BMW Info

What Does BMW Stand For?

Adam Chinn

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BMW is a company that is known around the world for its luxury cars. But many people don’t know what BMW actually stands for. In this article we’ll take a look at the BMW name and find out what those three letters actually mean.

So, what does BMW stand for?

BMW stands for ‘Bayerische Motoren Werke’. Its English translation of the acronym is ‘Bavarian Motor Works’. The company gets its name from the location it was founded; the state of Bavaria in Germany.

So the name itself is fairly straightfoward, but let’s take a closer look at the meaning of some other names associated with BMW.

What is BMW AG?

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is the full company name associated with BMW. The ‘AG’ stands for Aktiengesellschaft, which translates to ‘public company’. This means that BMW AG is a publicly traded company, and its shares are available on the stock market.

BMW AG Headquarters
BMW’s Company Headquarters

BMW is partially owned by the public, and partially owned by the Quandt family. ‘AG’ is simply a German legal term that identifies the legal status of the corporation.

What is BMW Motorrad?

BMW Motorrad is the motorcycle division of BMW. The word ‘motorrad’ is the German word for motorcycle.

BMW Motorcycle
BMW R26 Motorcycle

BMW has been building motorbikes since before it built cars, and its motorcycle division is still going strong today. BMW Motorrad produces a range of different bikes, from small scooters to large tourers.

Seeing the word ‘Motorrad’ after the BMW name can be confusing for those who don’t speak German, but it’s simple to remember once you know know the translation.

What is BMW M?

BMW M is BMW’s performance division. The ‘M’ stands for ‘Motorsport’, and it’s responsible for building high-performance versions of BMW’s cars.

A yellow BMW M4

BMW M cars are faster and more powerful than the standard models, and are often highly sought-after. The ‘M’ division was created in the 1972, with its first creation the extremely rare BMW M1.

BMW M is actually a subsidiary of BMW AG, and its full company name is ‘BMW M GmbH’. GmbH simply means it’s a limited liability company.

What nicknames does BMW have?

BMW has a few nicknames, the most popular being ‘Beamer’ and ‘Bimmer’. These are both slang terms used in different parts of the world.

A 'Bimmerfest' car sticker
BMW’s nicknames are known around the world

In the UK and Ireland, BMW is commonly referred to as a ‘Beamer’ (sometimes spelt ‘Beemer’), while in North America the term ‘Bimmer’ is more popular.

According to BMW, however, the term ‘Beamer’ should only relate to BMW motorcycles.

Whatever you want to call them, BMWs are renowned the world over for their quality, luxury and performance.

BMW’s slogan

The BMW slogan is ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine’, referring to the company’s focus on producing the best possible driving experience for all of its customers.

'The Ultimate Driving Machine' BMW logo

BMW’s relentless pursuit of perfection has led to some amazing cars over the years, so it’s little wonder that the company’s slogan is so well-known around the world.

The slogan was first used in the 1970s, translates slightly differently among different markets, but the meaning is always the same; driving a BMW provides pure driving pleasure.

BMW logo

The company we know today was founded in Munich in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, and the first BMW logo emerged in 1917.

The blue and white colors in the logo represent the state colors of Bavaria, but despite the commonly held belief that the quadrants depict a propeller, this is not the case.

The misconception can be traced back as far as the 1920’s, but BMW didn’t do anything to correct it as it added a nice touch to the company’s image.

In fact, BMW even illustrated the logo as an aircraft propeller in early advertising to boost its aviation sales.

Final thoughts

Many people are unaware of what BMW truly stands for, but as we’ve seen, there’s a lot more to the company than just its cars.

Here’s what we’ve learnt:

  • BMW stands for ‘Bayerische Motoren Werke’. The English translation is Bavarian Motor Works
  • BMW AG is the full company name
  • BMW Motorrad is the company’s motorcycle division
  • BMW M is the company’s motorsport division
  • The associated logo includes the Bavarian colors, and does not represent a propeller

The BMW name is one that is known around the world, but next time somebody asks you what BMW stands for, you’ll now be able to give them a full run-down of the company’s brand names, nicknames, and what they mean.

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