Thursday, December 25, 2014

A BM? No thanks!

When my son decided to return to the country to teach and practice Neurology at the University of Malaya some six years ago, he was accorded the privilege to buy two tax-exempt vehicles. He duly exercised – both BMs, one a locally assembled 323i and another, BM118i I helped to ship in from Melbourne.

I have never been a fan of BMs, but these were his choices.
My first BM was a second-hand 320i bought during my wilderness in the early 1990s. I was too used to company cars and personal drivers; a lesser vehicle would have been quite hurting to my ego then.

One day, out of the blue, smoke billowed from the boot compartment while I was driving the family in Petaling Jaya. The antenna was causing a fire there! It was fortunate that I could put the fire out to avert a disaster. I decided to dispose of it. The registration number it carried – 3288 – helped a great deal; the buyer didn’t even bother to bargain down the o.n.o. (or near offer) price which I had put up. I suppose he was happy to pay a premium for the number, which apparently was great in Cantonese: Business prospers and prospers!
Two other BM320i followed; then a BM740iL before a BM730i provided by the Low Yat Group before I moved to Sydney. Except of the BM740iL which did not appear to have given me any trouble, the other BMs were less than so-so. I always think the people at BM are always trying to make simple things complicated. But how could I tell young people not to chase after BMs? “Without a BM, we have yet to arrive,” everybody seems to say!

Fast track to December 2014…
The price tag of my son’s BM323i in 2009 was M$275K. Because of his tax-exempt entitlement, he got his for M$175K. We looked into some used car websites and found that owners were generally asking for M$120K. What nonsense; the highest solid offer we finally got was M90K! What came next was even more shocking. Apparently, there is another M30K excise tax liability that he has to absorb. M$60K net for a five year old BM? Incredible!

I decided to keep his car and sell my one-year-old Mercedes A200.
A visit with this BM to a workshop reinforced my prejudice on BMs. My son’s BM had been serviced by Auto Bavaria according to its recommendations all this while, yet I was advised – to my chagrin – that many things were either faulty or are not working well. What was Auto Bavaria doing all this while? Changing motor oil oily? I have to fork out a couple of M$Ks to make it to a condition I trust!

As if to further strengthen my paranoia about BMs, the 118i which is being used by my daughter-in-law was flashing all sorts of warnings in on its screen. She sent it to Auto Bavaria. Oh, the PCB board is damaged because water has leaked into the system! It took them four days to tell me this. It would cost her more than M$3K to fix it; in the meantime, she was given a bill of more than M$1K for a service which she didn’t ask!
I was not convinced and took it to a friendly china-man mechanic. It didn’t take long for him to tell me this, “Sitau, see your rear lamp is broken. Water has apparently seeped in from there.” He did not want to be paid, nonetheless, I pushed him M$20 to him to go and “yum kopi”.

This experience reminds me of a story I read somewhere about NASA. Apparently it had to spend many good US millions to come up with a ball point that its astronauts could use in Space. As for the Russians, they provided their cosmonauts with pencil – made in China ones, maybe.
I suspect the bunch of service people at Auto Bavaria are really an incompetent lot. If you are a BM owner, you don’t feel good to ask what you have been billed each time you visit Auto Bavaria, do you? After all, BM owners don’t talk about small dollar and Sense, right?

But I must admit my admiration of the BMW museum in Munich. The displays are simply mind-boggling – as impressive as you see in Porsche and Mercedes museums in Stuttgart. But Auto Bavaria is no BMW, neither is Proton a true Mitsubishi.

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