BMW Completes 100 Years

On 7 March 2016, BMW Group celebrated 100 years of existence as a company. Over this period of time, a small aero-engine manufacturer based in the north of Munich has been transformed into a world-leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles, as well as a provider of premium finance and mobility services. Today, the BMW Group is an international group of companies with production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and a global sales network. 

Major Milestones in 100-Year History of BMW

7 March 1916: Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG is established as the successor to aircraft manufacturer Gustav-Otto-Flugmaschinenfabrik with registered office in Munich. In 1922, engine construction, the name and the brand logo of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG are transferred to this company. 

21 July 1917: The aero-engine maker Rapp-Motorenwerke GmbH, founded in 1913, is entered in the Commercial Register with the name of Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, and soon afterwards, new manufacturing facilities are set up at Moosacher Straße in Munich. 

10 December 1917: The round brand logo with the letters BMW and the stylised propeller designed in the Bavarian national colours of blue and white is entered in the Trademark Registry of the Imperial Patents Office. At the end of the 1920s, this livery appears for the first time in advertising as a stylised rotating propeller, which has since then formed the basis for the interpretation of the logo. 

17 June 1919: Test pilot Zeno Diemer reaches an altitude of 9,760 metres in his aircraft manufactured by Deutsche Flugzeugwerke and powered by the BMW IV inline six-cylinder engine, setting up a new world altitude record. 

6 July 1922: Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG takes over the company name of Bayerische Motoren Werke, the brand logo and engine construction from the owner, Knorr-Bremse AG. 

28 September 1923: At the German Motor Show in Berlin, BMW R 32 is presented - the first motorcycle produced under the brand. 

2 February 1924: Engineer and racing driver Rudolf Schleicher achieves the best time riding a BMW R 32 in the hillclimb on the steep Mittenwalder Gsteig – and brings home the first victory to BMW in the history of motorsport. 

1 October 1928: BMW takes over automaker Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in Thuringia where the Dixi 3/15 PS small car is manufactured as a licensed version of the British Austin Seven. This makes the company a manufacturer of automobiles. 

22 March 1929: The first BMW 3/15 PS rolls off the assembly line in the production building rented from coachbuilder Ambi-Budd at the old Berlin-Johannisthal airfield. 

22 June 1931: The “Rail Zeppelin” powered by the BMW VI twelve-cylinder aero-engine built by railway designer Franz Kruckenberg reaches a speed of 230 km/h and thereby achieves a new world speed record for rail vehicles. 

1 March 1932: BMW ends the licence agreement with Austin and soon afterwards presents the company’s first in-house automobile design BMW 3/20 PS with a new four-cylinder engine and a two-door all-steel body. 

22 July 1932: Pilot Wolfgang von Gronau takes off in the Dornier “Wal” (whale) flying boat, powered by two 600 hp twelve-cylinder engines of the type BMW VIIa, to complete the first circumnavigation of the world covering a total distance of 44,800 kilometres. 

11 February 1933: BMW 303 is presented at the International Motor Show in Berlin as the brand’s first six-cylinder automobile and also the first model to be styled with the BMW signature kidney-shaped radiator grille. 

21 December 1934: The construction of aero-engines is hived off to a dedicated company and becomes BMW Flugmotorenbau GmbH. 

15 February 1936: BMW 326 is presented at the International Motor Show in Berlin as the new mid-range model powered by an inline six-cylinder engine, designed with a box-section frame, aerodynamically contoured body and hydraulic brake system. 

14 June 1936: The two-litre BMW 328 sports car is presented in public for the first time racing in the Eifel Race at the Nürburgring – Ernst Jakob Henne immediately achieves a clear start-finish victory driving the new model. 

28 November 1937: BMW works driver Ernst Henne starts on the last of many world record rides and achieves a record speed of 279.503 km/hr on a fully faired BMW motorcycle with a supercharger – a record that is only broken 14 years later. 

