BMW TIMELINE

BMW vehicles first sold in the United States.

Sales of BMW vehicles began in America as far back as 1956, when storied automotive importer Max Hoffman added BMW to his portfolio of imported European brands and established a dealer network in the United States.

1956

BMW 2002 reviewed by Car & Driver Magazine.

Highly-respected automotive journalist David E. Davis’ landmark review of the BMW 2002 appears in the April 1968 issue of Car & Driver. Davis’ overwhelmingly positive review urged readers to “turn your hymnals to Number 2002” and praised the new BMW 2002 for its driving dynamics, comfort and quality, helping to establish the BMW brand’s reputation with U.S. consumers.

1968

BMW of North America is established.

BMW opened a U.S. headquarters in 1975, originally in Montvale, New Jersey.

1975

Ultimate Driving Machine slogan introduced in the U.S.

The now-famous slogan was developed by New York City ad agency Ammirati & Puris under BMW Marketing head Bob Lutz.

1975

BMW establishes Motorsport presence in U.S. with 3.0 CSL.

BMW sent a clear signal to the automotive world in the U.S. with the 3.0 CSL racecar's win at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. This 1975 win set the tone that BMW was a performance brand with true motorsport heritage, and that heritage was coming to the U.S. market.

1975

The First-Ever BMW 3 Series Launches to U.S. Acclaim.

The first iteration of the legendary BMW 3 Series, the E21 generation, launched in 1977 for the U.S. market to replace the much-loved 2002. The 3 Series was met with similar fanfare, praised for its impressive dynamics and practical packaging. The 3 Series has since become one of the most iconic BMW models on U.S. roads.

1977

BMW introduces groundbreaking E32 7 Series in the U.S.

1987, already a banner year for BMW vehicles, brought new technology and innovation to the very top of BMW's range. The E32 generation 7 Series, BMW's flagship sedan, introduced a number of firsts for both BMW and the industry as a whole like ABS and traction control. Power was also on tap in the form of an available V12 engine.

1987

BMW launches first-ever M3, the iconic E30.

BMW added to its performance-oriented M brand portfolio in 1987 with the first-ever BMW M3. The E30 generation quickly became an icon in BMW's lineup and has since amassed a cult following in the U.S. and abroad.

1987

BMW introduces third-generation 5 Series, continuing innovation.

BMW launched the third-generation E34 5 Series in 1988, following the introduction of the technology-laden E32 7 Series. The E34 5 Series brought this technology to a wider market, making many of BMW's innovations available in the midsize class for the first time.

1988

BMW commits to first full production facility outside of Germany in Spartanburg, S.C.

BMW Chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim officially announces the company would build its first full production factory outside of Germany in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. At that time, the company pledged to invest $600 million, to employ 2,000 associates by the year 2000, and attract at least nine suppliers to the state.

1992

BMW Financial Services established in the United States.

BMW established a dedicated Financial Services arm in the United States in 1994, bringing a robust portfolio of finance products to U.S. BMW drivers. This included lease, finance and even credit card products, and the Financial Services division has since grown into a pillar of the modern U.S. business.

1994

BMW Plant Spartanburg Begins Production.

Plant Spartanburg officially began vehicle production on September 8, 1994: the first U.S. built BMW – a white 318i sedan – rolled off the line.

1994

Designworks joins the BMW Group.

Designworks is a full-fledged design studio that formally joined the BMW Group in 1994. Located just outside of Los Angeles, Designworks is responsible for several iconic BMW models over the years, and also provides design services to numerous external clients in different industries beyond automotive.

1994

BMW introduces the X5, its first ever Sports Activity Vehicle.

The X5 was the first in BMW’s now-iconic line of SAVs, debuting to the world what BMW’s idea of a sports utility vehicle was. With BMW-like driving dynamics and the space of a traditional body-on-frame SUV, the X5 reinvented the way people thought about SUVs.

1999

BMW introduces BMW Films.

BMW introduces BMW Films, a revolutionary series of branded content starring Clive Owen. As one of the first-ever online branded content series, BMW Films was hailed by critics across the country as "groundbreaking," with a "cinema connoisseur's dream team of directors." The Hire Internet film series received international acclaim when it premiered in 2001 with original short films directed by five of Hollywood's most noted directors.

2001

BMW Group globally re-launches the MINI brand with the U.S. as a primary focus market.

BMW Group reinvigorated the storied MINI brand for the modern world, launching the first BMW-designed MINI Cooper in 2002. The MINI brand has grown into a major portfolio within the BMW Group in the years since, with millions of MINIs sold.

