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BMW: A Driving Obsession

About the Show

CNBC goes inside one of the most successfully managed brands and companies in the world — BMW. Its familiar blue and white logo stands as the symbol of prestigious, high-performance, luxury cars. A one-time aircraft engine manufacturer that eventually moved to motorcycles and offbeat sports sedans, BMW today commands brand recognition and respect that is the envy of the commercial world.

CNBC Correspondent Carl Quintanilla takes viewers inside BMW’s secretive Tech Center, where teams of engineers obsess over the technical and mechanical details that the company says justify its cars’ high prices. Acoustic specialists consider every sound in the car, from the exhaust note to the window motors; ergonomic engineers labor over the stunningly complex mechanical labyrinth that is a modern seat; and crash specialists deliberately wreck a parade of high-dollar vehicles to improve safety.

BMW is a company enjoying success, but also facing significant challenges. Growing environmental and political pressures are making it increasingly tough to market high-performance cars, but BMW is staking its future on its ability to build vehicles that are both sustainable and fun. BMW also faces daunting competition, not only from other German manufacturers like Audi, but also from carmakers in Japan, Korea — and soon, China.

BMW: A Driving Obsession is the fascinating story behind a once small, struggling company that transformed itself into a global luxury car powerhouse, and is now going flat out to maintain its edge.

Web Extras

  • BMW's Attention to Detail     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:03 AM ET

    The director of brand management for BMW says the company's manufacturing efforts have been known to go overboard.

  • BMW Seat Design     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:06 AM ET

    At BMW, medical knowledge is brought to bear so seats are designed with both comfort and health in mind.

  • Getting it Right at Rolls Royce     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:02 AM ET

    Every car made by Rolls Royce is tailor-made. The company tries to meet the requests of every customer no matter how unusual.

  • BMW Designs Cars for Drivers Who Love Them     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:07 AM ET

    BMW's sound designers are sometimes obsessive about their work. They argue drivers end up loving their cars because of the work designers put in.

  • BMW: Designed to Show Motion     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:01 AM ET

    BMW lead designer Adrian van Hooydonk says BMWs are designed to look like they're moving even when they're standing still.

  • Destroying Cars to Perfection     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:04 AM ET

    BMW crash tests every model to make sure they're safe.

  • BMW Acoustic Design     Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 5:05 AM ET

    The BMW Group has a team of sound designers who make sure that what drivers hear is suited to the car they're driving.

  • Car Collector Extraordinaire     Tuesday, 12 Jul 2011 | 5:00 AM ET

    Michael Fux of New Jersey is striving to have the best modern, high performance car collection in the world. The foam mattress king takes us on a tour of one of his many garages. He owns six Rolls Royce's and tells us why it is one of his favorites.

  • BMW Art Cars Friday, 8 Jul 2011 | 3:25 PM ET
    When race car driver and auctioneer Herve Poulain asked his friend, artist Alexander Calder, to paint the BMW 3.0 CLS that he would race in the 1975 Le Mans endurance race, it was the beginning of a truly gorgeous concept: the BMW Art Car Collection. The German automaker responded quickly to the enormous public enthusiasm surrounding Calder’s art-on-wheels, deciding to establish the Art Car Collection. Since then, BMW has invited varying artists to contribute their considerable talents to the co

    BMW has invited varying artists to contribute their considerable talents to the BMW Art Car Collection over the years. Click to see the artists’ touches on 17 priceless BMWs.

  • The Most Collectible BMWs Tuesday, 5 Jul 2011 | 4:05 PM ET
    Over the years, BMW has established a reputation as one of the most creative and prestigious car manufacturers in the industry, while also gaining a highly collectible brand along the way. Many of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” models have attained values seldom seen in the collectible auto world.Click ahead to see the most collectible BMWs of all time.

    Many of “The Ultimate Driving Machine” models have attained values seldom seen in the collectible auto world. See the most collectible BMWs of all time.

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  • Carl Quintanilla is an Emmy-winning reporter and co-anchor of CNBC's "Squawk on the Street," broadcast live from the NYSE.