1916 – Foundation of BMW.
The beginnings of BMW date back to Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto. At the instigation of the state of Bavaria, the aircraft factory Gustav Otto became Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke AG (BFW) in 1916. In 1917, Rapp Motorenwerke was turned into Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, which was converted from a limited company into a stock-listed corporation in 1918. In 1922, BMW AG transferred its engine production, including the company and brand names, to BFW. The BFW’s founding date, March 7, 1916, is therefore also the founding date of Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) AG.
1923 – The first motorcycle.
The first BMW motorcycle, the R 32, was presented on September 28 at the Berlin Motor Show. The traverse twin-flat boxer engine (about 8.5 horsepower) and shaft drive is an ingenuous drive concept which has proven its worth ever since. BMW’s then-chief engineer Max Friz designed the R 32 in record time, laying the groundwork for the success story of BMW motorcycles.
1939 – Takeover of Brandenburgische Motorenwerke (Bramo).
BMW AG takes over Brandenburgische Motorenwerken (Bramo), including the Spandau plant. This merger gave BMW the leading position in Germany as producer of air-cooled aircraft engines. Until the end of the war, BMW aircraft engines are built in the red brick halls at Juliusturm – such as the up to 1,000 horsepower strong nine-cylinder radial engines (type 132) for the legendary JU 52. BMW aircraft engines established countless altitude and long distance records around the world.
1945 – The will to rebuild.
The BMW plant is dismantled by the Allies like many other industrial enterprises in the destroyed capital after the war. Large parts of the production facilities and machines are removed, packed up and some sent abroad. But the will to rebuild is huge: As early as in May 1945, about 100 employees are back at work, producing basic commodities like sickles and scythes.
1958 – Motorcycle frame construction comes to Berlin.
From fall 1958 on, as part of the Berlin aid program, BMW places extensive production orders with the Spandau plant which have previously been carried out at the Milbertshofen parent plant. These include the motorcycle frame construction, the first core technology for what will later become full motorcycle production.
1966 – The first BMW motorcycle made in Berlin.
The first BMW motorcycle built in Berlin – a BMW R 60/2 with swinging fork chassis – rolls off the newly build assembly line on September 6. The engines are still delivered from the engine production in Munich. The air-cooled boxer engine with 30 horsepower and 594 cc accelerates the 200-kilogram motorcycle to a top speed of almost 150 km/h.
1969 – Relocation of entire motorcycle production to Berlin completed.
Engine manufacturing starts at the plant in Berlin and the relocation of the motorcycle production is completed. About 400 employees produce 30 motorcycles a day entirely by hand. Engineering and development, however, have remained in Munich to this day. BMW Motorrad rolls out a new product initiative with its newly developed /5 Series. The models are characterized by a light double cradle with rear swinging fork and telescopic fork in front. The champion is BMW R 75/5 with an impressive 50 horsepower.
1973 – The 500,000th BMW motorcycle.
As early as in 1970, the 10,000th BMW motorcycle is built in Berlin and only three years later, the 500,000th motorcycle rolls off the production line. The 50th anniversary of BMW motorcycle is celebrated as well. On this occasion, the significantly revised /6 Series goes into production. In addition, the new top model BMW R 90 S with dual disks in front, five-speed transmission and cockpit fairing is launched. The 898 cc capacity is responsible for the boxer engine’s 67 horsepower, making it the most powerful BMW motorcycle at the time. The top speed of the sports bike is 200 km/h.
1975 – The 100,000th BMW motorcycle made in Berlin.
Another reason to celebrate for BMW Plant Berlin: The 100.000th motorcycle, a BMW R 90 S, is built in Berlin on January 29. The demand for BMW motorcycles is unwavering and production capacities are about to reach their limits. BMW AG invests about 200 million DM in a new assembly hall to increase production output to 60,000 units per year. The former German President Walter Scheel is present when the foundation stone is laid in 1977.
1979 – Start of automotive component production.
Break disks for BMW cars are now manufactured at the component production unit of BMW’s Berlin plant. Other additions to the product range in the following years include, for instance, the camshaft production.
1980 – Launch of the G/S segment.
BMW motorcycle introduces the first BMW R 80 G/S (50 HP) and with it once more a new market segment. The concept of the off-road, long-distance enduro has been a success ever since. For bikers all around the world, the GS has been a symbol for freedom and adventure on two wheels for 3 decades. The BMW R 80 G/S is the world’s first series-production motorcycle with swing arm and suspension strut for rear-wheel control. The GS rally model is extremely successful in off-road races, winning the Dakar Rally between 1981 and 1985, among others.
1983 – Investments in the millions.
The BMW plant in Berlin’s Spandau neighborhood gets ready for the expansion of the product range by the new K Series. The K 100 is the first BMW motorcycle equipped with a four-cylinder engine, setting standards once more with electric ignition and fuel injection. The K 75 with a three-cylinder in-line engine completes the K Series in 1985. The company invests about 300 million DM for the second model series, building a completely new assembly hall and system with a state-of-the-art conveyor. The self-propelled, electrically driven C-shaped mounts are 360-degree pivotable and ergonomically height-adjustable. This makes the BMW plant in Berlin the most flexible and modern motorcycle plant worldwide. Furthermore, the plant is equipped with a highly automated production line for engine components. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl officially opens the new plant.
1991 – The one-millionth BMW motorcycle in the company’s history
The one-millionth BMW motorcycle in the company’s history rolls of the production lines in Berlin on March 18. That same spring, BMW is the first manufacturer to offer a regulated catalytic converter for efficient emission control for its K 1100 models. Disarrayed catalysts become available for the three-cylinder models (BMW K 75) in the same year.
2000 – High demand requires expansion of production.
