Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, usually known under its abbreviation BMW, is a German luxury vehicle, motorcycle, and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It is one of the luxury automakers in the world. The company is a component of the Euro Stoxx 50 stock market index, headquartered in Munich, Bavaria, BMW owns Mini cars and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW was established as a business entity following a restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft manufacturing firm in 1912 named Aerowerke Gustav Otto, after the end of World War I in 1918, BMW was forced to cease aircraft-engine production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to production as the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted in 1923. BMWs first significant aircraft engine, and commercial product of any sort, was the BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine of 1918, known for good fuel economy, with German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. The factory in Munich made ample use of forced labour, foreign civilians, prisoners of war, the few Me 262 A-1b test examples built used the more developed version of the 003 jet, recording an official top speed of 800 km/h. The first-ever four-engine jet aircraft flown were the sixth and eighth prototypes of the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance-bomber. Through 1944 the 003s reliability improved, making it a power plant for air frame designs competing for the Jägernotprogramms light fighter production contract. Which was won by the Heinkel He 162 Spatz design, the BMW003 aviation turbojet was also under consideration as the basic starting point for a pioneering turboshaft powerplant for German armored fighting vehicles in 1944–45, as the GT101. Towards the end of the Third Reich, BMW developed some military aircraft projects for the Luftwaffe, the BMW Strahlbomber, the BMW Schnellbomber and the BMW Strahljäger, but none of them were built. By the year 1958, the division of BMW was in financial difficulties. It was decided to carry on by trying to cash in on the current economy car boom exploited so successfully by German ex-aircraft manufacturers such as Messerschmitt, BMW bought the rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta. BMWs version of the cars were to be powered by a modified form of BMWs motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet, since 1959, the controlling majority shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft has been the Quandt family, which owns about 46% of the stock. The rest is in public float, BMW acquired the Hans Glas company based in Dingolfing, Germany, in 1966. Glas vehicles were badged as BMW until the company was fully absorbed. However, this factory was outmoded and BMWs biggest immediate gain was, according to themselves, the Glas factories continued to build a limited number of their existing models, while adding the manufacture of BMW front and rear axles until they could be closer incorporated into BMW
BMW headquarters in Munich
BMW Headquarters in Munich. The towers and museum are visible in the back right.