A review of seven decades BMW Berlin Plant.
BMW motorcycle and Berlin are inseparable.
The first BMW motorcycle, the R 32, was presented on 28 September at the German Car Show in Berlin. The traverse twin-flat engine (about 8.5 horsepower) and shaft drive is an ingenuous drive concept which has been proving itself ever since. The former BMW chief designer Max Friz designed the R 32 in record time and laid the foundation for the BMW motorcycle success story.
Several years passed before the production of motorcycles Berlin began.
The BMW AG merged with Brandenburgische Motorenwerken (Bramo), including the Spandau plant. This fusion allowed BMW to take over the leading position in Germany as producer of air-cooled aircraft engines.
Until the end of the war, airplane engines for commercial and military aviation are built in the red brick halls at Juliusturm - producing, among other power units, the up to 1,000 horsepower strong 9 cylinder radial engines for the legendary JU 52. At the end of the 1930s, this plane flew in the aircraft fleets of more than 40 states. BMW airplane engines from Munich and Berlin established countless records of altitude and long distance.
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 and partly transported abroad.
But the will for reconstruction is immense. In May1945 about 100 employees are back at work, producing basic commodities like sickles and scythes.
The economy starts to grow again after the currency reform. A tool and machine production is established at the BMW Berlin Plant which supplies – among others - the main plant in Munich. The development and production of BMW motorcycles is resumed in Munich.
The production of motorcycle parts in Berlin starts in 1949, marking the first relocation step from river Isar to river Spree.
The growing demand for cars leads to a capacity shortage in the BMW Munich Plant. The relocation of the motorcycle production from Munich to Berlin is impelled. The commissioning of the motorcycle frame production marks the first establishment of a core technology. At the same time the production of BMW car parts starts in Spandau.
The first BMW motorcycle built in Berlin - a BMW R 60/2 with swinging fork chassis – comes off the newly build assembly line on 6 September. The engines are still delivered from the engine production in Munich.
The air-cooled boxer engine with 20 horsepower and 594 cc accelerates the 200 kilo motorcycle to a maximum speed of almost 150 km/h. Back then, the motorcycle costs 3,315 DM.
The engine manufacturing starts in Berlin and the relocation of the motorcycle production is completed. The development, however, remains in Munich.
The newly developed 5 Series is a new product rollout of BMW motorcycle. The new models are characterized by a light double cradle with rear swinging fork and telescopic fork in front. The champion is the 50 horse power strong BMW R 75/5.
About 400 qualified employees produce 30 motorcycles a day entirely by hand.
In 1970 the 10,000th BMW motorcycle is built in Berlin and 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 reworked 6 Series goes into production. In addition, the new top model BMW R 90 S with dual discs in front, 5 speed transmission and cockpit fairing is launched. The 898 cc capacity is responsible for the boxer engines 67 horsepower, making it the strongest BMW motorcycle so far. The maximum speed of the sporty motorbike is 200 km/h.
Another reason to celebrate: The 100.000th motorcycle, a BMW R 90 S, is built in Berlin on 29 January.
The demand is unwavering and the production capacities reach its limits. BMW invests about 200 million DM for a new assembly hall. The capacity is raised to 60,000 units per year. The former Federal President Walter Scheel is present at the laying of the foundation stone.
Break discs for BMW cars are manufactured at the component production of the BMW Berlin Plant. The range of products is completed in the following years, for example with the production of camshafts.
BMW motorcycle introduces the first BMW R 80 G/S (50 HP) and with it a new market segment. The concept of the off road Enduro has been a success ever since. 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 motorcycle built in series with swing arm and suspension strut for rear-wheel guide. The GS racing version is extremely successful in off-road races, winning the Rally Paris-Dakar between 1981 and 1985 among others.
The BMW Plant in Spandau gets ready for the expansion of the product range with the new K Series. The K 100 is the first BMW motorcycle equipped with a four cylinder engine, setting standards with electric ignition and fuel injection. The K 75 with a tree cylinder in-line engine completes the K Series in 1985.
The BMW Group invests approximately 500 million DM for the second series, building a completely new assembly hall and systems and a highly automated production line for engine components. Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl opens the new plant.
K 100 RS and K 100 LT are the world’s first mass produced motorcycles with ABS. At first this milestone for active security of motorcycles is special equipment, today it is standard for many BMW motorcycles.
The prestigious BMW K 1 is the first BMW motorcycle with four-valve technology, digital engine electronics, paralever rear swinging fork and a revolutionary design. It is highly popular with all motorcycle fans.
