly all categories. In its sedans, the automaker seems to struggle with driver’s side impact ratings, often scoring a Marginal rating, the second lowest of four possible scores. Despite this, BMW vehicles are no strangers to being IIHS top safety picks throughout the years, and the brand has consistently received Superior ratings for collision mitigation systems with optional equipment since about 2014 in its 5 series lineup, and Advanced ratings in its 3 series lineup.
As a whole, it does not seem that BMW vehicles are necessarily unsafe, but the ratings are not as high as we would expect from a global leader in luxury automotive sales. BMW seems to have put safety as a main concern since 2016, but up until that point, it seems as though the automaker was more focused on the driving experience than safety in the event of a crash. Again, the scores received should be no cause for alarm, but there are certainly luxury brands with higher scores across the board such as Acura and Lexus.
BMW Safety Equipment
As Chevy offers OnStar, Toyota offers Safety Connect, and other manufacturers offer their own version of roadside assistance and personal help in the event of an accident, BMW also offers a service called BMW Assist to help drivers in times of crisis. BMW Assist will automatically connect the vehicle with an operator that has access to all necessary information in the event of an accident such as GPS location, where the impact was detected via onboard sensors, which seats had passengers, which airbags deployed and more. Operators can connect the vehicle to local EMS and Police services if necessary, and can also offer roadside assistance.
Additionally, BMW ConnectedDrive offers the ability to check fuel levels and run basic diagnostics on the vehicle through use of a smartphone app. The vehicle can also be locked or unlocked, started remotely, have the interior climate set and more remotely.
Safety features include an array of sensors that will alert the system which seats have passengers so that seatbelt pre-tensioners and airbags can be deployed in the necessary areas. The system also features active head restraints, which will automatically reposition to be closer to an occupant’s head in the event of a collision in just a fraction of a second. The vehicle will also detect any risk of a fire and take actions such as disabling the engine, battery, and fuel pump to reduce the chance of an outbreak.
BMW also offers Frontal Collision Warning With City Collision Mitigation, which is just a fancy way of saying its cars can (optionally) predict situations in which braking is required at both city and highway speeds depending on the package chosen, and apply the brakes before a human would be able to react in an emergency. The company also offers all of the expected safety warnings such as lane departure warnings, rear cross traffic alerts, automatic wipers/headlights, blind spot monitoring, and forward collision warnings.
As to be expected of a luxury brand, BMW is on the forefront of innovative designs and features. The products generally offer new electronic systems and fancy bells and whistles that have not yet been thoroughly vetted in the court of public opinion. While BMW’s are great cars for the first few years of ownership, problems tend to arise when the vehicles’ age begins to show. Used BMW model owners report having many expensive repairs to deal with throughout the life of the car.
According to research from TrueDelta, the most common issues with older BMW models are related to the engine and electrical/AC components. While a good chunk of repairs can be achieved for under $100, a fair amount of owners reported paying upwards of $500, or even $1000 in some circumstances. It appears as though 3 and 5 series models raise the issues most commonly, though this could simply be due to saturation. X1, X3, and X5 owners also report having more issues than the average BMW, though most of the X series’ issues can be resolved for under $100.
An anomaly in the BMW lineup, apparently the 2012 BMW X6 suffers from abnormally high repairs with 60% of owners reporting a repair of between $1000 and $2500. It appears that no other models suffer from similar issues.
Consumer Affairs reports a rating of 2.5 for Bavarian Motor Works, a score that reflects the brand’s initial quality, craftsmanship, and driving experience as well as its deteriorative value over time, rough ride, and expensive repairs. Owners complain commonly that the run-flat tires equipped on most modern BMW models result in a harsh ride that is uncharacteristic of a luxury car. Other common complaints involve older BMW models that don’t stand the test of time and seemingly fall apart at the seams after a few years of ownership.
Finally, some BMW models suffer from notoriously expensive repairs that owners simply are not prepared for going into the ownership experience. While leasing can be expensive, it is also a very affordable way to get into BMW ownership since the dealership will take care of just about anything for you for free and you don’t have any strings attached to the vehicle (or at least, fewer strings) in the event something fails on the vehicle. This way, customers get all the luxury and much less of the risk of owning a BMW long-term.
BMW Museum and BMW Welt
BMW built a museum to commemorate its history in the same plaza of its Munich headquarters that has been described as a large salad bowl but was actually modeled after a cylinder head. The museum has been operational since 1973 and features both production and concept models from all throughout BMW’s diverse history. Included in the exhibit are BMW’s airplane engines, motorcycles, production cars, concept cars, and various technologies; the exhibits are peacefully-lit and the museum attracts around 250,000 visitors annually.
