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In 2016, BMW celebrated its centenary. The company was founded in 1916 in Munich by the company Rapp Motorenwerke, the company Schneeweis und Luftschiffbau Veeh from Chemnitz (in Saxony).
In addition to the initial specialization on aircraft engines produced by the Bavarian Aircraft Company - in the first years during the First World War, the only product from BMW – the company started to be active in another employment field in the 1920s. In 1922, the company was renamed Bayerische Motorenwerke (BMW). Finally, the first BMW motorcycle was launched in 1923 - the R32 developed by Max Friz and Martin Stolle, the boxer motor and cardan drive in the twin-tube frame are important for motorcycles even to this day.
The small car Dixi was manufactured in the vehicle factory in Eisenach, until BMW started to produce since the takeover in 1928 its first standard vehicle there. The DA 2 was a further development of the Dixi model 3/15 DA, which was actually developed by the British manufacturer Austin. In 1932 the technically more innovative AM1 ("automobile construction Munich No.1") followed.
Although the demand for aircraft engines rose again as a result of the war, the development of its own car models continued. In 1933 Fritz Fiedler presented the 303, which for the first time bears the characteristic kidney in the radiator grille. The BMW 326 (1935) and the 327 (1937) carry a strong history.
Already during its beginnings BMW was engaged in motorsports - in the Dixi 3/15 HP brought the first great success in the International Austrian Alpine Rally in 1929. Shortly after more victories were celebrated, for example at the Eifelrennen 1930. A subsidiary product of the company's expansion was the development of the 328 sports roadster in 1936, with which BMW made a name for itself, for example, at the Avus at the 1938 Grand Prix in Germany and in the race of the first Gran Premio Brescia Delle Mille Miglia in 1940.
After the war, in 1952, the sedan 501 continued in the competition, in which the best results were achieved in the Monte Carlo rally. After the successful participation in the Austrian Prize of the mountain (“Bergpreis”) in following models Hans Stuck became German champion (“Bergmeister”) in 1960 with the BMW 700. With the 1972 founded BMW Motorsport GmbH further victories, e.g. at the European Championship of touring cars followed.
In smaller classes, with the M3, BMW won the European Touring Car Championship in 1987 and achieved over 1500 victories worldwide by the end of the 1992 season. BMW also took part in the World Championship and in Le Mans and created the Procar series.
Since the 1980s the company delivered engines to Formula 1 teams, since 2000 to the British Williams team. In addition, BMW celebrated the victory of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the V12 LMR. Even in the DTM the brand proved its success in the long term - starting from the treble in the championship in 1984, all titles were collected by 1990.
Dropping out from the championship in 1994, the season in 2012 started immediately with a victory. After the takeover of the Swiss Sauber, an independent team was founded in 2005, but BMW set down its activities already in 2009.
Reconstruction after the war was difficult for BMW, but it was ultimately feasible. The factory in Munich was completely destroyed, the factory in Eisenach was taken over by the Soviet occupation. Although in 1948 the motorcycle R24, 1952 the upper-class vehicle 501, also called Baroque Angel 501 and in 1955 the special and tiny small car Isetta came out, the company suffered because of lower sales.
Ultimately, Herbert Quandt and a loan from MAN (“Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nuremberg”) saved BMW in 1959, before the takeover by the competitor Daimler-Benz.
The breakthrough came in 1961 with the mid-class car BMW 1500. In 1967, the automobile manufacturer was able to expand its production facilities by acquiring Hans Glas GmbH. The highest number of pieces sold came from the volume of the 3 series, which started in 1975 and is manufactured until today in the sixth generation. After two decades BMW had reached the top.
In 1990, BMW employed 70 900 employees and generated an annual turnover of 27.1 billion German Mark (DM). A plant in the USA was opened in the mid-nineties to produce off-road vehicles, aiming for further expansion.
Rover became the affiliate of BMW in 1994, but the takeover did not run entirely smoothly. Out of the legendary British brands Landrover and the small car Mini only the latter remains since 2000 in the assortment.
Since 2003, the company has been cooperating with Chinese BMW to maintain its position in the upper league of automotive manufacturers worldwide.
The sporty Z models frame the decade, between 1989 and 2000 - the appearance of the Z3 in the James Bond film promoted the lifestyle and esprit of the Roadster. BMW, otherwise mainly a fabricator of upper middle and upper-class models introduced in 2004 the BMW 1 series compact class. The market presence seems absolutely successful - in the same year, BMW surpassed its competitor Daimler.
Innovative, advanced and ingenious, BMW is currently showing off in the field of electric cars and hydrogen vehicles. The latter is still going through test trials - one can only be curious about when these models are going to appear in road traffic.