The 1,000,000th BMW motorcycle in the company history rolls of the production lines in Berlin on 18 March. BMW is the first manufacturer offering a regulated catalytic converter for efficient emission control for the K 100 Series. Disarrayed catalysts are available for the three cylinder models (BMW K 75) in the same year.
The boxer engine celebrates its 70th birthday! On this occasion BMW presents the new generation of boxer engines with four valves. The 90 horse power 1.1 Litre engine is first used in the BMW R 1100 RS. It is the first mass produced motorcycle with Telelever front wheel guide and it starts a new era of suspension technology.
The R 1100 GS is available with the new boxer engine in 1994.
The assembly and mechanical production are modernized and enlarged again with the introduction of the new generation of boxer engines.
The era of the two-valve boxer ends after 73 extremely successful years. At the end of the year, the last BMW motorcycle with two-valve boxer, a BMW R 80 GS, rolls of the production lines.
The brand new BMW K 1200 RS has 130 horsepower and is the most powerful BMW motorcycle at that time.
The third series is introduced 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, BMW invests 280 million Euros for a new assembly hall, an automated Paintshop and new facilities for the mechanical production – a clear commitment to the production site Berlin-Spandau.
The building measures are challenging, but the state-of-the-art production is successfully integrated into the protected historical structure.
The one millionth BMW motorcycle made in Berlin since 1967 rolls off the production line at Juliusturm, depicting a new highlight of the success story. The extravagantly painted BMW R 1150 RT is auctioned off in the internet for UNICEF.
The two valve boxer has the lion’s share in the engine range with 512,644 units built since 1967.
The permanently extended range of products raises the demand for BMW motorcycles. BMW motorcycle reacts with a constant enlargement of production facilities. In February 2002, the new assembly hall 7 is opened. Its c-hook system is unique in the motorcycle industry in the world. State-of-the-art machining centres and production facilities in mechanical production are further guarantees for premium quality made in Berlin.
One year later the new building for engine production goes into operation. The new Paintshop opens in 2004. The BMW Berlin Plant is the most modern motorcycle plant in the world.
A production record is achieved: More than 100,000 BMW motorcycles are built in one year, clearly showing the high demand and the reputation BMW motorcycles have established around the world.
The time has come for the fourth series: In 2006 the BMW F 800 S rolls off the production lines, the first motorcycle with a water-cooled two-cylinder in-line engine. Another feature: The drive to the rear wheel is derived from a belt drive.
On 12 May a BMW R 1200 GS, the 500,000 BMW named „GS“ rolls off the production line. The production of the new BMW S 1000 RR – BMW’s super sport - starts in the same year. The response is overwhelming and sales figures top all expectations. More than 10,000 units are sold during the first year.
A new chapter in the history of the plant begins with the construction of an additional, ultra-modern assembly line for the engine assembly. It is the cornerstone for the production of the first BMW six cylinder models, BMW K 1600 GT and BMW K 1600 GTL.
An eventful year.
The two millionth motorcycle rolls off the production lines after 42 years of production. The R 1200 GS with special lacquering is raffled during the campaign “beBerlin” in June as first prize.
On November 30 the BMW Motorcycle Plant Berlin receives the Ludwig-Erhard-Preis, the highest national award for corporate quality.
December 1 is a historic day. The associates in Spandau celebrate the start of production for the Maxi-Scooter BMW C 600 Sport and BMW C 650 GT. These models extend BMW`s product range in the Urban Mobility sector.
For the first time more than 110,000 motorcycles are produced in one year at the BMW Berlin plant, including the new BMW R 1200 GS. The fifth generation of this legendary model goes into serial production more than three decades after the first GS was presented. Its core is the air/liquid-cooled four stroke flat twin engine.
In addition, the BMW Berlin plant extends its base to 220,000 sqm by acquiring an adjacent area. This strategic expansion guarantees a long-term growth and is a clear commitment to Berlin as production site.
The BMW Berlin plant celebrates 90 years of BMW Motorcycle and starts the anniversary with the series production of the BMW R nineT. The purist Roadster combines the genes of nine decades of company history and meets the special demands of all customizing fans.
In addition, the BMW eLounge, an exhibition and experience centre for BMW´s electric mobility, is opened. The exhibition provides insight into the production process and the fascinating technology of the BMW C evolution, the first solely electric powered Scooter made by BMW.
The serial production of the electric scooter BMW C evolution marks the beginning of the era of electric mobility in Berlin. In addition, the 500,000th BMW motorcycle of the GS Series, a R 1200 GS with four stroke flat twin engine is produced.
Click here for more information on the history of BMW and the BMW Berlin Plant www.bmw-grouparchiv.de.