BMW Welt was established in 2007 and functions as an exhibition hall, convention center, and promotional event host for BMW, which sells official merchandise at shops located in the Welt. The building has received awards for architecture and has been hailed as an iconic landmark. Many BMW models are on display here and customers can request the pick up of their new BMW to be at the Welt, which can be quite an experience.
The BMW Welt experience offers three packages with varying degrees of luxury and intensity regarding your vehicle pickup. Customers will receive a virtual walkthrough of their new BMW before an official consultant explains the ins and outs of the vehicle along with all of the vehicle’s features. In higher packages, customers might be picked up from the airport or hotel via a luxury chauffeur service and enjoy a 3-course dinner for 2 at Welt’s gourmet in-house restaurant. BMW Welt services around 2 million visitors annually.
As with any luxury brand, you’ll find plenty of horror stories about people who didn’t go into a dealership wearing a suit and tie that didn’t get taken seriously despite being a serious buyer. This shouldn’t serve as a reflection of the BMW brand, however, but rather the outdated mindset of many car salespeople throughout the industry. The first BMW dealership opened in the U.S. in 1975 and since then, the network has grown to 341 dealerships. The network also encompasses 152 BMW motorcycle dealerships, 36 Rolls-Royce dealerships, and 126 MINI dealerships.
In 2015, the brand opened its first i-exclusive dealership in Santa Clara, California, specializing exclusively in the sale of the BMW i3 electric car. The dealership offered free level 2 public charging stations open 24/7 and staffed employees knowledgeable and familiar with the new tech to answer any questions about the i-series. The company also seems to have a flair or rather, obsession, for redefining the car buying experience. Through the years, BMW has experimented with pop-up boutiques, online car buying, and of course, the extremely personalized delivery option offered at BMW Welt at the Munich headquarters.
Locate a BMW dealer near you here.
BMW Financial Services
BMW financial services add a luxury flair to financing your new vehicle with highly customizable financing plans, competitive interest rates, and flexible lease terms. BMW financial services also offer several special interest programs and incentives such as a $1,000 incentive for recent or soon-to-be college graduates, a $2,000 incentive for active or returning service members, and a mobility program that allows up to a $2,500 reimbursement for accessibility modifications made to a new BMW.
While BMW also conducts fleet vehicle sales, perhaps the most interesting new feature from the company is the Access by BMW program, which is only available in select cities. Basically, consumers pay for a subscription and can pick and choose any eligible model they want which will then be delivered to them by a concierge. They can drive that car for as long or short as they like before requesting a new model. Coverage is very limited, but this subscription could be the new future of vehicle leasing so we’re very interested to see how it plays out.
10 Interesting Facts About BMW
– In 1937, BMW Motorrad built the world’s fastest motorcycle, which achieved a top speed of 278 km/h (172.7 mph). The motorcycle featured an enclosed body that was both a deathtrap and aerodynamically advanced for its time.
– BMW’s headquarters is one of the most visited locations in the state of Bavaria and is modeled after the brand’s 4-cylinder engine design.
– While many people believe the BMW logo is meant to represent a spinning airplane propeller, this is actually untrue. The colors represent the Bavarian flag and the overall design of the logo is reminiscent of parent company Rapp Motorenwerke.
– BMW unveiled its first electric vehicle, the 1602e, at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games as a marathon support car. It ran on 12 lead-acid car batteries, had an estimated range of 19 miles when driven at 31 mph, had about 43 hp, and even featured a rudimentary form of regenerative braking.
– After World War 2, BMW stayed alive by producing pots, pans, and bicycles made from recycled scrap metal.
– In 2018, Johan Schwartz set the world record for the longest continuous drift over an 8-hour period at BMW’s Greer, South Carolina performance center on a sprinkler-assisted skidpad. Schwartz drifted a BMW M5 for a total of 232.5 miles, beating the previous record of 89.55 miles utilizing a pilot car to refuel every few hours in a tandem drift, so as not to stop the action.
– The hallmark split “kidney grille” featured on BMW models to this day has been in production since 1933 with the 303. The 303 was also the first BMW to feature a straight-six engine.
– There have been two points in history – both after a World War – where BMW was saved by producing a car that did not belong to them. First, the Austin Seven got the ball rolling after WW1 and then, the Iso Rivolta Isetta bubble car helped BMW branch out from building motorcycles in post-WW2 Europe.
– In 1959, BMW was one shareholder’s intervention away from becoming part of Daimler-Benz, which means Mercedes and BMW would’ve merged into one company.
– BMW invested over $2 billion USD in the research and development of the i3 and i8.