The BMW motor company, which stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke is a German automobile which also has a line of motorcycles and aircraft engines. BMW has several plants around the world, though its headquarters is in Munich, Germany. The name translates to Bavarian Motor Works in English.
The BMW Motor Company found its start in 1913 under the guidance of a Bavarian by the name of Karl Rapp. The company was first conceived under the name of Rapp Motoren Werke and was primarily an aircraft-engine shop. However, when Rapp left the company in 1917, Franz-Josef Popp took over the company and renamed it to Bayerische Motoren Werke. The chief engineer for the company, Max Friz came up with several successful designs that year, the first being an aircraft engine known as the six-cylinder Type IIIa. When the engine entered the market, it immediately created a stir and subsequently, a strong market for BMW engines was born. However, tragedy befell the company in 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles prevented German manufacturers from creating airplanes and aircraft engines. As such, BMW turned to other means to stay in production. The first of these was manufacturing brakes for rail cars. Finally in 1923, Friz delved back into motorcycle design and created BMW’s first motorcycle which was dubbed the R32. The model was well recieved and performed well, winning and holding several speed records throughout the 1930s.
With a foot in the engine business again, in 1928, BMW once again entered the automobile industry by purchasing the Eisenach Vehicle Factory. A re-haul of the company was completed and the factory re-opened in the 1930s, producing the very first touring and sports cars for the BMW line. The most successful of these cars was the 328 sports car, which made its debut in 1936. World War II hit BMW hard, with Allied forces dismantling all major production facilities in Germany, with BMW’s factory not being spared. In an attempt to recover from the war, BMW once again ventured away from the auto industry and began making kitchen and garden tools and equipment. BMW didn’t re-enter the automobile industry until 1950, but with a poor line up, few sales were drummed up and it was thought the company would die. However, the second major re-haul of the company took place in the 1960s, with BMW offerin ga line of sports sedans and compact cars, leading them to compete directly with Mercedes-Benz.
Since this re-haul, BMW has been doing exceptionally well in both the European and US markets, but the 1980s seem to have been the peak years for the company. With luxury cars being introduced from Toyota and Lexus in 1986, a saturated market led poor sales. The toppling of the Berlin wall corrected this, with a boom in car sales occurring in Europe, with BMW riding out to the top on this wave of sales. This has been the only time in history that BMW has been able to move more cars than their rival, Mercedes-Benz.
Today, BMW mainly focuses on luxury sedans and compact touring cars, though there are a handful of BMW motorcycles available on the market. With competition rising from companies like Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and Toyota, BMW has created a smaller class of luxury car in order to reach a broader market. Today, this line of luxury cars does just as well as the higher end luxury lines, even in the cool climate of the today’s economy.
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