8 June 1939: Georg “Schorsch” Meier is the first non-Briton to win the Senior-TT on the Isle of Man riding a BMW supercharged motorcycle. 

30 September 1939: BMW AG takes over all the shares in Brandenburgische Motoren Werke GmbH in Berlin-Spandau. 

28 April 1940: Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer achieve overall victory in the Mille Miglia endurance race in Italy driving the BMW 328 Touring Coupé. 

17 December 1948: After the world war II, the motorcycle production is started up again in Munich. A BMW R 24 powered by a single-cylinder engine is manufactured there as the first vehicle from BMW AG in the post-war era. 

11 March 1954: BMW 502 presented at the Geneva Motor Show is powered by an eight-cylinder engine, the world’s first V8 all-alloy engine to be fitted in a volume-produced automobile. 

12 September 1954: After their victory in the final race in Monza, Wilhelm Noll and Fritz Cron achieve their first World Championship Title in sidecar-combination racing on a BMW. By 1974, BMW had succeeded in collecting 19 riders’ and 20 constructors’ World Championship Titles in this discipline. 

1 October 1954: BMW acquires the licence to build a two-seater microcar with a front door from Italian manufacturer Iso. BMW Isetta is powered by BMW motorcycle engines and marketed as a “Motocoupé”, the best-selling model sold by the brand during the 1950s. 

15 January 1955: A new model series is presented at the Brussels Motor Show with the BMW R 50 and the BMW R 69 manufactured with a full swing arm suspension. The series defined the BMW motorcycle programme until 1969. 

22 September 1955: BMW 507 made its first public appearance at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. 

9 June 1959: The Board of Management of BMW AG presents the new BMW 700 Coupé to international journalists at a press launch. 

9 December 1959: At the Annual General Meeting of BMW AG, a group of small shareholders prevents the takeover by Daimler-Benz AG. Major shareholder Herbert Quandt decides to make a bigger commitment, which secures the independence of BMW. 

30 November 1960: The Annual General Meeting of BMW AG approves the restructuring plan and this charts the trajectory for a successful future. 

21 September 1961: BMW 1500 celebrates its world premiere at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt – the start of the trailblazing success of the “New Class”. 

29 June 1964: The positive business development encourages the Annual General Meeting of BMW AG to pass a resolution on paying a dividend to the shareholders for the first time since the end of the war. 

18 June 1965: BMW AG sells its remaining shares in BMW Triebwerkbau GmbH to MAN AG and brings its involvement in aero-engine production to an end for the time being. 

7 March 1966: The two-door BMW 1600 is presented on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the company. 

2 January 1967: BMW AG takes over the company Hans Glas GmbH, which produces a number of vehicles including the Goggomobil microcar, numerous other models and agricultural machinery. 

25 September 1968: The new six-cylinder models BMW 2500 and BMW 2800 are presented at a press reception on Lake Tegernsee. After a break of several years, the brand once again enters the luxury class with these automobiles. 

31 December 1968: BMW AG concludes another record year. More than 100 000 automobiles are produced for the first time in one year. 

13 May 1969: Motorcycle production at the BMW main plant in Munich comes to an end. Production is relocated to the site in Berlin where the new BMW-5 Series starts rolling off the production line from September 1969. 

16 March 1971: The company enters the financial services business with the establishment of BMW Kredit GmbH. 

20 October 1971: The new BMW test track and trial facility is opened in Aschheim near Munich. 

24 May 1972: BMW Motorsport GmbH is established for the development of race cars and particularly sporty automobiles licensed for use on roads. 

31 August 1972: BMW AG founds BMW (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, which makes the plant at Rosslyn in South Africa the first production facility outside Germany

10 September 1972: At the Olympic Games in Munich, a BMW 1602 Elektro is used as a support vehicle for the marathon race. This is the first pure electrically powered automobile under the BMW brand. 

