BMW is one of the world’s premier car manufacturers, an icon of style, high performance and luxury. BMWs 3 and 5 series saloons have remained popular over the years, but the car maker has made major pushes into the SUV and supercar markets as well.
More recently, BMW has been steadily launching new models under its i brand, targeting the electric and hybrid space.
Towards the top end of the market, is the highly rated BMW i8. Retailing at around £115,000, it is both a supercar coupe and a hybrid. At the other end of the spectrum, BMW also wins plaudits for its M135i, a hatchback priced at £22,835 – £23,365.
Having started life in 1916 as German aircraft engine manufacturer Bayerische Motoren Werke, BMW has changed a lot over the years. It began making cars in 1928, with its range steadily becoming more sophisticated through the 1930s, as BMW launched sports cars and luxury models.
BMW’s reputation was somewhat blighted during the second world war, when it was associated with aircraft engine production using forced labour.
Throughout the 1960s, BMW prospered in the production of cutting-edge sports/luxury coupes and saloons, though it was in the 1970s that BMW arguably made its mark. The decade saw the launch of the BMW 5 Series, BMW 3 Series, BMW 6 Series and BMW 7 Series models.
In 1978, BMW also released its first high-performance M branded model, a development that was inspired by its involvement in motor sports. BMW purchased the UK’s Rover Group in 1994, though ultimately only retained the company’s Mini brand. BMW went on to acquire the UK’s Rolls-Royce marque in 1998.
Headquartered in Munich, Germany, BMW is a listed company, though with significant shareholder control from the Quandt family. The association dates from 1959, when Herbert and Harald Quandt came to the company’s financial rescue.
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BMW 1 Series
BMW 3 Series
BMW 5 Series
BMW 7 Series
BMW Z Series
BMW is committed to developing emissions free vehicles, but it appears to be hedging its bets. While its hybrid and electric offerings have tended to rely on battery power, there are some exciting hydrogen-powered cars in the pipeline.
Latterly, the car maker has been busy developing hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles around its X SUV brand. The first models could be fully launched commercially in about five years from now, though pilots are expected to be in small-scale production by 2022.