Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (info) (BMW), (English: Bavarian Motor Works) is an independent German automobile manufacturer founded in 1916. BMW is a worldwide manufacturer of high-performance and luxury automobiles and motorcycles, and is the current parent company of both the MINI and Rolls-Royce car brands.
After World War I, BMW (and Germany) was forced to cease aircraft (engine) production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923 once the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted, followed by automobiles in 1928.
The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is often alleged to portray the movement of an airplane propeller, an interpretation that BMW adopted for convenience in 1929, which was actually twelve years after the roundel was created. In fact, the emblem evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, from which the BMW company grew. The Rapp logo was combined with the blue and white colors of the flag of Bavaria to produced the BMW roundel so familiar today. Thus, the logo was created before BMW ever tested an airplane engine.[dubious discuss]
BMW's first significant aircraft power plant was the BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine of 1918, much preferred for its high-altitude performance. With German rearmament in the 1930s, the company again began producing aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. Among its successful WWII engine designs were the BMW 132 and BMW 801 air-cooled radial engines, and the pioneering BMW 003 axial-flow turbojet, which powered the world's first operational jet fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 262.
BMW AG bought the British Rover Group (which at the time consisted of the Rover, Land Rover and MG brands as well as the rights to defunct brands including Austin and Morris) in 1994 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. BMW, meanwhile, retained the rights to build the new MINI, which was launched in 2001.
The dominating shareholder of the BMW Aktiengesellschaft since 1959 is the Quandt family. Stefan Quandt, Johanna Quandt and Susanne Klatten (born Quandt) together own about 46% of the stocks. The rest is in public float.