BMW etymology: What does its name mean?

BMW is now established as one of the world’s most popular luxury automotive brands, but what do the letters in its name mean?

The letters BMW stand for Bayerische Motoren Werken or, for those of you whose German isn’t so great, Bavarian Motor Factory.

Pronounced beh-em-veh in German, BMW is headquartered in Munich, the capital of the German state of Bavaria.

The company started life in 1913 as the Rapp Motorenwerke and specialised in producing aircraft engines. The name was changed in 1917 to BMW, and under the terms of the Versailles Treaty that ended World War I, the company was forced to exit aircraft industry.

This forced the company to pivot into motorcycle manufacture and, later, automobiles.