A Historical Look at the Evolution of the BMW
Many love the products BMW makes, and their cars are the most reliable choices, but few know about the car’s history and how it made its way into the spotlight. Here’s a historical look at BMW’s evolution, from humble beginnings to a luxurious present.
The German Automotive Industry
The modern car’s origin traces back to Germany. The pioneers that kickstarted the automotive industry in Germany were Karl Benz, the founder of Mercedes-Benz, and Nicolaus Otto. These two developed the four-stroke engine, which Benz installed into his coach, creating the motor car.
This invention quickly took off, and for years, Germany was the central hub for producing and selling cars, and in 1901, the country produced over 900 motor vehicles yearly. The booming business would inspire other automobile ideas to spread worldwide, namely the beginning of the BMW brand and, later, its superb vehicle.
The Beginning of BMW
Most vehicle brands have an origin story that starts with an idea, which turns into car designs, which turns into a business, but BMW stands out from the rest with its origin story. The brand wasn’t formed to make cars; initially, its purpose was to make great engines and larger vehicles, which explains why its first invention was an aircraft.
Starting From Up High
The BMW IIIa was an aircraft with a straight-six engine produced by an aircraft firm named Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik that changed its name to Bayerische Motoren Werke, or BMW for short. Aircraft became popular from their use in WWI, and many manufacturers sought to enter their creations in the “make a better plane” competition. However, after the war ended, BMW needed to stay in business and manufacture a product, which led them to begin selling other, smaller vehicles.
Manufacturing Before Their Cars
The company began to show its engineering expertise by producing various products. The flat-twin M2B15 motorcycle engine was a popular machine sold by BMW since motorcycles and numerous other industries focused on advancing the engine and other technology. In 1923, their first motorcycle, the BMW R32, hit the market, and they sold three thousand models in three years.
Other inventions included farm equipment and household items. BMW also had a hand in the locomotive industry, selling railway brakes during the 1920s. All these manufactured items and creations helped keep the company financially afloat. Although their motorcycle production would later become a division of the company that specialized in the vehicle, they didn’t become a car company until the late 1920s.
The First Car
BMW became an official automobile company in 1928 when they purchased the business responsible for building the Austin Stevens economy car—Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach, under the Dixi Marque. Their first car was the BMW 3/15, a former Dixi model that could accelerate to 25 mph in 10 seconds, which was considerably impressive for a car of that time. Planes, motorcycles, and automobiles became the primary manufacturing products of the BMW brand for over a decade after the BMW 3/15’s debut, but production would change as WWII kicked off.
Efforts in the War
The company decided to change its priorities during the war. Planes would be their primary product, motorcycles became a sideline product that they would moderately produce, and automobile production would cease completely. However, the war resulted in the bombing of the BMW factories, leaving them with few means to manufacture anything.
BMW repeated its original process of selling various items outside of its niche to scrape by. Bicycles and cooking items were in production for some years before the company had the means to find another space to begin making automotive parts.
In 1948, their production of motorcycles began again, and four years later, the company restarted its automobile production line with a factory in Bavaria, where it produced the BMW 501 luxury vehicle.
The effects of the bombings during WWII left BMW in difficult times. Sales for luxury cars were few, and the microcars, such as the Isetta, weren’t selling at all. Fortunately, Herbert and Harald Quandt made a large investment in the company, which spared BMW from failing.
That same year, BMW produced the BMW 700, which included a rear engine and was their first monocoque vehicle. This car provided enough sales for the company to recover and make strides toward a more luxurious future.
The Creation of Luxury Models
After its recovery period, BMW began to build its reputation as a luxury car brand with the BMW New Class. This vehicle had a spot-oriented design and inspired the company’s objective of making sedans and coupe versions of their vehicles.
BMW models 5, 3, 6, and 7 were a line of luxury sedans and one coupe that made the company more popular in the industry. Their first supercar came into production in 1978 with a mid-engine coupe called the BMW M, followed by the M5 six years later and the M3 a couple of years after that.
Improving Their Designs
BMW began making large improvements to their vehicles in the 1980s, installing gas-powered turbocharged engines into their vehicles and spending the next decade switching more vehicles over to turbo-powered formats. In 1986, the company produced its first V12-engine luxury sedan—the 750i.
Entering the 21st Century
As BMWs continued to evolve, their entrance into the 21st century would make a great leap into new technology. The first hybrid BMW came in 2010 when the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 appeared. Hybrid vehicles became a trend in the 2000s, and car companies needed to keep up with the competition.
The rise of the hybrid later gave rise to the fully-electric car, the BMW i3. The company settled into the future well with these vehicles and continues to make strides to improve its technology.
Current and Future Plans of the BMW
As BMW continues its path forward, it will make vehicles with superb engineering. The current models combine the elegant appearance of luxury and the reliable technology from which the brand started. Why not rent a BMW in Miami, FL, when you next vacation in the sunshine state? Of course, BMWs are available globally, so you can enjoy a luxurious ride wherever your vacation plans take you.
Regarding the future, BMW will continue producing electric cars like many other automotive companies, steadily improving their designs and engineering. The history of BMW’s evolution is a story of ups and downs, but it carries on with the brand’s success.