What Do the Letters in BMW Stand For?

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Q: What does BMW stand for?

A: BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, or, translated into English, Bavarian Motor Works. If you’re a little rusty on world geography, Bavaria is a southern state in Germany where BMW originally started making airplane engines around 1917. The current BMW group is composed of BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, with its headquarters in Bavaria’s capital, Munich.

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If Bavarian Motor Works is too formal for your taste, the German automaker’s luxury models are colloquially known by the nickname Bimmer, while the company also fancies itself “the ultimate driving machine” — at least according to its long-running advertising campaign in the United States.

From the company’s official bio: “BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; Designworks, a strategic design consultancy based in California; technology offices in Silicon Valley, Chicago and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 and X4 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 344 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 153 BMW motorcycle retailers, 127 MINI passenger car dealers, and 36 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.”

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For more Q-and-A content, check out’s Asked and Answered section, where you’ll find the answers to other questions you may have been afraid to ask, such as “What do the numbers and letters mean on an automatic transmission shifter?” or “What are the pros and cons of leather and leatherette?” or “What does MSRP mean?” And for more BMW info, of course, go to our BMW news section here.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Managing Editor Joe Bruzek’s 22 years of automotive experience doesn’t count the lifelong obsession that started as a kid admiring his dad’s 1964 Chevrolet Corvette — and continues to this day. Joe’s been an automotive journalist with for 16 years, writing shopper-focused car reviews, news and research content. As Managing Editor, one of his favorite areas of focus is helping shoppers understand electric cars and how to determine whether going electric is right for them. In his free time, Joe maintains a love-hate relationship with his 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am that he wishes would fix itself. LinkedIn: Email Joe Bruzek

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