There are so many car brands from across the world. It can be hard to choose which car you want. One of the best brands out there is BMW. Chances are that you heard of this car brand, in fact, you may have even driven or owned a BMW. This car company has a long and interesting history to it. This article will also explain who currently owns BMW. With all of that being said, let’s get started!
Founding of BMW
BMW had its founding back in 1910 by Gustav Otto in Bavaria, Germany. It was originally known as Otto Flugmaschinenfabrik. However, it changed into Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG in March 1916. The company would later rename again in 1922, calling it, Bayerische Motoren Were or BMW.
The name actually was in use back in 1913 by Karl Rapp. The name and the ability to make engines were transferred over to BMW in 1922. The very first product BMW made was a straight-six aircraft engine known as the BMW Illa.
BMW manage to stay in business after WWI where they made motorcycle engines, items for households, and more. Their first motorcycle, the BMW R 32 was released in 1923. It wouldn’t be until five years later that BMW started manufacturing automobiles. Their first car called the BMW 3/15 was a Dixi. BMW would also acquire several other car manufacturers allowing them to expand its business and into new products such as sports cars and luxury cars.
We cannot get to who owns BMW without looking at their participation in WWII. BMW was tasked with building aircraft engines, automobiles, etc. for Nazi Germany and its war machine. They would focus on aircraft engines for Germany’s air forces and used over 40,000 prisoners from concentration camps.
Allied Forces bombed the factories and banned them from creating vehicles after the war. BMW managed to survive by making bicycles and pots and pans. In 1948, three years after the war, they got back into the motorcycle industry and cars in 1952. Slow sales had BMW on the edge of being bought out in the 50s, but manage to survive.
BMW survived thanks to an investment by the Quandt brothers, whose father was an industrialist for the Nazis, helping them build weapons and batteries with the use of slave labor. BMW and the Quandt’s father had no connection with each other during the conflict, it was that blood money that allowed the Quandt brothers to buy BMW.
As time went on, BMW would make more cars throughout the years. This helped them become a successful and independent car manufacturer. They would be purchased in 1994 by the Rover Group. However, this was not successful and BMW lost a lot of money. Four years later, BMW had the rights to Rolls Royce.
By January 2021, it was revealed by BMW that their profits fell over 8% because of the coronavirus pandemic. Even this year, BMW and Toyota are working together to create hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2025.
Founders of BMW
There are three people who are the most responsible for the founding of BMW. They are:
- Camillo Castiglioni: An Italian-Austrian Jewish financier and was the wealthiest man in all of Central Europe during World War I.
- Franz Josef Popp: An Austrian man who is known as the prime force in creating the company. He was also the General Director until 1942.
- Karl Rapp: A German founder who indirectly founded BMW with his own car company called Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH.
Today, the current CEO of BMW, who has been there since August 2019 is German manager Oliver Zipse.
So, who owns BMW? Well, as you could see from the article, BMW has had a long and complicated history. Especially with its ties to Nazi Germany during WWII. In March 2016, it was the 100th anniversary of BMW. To mark the occasion, BMW apologized for its past and the “profound regret” in providing supplies to the Nazis and the use of slave labor.
The company states that it was the first industrial corporation to speak on this chapter in its history back in 1983. In 1999, BMW was a founding member of the “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” foundation to compensate former laborers.
Back in 2011, there was also renewed interest in the Quandt Family and their ties to the Nazis. They are still a shareholder thanks to the Quandt brothers after World War II.
But, it is a good thing that this company sought forgiveness for its past crimes, even the Quandt Family keep more private about their past.
Despite a muddy past, BMW was fortunate enough to make a comeback and is now known as a reliable car brand.