The third model series is introduced at BMW Plant Berlin with the new BMW F 650 GS, featuring a single-cylinder engine. The production capacities are expanded again due to the growing demand. Between 1999 and 2003, the company invests a total of 280 million euros in a new assembly hall, an automated paint shop and new facilities for the machining shop – a clear commitment to the production site in Berlin-Spandau. The building measures are challenging, but the state-of-the-art production is successfully integrated into the protected historical structure.
2001 – The one-millionth BMW motorcycle made in Berlin.
A new milestone for the plant is reached on February 6: The one-millionth BMW motorcycle made in Berlin since 1967 rolls off the production line at Juliusturm. The extravagantly painted BMW R 1150 RT is auctioned off on the internet for UNICEF. The two-valve boxer makes up the lion’s share in the engine range with 512,644 units built since 1967.
2003 – Expansion of production facilities continued.
The permanently extended product range also raises the demand for BMW motorcycles. BMW Motorrad responds by continuously expanding its production facilities. In February 2003, the new Assembly Hall 7 is opened. State-of-the-art machining centers and production facilities in mechanical production are further guarantees for premium quality made in Berlin. One year later, the new and extended engine production hall goes into operation and the new paint shop opens in 2004.
2006 – For the first time, over 100,000 motorcycles produced in a year.
A production record is achieved: For the first time, over 100,000 BMW motorcycles are built in one year, clearly showing the high demand and the reputation BMW motorcycles have established around the world. Also, the time has come for the fourth model series: In 2006, the BMW F 800 S rolls off the production lines, the first motorcycle with a water-cooled two-cylinder in-line (parallel-twin) engine. Another special feature: the belt-drive system for the rear wheel.
2009 – The first super sports bike.
On May 12, the 500,000th BMW motorcycle with the GS label – a BMW R 1200 GS, the best-selling model – rolls off the production line. The production of the new BMW S 1000 RR – BMW’s super sports bike – starts in the same year. The response to this new model is overwhelming and sales figures top all expectations. More than 10,000 units are sold during its first full year on the market.
2011 – Two-millionth motorcycle made in Berlin rolls off the line.
An eventful year. After 42 years of production, the two-millionth motorcycle rolls off the production lines. The anniversary bike, a R 1200 GS with customized paintwork, is raffled off as first prize in the “beBerlin” campaign in June. On November 30, the BMW Plant Berlin receives the Ludwig Erhard Award, the highest national honor for comprehensive corporate quality. On top of that, December 1 marks the start of production for the maxi scooters BMW C 600 Sport and BMW C 650 GT. These new models complement BMW’s product line-up in the Urban Mobility sector.
2012 – Clear commitment to Berlin as production site.
For the first time, more than 110,000 motorcycles are produced in one year at BMW’s Berlin plant, including the new BMW R 1200 GS. More than three decades after the first G/S was presented, the fifth generation of this legendary model goes into series production. At its core: the new air/water-cooled flat-twin engine. Also, BMW Plant Berlin purchases an adjacent property, extending its premises to 220,000 sqm. This strategic expansion allows for long-term growth and is a clear commitment to Berlin as production site.
2013 – 90th anniversary of BMW Motorrad.
BMW’s Berlin plant celebrates the 90th anniversary of BMW Motorrad and starts the anniversary year with the series production of the BMW R nineT. The purist roadster brings together the best of nine decades of company history and meets the special demands of all customizing fans. The R nineT establishes the new Heritage model segment.
2014 – The dawn of the era of electromobility.
The start of series production of the BMW C evolution, the first all-electric maxi-scooter in the premium segment, on April 4 marks the beginning of the era of electric mobility for BMW Motorrad. The development time was three and a half years, from the initial phase to series production. A team specially trained for high-voltage work assemble the electric scooter on a new assembly line in just a few assembly steps.
2015 – Further investment to the tune of millions.
In order to double the production output and further increase capacity utilization, BMW AG announces another investment of over 100 million euros in the site. Once again, the Bavarian company demonstrates its commitment to the Berlin plant, safeguarding jobs in the long term and ensuring the site’s competitiveness. The focus this time is on expanding the paint shop and building a new logistics center.
2016 – Growth strategy is maintained.
Just one year later, the plant celebrates the topping-out of the new logistics center. The new building is an important cornerstone in BMW Motorrad’s growth strategy, meant to increase the plant’s efficiency and production output. A 36-meter high-bay warehouse, visible from afar, will form the heart of the facility. The new building will be directly connected to the assembly halls, saving up to 500 in-house transports daily. This means that around one million parts can be brought to the assembly line just-in-sequence every day.
2017 – Production record with more than 155,000 units a year.
Never before have so many motorcycles and scooters been produced in one year: with over 155,000 units, the Berlin plant sets a new record. 25 different models are produced on five assembly lines. Besides increasing the production output, the plant entrance gets a makeover with the opening of the new Lifestyle and Motorcycle Shop. Featuring direct road access, it gives staff, plant visitors and passers-by the chance to get to know and buy BMW Motorrad products.
2018 – New level of performance, culture and efficiency.
The plant’s own combined CHP generation system for heat and power starts operations. One third of the electricity required is now produced in-house. The Group invests around 7 million euros in this contribution to climate protection. In addition, the R 1250 GS and R 1250 RT expand the model range in the Adventure and Tour segments starting in September. The successors to the R 1200 GS and R 1200 RT offer a new level of performance, culture and efficiency thanks to the comprehensively revised boxer engine with BMW ShiftCam technology.
2019 – Three million BMW motorcycles built in 50 years.
BMW’s motorcycle production celebrates its 50th anniversary in Berlin. That same year, the three-millionth motorcycle, a BMW S 1000 RR, rolled off the assembly line at BMW Group Plant Berlin.