Hello there and welcome to the BMW Car Club of America.

If you are a BMW CCA member, please log in and introduce yourself in our Member Introductions section.

Diesel: Is it time to create a grey market?

Discussion in 'Diesel' started by mbanic, Jan 1, 2012.

    • Member

    mbanic

    Post Count: 2
    Likes Received:0
    After college (in the 80s), several friends with a passion for German cars had purchased used grey market vehicles. I did some research and found several grey market cars for sale in the classifieds. Some made their way to US soil because the owner purchased it while working in Europe and they brought it home with them. I still remember my friend's 1971 Mercedes coupe with its speedometer in kilometers per hour.

    With the exception of the "classics" section of the classifieds on Web sites like this one, it is very rare to see grey market cars listed for sale. I am not sure if there is a specific cause or reason. Maybe the Government regulations don't permit expats and military personnel to bring EU models home to the US.

    As I read postings here and on other forums, I sense a common desire among other BMW enthusiasts to have EU models brought to the US. Whether its the 1-Series sport wagon or a twin-turbo diesel powered 5-Series, there seems to be a demand that BMW is failing to meet.


    Remembering my friend with his grey market Mercedes, I can't help wonder if there is an opportunity for a grey market now. Is there a market for used 120d or 535d models? I would love to see more diesel drivers who can achieve Prius-like fuel efficiency, but can quickly accelerate onto the freeway.

    With so many quality BMW-certified mechanics in major metropolitan areas, I would love to make a deal for them to service 120d and 535d models and start my own business bringing quality used cars to the US.

    My question is whether car club members who have posted their desire for these cars would purchase them if they were available.
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 2,868
    Likes Received:147
    Somebody's probably going to remember this more accurately, but I think the main reason for a relatively abrupt end to the grey market at the time was tightening governmental restrictions for individuals and anyone making a business of importing euro cars, which was a response to the automobile companies realizing the grey market was costing them business, and pressuring congress/government to close the loopholes. I think a couple of the other factors was a booming, or at least, very strong U.S. economy in the mid-80's, a strong U.S. dollar and thus exchange rates substantially favoring the U.S., low gasoline and transportation prices, plus low import taxes and certifying costs, and, comparatively, workable import restrictions. And, although dealers generally wouldn't touch a grey-market car back then, they weren't as complicated and as heavily computerized, meaning that most issues were resolvable, or serviceable.

    Today is an entirely different ballgame. Sure, the Euro union is flailing, but the U.S. economy is far from great or booming either, and without even attempting to list all factors involved, exchange rates aren't favorable for the U.S., relatively speaking - plus, gas and therefore transportation is much more expensive than it used to be, and customs and importation regulations I think are far more stringent, restrictive, and closely examined than back in the day (think about how much bigger the government is now... and, being as broke as it is, how much more determined government agents will be to enforce regulations and impose fines for infractions). I tend to think the short of it is, it's just no longer even remotely profitable enough to make it worthwhile to try to bring in grey market cars.

    Kudos for your optimism, I'm not trying to rain on your parade at all - sure, it's true that there are some seemingly mainstream BMW models across the pond that we aren't getting here and on the surface it may be puzzling why BMW isn't bringing them over, and that at first glance would seem there's demand for them, as we hear impassioned pleas from a number of individuals. But, we don't have access to BMW's market research data and all the factors that go into their yea-or-nay decisions, which undoubtedly BMW thoroughly and expensively researches - sure, BMW isn't perfect (as evidenced by the 5-series GT), but it seems to me that if there was good opportunity for a grey-market type of biz, somebody would be doing it already and, it's telling if that isn't happening on a notable scale.

    And, given the heavily computerized nature of the cars these days, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that servicing grey-market cars isn't at all easy. We have OBD-II.... what's on european cars? OBD wasn't a factor at the height of the grey market era, for instance.

    If you're considering such a business, explore every conceivable factor (costs, time, etc.) beforehand to avoid making what could be expensive mistakes. Some research can go a long way!
    • Member

    floydarogers

    Post Count: 322
    Likes Received:13
    As intimated by Garrison, it's extremely hard to import any car younger than 25 years to the US. Go to https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/288/session/L3NpZC9nMWlMN2dOaw==/search/1 to begin. As far as diesel vehicles go, no vehicle since 2006 ? will be able to be brought into compliance unless fitted with catalysts, DPF and probably an SCR catalyst. Further, a major part of the importation problem resides in auxiliary systems (lighting, etc.) and in particular the airbags - US regs and bags are different than EU and others.
    • Member

    granthr

    Post Count: 1,583
    Likes Received:2
    I think it would be great to import a current BMW 4 pot diesel and swap it into an e30! :eek:) Getting the motor here and to actually work in an e30 would be a big undertaking, but getting the car legal here in Penna probably wouldn't be a big deal since diesels are not subject to emission tests (yet).
    • Member

    MGarrison

    Post Count: 2,868
    Likes Received:147
    Bringing in a motor is an entirely different ballgame. Might be possible to buy one and just have it sent over., although there might be restrictions, too. I would tend to think if it was shipped over in parts over the course of several months, it would be no problem. Block... crankshaft... pistons... cyl. head... etc., etc. As you mention, getting it to work in an E30 would also be an entirely different ballgame.
    • Member

    BMWCCA1

    Post Count: 404
    Likes Received:10
    What's the point of the exercise? To save money on fuel? Even the current diesel models with the BMW NA "Eco Credit" have probably a 10-year payback period given the cost of diesel in the USA. Considering the lack of warranty such a gray-market car would have and the expense of importing (I believe you still are required to go through an approved importer on a NHTSA/EPA list), you can't be considering it for economic reasons.

    Currently the gasoline X5 35i gets within three miles-per-gallon of the mileage on the X5 35d, according to the EPA, and the reality seems to be with the 8-speed auto on the 35i, it actually does better than the 6-speed 35d at highway speeds over 70-mph.
    • Member

    granthr

    Post Count: 1,583
    Likes Received:2
    To have BMWs we currently can't have and to have a BMW no one else on the block has. We always want what we can't have. :)
    • Member

    BMWCCA1

    Post Count: 404
    Likes Received:10
    I'm all for custom cars, but I was really replying to the gray-market post, not the "stuff a more powerful engine into an older lighter BMW" post. That makes perfect sense to me!

Share This Page