Facts about BMW Cars

March 18, 2013

Learn where BMW cars are built, where the BMW logo comes from, and tips for buying a BMW import.

Many BMW Cars Are Built in Germany

When considering where BMW cars are manufactured, one must look at a specific model to determine in which BMW factory it was produced. BMW has long been one of the world's most high-profile luxury brands, but the company was actually founded in 1916 as an airplane engine manufacturer (this is where the BMW logo originated, representing white airplane propellers spinning in a blue sky). After World War I, BMW began manufacturing motorcycles and, subsequently, automobiles. Presently, BMW manufacturers a variety of motorcycles, cars, and SUVs. Both under the BMW moniker as well as under the MINI and Rolls-Royce brands.

BMW plants exist all over the world. In fact, BMW's website indicates they have 24 manufacturing facilities in 13 countries. For example, BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, their only one in the United States, currently manufactures the BMW X5 and X6 SUVs, as well as the BMW Z4 roadster. BMW's most popular vehicle, the 3 Series, is produced at a few different facilities, including ones in Munich, Germany and Rosslyn, South Africa.

BMW's largest manufacturing facility is located in Dingolfing, which is a city in Southern Bavaria, Germany. This plant produces the 5, 6, and 7 Series cars, as well as the high-performance M5 and M6. In addition to producing cars, the Dingolfing plant also creates chassis components and systems for every other BMW factory.

A unique feature about BMW's plants is that they were all built with manufacturing flexibility. Basically, BMW can switch where each vehicle is manufactured based on factors such as market demand and manufacturing cost. This allows BMW to take advantage of market conditions to produce their vehicles as efficiently as possible and deliver them to consumers in a timely manner.

More information about all of BMW's manufacturing facilities can be found on the BMW website.

Where the BMW Logo Came From

The BMW cars' logo is relatively simple. It is a circle with four quadrants, alternating blue and white in color. It sits inside a thick, black ring, which holds the letters B, M and W. Surrounding the whole thing is a tiny ring of silver. However, the story behind this uncomplicated circular logo is anything but simple. In fact, since the time that logos were invented, there have been few which have been shrouded in as much mystery as this one. No one knows for certain where it came from or what it stands for, although there are basically two schools of thought on the matter. Part of this confusion stems from the fact that the company itself has offered different explanations at different times.

In 1942, 25 years after the BMW logo was created, Wilhelm Farrenkopf wrote an article in BMW's company journal attempting to shed some light on its origins. He stated that the logo was supposed to look like an airplane propeller spinning against a blue sky. According to his story, the emblem stemmed from an engineer watching the testing of an engine he had created and imagining BMW inscribed in the circle made by the spinning propellers. Since Farrenkopf was BMW's press and advertising director when he wrote that story, a lot of people accept it without question. However, there are a few glaring discrepancies which greatly reduce its credibility. For example, BMW's first engine was not tested until 6 months after the creation of the logo. In addition, the aircraft in the story had an engine that was 320 bhp, which was not created by BMW until almost ten years later. Finally, even Farrenkopf admitted that the story was only the "logical" explanation for the origins of the logo, not his personal experience.

Later, a spokesperson for the BMW Company refuted this claim. Other people began to theorize that the blue and white colors of the logo represented the national flag of Bavaria, where the company originated. Although Farrenkopf called this simply a "happy coincidence," many experts feel that is highly unlikely. The Bavarian flag is covered with blue and white squares in a checkered pattern, similar to the four squares in the BMW logo. It is not identical, but then again it was against the law for it to be so. The Trademark Act had a clause prohibiting companies from using any sort of a national symbol in their trademarks. The blue and white quadrant may have been as close as the company could come without violating that law.

Most people feel that the second explanation for the origins of the BMW logo is the most logical. However, people continue to recount and believe in the first one. In addition, the possibility remains that neither one is completely correct. Because of these details, the mystery of the logo lingers. And whatever the company's intentions were in being so vague, the fact is that the mystery has served to make them even more popular and their logo even more recognizable.

4 Tips for Buying a BMW Import

If you would like to buy from the lot of BMW cars and import it from Germany, you should be aware of the laws and rules that govern importing foreign market cars into the United States. While BMW produces versions of popular models for sale in the US, many models produced for other markets may need to be modified in order to be driven on US roads and highways. So, whether you are looking to buy a BMW M3 import car or a BMW X5 Series import vehicle, here are some tips that will make the task a little easier.

Have Vehicle Inspected before Buying
If you plan to import a BMW vehicle, it is a good idea to have the vehicle inspected before having it shipped to the United States. You should not only have the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic to ensure the vehicle is in good running condition, but you should also have the vehicle inspected so it meets American standards for emissions and safety requirements.

Some BMW cars manufactured for sale outside the United States are not produced with Environmental Protection Agency or other US Government agency regulations in mind. Although some BMWs produced for sale in Europe may offer better performance and more horsepower, the same vehicles may not be able to pass a smog or emissions test in California. So, always make sure that the vehicle will pass an emissions test so you can drive it in the US.

Check Import Duties and Taxes
BMWs are expensive vehicles, and unless you are eligible for a tax free import of the car, you'll be required to pay duties and taxes when the vehicle arrives in the United States. The duty on most makes and models of imported vehicles is about 2.5%. However, you should always check with the Bureau of Customs. Always budget for the duties or taxes on an imported BMW, as you don't want the Bureau of Customs to seize the vehicle or possibly make you export the vehicle back to its country of origin.

Make Sure Undercarriage is Cleaned before Arrival
One of the biggest reasons imported vehicles are denied entry into the United States is the failure to have the undercarriage of the vehicle cleaned before it arrives. This is applicable to BMW cars as well. The United States Department of Agriculture requires that all vehicles imported into United States have the undercarriage of the car thoroughly cleaned to avoid bringing dirt, soil or other contaminants into the country.

If you check with local authorities where you purchase your BMW, you should be able to find a company that can provide the service for you. Get a receipt or invoice for the undercarriage cleaning, as you will need this before you can claim your vehicle.

Consider Using a Freight Forwarding Agent
Instead of handling all the documentation and preparation needed to import a BMW yourself, consider using a freight forwarding agent. Forwarding agents are experienced at preparing all the necessary paperwork needed to retrieve your BMW once it reaches its destination port in America. A forwarding agent will usually charge several hundred dollars (plus transport costs if applicable). However, you may find the service they provide is well worth the money you spend. Forwarding agents can even arrange for truck delivery of your BMW to your location. Find forwarding agents on the Internet with your favorite search engine.

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