You've got your brand new BMW on order and the wait is killing you. You can do a million things to take your mind off the weeks of waiting or you can track the process of your new car in excruciating detail. Use the Bimmerfest.com BMW tracking guide to follow along as your BMW moves from the production line, to the port, to the sea, to the VDC, and finally to your dealers. Fair warning, you can drive yourself crazy with obsession to make sure to remember to breath deep. Your BMW is on it's way to you even if you don't track its ever move.
A BIG thanks to Bimmerfest member bmwguy11 for putting this together for everyone. His original tracking guide was written with the M3/M4 in mind and I've expanded it to compass all BMW's coming from Germany. Bimmerfest member KTINCA contributed the VDC to dealer tracking section!
The Tracking Basics
To start it is helpful to have your production number. The BMW production number is a is a 7 digit number that ties you to the allocation. You should receive your production number within a few hours or within the next day of ordering your car. Next, learn the BMW Genius phone number - 1.844.4GENIUS (443-6487). BMW Genius has access to the same information as your dealership and is invaluable in helping you get your status. Initially your order will probably be status code 111 within a day of ordering. Then once it's closer to production it will move to status 112, scheduled for production pack. When you start production, status 150, you'll be able to get your VIN number.
You can also track your car using the My BMW site with your production order number, and the automated 1800 number, but both tend to be several days behind and out of date. https://www.bmwusa.com/secured/content/forms/login.aspx For the 800 number, call 1800-831-1117, option 2, then say "vehicle production status". Note: Do not be concerned if you enter your production order number into the My BMW site and it shows the wrong colors/options. That is normal and will update much later in the process.
List of common BMW status codes and their meanings:
- 0 Order deleted by 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 Prod Week)
- 105 Order out of Prod. Period
- 111 Order Accepted at AG
- 112 Order scheduled for Production - Up to this point you can still make changes to the car such as options, colors, etc. However, once the car goes to status 150, you cannot make any changes since the car is now in production
- 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?
General Timeline of Events
The first thing to know is that the start time of your car being built is completely determined by the build week attached to your allocation, it doesn't matter when your order was placed! BMW dealers can request an earlier production week, but it is unlikely to get moved up. Also of special note, Individual options (such as special interior color or paint color) will always delay your build by weeks or even months, so be prepared. Please note that the timeline below is for US delivery Priority 1 vehicles. ED vehicles may see additional delays at port/VDC.
The second thing to understand is that your build week is actually the week your car is scheduled to FINISH production. So, it should start production a week or two before the build week. Lastly, the timelines are general and assume everything goes as planned. There could always be delays if the vehicle stuck in customs, or has some damage during shipping. Don't worry, all damage is repaired to BMW standards at the port based Vehicle Distribution Center (VDC).
- Build start (150) to build finish (155): 1-2 weeks
- Build finish (155) to Scheduled for Carrier (182): 1 day
- Status 182 to 190 (on a train to bremerhaven):1-3 days
- Status 190 to 193 (at port awaiting a ship): 1-2 days
- Status 193 to 195 (on a ship): 3-5 days for east coast delivery, 5-12 days for west coast delivery (more detail on this later)
- Shipping time from Bremerhaven to East Coast: 12-17 days depending on the number of stops
- Shipping time from Bremerhaven to West Coast: About 30 days
- Offload at port: 1 day
- Processing through customs: 1-2 days
- Process through BMW Vehicle Processing Center (VDC) and onto a carrier: 2-5 days
- Shipping time on carrier to Dealership: 1-4 days
Production Plant to Bremerhaven
BMW M3 and M4 convertible are made in Regensburg, while the M4 is made in Munich.
After production the cars are put onto a train and take a ride on up to Bremerhaven, Germany. Bremerhaven is a major port, not just for BMWs but also other auto manufacturers and shipping. Once at Bremerhaven, the cars sit in huge parking lots waiting for their ship. When it comes time to board the ship, specially trained drivers will drive the cars onto the ship, where they are tied down and secured. BMW ships on what are known as RORO carriers (Roll on/Roll off).
There is a web cam at Bremerhaven, and in fact when the BMWs show up on the train, you can often see the train sitting there. The second camera is the Bremerhaven Webcam: http://www.blg-logistics.com/de/kontakt/webcams/
Here is a picture of a car train -
Here is a satellite image of Bremerhaven, with the above webcam position circled in blue -
Video of a BMW train on the way to Bremerhaven -
A quick note about west coast vs east coast bound vehicles. The East Coast tends to see more ships, so the wait time at status 193 at the port is generally 3-5 days. However, west coast bound vehicles do not have as many ships that deliver there, so the average wait at port (status 193) is longer, around 5-12 days.
Determining Which Ship You're On
Up until now, you have been getting updates from BMW Genius that are generally within the last 24 hours accurate. But this is where the updates slow down. To start, you will not know your car is on a ship until about 2 days AFTER it's already been put onto a ship and left the dock. The most common carrier used for BMW is Wallenius and Wilhelmsen, with Kline and NYK a close second. Below is a link to the various shipping companies BMW uses and their shipping schedules or search pages. Here you can play for hours, searching the possible ships your car will be on based upon the destination port and shipping date, etc.
About 2 days after you are on a ship that has left port, BMW Genius can also provide the name of the ship and estimated date of arrival at your port of destination. However, if your car ends up on a WW boat (Wallenius Wilhemlsen), your VIN will show up in their search page about 2 days after your car has left the dock. Simply go here and enter your VIN into the Cargo ID field. Remember if you end up on a ship that is NOT with WW, it won't ever show up on the WW tracking page. https://www.2wglobal.com/webapps?ur...cean.do?method=getDefaultOceanQuickSearchPage
Here is a screenshot of what it looked like for me, and is also how I found out my car was on a ship -
Once you know which ship you're on, you can use the links above to look up the ship schedule with the carrier, and see what ports it will be going to and when.
