BMW History

The BMW logo has been portrayed as an aircraft propeller with white blades cutting through a clear blue sky. The circular blue and white parts that make up the BMW logo or 'roundel' evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft company logo, combined together with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria.

BMW's first significant aircraft engine was the BMW IIIa, a straight-6, liquid-cooled engine of 1918, much preferred for its high altitude and reliable high performance. With the German growing war machines onslaught, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe in 1931. Among its most successful World War II engine designs were the BMW 132 and 801 air cooled radial engines together with the BMW 003 axial flow turbo jet, which thrusted the, 1944 jet powered engine Heinkel Fighter, namely the He 162 Spatz. The BMW 003 jet engine was tested in the world’s first jet fighter, the Messerschmidt Me 262.

After the end of World War I in 1918, BMW was established as a business entity following a complete restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft company in 1917. BMW was forced to cease aircraft engine production by the terms of the 'Versailles Armistice Treaty' and the company consequently shifted across to start producing motorcycle in 1923.

By the year 1959, the automotive division of BMW was found to be in financial difficulty. It was decided to continue and try and make a go of the current economy car boom that was enjoyed so successfully by some of Germany's aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmidt and Heinkel. The rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta were bought to manufacture the tiny cars themselves, which were to be powered and driven by a completely modified BMW motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company revive itself into a global leading vehicle manufacturer of modern times.

The first car which BMW successfully produced and the car which actually launched BMW was called the 'Dixi' which was based on the Austin 7 and licensed from the Austin Motor Company.

In 1994, BMW bought out the British Rover Group. By 2000, Rover was incurring huge losses and BMW decided to sell the business combine. The MG and Rover brands were sold to the Phoenix Consortium to form MG Rover, while Land Rover was taken over by The Ford Motor Company. BMW took a gamble and retained the rights to build the new Mini, which was successfully launched in the year 2001.

Chief designer Chris Bangle announced his departure from BMW in February 2009, after serving on the design team for nearly seventeen years. He was replaced by Adrian Van Hooydonk. Bangle was known for his radical designs such as the 7-Series and the Z4 in 2002. In July 2007, the production rights for Husqvarna Motorcycles was purchased by BMW.

BMW continues operating Husqvarna Motorcycles as a separate enterprise and motorcycle development holding. Sales and production activities, as well as their current workforce, have all but remained in place at its location in Varese, Italy.

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