BMW aquires GLAS

On November 10th, 1966 BMW took over the control of the company GLAS.

Main building at the GLAS factory in DingolfingMain building at the GLAS factory in DingolfingWith the start of the Goggomobil production the fortune of the Hans Glas GmbH in Dingolfing were on the rise. Already with the Goggomobil scooter, the family controlled firm had found, after the War, a second source of income after to the declining demand for agricultural machinery. In 1957, with the production of approx. 43,000 Goggomobils, the firm had achieved its highest production numbers. The automotive industry was noticing the small car producer in Lower Bavaria and the politicians wanted GLAS to take over the ailing BMW AG and DKW.

These two companies were with their post-war developments in the fifties economically not very successful. But ultimately, the acquisition failed because GLAS only had limited cash resources. The substantial gross margin (in 1959 more than 170 million marks) always immediately was channeled into the development and production of new vehicles.

The slump by GLAS started in 1959, after Goggomobil production was halved to about 22,500 vehicles and the new successor model, the Isar, was launched very much to customer's dissatisfaction with significant technical problems and therefore high warranty costs.

...unsold Goggomobils...unsold GoggomobilsHans and Andreas Glas and chief engineer Dompert recognized that they needed a partner to solve the problems. Negotiations with Ford, Volkswagen and other companies came to no positive result, as for example Volkswagen wanted to change the plant into a research and development facility. Agreeing to this would remove GLAS vehicles from the market and inevitable cause mass layoffs of employees. Hans Glas always had the well being of his employees on his mind and did not want to change the fate of many Dingolfinger families by such an action.

Therefore it was decided to press on and develop an increasing range of models. But all attempts were in vain and the production figures for each model went down and the financial situation did not improve despite higher sales. Too many new models were brought to market with all the problems associated with a newly developed car.

In Munich-Milbertshofen in 1959, the BMW AG just escaped the takeover attempts by Daimler-Benz AG. This takeover was prevented by the efforts of small stock holders. BMW, first with the BMW 700, and then with the "new class" was able to get on track again and experienced a rapid upswing in 1962, so that production capacity soon was no longer sufficient.

Staff meeting: The takeover is announcedStaff meeting: The takeover is announcedThe legendary Schorsch Meier, a personal friend of the family Glas, knew the situation at both companies and initiated talks between GLAS and BMW. Negotiations in following months could not be kept away from the press. In August, the newspapers spoke of takeover negotiations with BMW. This meant that in addition to the general economic slowdown in 1966 prospective buyers stayed away from GLAS even more. In the following months, cars could barely be sold.

During negotiations, BMW let it be known that they really only were interested in the Landshut plant because its proximity to Munich. Karl Dompert however could convince the negotiation team that Dingolfing was the better choice. Finally, an agreement was reached and on November 10th, 1966 in front of the entire workforce assembled in the delivery area in Dingolfing, the acquisition by BMW was announced. The management of the company should remain in the capable hands of Andreas Glas and Karl Dompert.

Press releases about the acquisitionPress releases about the acquisitionThe state government of Bavaria, with a loan guarantee to BMW of 50 million marks, helped to secure the 4,000 jobs in that region.

Since BMW had pledged to keep the production of all vehicles GLAS going, the new owner dispatched a number of quality control engineers to Dingolfing, to increase the quality of all cars. This was urgently needed because of some partly improvised manufacturing methods. Parallel to this effort, the marketing department got busy with a new advertising slogan "GLAS cars come now from BMW." The purpose of course was to regain the lost trust of the customers.

But sales remained sluggish. Quite the contrary was the case with BMW vehicles. The new BMW 1600/2 came on the market and was immediately a sensational success. The production was bursting at all seams. Furthermore, it planned new models. This led ultimately to the fact that in October 1967, the end of production of all vehicles GLAS was decided. Just in the beginning of that year the company had made a valiant effort to push the production of GLAS vehicles ahead including bringing new models with the name GLAS to market ... - However the results never materialized.

Modification of the factory under the direction of Karl DompertModification of the factory under the direction of Karl DompertKarl Dompert got the job, to change the factory over into a manufacturer of BMW drive components.

To keep some of the employees busy, the production lines for the Goggomobil kept going. The Goggomobil had still many friends which justified such a move until finally the last one left the production line on June 25th, 1969.

The demand for BMW vehicles increased dramatically and in 1973 another factory was built in Dingolfing in which the 5-series is built now. Today about 21,000 people work at the production sites in Dingolfing and with this, BMW has become the largest employer in the region.

Uwe Gusen