BMW owners vent anger at months-long wait for spare parts

South African Neels Kilian was as proud as any BMW owner could be when he got his new 3-Series in May. After getting into an accident a few weeks later and still waiting for repairs, he’s reconsidering that sentiment.

The Gauteng resident needs a rear fender replaced before the car is driveable again. In the meantime, he’s still making a monthly payment of R8 000 and has to bear additional costs for work travel because he hasn’t been offered a loan car.


“This is shocking!” Kilian wrote in an email. “It is impossible to repair my vehicle; why is BMW unable to issue a warning to customers when buying this brand?”


Kilian is among customers across the globe angered by BMW’s failure to promptly deliver spare parts to fix their vehicles. BMW, the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, has struggled since the beginning of June to ship components on time because of a new supply-management system being introduced in its central warehouse in Germany.


The delays have caused ripple effects globally because orders for BMW’s 40 parts-distribution centres originate at the main facility in Dingolfing. The warehouse also directly supplies about 300 repair shops in Germany.


Raimund Nestler – who lives in Ingolstadt, Germany, the home base of rival Audi – has been waiting six weeks for a new part that controls engine speed.


“I have always been a die-hard BMW driver and am currently driving my seventh BMW, but will consider which brand I’ll buy the next time,” he said by phone. “For a premium car maker like BMW, this is particularly disappointing.”

Deep regrets
About 10% of parts are not immediately available in Dingolfing because of the logistics change over, Manfred Grunert, a spokesperson for the Munich-based company, said on Wednesday. BMW has workers on extra shifts to help shorten the wait, and aims to have the new system working properly by early September.

“We deeply regret any inconveniences caused to our customers,” Grunert said.


The longer the delays drag on, the more BMW’s image as a high-end automaker is tarnished. “The logistics problem is comprehensible, but three months is too long,” said Juergen Pieper, a Bankhaus Metzler analyst in Frankfurt. “Damage has certainly occurred. I see a hit to their reputation and a financial burden of tens of millions.”


The logistics project, called Atlas, was started in Dingolfing in 2009, according to a joint press release at the time from International Business Machines Corporation and SAP.

Months-Long Delay
IBM, which was the main contractor, said last week that it’s no longer involved in setting up the programme. SAP is supplying the software for the warehouse management system, the Walldorf, Germany-based company said. BMW declined to comment on its suppliers.

Australian Eric Gibson said repairs on his BMW motorcycle have been dragging on for three months. “I can now ride the bike, but I’m still waiting for one more part, a driving light,” Gibson said.


Fellow countryman Lisa Stephenson, who lives in Coolamon, a farming community 480 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, isn’t as fortunate. Her mechanic has advised her not to use her BMW, which she needs to get around in her rural area, because the part that needs replacing could catch the car on fire.

“I’ve been waiting for five weeks for a fuel elbow,” Stephenson said. “My mechanic informed me this week that the part won’t arrive until sometime in October. This is extremely frustrating. Shame on BMW. I am one very unhappy customer.”

BMW is sending components via airfreight to speed up delivery times and is trying to provide replacement vehicles for waiting customers, Grunert said. Stephenson and Kilian both said they haven’t been offered a loan vehicle.


“BMW is unable to inform me when to expect this part in South Africa or when my vehicle would be repaired,” Kilian said. “It could be another four months or so.” – Bloomberg

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

BMW X3 thrives in the M stable

The compact SUV is so at home with its new badge that’s it’s surprising it didn’t happen sooner

BMW M8 review: Ruthless aggression in a silk suit

Taking the German manufacturer’s new prized asset around the track is an outrageous experience

Unpacking the myths and misunderstandings in the Covid-19 vacuum

The basics of epidemiology will help explain why some of the believable but incorrect propositions about the pandemic are wrong.

The case against Floyd Shivambu

The flow of money from VBS Bank would seem to suggest that the EFF’s second-in-command was an ultimate beneficiary of proceeds of a crime

Elnathan John: Finding the balance of things in strange, new places

Like flotsam you float from one unknown place to another, to seek and establish equilibrium — only to have it all disrupted by a pandemic

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Fifteen witnesses for vice-chancellor probe

Sefako Makgatho University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had interdicted parliament last month from continuing with the inquiry

Constitutional Court ruling on restructuring dispute is good for employers

A judgment from the apex court empowers employers to change their workers’ contracts — without consultation

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

KZN officials cash in on ‘danger pay for Covid-19’

Leadership failures at Umdoni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have caused a ‘very unhappy’ ANC PEC to fire the mayor and chief whip

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday