The History Of BMW Company – How Bayerische Motoren Werke Was Started

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With the popularity that BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) has, it is very easy for one to think that this company never experienced any challenges after its inception. The reality is, this company faced numerous challenges. As a matter of fact, BMW saw some of the darkest moments in European history and had it not been for its quick decision to diversify, the company would be no more. If you are curious about how BMW came to be, then you are at the right place. Read on.

BMW was formed in 1917, and it has been through several important development stages. BMW was a product of three manufacturing companies: Rapp Motorenwerke (founded in 1913 by Karl Friedrich Rapp), Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (founded in 1913 by Gustav Otto), and Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach (founded in 1896 as a stock company). Until 1918, Rapp Motorenwerke and Bayerische Flugzeugwerke were separate companies. In 1918, Rapp Motorenwerke absorbed the struggling Bayerische Flugzeugwerke as it was already established—in fact, it had already begun using the name BMW.

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BMW adopted Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach in 1928, and this acquisition influenced BMW’s decision to shift from manufacture of airplane engines to designing civilian automotive vehicles. The first car that BMW manufactured was not their design—they borrowed it from Austin Motor Company. It was not until the year 1932 that BMW started using its own designs to manufacture its first car. It’s true that the company stooped too low when it decided to borrow designs, but it is this decision that brought them where they are now.

BMW during World War II

BMW was on the brink of extinction for the better part of World War I and thus, it was struggling to survive. During World War II, BMW was committed almost entirely to manufacturing motorcycles and aircrafts for the German army and German air force respectively. This was expected, especially because most production plants and manufacturing facilities in Germany came under the control of the government. It is also the reason civilian automobile production was put on halt until after the war.

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Manufacturing for the German military was a challenging task, and BMW had to employ foreign workers so as to keep up with the production demands. These workers replaced and took over the roles of the German men who had been drafted into the military. BMW went through a tough time when the Allied forces took control of their plants and dismantled them. Can you imagine that they had to produce pans, pots, and other kitchen utensils to prevent complete destruction of their company? Honestly, this was a challenging experience; fortunately, it was not long before the company began producing automobiles and motorcycles again.