2002

BMW Group globally relaunches Rolls-Royce Motorcars.

BMW Group relaunched the historic luxury marque Rolls-Royce Motorcars in 2003 with the Phantom VII, a completely new product that evoked Rolls-Royce’s iconic Phantoms of the past. The Phantom was received with near-universal acclaim and represented a new tier of ultra-luxury vehicle segment for the BMW Group.

2003

One-millionth U.S.-built BMW produced at Plant Spartanburg.

The one-millionth U.S.-built BMW was produced at Plant Spartanburg in Month 2006. The vehicle, a Z4 M Roadster, marked a major production milestone in the U.S. for BMW and helped further cement it as BMW’s second home.

2006

BMW opens Technology Office in Mountain View, CA.

BMW opened the Mountain View Technology Office in 2008, marking a clear determination to maintain its status as a leader in technology and innovation. With proximity to some of the world's foremost tech companies, the Technology Office continues to bring the future of BMW Group within reach.

2008

BMW’s in-house venture capital fund, BMW i Ventures, launches.

BMW i Ventures is BMW's EUR 500 Million venture capital fund, investing money and resources in startups in the fields of autonomous driving, future mobility and production, mobility and data services. The company currently holds stakes in more than 40 companies, the majority of which are in the United States.

2011

Two-millionth U.S.-built BMW produced at Plant Spartanburg.

The two-million mark for production is reached in less than half the time of the one-million mark, representing the expanding commitment that BMW was making in the United States. The two-millionth U.S.-built vehicle was a 2012 X3 xDrive35i, pictured above.

2012

BMW launches the battery electric i3 city car.

BMW’s first-ever mass market battery electric vehicle (BEV), the i3, launched in 2013. The i3 was not only powered by electricity, but employed various future lightweight materials in its body like carbon fiber – which just happened to be made by a joint venture facility owned by SGL and BMW Group right here in the United States.

2013

BMW launches the i8 hybrid electric sportscar, expanding the BMWi portfolio.

Following the debut of the i3, BMW combined its driver’s car roots and the innovative i formula to produce the i8. Hailed for its stunning design and impressive performance, the i8 marked BMW’s return to high-end sports coupes in a totally new way.

2014

BMW becomes the largest automotive exporter in the U.S. by value.

2014 marked a major trade milestone for BMW Group in the United States. Thanks to its massive production facility in Spartanburg, S.C., BMW became the largest automotive exporter by value - a result of Plant Spartanburg being the global center of competence for the brand's X sports activity vehicles. The X models are shipped from the U.S. to the entire world, and BMW has maintained this status every year since.

2014

BMW celebrates 40 years of operation in the United States.

In 2015, the BMW Group reached 40 years of operation in the United States, growing from a local headquarters office in New Jersey to a multifaceted group of business units and brands that represent the second biggest market globally for BMW.

2015

Three-millionth U.S.-built BMW produced at Plant Spartanburg.

The three millionth BMW, an X5 M, was produced.

2015

Four-millionth U.S.-built BMW produced at Plant Spartanburg.

The four millionth BMW, an X3 xDrive M40i, was produced.

2017

BMW Manufacturing’s impact on the U.S. economy highlighted in study.

The University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of business released a study on South Carolina-based businesses’ impact on the U.S. economy, estimating that BMW generated a $38.5 Billion contribution through its Spartanburg plant and associated suppliers, logistics and so on.

2018

BMW expands its MSTEP training program with on-site training facility at U.S. Marine Corp. Camp Pendleton.

Further solidifying its commitment to training in the United States, BMW opened an automotive technician training center on-site at the U.S. Marines’ Camp Pendleton base. The center provides a path to the workforce for many former marines.

2018
  • Plant Spartanburg X7

Market launch of the U.S.-built BMW X7, the largest BMW SAV ever made.

In 2019, BMW celebrated the market launch of the U.S. built, first-ever X7 Sports Activity Vehicle. Proudly made at BMW’s Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina, the X7 marked BMW’s formal entry into the highly competitive three-row luxury SUV segment. The X7, garnering near-universal acclaim, is available with multiple powertrains, a wide array of luxurious exterior/interior appointments, and the latest in infotainment and driver assistance technologies.

2019

BMW celebrates 5 millionth vehicle built in the United States.

2020, a year of global challenge and uncertainty, did bring a milestone to celebrate for the BMW Group - the 5-millionth U.S.-built BMW rolled off the line at Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina. The vehicle, a Toronto Red Metallic X5 M Competition, perfectly embodied the sheer strength of BMW's U.S. operations.

2020

1956