BMW - The Ultimate Driving Machine

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BMW AG (an initials for Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft, or in English, Bavarian Motor Works), is an independent German company and manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles founded in1913 by Karl Friedrich Rapp. BMW is the parent company of the MINI and Rolls-Royce car brands, and, formerly, Rover.
The company's tagline in English is currently "The Ultimate Driving Machine". The original German slogan is "Freude am Fahren", which translates to "Joy in Driving" in English. In certain regions, BMW also uses the English tagline "sheer driving pleasure".
BMW's main competitors include Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab and Volvo.
History
Pre-WWII
BMW was founded by Karl Friedrich Rapp, originally as an aircraft engine manufacturer, Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke. The Milbertshofen district of Munich was chosen, apparently because it was close to the Gustav Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik site. The blue-and-white roundel BMW still uses (illustrated above) alludes to the white and blue checkered flag of Bavaria. It is often said to symbolize a spinning white propeller on a blue-sky background, although this interpretation developed after the logo was already in use. 
In 1916 the company secured a contract to build V12 engines for Austro-Daimler. 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 its first motorcycle engine, used in a model called the Victoria, which was built by a company in Nuremberg. 
In 1923 BMW built its first model motorcycle, the R32. This had a 500 cc air-cooled horizontally-opposed engine, a feature that would resonate among their various models for decades to come, albeit with displacement increases and newer technology. The major innovation was the use of a driveshaft instead of a chain to drive the rear wheel. For decades to follow, the shaft-drive boxer engine was the mark of the BMW motorcycle.
In 1927 the tiny Dixi, an Austin Seven produced under license, began production in Eisenach. BMW bought the Dixi Company the following year, and this became the company's first car, the BMW 3/15. By 1933 BMW were producing cars that could be called truly theirs, offering steadily more advanced I6 sports and saloons (sedans). The pre-war cars culminated in the 327 coupe and convertible, the 328 roadster, fast 2.0 L cars, both very advanced for their time, as well as the upscale 335 luxury sedan.
World War II
BMW motorcycles, specifically the BMW R 12 and the BMW R 75 combination were used extensively by the Aufklarungsabteilung of German panzer and motorised divisions of the German Army, 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 using the aero-engines included the BMW 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 prisoners of war and inmates of infamous concentration camps such as Dachau 
The BMW works were heavily bombed towards the end of the war. Of its sites, those in eastern Germany (Eisenach-Durrerhof, Wandlitz-Basdorf and Zuhlsdorf) were seized by the Soviets. The factory in Munich was largely destroyed.
Post-war history
After the war 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 motorcycle, the R24, until 1948, and a car model until 1952 .


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