Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the MINI brand, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna brands. BMW is known for its performance and luxury vehicles.
After World War I, BMW was forced to cease aircraft (engine) production and the company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923, followed by automobiles in 1928–29. In 1959 the automotive division of BMW was in financial difficulties and a shareholders meeting was held to decide whether to go into liquidation or find a way of carrying on. It was decided to carry on and to try to cash in on the current economy car boom. The rights to manufacture the Italian Iso Isetta were bought; the tiny cars themselves were to be powered by a modified form of BMW''s own motorcycle engine. This was moderately successful and helped the company get back on its feet.
In 1994, BMW bought the British Rover Group and owned it for six years. By 2000, Rover was making huge losses and BMW decided to sell the combine. The MG and Rover brands were sold to the Phoenix Consortium to form MG Rover, while Land Rover was taken over by Ford.
The 1 Series, launched in 2004, is BMW''s smallest car, and is available in coupe/convertible and hatchback forms. The 3 Series, a compact executive car manufactured since 1975, is currently in its fifth generation. The 5 Series is a mid-size executive car, available in the sedan and station wagon forms. The 5 Series Gran Turismo beginning in 2010, will create a segment between station wagons and crossover SUV.
BMW''s full-size flagship executive sedan is the 7 Series. BMW introduced many of their innovations first in the 7 Series, such as the iDrive system. The 7 Series Hydrogen, featuring one of the world''s first hydrogen fueled internal combustion engines, is fueled by liquid hydrogen and emits only clean water vapor. The latest generation debuted in 2009. Based on the 5 Series'' platform, the 6 Series is BMW''s luxury sport coupe/convertible. A two-seater roadster and coupe which succeeded the Z3, the Z4 has been sold since 2002.
The X3 was BMW''s first crossover SUV. It made its debut in 2003 and is based on the E46/16 3 Series platform. The all-wheel drive X5 is a mid-size luxury SUV sold by BMW since 2000. The X6 is marketed as a "Sports Activity Coupe" (SAC) by BMW. The upcoming X1 extends the BMW Sports Activity Series model lineup.
BMW India was established in 2006 as a sales subsidiary in Gurgaon (National Capital Region). A state-of-the-art assembly plant for BMW 3 and 5 Series started operation in early 2007 in Chennai. Construction of the plant started in January 2006 with an initial investment of more than one billion Indian Rupees. The plant started operation in the first quarter of 2007 and produces the different variants of BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series.