Factory

Tiny Screw Up Halts Production Of BMW's Best-Selling Cars

Meanwhile Mercedes keeps getting further ahead of poor BMW.

Unless you've recently ordered a BMW 1, 2, 3, or 4 Series, this isn't as pressing as the rest of the world news that’s been floating to the surface, but Bloomberg is reporting there’s a production stoppage at various BMW plants in Germany as well as its factories in Rosslyn, South Africa and Tiexi, China. The news comes as BMW struggles to catch up to Mercedes' recent sales rampage and this delay could be putting what is now Germany’s 2nd largest luxury auto giant (in terms of sales) further behind the curve.

The culprit? None other than German auto parts supplier Bosch. Chances are that if you’ve owned a BMW for more than 10,000 miles, you’ve had to replace a part that’s emblazoned by the red Bosch logo. The parts in shortage are steering gears fitted to BMW's entry-level compacts, sedans, and coupes, pretty crucial components if you plan on driving anywhere outside of a drag strip. BMW isn't the only one facing hardship, these delays come at a particularly bad time for Bosch given that the company is under fire for its role in the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal and subsequent recasting as a company in the crosshairs of a new lawsuit alleges it helped GM rig its own diesels to pass emissions testing.

Unfortunately for parts supplier, the shortage is mainly out of its control because the bottleneck is taking place at a smaller company that supplies Bosch. An Italian company that manufactures the castings for its electronic steering systems is the one to blame and Bosch has sent its employees to Italy to tend to the problem. But business is still business and BMW is now asking Bosch to compensate it for the delayed parts, though it's unclear just how much money is in question. It may be a surprising how such a seemingly small incident can cause production facilities at one of the world’s biggest luxury car companies to stop suddenly, but the thing about automobile supply chains is that they are unbelievably tight.

In many cases, parts are delivered to factories only hours before being installed onto cars on the line. If even a single plastic fastener is missing, the entire operation can grind to a standstill. That's the last thing BMW needs right now as its arch-rival, Mercedes, recently overtook it to become the number one German luxury brand with a range so packed with attractive offerings that few on any end of the income spectrum could pass them up. Fortunately for the 8 Series fans out there, this production slow-down shouldn’t do a thing to affect BMW’s range-toppers. Keep trucking along and let the "bad, very bad" Germans sort it out.

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