Without much of an introduction, here is a comprehensive press release from BMW around the anniversary of 25 years of  Technik GmbH. At the end of this short intro, there is the full press release for download, along with 100 photos.

Innovative force entails future capability. The BMW Group owes its status as the world’s most successful manufacturer of premium automobiles to an outstanding development concept in all areas relevant to driving pleasure, sustainability and safety. The principles of this pre-eminence have been forged over the last quarter of a century in BMW (Forschung und) Technik GmbH. The researchers operating within the framework of this think tank develop technologies and concepts for individual mobility in tomorrow’s world. The subsidiary was created 25 years ago as BMW Technik GmbH. With this company the BMW Group has a centre of competence that is unique throughout the world. It safeguards and expands technology leadership for BMW by providing a constant stream of innovations.

This groundwork is carried out autonomously, but it is by no means uncoupled from the development of series vehicles. The experts working in BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH enjoy a high degree of creative freedom that allows them to take innovative approaches and look for unconventional solutions. They make use of diverse sources of inspiration which can range from bionics to space engineering, and they develop perspectives on the future that extend far beyond the life cycle of a vehicle model. “Our project-related research is not linked to the current product range, although we naturally have the objective of consistently optimising the characteristic features of vehicles coming from the BMW Group and transferring our projects and ideas to series development,” explains Professor Raymond Freymann, Managing Director of BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH.

The concept of cooperative research also ensures that the departments responsible for subsequent series development can be integrated within the relevant project at an early stage. This approach guarantees that operations for realisation are already being monitored during the research phase. The initiators of an innovation also support their project after it has been transferred to the pre-production and series development phase. They then move with their project to the series development department at BMW AG. This provides safeguards for ensuring that information is not lost at interfaces, and it promotes a dynamic exchange of ideas on a personal level between research and series development. This strategy facilitates a strategic and efficient use of the innovative force pooled within BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH.

Competence centre in Munich and international network.
The subsidiary company was founded as BMW Technik GmbH in 1985. The main focus of activities in the early years was defined as the development and construction of concept vehicles. The minutes of the Executive Board meeting in January 1985 clearly set out the mission of the fledgling company: “The recently founded company BMW Technik GmbH has the mission to develop innovative, future-oriented and original overall vehicle concepts and sub-concepts away from the constraints of a specific series workflow schedule. However, the objective should always be to develop solutions that have the potential for series development.” The initial aim was to work on projects under the working title “Auto 2000” and “Local Vehicle”.

When the company was rebranded in 2003 as BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH to reflect both research and technology, the focus was shifted to developing technology that encompassed all types of BMW vehicle. The workforce currently has a headcount of around 200 at the Munich site, and BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH has extensive expertise in the areas of vehicle engineering, hydrogen technologies, alternative drive and energy management concepts, active safety and driver assistance systems, as well as information and communication technologies in the vehicle. The research and technology centre also maintains centres in the USA: the Technology Office Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, California, and the Liaison Office Clemson, South Carolina. They enjoy a close relationship with universities such as Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as research institutes and high-tech companies in other sectors. The aim is to harness innovative trends and technologies for deployment in the automobile sector.

There is also an extensive exchange of ideas with universities and research institutes at German and European level. Participation in the Eurécom European communication network – based at the Sophia Antipolis high-tech centre in southern France – ensures that the research subsidiary of the BMW Group has access to leading-edge information and telecommunication technologies. In addition, BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH has a base at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence and drives forward the automation of intelligent behaviour and hence the “Automobile of the Future”. The Munich Center of Automotive Research (CAR@TUM) established as a joint venture with Munich Technical University gives the subsidiary of the BMW Group permanent access to high-flying young academics with great potential for the future and it also ensures access to important results derived from ground-breaking scientific research.

BMW Forschung und Technik GmbH also works on state-financed research projects at national and international level together with other automobile manufacturers and suppliers in order to create industry-wide standards, ultimately for the benefit of all customers. One of the latest examples of this work are the field trials for vehicle-to-vehicle communication in the project entitled “Safe mobility – Test bed Germany”, abbreviated to simTD.

Full Press Release in PDF