Special note about ED: When you dropped your car off they should have been able to give you some information including possible shipping schedules or a special phone number to call and find out which ship you'll be on.
Tracking the Ship
There are several sites you can use to track a ship by name, or look at port schedules. For "free" tracking, I found http://www.marinetraffic.com/ to be the best. Here is a screenshot of Bremerhaven from marinetraffic with the BMW port circled in blue.
Simply search for your ship on the marinetraffic site and you can get status so long as the ship is relatively close to land. Once the ship leaves the main ****s near land and heads into the open ocean, it is only possible to track via Satellite. For this, you can sign up for a 14 day free trial on FleetMon. To do this, go here http://www.fleetmon.com/plans and upgrade to the Unlimited Sat 15 plan. You will have to enter your credit card or paypal but they DO NOT charge you for it, so long as you cancel before the 14 day trial ends. You can actually sign up for it and then cancel it an hour later and still get the 14 days. To cancel, go here http://www.fleetmon.com/my/profile/subscriptions
Once you have signed up for the trial, you need to add ships to your fleet that you want to track. To do this, search for the ship by name, click to add to your fleet and check the box for satellite tracking. Below is an example of the "my fleet" page I was using to track all the September build ships in our thread.
You can also check for port schedules to see your ship's estimated time of arrival as it gets closer. To do this go to Marine Traffic and search for the port city name, click on it, then on the left side click on "expected arrivals" tab. Then click "show all" at the bottom and you can see all scheduled arrivals along with estimated arrival (not always available).
If you don't want to sign up for the trial, there is a free site that you can get occasional updates on position, but they can be a couple days behind. http://www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/search.phtml
You can also check out the site http://www.shipspotting.com/ and search for your ship. You might see recent pictures of port stops your ship made along the way while your car was on it. In fact, here is a picture of the ship my car was on in Bremerhaven the day it would have been loading up my car.
Lastly, if you have a west coast bound vehicle, you can watch your ship go through the Panama Canals with these web cams. http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
Here is the Mignon going through the Gatun locks on the webcam. I took each 1 minute screenshot and compiled them into a moving image.
Arrival and Processing at Port of Entry/US
Once your ship arrives with your car, specially trained drivers once again drive the cars off of the ship. They are then driven to a large parking lot for staging and processing through customs. If you have a car shipped via WWL you will be able to see status update on the tracking site using your VIN to see when your car clears customs.
After clearing customs, the car will be at a staging parking lot. At this point as far as BMW knows, the car still is "shipping" and you won't get any update until AFTER your car gets to the VDC. Priority 1 cars (sold customer cars, US delivery) are bumped to the front of the line and processed first. It will usually take 2-4 days to get through the VDC. If you did ED, this process can take longer. Your car may be at customs longer before it shows up at the VDC.
Here is a screenshot showing a car's processing through VDC. My car was offloaded on 10/3 but did not get through customs until 10/5. Fortunately my car was immediately brought to VDC 10/5 to start processing, but this isn't always the case. Then you can see 10/7 the final work was done and then released to carrier. Once the car shows as released to carrier, this means it is ready to be picked up by the carrier or is with the carrier. There isn't really much you can determine at this point, unless your carrier has a tracking system.
While at the VDC they wash the car, inspect and repair any damage, and then get the car scheduled with a carrier who will deliver the car to the dealership, usually on a car carrier truck. If there is any extensive damage it will be reported to the dealership.
As an example, here is a satellite image of the VDC in New Jersey -
Here are a few articles that details what happens at the VDC:
VDC to the dealer
BMW uses United Road to ship vehicles from the VPC to your dealer. You can track your car from the time it is available to United Road, when your car is loaded and is in route to your dealer. It may even have GPS information on where your car is located as it is traveling to your dealer. To get started go to the United Road delivery receipt web site: https://www.unitedroad.com/delivery-receipts
The next step you need to do is find a car that was actually delivered to your dealer. You will need this information to register your e-mail address and get an account on the web site.
To do this, go to your dealer's web site and search a car from the dealer's new car inventory and find a VIN. Any VIN will do. Now use this VIN to search for the delivery receipt.
Once a delivery receipt is shown, you can click to "Register" to register your e-mail address.
Once you have registered your e-mail address, click on "OVISS" on the upper right hand corner of the web page.
You will not have a password yet, so click on "Forgot your password?"
Enter your e-mail address that you used to register. Once you submit your User Name, an e-mail will be sent to you with a link that can be used to reset your password. This is where you will choose your password.
Once you have set up your password, you can go back to https://www.unitedroad.com/delivery-receipts. You can now login through the "OVISS" link on the upper right corner of the web page. Once you login you can track your car through United Road. The "Current" Tab will give you all that information. If you click on the VIN button, it will give you more details, especially if your car is "InRoute".
My Car is in "InRoute" gives the location of the truck.
You can play with the other tabs to see what information shows up. It is very interesting to note when your car was made ready to be picked up by UR and when it is loaded and shipped. There is even GPS information on the truck, so you can track the progress of your car as it is trucked to your dealer.
Under the "My Account" tab, you can have the system e-mail notifications on a shipment that was delivered to the dealer, when a delivery receipt has been generated and other general information, so you don't have to check the web site constantly for your car.
Once your car is processed, it will be loaded onto a carrier. There are a few that BMW uses. One of the most common right now is United Road. You can search for your VIN here if you want. http://www.unitedroad.com/search-by-vin.php But BMW Genius will be able to tell you what carrier you are on and the estimated date of arrival to your dealer!
Here are a few videos that show you things like what it's like inside the BMW factories and even inside a RORO carrier.