12 September 1972: BMW launches a new structure for model designations with the first BMW 5 Series as the successor to the “New Class”. In the new series of model designations, which continues to this day, the first digit represents the series and the two subsequent digits specify the model based on the capacity of the engine. 

8 January 1973: Establishing the BMW subsidiary in France, the company begins to take control of sales activities in the international markets. 

18 May 1973: The new administrative building and the BMW Museum are officially opened. 

27 September 1973: Production starts up in the extensively expanded and modernised Dingolfing Plant. 

14 June 1975: A BMW 3.0 CSL designed by American artist Alexander Calder is the first BMW Art Car. This is the beginning of a fascinating and unique Art Collection, which BMW is continuing to augment today. 

30 June 1975: In Munich’s Olympic Stadium, the company presents the BMW 3 Series with new technology and new model designation. 

3 February 1976: BMW Motorsport GmbH is commissioned to establish a “driving school”. The first official courses start on 22 April 1977. 

11 March 1976: The coupés of new BMW 6 Series are presented at the International Motor Show in Geneva. 

5 October 1978: BMW M1 - a mid-engined sports car generating 277 hp developed by BMW Motorsport GmbH is presented. 

21 June 1979: Ground-breaking ceremony for the engine plant in Steyr, Austria, which today serves as a centre of competence for the development and production of a variety of engines including BMW diesel power units. 

20 January 1981: French racing driver Hubert Auriol wins the Paris-Dakar Rally riding a BMW R 80 G/S.

13 June 1983: BMW presents the first series of automobiles in the company’s history powered by a diesel engine, the BMW 524td with an inline six-cylinder turbo diesel engine.

15 October 1983: At the South African Grand Prix, Brazilian racing driver Nelson Piquet becomes Formula 1 World Champion driving the Brabham BMW.

1 January 1985: BMW Technik GmbH is established as an autonomous think-tank and innovation incubator, which develops visionary vehicle and part concepts. 

12 September 1985: BMW presents the first all-wheel drive model - BMW 325i and the sporty BMW M3. 

5 March 1987: BMW 750i, the first twelve-cylinder model to roll off a German production line since the end of the war, is presented at the Geneva Motor Show. 

22 May 1987: The new BMW Plant Regensburg is officially opened. 

11 September 1987: BMW Z1 roadster, developed by BMW Technik GmbH, is presented at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. 

15 November 1987: Italian racing driver Roberto Ravaglia becomes the first Touring Car World Champion driving a BMW M3 with the Schnitzer Motorsport team. 

27 April 1990: The Research and Engineering Centre (FIZ – today known as the Research and Innovation Centre) is officially opened in Munich. Around 7 000 researchers, engineers, designers, managers and technicians work there in a close-knit network. 

1 July 1990: BMW AG joins forces with its partner Rolls-Royce Plc to establish the independent company Rolls-Royce GmbH for the development, construction and sale of aircraft turbines, and this joint venture takes the company back to its origins. In the wake of the realignment of the company, BMW AG sells its shares in Rolls-Royce plc at the end of 1999. 

10 March 1992:The new plant of BMW Fahrzeugtechnik GmbH is opened in Eisenach. Pressing tools are manufactured there for the company’s production network. 

1 August 1993: BMW Motorsport GmbH established in 1972 changes its name to BMW M GmbH Gesellschaft für individuelle Automobile (BMW M GmbH: for Individualists.)

29 January 1994: With the signing of the purchase contract, BMW AG takes over the British Rover Group.

8 September 1994: Vehicle production at the BMW Plant Spartanburg in the US state of South Carolina starts up – a BMW 318i is the first model to roll off the production line. The official opening of the new location is held on 15 November. 

8 June 1998: The company announces the continuation of the MINI brand, acquired through the purchase of the Rover Group, in an independent design. 

