BMW – manufacturer spotlight
BMW is an icon of luxury motoring and with an ever-evolving range of executive cars, 4x4s, sports vehicles and electric cars it’s a brand which evokes excitement when you think about the future.
Here’s a quick history of the German giant.
BMW was created out of the merger three manufacturing companies in 1917. 101 years after BMW was created it is a truly global organization that owns 30 production facilities in 14 countries on 4 continents!
It’s early days were very different to what we see today and before 1923 BMW only manufactured aeroplane engines. They announced their first motorcycle, the R32 in 1923. BMW created a motorcycle design that was so efficient that the 1923 concept plan is still used in modern BMW motorcycles.
In 1928, BMW began working on their first car; a design borrowed from the Austin Motor Company. It was not until 1932 that BMW used its own designs and built the first ‘true’ BMW.
World War II hit BMW hard and throughout the war it manufactured war materials for the German military after most of the manufacturing facilities, and production plants in Germany came under the control of the government following the Nazi invasion of Poland. During this time, BMW was devoted almost entirely to making aircrafts for the German air force and motorcycles for the German army. Production of cars came to a complete halt until the war ended.
The Allied forces took control of each of the BMW plants and dismantled them after the war and in a move that prevented the destruction of the company, BMW began to produce pots and pans! It was until 1951 that BMW was able to produce its first car since the start of the war. That car was the 501, a large saloon that could seat six people comfortably and although not a great success in terms of sales the 501 played an important role in re-establishing the company’s reputation as one of the leading manufacturers of quality and technologically advanced vehicles.
BMW regained an independent status in 1960 and with some financial help from the German government, BMW was restructured under new management and began to flourish. During the 1960s and 1970s BMW focused on expanding at a rapid rate and this period of growth created the foundations for the organisation that BMW is today.
BMW became known for the extensive amount of research that went into designing and producing new vehicles and in 1990 BMW opened its Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, paving the way for other manufacturers.The facility continues to employ over 7,000 people from scientists, designers, engineers, managers and technical staff all working together to create the modern, luxury vehicles we covet today.
The first USA plant opened in the 1990s and confirmed BMW’s position as a global manufacturer. The plant was built in Spartanburg, South Carolina and was initially the dedicated production facility of the Z3 roadster. Today, the plant continues to produce the Z3 as well as the recent BMW X series. The X3, X5, and X6 are all made in the USA.
With a century of success under it’s belt, the leadership at BMW are looking ahead to the year 2020; by then BMW aims to be the leading luxury automotive manufacturer in the world.
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