The Automobilwerk Eisenach (AWE) in Eisenach, Germany, was founded in 1886 by Heinrich Ehrhardt. At first the company produced bicycles and guns, but after two years the first automobile, a Wartburg (licensed model of the French Decauville), was manufactured. AWE was the third German company to produce cars and was one of the largest employers in Thuringia.
In 1903 the production of Decauvilles stopped and the Ehrhardt family withdrew from management. The factory began building under a new name, Dixi (Latin for "I have spoken"). The top model, the U35, was introduced in 1907 and was soon recognized for its reliability and performance. During World War I the company produced trucks and guns. In 1919, car production resumed, but economic hardship forced a merger with Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG. The company now focused on small cars. In 1927 Dixi produced the DA-1 3/15, a license version of the British Austin 7.
In November 1928 BMW acquired AWE and production of the Dixi's ended. The Eisenach factory became the birthplace of BMW. By 1931, 25000 cars had been produced in series. In 1933 BMW started to develop bigger cars with 6-cylinder engines. The first car of which was the BMW 303. Later successors were the 315, 319, 327 and the elegant sports coupe BMW 328. In 1942 regular automobile production stopped because of World War II. The BMW factory in Eisenach started to manufacture motorcycles for the Wehrmacht as well as aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe. By the end of the war about 60% of the factory was destroyed.
After the American Army handed Thuringia over to the Soviets, the factory became a Soviet Stock company. Production restarted with the BMW 321, of which almost 4,000 were made between late 1945 and 1950. In 1949 the Eisenach works re-launched the pre-war BMW 340 and BMW 327.In 1952 the ownership of the works were transferred to the East German government and the company was renamed EMW (Eisenacher Motorenwerk). Productions of the 327 ceased in 1955, in total 505 BMW-EMW 327s were built.
The German reunification of October 1990 meant the end for AWE, as it could not compete with modern methods of production, the factory closed in April 1991.
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