BMW

BMW was founded by Karl Friedrich Rapp in October 1913, originally as an aircraft engine manufacturer, Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke. The Milbertshofen district of Munich location was chosen because it was close to the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik site, a German aircraft manufacturer. The blue-and-white circular logo BMW still uses (illustrated above right) alludes to the blue and white checkered flag of Bavaria and also indicates a spinning white propeller on a blue-sky background. In 1916 the company secured a contract to build V12 engines for Austria-Hungary. 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 their first motorcycle engine to be used in a model called the Victoria which was built by a company in Nuremburg. BMW motorcycles, specifically the BMW R 12 and the BMW R 75 combination were used extensively by the Reconnaissance formations of German panzer and motorised divisions of the Heer, 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 used the aero-engines included the 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 inmates of infamous concentration camps such as Dachau and prisoners of war. After the WWII the Munich factory took some time to restart production in any volume. BMW was banned from manufacturing for three years by the Allies and did not produce a car model until 1952. At the Frankfurt show in 1961, BMW launched the 1500, a powerful compact sedan, with front disc brakes and four-wheel independent suspension. This modern specification further cemented BMW's reputation for sporting cars. It was the first BMW to officially feature the "Hofmeister kink", the rear window line that has been the hallmark of all BMWs since then. Between 1994 and 2000, under the leadership of Bernd Pischetsrieder, BMW owned the Rover Group in an attempt to get into mass market production, buying it from British Aerospace. This brought the Rover, Mini, Land Rover and Triumph brands under BMW ownership. The venture was not successful. For years, Rover tried to rival BMW, if not in product, then in market positioning and "snob appeal". BMW found it difficult to reposition the English automaker alongside its own products and the Rover division was faced with endless changes in its marketing strategy. In the six years under BMW, Rover was positioned as a premium automaker, a mass-market automaker, a division of BMW and an independent unit. In 2000, BMW disposed of Rover after years of losses, with Rover cars going to the Phoenix Venture Holdings for a nominal £10 and Land Rover going to the Ford Motor Company. In the press, many years of under-investment by Rover before BMW's ownership were mainly blamed for the debacle; productivity and industrial relations were generally good during this period. The German press ridiculed the English firm as "The English Patient", after a film at the time. BMW itself, protected by its product range's image, was largely spared the blame â€

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