50 years of BMW motorcycles from Berlin – with large volumes

The yellow-painted C-hooks in the BMW Motorrad factory in Berlin are well utilized: it is spring and thus high season in the production of two-wheelers. With up to 800 units built daily – motorcycles and large-scale power scooters – the factory in the district of Spandau is running at full speed. 2,100 employees work here, more than ever before. After all, the production of BMW motorcycles and scooters is also higher than it has ever been in the 50 years in which the tires of BMWs are filled with Berlin air. After eight record years in a row, the bar has been at 122,466 units since the end of December 2018, which were created here in the course of a calendar year. Including the CKD kits that were produced for the international production network of BMW Motorrad on the Spree, there were even more than 130,000 units.

The work Spandau started with a fraction of it: Whole 1.605 motorcycles were delivered in the opening year 1969. Of course, it did not start until September, with the R 60/5 model. In the last months of the year, the sportier R 75/5 and the R 50/5 followed as a reduced-capacity government model. The 400 employees working in Spandau were able to build a maximum of 30 motorcycles per day. It was the time when BMW disc brakes had not yet found its way into production and 50 hp engine power required a 750 cubic centimeter boxer engine; the R 60/5 came only to 40 hp, the Halblitermaschine, issued exclusively for the authorities business, called with 32 hp. The / 5 models were also the first BMWs, which were equipped with an electric starter in addition to the traditional Kickstarter. The engines were also new designs, in which the crankshafts were no longer roller bearings, but sliding bearings. New in 1969 was also the constant pressure carburetor, which was in the top model R 75/5: Nevertheless, their engine power was a full 17 hp below that of the then new Honda CB750.

50 years of BMW motorcycles from Berlin - with large volumes

In view of the low production figures of a maximum of 30 pieces per day, it is not surprising that 32 years had to pass from the start of production in 1969 until BMW could celebrate the one millionth motorcycle manufactured in Berlin: for the first 100,000 vehicles, currently produced in about nine months, it took six years. It was already the year 2001, when the one-million-anniversary machine, an R 1200 RT, came off the line. The next million was made in the face of the continuing boom of BMW Motorrad, already ten years later: The anniversary bike was an R 1200 GS. The twelve-hundredth Boxer GS is anyway the most-built vehicle of the Bavarian citizens of Berlin: More than 25,000 units of this type were completed in 2018, in addition to more than 18,000 of the sister model R 1200 GS Adventure; both will be replaced by the model R 1250 GS since the end of 2018. At the next places of last year’s production ranking in Berlin are the F 850 ​​GS, whose engine is built not in Berlin, but in China, with over 9,000 units, the luxury tourer R 1200 RT with just under 9,000 units and the F 750 GS over 8,600 units.

At the same time, 25 different models are being created on the five basic ribbons. So baseband 3 built the F-models of the middle class and the sports models with the four-cylinder in-line engine. The three-millionth vehicle is a superbike, the S 1000 RR, which has a 197-liter single-liter four-cylinder engine with 207 hp. There is no longer the legendary C-hook; The motorcycles under construction are being moved by driverless transport vehicles (AGVs).

Apart from the Berlin-Spandau plant, BMW motorcycles will also be assembled in Brazil, Thailand, China and India. The highest figures come exclusively from the partner TVS built in India G 310, which is currently available as a roadster and GS version. The success of this initially difficult collaboration is now the thought of whether not even a 125cc BMW could be put on the wheels; KTM has been building very successful eight-liter models for years, also in India. Further developments, however, which will appear much earlier than a possible 125cc, concern the F-series and the Boxer series: The development of a about 1.8-liter boxer engine for a new model in the cruiser and touring segment has already been confirmed. The production model, which was primarily intended for the US market, could roll off the production lines in 2020. And also the third version of the F-series after F 750 GS and F 850 ​​GS will probably be produced next year in Berlin; It follows a study called Concept 9cento and is stylistically based on the very successful S 1000 XR.

It is doubtful how long the Spree will be able to build the large-capacity scooters of the types C 650 GT and C 650 S; BMW has meanwhile decided to electrify all two-wheelers that fall into the urban category in the medium term. Therefore, the currently built in Berlin Verbrenner scooter will probably not receive any successor models. 

The goal of BMW Motorrad, formulated years ago, envisages selling 200,000 motorcycles and scooters by 2020. In 2018, for the eighth record year in a row, Bayern achieved over 165,000 units. The most important markets to Germany were France, Italy, the USA, Spain and Great Britain. These six countries absorbed around 90,000 units. Especially in the US, the largest motorcycle market in the world, BMW wants to put more focus in the future.

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