A car enthusiast might have a lot to say about a certain manufacturer called the Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known as BMW. For decades now, this company has produced some of the most amazing vehicles to grace the asphalt worldwide. Even today, they manage to sell over 2 million units per year, making them one of the top 20 most profitable car manufacturers in 2020. And considering how massive that output is, it’s no wonder that the parent company, BMW Group, owns a few other brands as well.
But which cars does the group own? And how did it acquire them, anyway? To answer those and other questions, I decided to write up an article on the brands that belong to this Munich-based business.
Why Do Some Car Brands Own Others?
Indeed, some of us car enthusiasts will look at automobiles as works of art and their brands as institutions. To us, the very name sells the car, since it’s that same name that has manufactured some of our favorite “rides”. In other words, it’s not the specifics or the mechanical makeup of a BMW that make it appealing to us. No, it’s the very idea of BMW that we find attractive and worth our money.
But let’s be realistic. Car manufacturing is a business, first and foremost. And as any other business out there, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Though we might feel sad that Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Mercury no longer exist, we know that any brand can fail or go defunct at some point.
So, what happens to brands that do survive? Well, more often than not, a different manufacturer buys off shares of the dying brand and becomes the new owner. None of that is new when it comes to business; after all, do the words “Ericsson” and “Sony Ericsson” ring a bell? And yes, I did use two cellphone companies as an example, since this practice applies almost everywhere.
Now, when it comes to cars, the whole “who owns who” thing can sound extremely confusing, to say the least. Companies will buy, sell, share, cooperate with or disassociate from a brand over and over again. Sometimes, you might hear about that big merger, other times it’ll be a product discontinuation. And the two brands that competed with each other can become a single company overnight.
In short, the list of brands and their owners is large and complicated. Luckily, the structure of the BMW Group is quite simple. So let’s dive into it and see all the brands that BMW owns.
List of Brands That the BMW Group Owns
I can tell that some of you are surprised to read this subheading. Moreover, the question you have in mind is actually more common than you think. “Wait a minute. Isn’t the Mini supposed to be a British car?”
Interestingly, the BMW Group acquired the Mini as far back as 1994. Since then, they have produced millions of units and sold them worldwide. However, the Group was wise enough to keep the name and identity of the brand.
Prior to BMW, Mini was owned by the Rover Group, a subsidiary of the British Aerospace of BAe. The Bavarian conglomerate actually bought 80% of Rover Group’s shares; Honda, the other major shareholder, sold off their 20% of shares to BMW soon after. This move by BMW and BAe was so controversial that even the House of Commons reacted.
But the controversy didn’t end with the sale. After BMW’s takeover of the Rover Group, the company failed to make a profit. As a result, they split the Rover Group subsidiaries apart and sold them off to different manufacturers. Rover and MG sections became the property of Phoenix Consortium and Ford acquired the Land Rover model; Mini was the only asset that the BMW group kept, and almost immediately they began to produce new models and the sales steadily rose.
At the moment, the main assembly line of Mini vehicles is in Plant Oxford in Cowley, England. Other assembly lines are located in the Netherlands and Austria.
Once again, we have a car brand that looks, sounds, runs, and feels British, mainly because it was. Rolls Royce vehicles are known for their luxurious appearance, style, and performance. Amusingly, they are almost the polar opposite of Minis; a typical Mini is short and stout, whereas a Rolls Royce is renowned for its length and its sleek appearance.
The BMW Group acquired the RR in 1998, four years after their purchase of the Rover Group. Interestingly, the current manufacturer, Rolls Royce Motor Cars, has nothing to do with the original brand that had existed from 1906 to 2003. In fact, the true successor to the original RR is Bentley Motors Ltd., a company that Volkswagen owns.
Speaking of Volkswagen, I should note that the sale of RR, just like the sale of Mini, came with its own controversy. BMW was already providing the brand with engines and other car components. However, VW’s final bid was £430 million, much higher than BMW’s.
Bizarrely, RR decided to license their name and logo to BMW despite the sale to VW, which was going through financial problems. The two German manufacturers entered negotiations and managed to reach an agreement. As of 2003, RR was officially a part of BMW while VW kept the Bentley brand.
The Motorrad is the only motorcycling subsidiary of BMW. Since 1923, it has produced a vast number of motorcycles, reaching a total of 2.000.000 models in 2011. The early 2010s were successful for the Motorrad since it managed to reach record sales five times in a row. In 2015 alone, this manufacturer sold 136,963 units and registered a 10.9% sales increase.
At the moment, Motorrad makes most of its motorcycles in Berlin, Germany. In fact, only the G310 models are assembled in India. A few of the engines and other components are manufactured in China, Taiwan, and Austria.
the BMW Itself
The Mini and the Rolls Royce are fantastic cars, there’s no doubt about it. However, I have always been a fan of the regular BMW series. In fact, I would happily recommend buying a used BMW if you have the chance. It’s an investment that’s worth every penny.
It’s early 2020 and BMW has remained one of the top automobile brands globally. It produces complete cars in eight different countries, including its native Germany. In addition, it makes CKD components in Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, Thailand, India, and Malaysia.
A Few Words at the End
When you compare them to other major manufacturers, the BMW doesn’t own a lot of other brands. However, they continue to invest a lot of resources and energy into maintaining what they have. Fans of the Mini and the RR can’t get enough of the new units and the sales continue rising. In my opinion, BMW doesn’t need any other brand, but if they bought one they would definitely work hard on improving it.
What are your thoughts on BMW and its subsidiaries? Do let me know in the comments.