Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, commonly referred to as BMW is a German multinational company which produces luxury vehicles and motorcycles. The company was founded in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, which it produced from 1917 until 1918 and again from 1933 to 1945.
Automobiles are marketed under the brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, and motorcycles are marketed under the brand BMW Motorrad. In 2015, BMW was the world's twelfth-largest producer of motor vehicles, with 2,279,503 vehicles produced. The company has significant motorsport history, especially in touring cars, Formula 1, sports cars and the Isle of Man TT.
BMW is headquartered in Munich and produces motor vehicles in Germany, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Mexico. The Quandt family are long-term shareholders of the company (with the remaining shares owned by public float), following brothers Herbert Quandt and Harald Quandt's investments in 1959 which saved the company from bankruptcy.
The name BMW is an abbreviation for Bayerische Motoren Werke. This name is grammatically incorrect (in German, compound words must not contain spaces), which is why the name's grammatically correct form Bayerische Motorenwerke has been used in several publications and advertisements in the past. Bayerische Motorenwerke translates into English as Bavarian Motor Works. The suffix AG, short for Aktiengesellschaft, signifies an incorporated entity which is owned by shareholders, thus akin to "Inc." (US) or PLC, "Public Limited Company" (UK).
The terms Beemer, Bimmer and Bee-em are sometimes used as slang for BMW in the English language and are sometimes used interchangeably for cars and motorcycles.
The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, which featured a black ring bearing the company name surrounding the company logo, on a plinth a horse's head couped.
BMW retained Rapp's black ring inscribed with the company name, but adopted as the central element a circular escutcheon bearing a quasi-heraldic reference to the coat of arms (and flag) of the Free State of Bavaria (as the state of their origin was named after 1918), being the arms of the House of Wittelsbach, Dukes and Kings of Bavaria. However as the local law regarding trademarks forbade the use of state coats of arms or other symbols of sovereignty on commercial logos, the design was sufficiently differentiated to comply, but retained the tinctures azure (blue) and argent (white).
The current iteration of the logo was introduced in 2020, removing 3D effects that had been used in renderings of the logo, and also removing the black outline encircling the rondel. The logo will be used on BMW's branding but will not be used on vehicles.