BMW cars are manufactured by BMW Group, a corporation whose current lineup includes MINI
and Rolls-Royce brand cars. The BMW Group posted record earnings for 2006.
The BMW Group car production volume reached an all-time high of 1,366,838 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand cars. The BMW brand accounted for 1,179,317 cars, the MINI brand vehicles, 186,674 units, and 847 Rolls-Royce Phantoms were produced.
BMW is an acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke AG -- or, in English, Bavarian Motor Works. The German-based company is one of the world's most respected automakers, renowned for crafting luxury cars and SUVs that offer superior levels of driving enjoyment. The company’s founder, Gustav Otto, was the son of the inventor of the Otto four-stroke petrol engine, and he used to manufacture aero engines, hence the blue and white spinning “propeller” design of the BMW logo. Its blue-and-white color scheme also references Bavaria's blue-and-white checkered flag.
Founded in Munich, the company began in the early 1910s as an aircraft manufacturer. In 1928 car production was started, the company having already changed its name to BMW, which was fast gaining renown as a motorbike manufacturer. Its first car was the BMW Dixie, which was based on the 1928 Austin Seven. These BMW cars proved tremendously popular, and their success helped the manufacturer weather the Depression.
The early 1950s saw the launch of the BMW 501, a roomy sedan. It was soon followed by the 502
which was powered by the world's first light-alloy V8, foreshadowing BMW's ongoing commitment to developing new technology. The best-selling BMW cars of that decade were the Isetta, a petite two-seat "microcar" typically powered by a 12- or 13-horsepower engine. The mid-'50s also saw the debut of the limited production and beautiful 507 sports car which had an alloy body and used the 502's V8 for propulsion.
In the 1960s, sales of BMW cars strengthened significantly, thanks in part to the immense popularity of the 1500, a sporty family sedan. The BMW 1500 was the start of the firm’s renaissance and through the 1960s it developed its current strong image as a producer of impeccable cars of character and high quality.
By the 1970s, BMW was establishing itself as a full-fledged car company. It was a pioneer for many emerging technologies, including turbocharging and advanced vehicle electronics. This was also the period when BMW of North America was established and consumers, who coveted both sports and luxury cars became loyal "Bimmer" owners. The '70s also saw the birth of BMW's three-tier sport sedan range consisting of the 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series cars and the creation of its performance M division.
More recently, the company has been expanding its reach worldwide. It opened its first U.S. manufacturing plant in the latter half of the 1990s and has expanded its brand empire to include Mini and Rolls-Royce. BMW also continues to build motorcycles, something it has done since the 1920s.
The automaker's famous advertising slogan describes each of its vehicles as "the ultimate driving machine,". Over the past couple of decades, BMW cars have become the standard for performance and luxury in most of the "over $30,000" segments. With family-friendly wagons, crisp sedans, distinctive coupes, nimble sports cars and spacious SUVs offered, BMW's model roster is diverse.