BMW Automobiles InternationalBMW AG (an initialism for Bayerische Motoren-Werke Aktiengesellschaft, or in English, Bavarian Motor Works; ISIN: DE0005190003), is an independent German company and manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles. BMW is the parent company of the MINI and Rolls-Royce car brands, and formerly, Rover. The company's tagline in English is currently "The Ultimate Driving Machine". The original German slogan is "Freude am Fahren", which translates to "Joy in Driving" in English. In certain regions, BMW also uses the English tagline "sheer driving pleasure" (e.g. Hong Kong). BMW's main competitors include Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab and Volvo.
BMW was founded by Karl Friedrich Rapp, originally as an aircraft engine manufacturer, Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke. The Milbertshofen district of Munich was chosen, apparently because it was close to the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik site. The blue-and-white roundel BMW still uses (illustrated above right) alludes to the white and blue checkered flag of Bavaria. It is often said to symbolize a spinning white propeller on a blue-sky background, although this interpretation developed after the logo was already in use. In 1916 the company secured a contract to build V12 engines for Austro-Daimler. Needing extra financing, Rapp gained the support of Camillo Castiglioni and Max Friz, the company was reconstituted as the Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. Over-expansion caused difficulties; Rapp left and the company was taken over by the Austrian industrialist Franz Josef Popp in 1917, and named BMW AG in 1918. After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles (1919) prohibited the production of aircraft in Germany. Otto closed his factory and BMW switched to manufacturing railway brakes. In 1919 BMW designed its first motorcycle engine, used in a model called the Victoria, which was built by a company in Nuremberg. In 1923 BMW built its first model motorcycle, the R32. This had a 500 cc air-cooled horizontally-opposed engine, a feature that would resonate among their various models for decades to come, albeit with displacement increases and newer technology. The major innovation was the use of a driveshaft instead of a chain to drive the rear wheel. For decades to follow, the shaft-drive boxer engine was the mark of the BMW motorcycle. In 1927 the tiny Dixi, an Austin Seven produced under licence, began production in Eisenach. BMW bought the Dixi Company the following year, and this became the company's first car, the BMW 3/15. By 1933 BMW were producing cars that could be called truly theirs, offering steadily more advanced I6 sports and saloons (sedans). The pre-war cars culminated in the 327 coupé and convertible, the 328 roadster, fast 2.0 L cars, both very advanced for their time, as well as the upscale 335 luxury sedan.
World War II
BMW motorcycles, specifically the BMW R 12 and the BMW R 75 combination were used extensively by the Aufklärungsabteilung of German panzer and motorised divisions of the German Army, Waffen SS and Luftwaffe. BMW was also a major supplier of engines to the Luftwaffe and of engines and vehicles, especially motorcycles, to the Wehrmacht. Planes using the aero-engines included the BMW 801, one of the most powerful available. Over 30,000 were manufactured up to 1945. BMW also researched jet engines, producing the BMW 003, and rocket-based weapons. BMW has admitted to using between 25,000 and 30,000 slave labourers during this period, consisting of both prisoners of war and inmates of infamous concentration camps such as Dachau. The BMW works were heavily bombed towards the end of the war. Of its sites, those in eastern Germany (Eisenach-Dürrerhof, Wandlitz-Basdorf and Zühlsdorf) were seized by the Soviets. The factory in Munich was largely destroyed.
