No doubt you’re a person of discerning taste (since you’re reading this blog). And that means you might be particular about what your new BMW might look like. Taking one off the lot and settling isn’t an option for you, so you’ve decided to order one. But how does it all happen? I’ll show you. Here’s a step-by-step guide for ordering and tracking a new BMW.
Step 1 – Find a POG and Price Guide
No doubt you’ve built your own BMW on their website, but sometimes it’s not always so good at describing what particular options come with a package, or what’s standard. Search for a Product Ordering Guide (or POG), which is the “official” guide from BMW that comes from the factory itself. Usually helpful owners on Bimmerpost will share them.
POGs always change unannounced. I can give you an example of why this matters. I had a 2011 E92 M3. BMW also produced a 2011.5. That six-month difference added the auto stop/start feature to the car. It’s a small change, but an important one, and you might not realize what your specific car comes with without a POG.
The price guide looks the same, but simply lists the cost of every option on the car. My advice? Decide exactly what BMW you want before stepping foot in the dealer.
Step 2 – Allocations
You’ll hear the term “allocation” a lot, and it basically means a slot for the dealership to order your car. Allocations are different for every dealer, based on how much they sell. Some might have 2 M3 slots per month, others 5 or 6.
Once the deal is made for your car, they must submit the order and use one of their allocations. Remember that these are total allocations, so they are selling one to you as oppose to ordering a car to place on their lot.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still do the right deal for the car you want. It does mean you must be patient. If one dealer doesn’t have a slot open, try another.
I was lucky with both my M3 and X3 M40i. My dealer, Circle BMW in Eatontown, NJ, was very accommodating and helpful. While the M3 has been back-ordered (no dealer had a slot open), they’ve kept me up to date and placed my order as soon as one was available.
Step 3 – Tracking your new BMW
Once the order is in and you have a production number, you’ll be entered in the build que. Pre-COVID, this entire process would take about eight weeks (from Germany), or 4 weeks (from South Carolina).
Remember that without a production number, you have no allocation. If you find a dealer that says they have an allocation for you, but no production number, call out their shenanigans.
Once the car is scheduled for production, you’ll be able to get the actual VIN number of your car on the website.
3A – Tracking options
You can either use the owner portal on BMWUSA.com, or call the BMW Genius hotline for updates on the status of your car. The website can sometimes lag behind a few hours, or even days, so for the most up-to-date info, call the hotline.
3B – Build status
There are multiple steps to the build process:
- Order received
- Scheduled for production
- Exterior body assembly
- In the paint booth
- Entering the assembly line
- Assembly in progress
- Quality check
- Final assembly
- Ready for transport
- Awaiting carrier assignment
- Dispatched from factory
- At the port
- In transit
- At the dealership
Once the order is received, it can take anywhere from one day to one week to begin building the car, depending on where you entered the que.
You might might hear code numbers from your client advisor or BMW if you call for an update.
- 0 Order deleted by BMW NA
- 17 Order not Specified
- 37 Order is at BMW NA
- 87 Production Week Assigned
- 97 Order sent to AG
- 100 Order deleted by AG
- 101 Error in data transmitted
- 102 Special Order (no Production Week)
- 105 Order out of Production Period
- 111 Order Accepted at AG
- 112 Order scheduled for Production (You can still make some changes to your BMW order)
- 150 Production Started
- 151 Body Shop Started
- 152 Paint Shop Started
- 153 Assembly Started
- 155 Production Completed
- 160 Released to Distribution
- 168 AG Stock
- 170 Waiting Workshop
- 172 Planned for Workshop
- 174 Workshop Entry
- 176 Workshop Complete
- 180 Waiting for Export Dispatch
- 181 Waiting for Domestic Dispatch
- 182 Schedule for Carrier
- 190 In transit to port of exit
- 191 Returned to BMW AG
- 193 Arrived at Port of Exit
- 194 Selected for Shipment
- 195 Shipped from Port of Exit
- 196 Shipment Arrival at destination port
3C – The factory
I’ve taken a plant tour in South Carolina, and after the paint dries for about a day, the car takes less than 24 hours to fully assemble. They literally build them as you walk through the plant (no pics allowed), and it’s a sight to behold. This means that it’s possible for you to miss the entire assembly process online, and go from “in the paint booth” to “Ready for Transport” in a span of 24 hours. It happens that fast, and the site is slow to update.
If you’ve done an Individual color for your car, the rolling chassis is pulled off the production line and painted in a separate booth. This can add some time to the process, depending on the color. BMW approves colors on a case-by-case basis, and they can sometimes deny you your first choice. Given the wait times for the G80, I skipped an individual order this time.
3D – Shipping
Depending on where your car is from and where it’s going, a few things might happen.
Built in the US
Bought an X3, X4, X5, X6 or X7? That’s going to leave the factory from South Carolina via train or truck, depending upon where it’s being transported to. The website will simply say “In transit”, but if you call the BMW GENIUS line, they can give you the method of transportation and who specifically is shipping it. That usually allows you to track it online if you’re so inclined.
Built in Germany
If your BMW was built in Germany, then it’s going to have to go across an ocean to get there. Again, start by calling BMW GENIUS, and they can tell you the shipping line the car will use.
Almost all BMWs are shipped from Bremerhaven, Germany, regardless of the factory your BMW was built at (Dingolfing, Regensburg, Munich, etc.). Once the car says “in transit”, call BMW and find out the ship’s name, and then you’ll be able to watch it sail across the ocean via websites like marinetracker.com.
Step 4 – Arrival
There are a few ports that your car can end up at, depending on what part of the country you live in. Here are the typical port calls:
- Bremerhaven (port of exit)
- New Jersey
Figure on your car taking a week to ten days if on the east coast, and a bit over 2 weeks of travel time if on the west coast.
Once off the boat (or train), the car heads to the VPC, or Vehicle Processing Center. There’s one at every port, and it’s brand-specific, meaning BMW has their own shop.
What happens here? Everything. The car is looked over, and any damage from transit is repaired. It’s a paint, mechanic and restoration shop all in one.
If you’ve ordered OEM+ parts from the dealer, from floor mats to exhausts, this is also the place they get added on. Cars are usually only here for a few days at most, but occasionally, they get held up by “stop sales”, or issues with the car that need to be fixed across the board before any car can be “sold”. As an example, the G80 had an issue with its camera system if you ordered the Parking Assistant Package. Mine did not and was let through, but other friends who were on the assembly line with me were held back to fix the issue.
By now, the website might switch back to “in transit” while your car is loaded onto a truck for final delivery to your dealership.
Step 4 – Delivery
Once the car arrives at the dealer, they must prep it by removing the protective wrapping and prepping the iDrive system for your specific region.
Performance Center Delivery
Sadly, BMW no longer offers Euro delivery to collect your car at the Welt, so if you want a special experience, the BMW Performance Center is it. Your new BMW is shipped there and prepped, and you’ll get a complimentary stay at a hotel the night before, along with meals and some drive time (not in your car!).
Enjoy tracking your new BMW!
I prefer ordering BMWs this way. With a little patience, you get the exact car you want without compromise. And let’s face it, compromise is no way to start off the relationship between you and your Ultimate Driving Machine.
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