A lot of people still don’t know what BMW actually stands for despite it being such a common brand

  • BMW has been a global name in car-making for over a century
  • However, the meaning behind the name isn’t as widely known
  • The company has had a rocky road to success since they were formed in 1916

Published on Jul 10, 2024 at 4:00 PM (UTC+4)
by Ben Thompson

Last updated on Jul 10, 2024 at 6:51 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

BMW is a famous name in the world of cars, but how many people actually know what the acronym stands for?

The German manufacturer is synonymous with luxury and high performing cars, but the history of the brand is lesser known.

Here’s a brief history of BMW from 1916 to the present day.

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What does BMW stand for?

The automaker’s full name is Bayerische Motoren Werke, which is German for ‘Bavarian Motor Works’.

As the name suggests, the company is based in the German state of Bavaria, specifically in the capital of Munich.

However, it’s name wasn’t always BMW.

Previously, it was known as Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG -Bavarian Aircraft Works.

Even after shifting to its broader name, the company was renowned for making aircraft engines.

The truth behind BMW’s iconic logo

Many assumed that the circular logo was supposed to be a rotating propeller, given the company’s history in planes.

At one time, the company itself indulged this theory, with a 1929 ad playing into the iconography.

However, it has since admitted that the logo is actually based on the blue and white diamond checker pattern of Bavaria’s flag.

This flag has no doubt made an appearance at countless Oktoberfest celebrations.

At the time the logo was created, local laws prohibited the use of state symbols, so BMW had to be creative to get around this.

BMV from World War Two onwards

During the Second World War, BMW was part of Germany’s war machine, churning out engines for the war effort.

Given how badly Germany was doing after 1945, BMW was in a tough market to sell luxury cars.

Changing course, it began producing more accessible but sportier cars.

From the 1960s onwards, BMW earned a reputation as a high-performance automaker.

With cars such as the 2002 Turbo, it cemented a place as one of the world’s biggest manufacturers.

It’s a legacy that continues to this day – when it is the ninth most successful in the world, selling over two million cars.

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Ben Thompson

Ben got his start in journalism at Kennedy News and Media, writing stories for national newspapers, websites and magazines. Now working as a freelancer, he divides his time between teaching at News Associates and writing for news sites on all subjects.