Is BMW a German Car Company?

If you want a brand based on luxury and performance, BMW is one of the world’s leaders. It’s a coveted luxury carmaker with a full line of vehicles from roadsters to three-row SUVs. The company is also a big name in the motorcycle world. With an undeniable presence here in the states, some might wonder where the brand originates? Is BMW a German car company?

What does BMW stand for?

According to BMW, the meaning behind the name is “driving pleasure.” The acronym represents the words Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. Roughly, this phrase translates to Bavarian Engine Works Company. When the company began its official journey in 1917, it teamed up with aircraft engineering company Rapp-Motorenwerke GmbH.

A BMW emblem is seen on a red car in Bucharest, Romania
A BMW emblem | Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto

This was a company with roots going back to aircraft engines in 1913. Additionally, the company supplied the German military air fleet with airplane motors. Today, this joining is known as BMW AG.

In 1918, the group took a shift toward railway engineering and the independent BMW company took a hiatus from the market. Then later, in 1922, BMW founding took place for a second time. At this point in time, everything was moved to Lerchenauer Strasse and the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG title was adopted once again.

“And that’s how the BMW name found its way into the commercial register for a second time.”

BMW M8 Coupe parked on the track
BMW M8 Coupe | BMW

The acronym envelopes engines in general. This is a welcome homage to the company’s past working with a wide range of motors. BMW didn’t begin as a car company. The first BMW motors were largely for aircraft and train engines. And, of course, motorcycles.

Where are BMW cars, SUVs, and motorcycles made?

“The first BMW motorcycle, the R 32, came onto the market in 1923, followed in 1933 by the BMW 303, the company’s first completely new, self-developed car. BMW AG ceased production of aircraft engines at the end of the Second World War.”

a red BMW leaning deep into a chicane
The all-new third-gen BMW S1000RR | BMW Motorcycles

In America, these German-engineered machines are not generally imported. According to the BMW in the United States Wikipedia page, BMW cars have been sold in America since 1956. BMW Motorcycles were introduced in the US in 1968. BMW motorcycles are, in fact, still made at the plant in Berlin, Germany.

The first BMW automobile dealership for this German car company opened on US soil in 1975 and it took less than 20 years to open a plant for American manufacture of BMW automobiles. The BMW manufacturing plant in Greer, South Carolina has made these cars and SUVs on US soil since 1994. This plant now has a larger production volume than any other BMW factory on the planet.

2020 BMW X7 xDrive50i | Bmw
2020 BMW X7 xDrive50i | BMW

The Spartanburg plant in SC produces the X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7 SUV models, according to Wikipedia. However, BMW American branches of the company facilitate everything from sales, to marketing and design––even financial services are operated in America. These companies are also located in Canada, Mexico, and Latin America.


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Is BMW German?

The company’s origins lie in the Bavarian state of Germany. The beginnings of this Germany car company harken back to motorcycles. The ups and downs of getting the BMW off the ground and into the world market as an automaker are steeped in German history. From the popular sedans and SUVs to the lineup of BMW Motorcycles, BMW is a German car company. Still, it does have two feet on the ground here in the states as well.