BMW has remained one of the most popular car brands in the last century. Going head to head with other German automakers like Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen, they have proved to be a force to reckon with. In the early 80's, the most common models you find on Nigerian roads were Peugeot and Benz. But after the 1999 partnership with Coschasris group, the German car manufacturer made a grand return into the Nigerian auto market - never to leave again. With the company attracting more customers regularly, it's important that they get to know a thing or two about their favorite car brand. Therefore, here are 9 facts about BMW you probably never knew, brought to you by Naijauto team!
1. BMW is 103 years old - 16 years older than VW
Three friends - Camilio Castiglioni, Karl Rapp and Joseph Popp - came together to start an auto company in 1916. They called it BMW. They initially wanted to focus on manufacturing a wide range of machines and mechanical equipment. In their first few years, they had produced and launched agricultural machines, railway brakes, bus and truck engines, pumps and the BMW Illa aircraft engine. At this time, the First World War was ongoing, so they were actually making a lot of money manufacturing these engines for the German military. They only started making cars in the early 1930s.
These are three men that set the very first steps for BMW
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2. BMW is an acronym for Bavarian Motor Works
When Joseph, Camilio and Karl founded BMW, they named it Bayerische Motoren Werke, which means Bavarian Motor Works. The name was a mouthful at first, and actually was taken from the companies owned by the 3 friends - Bayerische Flugzeugwerke, Rapp Motorenwerke and Automobilwerk Eisenach. But when Karl left a year later, they shortened it to BMW to make it easy for customers to mention.
3. BMW made its first car over a decade after inception
Due to financial benefits of making aircraft and truck engines in the early 19th century, BMW didn't bother delving into different automotive niches. But after German companies were banned from manufacturing aircrafts and aircraft engines in the Treaty of Versailles (post World War), the brand shifted focus to making motorcycles and cars. The Austin 7 brand licensed the Dixi 3/15 car and in 1927 BMW took over the brand. That automatically made all Dixi 3/15 cars, BMW 3/15 models.
Five years later, BMW decided to make its own cars and launched the BMW 3/20 - the first car full designed and produced by BMW. Though the company kept making aircraft engines till 1945.
4. The colours on the BMW logo represents native Germans
The BMW logo which has blue and white quarter-circles embedded in a black round background doesn't represent a propeller that spins - as people thought. The black round background was a part of the Rapp company logo. Then the Bavarian blue and white national colours were added to it. Bavarians believe they are the native Germans. That's why the words "Bavaria", "Bayern" and "Bayerische" most times, represent Deutscheland. The headquarters of BMW is also located in Bavaria state, Germany.
The BMW logo carries Bavarian colors
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5. The second gen of electric cars was produced by BMW in 1972
In 1828, the first ever electric car was made. But it didn't find its footing in the automotive market. In 1972, BMW tried to bring back the electric vehicle models. It was applauded by lots of critics at the time, but it couldn't last up to 30 minutes and the version eventually failed. Many electric cars currently, share certain features with the failed BMW electric vehicle. This definitely shows that the German automaker has been ahead of the game.
6. Rolls Royce and Land Rover are owned by BMW
In 1998, the Rolls Royce brand was going bankrupt and sought a takeover. BMW came for them while Volkswagen took over the Bentley division of the English car brand. Four years prior, BMW had bought the Rover group, a popular British car manufacturer. This made them the parent owners of the Land Rover, Rover MG and Mini Cooper cars. It's worthy to note that the first Rolls Royce car made under the BMW brand is the Rolls Royce Phantom - produced 5 years after the take over.
7. The fastest motorcycle in the 1930s was made by BMW
In 1937, the BMW Motorrad division wanted to make the fastest motorcycle ever. They succeeded. The bike can run over 170 miles per hour. That's a truly impressive number at the time.
This BMW R7 model was the most-talked-about motorcycle during 1930s
8. Mercedes Benz almost took over BMW
In the 1950s, BMW ran into heavy debts and Mercedes Benz took advantage of that and almost bought the company. Shareholders didn't like Benz due to the endless rivalry between both brands. They invested extra funds into BMW to ensure it bounces back - and it did (thanks to Quandit). But there are still rumours that Benz is still looking for possible ways to take over BMW as a way of silencing competition.
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9. The BMW headquarter building is shaped like an inline-four engine
BMW is also known for making some of the finest inline cylinder engines - like the inline 4 and 6. They thought to reflect that in architecture as well. Therefore, they made sure their headquarters in Munich was built like an 4-cylinder engine. Beside it is a building shaped like the brand's logo as well.
The BMW headquarters looks like one of their famous inline engines