The current BMW model lineup is split into what they call "Series 2", traditionally identified by a single digit - e.g. the 3 Series. In 2004 BMW announced plans to make odd-numbered series saloon/sedan and estate/wagon models(BMW calls its estates/wagons Touring models), while even-numbered series will be two-door coupés and cabriolets. This convention started informally in 1976 with the introduction of the 6 Series and later continued in 1989 with the 8 Series, but died off when the latter was discontinued in 1999. This practice was revived as the Z4 replaced the aging Z3 roadster in 2003 and continues as the new 6 Series augments the existing BMW 5 Series. There is possibly a chance BMW will release a V3 or V5. The V3 will probably be similiar to the 3-Series, X3, and will compete against Mercedes-Benz B-Class. The V5 will probably be similair to the 5-Series & X5, and will compete against Mercedes-Benz R-Class. Coupé versions of the 3 Series sedans have always been named 3 Series vehicles, as well. The company had considered renaming future 2-door derivatives of the 3 Series as 4 Series cars, but this plan has officially been shelved. The M letter was used prior to the shift to Series-named cars to designate special "Motorsport" models, beginning with the M1 supercar. Later the M letter was used as a prefix to top-of-the-range models which had received special treatment by the BMW Motorsport division. The first such car was the M535i of 1979. As these models started gaining popularity the Motorsport division was split into a separate company. BMW M GmbH now makes sporty models based on the production cars with very extensive chassis and engine upgrades. The M3, M5, and M6 are based respectively on the 3, 5, and 6 Series and are recognised by enthusiasts all over the world as truly excellent sports cars while retaining the practicality of the models they extend. With the advent of the SUV, BMW also added the X5 - and in 2004 the X3 - to their model range to capitalize on this growing market. BMW calls its SUV models Sports Activity Vehicles. A possible future V Series multi-purpose vehicle will offer practicality for large families, similar to the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.
BMW 1 Series
A small family car launched in Autumn 2004 in Europe; whether or not it will be launched in the USA has yet to be determined. It is the only rear wheel drive vehicle in its class. A coupé has been announced for 2006, and there are concepts of a hatchback and a minivan. Plans to label these variants as 2 Series have reportedly been scrubbed. It has the same engines as the 318i, 318d, 320i, 320d and 330i as well as a small 1.6L I4 in the 116i.
The 1 Series effectively replaced the 3 Series Compact model line.
BMW 3 Series
The 3 Series is BMW's entry-level luxury sedan, now in its fifth generation (E90). The E90 line has been available in the United States and Canada since the 2006 model year. The E90 is currently available in the 318i (detuned 2.0L I4 engine producing 129 hp), 318d (detuned 2.0L I4 diesel producing 122 hp), 320i (with 2.0L I4 producing 150 hp), 320d (with I4 diesel producing 163 hp), 323i (with I6 producing 174 hp), 325i (with a detuned 3.0 L I6 engine producing 215 hp or a 2.5L I6 producing 218 hp), 330d (3.0L I6 producing 231 hp) and the 330i (with a 3.0 L I6 engine producing 255 hp), as well as the AWD-versions of these two models, named 325xi and 330xi. The new BMW 3 Series sedan (E90) and coupé (E92), both of which have recently been released, carry the 328i, 328xi, 335i, and 335xi badging. There will not be a separate "Ci" designation for coupés. The 328i will feature a 3.0L I6 with 230 hp and 200 lb-ft while the new 335i will feature BMW's new 3.0L I6 twin turbo motor bolsting 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. Incidentally, these new turbofans are made by Mitsubishi. As 2006 models, the 3 Series coupé and convertible are only available in the fourth generation E46 body style (with a 2.5 L I6 producing 184 hp for the 325ci/cic and a 3.0 L I6 producing 225 hp for the 330ci/cic) until the fall of 2006, when the new 2007 model year coupés will be available. Unlike past generations, the 2006/7 3 Series coupés would ÷have its own internal code of E92. Also available is the all wheel drive Touring (wagon) model(E91). A special edition 320si that is the production version of the 2006 World Touring Car. A Retractable hard-top cabriolet was also introduced recently, a first for BMW. * M3: The motorsport division's race-inspired version of the 3 Series. Currently available only in the fourth generation E46 body style and with a 3.2 L engine producing 343 hp. A new revision is expected in 2007 with a 400+ hp V8. The 2007 version is expected to come in the coupé, cabriolet, sedan and a touring body style.