14 June 1998:  BMW 320d is the first vehicle powered by a diesel engine to win the 24-Hour Race at the Nürburgring. 

10 January 1999: BMW presents the vehicle concept of the Sports Activity Vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show. BMW X5 combines sportiness typical of the brand with the versatile qualities of an all-wheel vehicle. 

1 October 1999: BMW AG and the Rover Group are merged in the BMW Group.

29 October 1999: The BMW Tower known as the “Four-Cylinder” and the neighbouring BMW Museum are designated as heritage sites.

9 May 2000: BMW AG sells the Rover Group without the brands MINI and Land Rover to the Phoenix Venture Group, and two weeks later the Ford Motor Corporation takes over Land Rover. Only MINI remains part of the BMW Group. 

26 April 2001: After the re-launch of the brand, the first MINI rolls off the assembly line at the modernised production plant in Oxford, UK, the original home of the classic Mini. 

13 September 2001: With the world premiere of the new BMW 7 Series at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. BMW introduces its iDrive control system for the first time in the fourth generation of the luxury saloon. 

31 December 2002: The BMW Group closes the business year with record sales. More than one million cars of the BMW and MINI brands are sold in 2002.

3 January 2003: As a part of the BMW Group, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Limited presents the first model of the new era: the Rolls-Royce Phantom. 

20 May 2004: The Dadong production plant, in partnership with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd, is opened in Shenyang in the north-east of China. 

25 September 2004: BMW 1 Series in the compact segment is presented at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris. 

13 May 2005: The BMW Plant Leipzig is opened. 

7 September 2005: The BMW Group is listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the world’s most sustainable automobile manufacturer. 

13 September 2006: With the launch of new model generation of MINI, the British MINI Production Triangle officially starts operating in Swindon, Hams Hall and Oxford. 

27 September 2007: BMW AG presents the new #1 corporate strategy with the objective of long-term, profitable growth. 

17 October 2007: BMW Welt, the futuristically designed building with multifunctional use and offering a unique brand experience, is opened. 

19 November 2008: MINI E, a pure electrically powered small car for field tests, is presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

21 February 2011: The new BMWi sub-brand is presented in BMW Welt. 

1 April 2011: The DriveNow premium car-sharing service starts operating as a joint venture between the BMW Group and Sixt AG in Munich. 

1 September 2011: The carbon-fibre plant located at Moses Lake in the US state of Washington comes on stream as a joint venture between the BMW Group and the SGL Group. The plant supplies the starting material for production of the passenger cells in the models BMW i3 and BMW i8, which are made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). 

15 January 2012: The German X-raid private team drives the MINI ALL4 Racing to victory in the Dakar Rally. 

29 April 2012: After 18 years, BMW returns to the German Touring Car Masters in Hockenheim, winning three titles. 

24 May 2012: The Tiexi Plant is opened in Shenyang as the second production facility in China.

18 September 2013: Production of the BMW i3 starts at the BMW Plant in Leipzig. This empowers the BMW Group to put the first premium electric vehicle on the road. 

26 February 2014: BMW Group Classic announces its move to a new site. The purchase of the parcel of land in Moosacher Straße, Munich, from Knorr-Bremse AG brings some of the first production facilities back into the ownership of the company. 

5 June 2014: The first units of the BMW i8 plug-in sports car hybrid are handed over to customers at BMW Welt in Munich. 

10 June 2015: New BMW 7 Series is presented in BMW Welt. 

6 December 2015: BMW i bags the “Momentum of Change” Award by the United Nations at the UN Climate Conference in Paris for commitment to expanding the public charging infrastructure. This is the apogee of a series of national and international titles including the “Grünes Lenkrad” (Green Steering Wheel) for BMW i3 and the “World Green Car Award” earned consecutively by BMW i3 and BMW i8.

6 January 2016: The company presents pioneering innovations in the areas of control and autonomous driving at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA. 

7 March 2016: The 100th anniversary of the company is celebrated at a gala event in Munich’s Olympiahalle multipurpose arena




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