BMW 5 Series
A mid-size luxury car / executive car. This series is available with different engines: the 525i with the same engine as the 325i, the 530i with the same engine as the 330i, and the 545i with a 4.4 L V8 producing 325 hp. For the 2006 model year, the 545i has been phased out in favour of the 550i, with a 4.8 L V8 producing 360 hp. The 520d with the same engine as the 320d, the 530d with the same engine as the 330d and a high performance 535d with a twin turbo 272 bhp version of the standard 3.0L I6 diesel.
For 2008, BMW plans to introduce the same engine specs of the 3 Series (528i and 535i). In addition, there will be minor sheetmetal changes and new safety features. * M5: The motorsport division's version of the 5 Series. The new M5 (E60) is powered by an F1-inspired V10 engine, producing 507 hp and is mated with a 7-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) transmission, which is capable of an unlimited top speed of over 200 mph.
BMW 6 Series
The 6 Series is currently available in the 650i version with a 4.8 L V8 producing 360 hp and the 630i version with a 3.0 R6 Straight Six engine (it was the first model to use this engine). * M6: A high performance version of the 6 Series. Developed by BMW's M Division, it is powered by the same 5.0 L V10 507 hp engine seen in the BMW M5. It is currently available in Europe, America and Australia.
BMW 7 Series
A full-size luxury car competing with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, and Jaguar XJ. The 7 Series comes in the 730i/730Li, 735il, 730d/730Ld, 740i/740Li, 745d, 750i and 750Li with the same engine as their respective 5 Series equivalent, and in the 760i and 760Li, with a 6.0L V12 producing 438hp. The 760Li is also made in a bulletproof version for clients who need extra protection. BMW plans to offer a car that runs on both petrol and hydrogen (hybrid).
Introduced in late 2003 as a model year 2004, the X3 was BMW's second entry into the luxury SUV segment. The X3 is a compact SUV with sports sedan-like handling characteristics, with emphasis on versatility and affordability, but lacking significant off-road ability. The BMW X3 is sourced exclusively from Magna Steyr Graz plant in Austria. For model year 2004, it was offered with a 184hp 2.5-liter inline 6-cylinder, the X3 2.5i, and a 225hp 3.0-liter 6-cylinder, the X3 3.0i. For model year 2006, colored bumpers were added to the X3 3.0i, a Sport Package with a full body colored aerodynamic kit became available for the X3 3.0i (pictured), and the X3 2.5i was dropped. An entry level 2.0d with a 150 hp was added too. For model year 2007, a face lift and a new version of the inline 6-cylinder will be offered and the model name will change to X3 3.0si. The aluminum/magnesium composite inline 6-cylinder produces 260hp and 225 lb-ft torque. With a manual transmission the manfucturer claims 0-60mph in 6.9 seconds. It competes directly against the Acura RDX and Land Rover Freelander/LR2. It also competes against the Lexus RX350 and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
BMW's first SUV (called SAV or Sports Activity Vehicle by BMW) competing against the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class, Volkswagen Touareg and Audi Q7 fall in the same category, but at a lower prestige. Although marketed in Europe as an off-roader, it lacks the off-road capabilities of Land Rover models. Most of the BMW X5's production is based in the US. The new BMW X5 E70 is the all new BMW X5, launched September 2006. It is the first of BMW's SAV to feature a iDrive system. It is based on the E60, the BMW 5-Series.
A 2-seater roadster and coupé which succeeded the Z3. For 2006 the Z4 Roadster is available as a 3.0i (3.0L I6 with 215 hp), a 3.0si available with the new generation 3.0L I6 with 255 hp, a 2.5si with a 2.5 I6 with 218 bhp or a 2.0i with a 150 bhp 2.0L I4. The Z4 Coupé is available only in the high-performance 3.0si trim powered by the 3.0L 255 HP I6. * Z4 M The new Z4 M roadster has been released as a Z4 with an E46 M3 motor (3.2L, 343 hp), sharing same braking and suspension systems. The new M Coupé shares the same features but in a coupé version, and was launched at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show.