Did you ever wonder what happens at the port to your car after itís shipped from the factory?
Saturday January 24th, the Los Angeles Chapter of the BMWCCA toured the
BMW Vehicle Distribution at Port Hueneme in Oxnard, California
(approximately one hour West of L.A., just off the Pacific Coast
Highway). There is a similar BMW facility in New Jersey that serves the
The VDC was up and running even though it
was Saturday. Our tour guide, Eric, stated that they normally worked
7AM to 4PM M-F, but worked Saturdays when there was high demand for
"Priority One" vehicles (Priority One is a car that is already sold).
of the perks of working at the VDC is that each of the 84 employees
gets a free BMW lease (3, 5, x3, x5, z4, MINI). They are able to wrack
up 15,000 miles on the car then return it for a new one. They can get
multiple cars per year.
This very nice 2002 was my favorite BMW at the VDC.
walking into the VDC, we were greeted by three new BMW 6-Series. These
are the first of only seven 6-Series to come through the Port Hueneme
The 6-Series Coupe
The 6-Series Convertible
84 employees at the Port Hueneme VDC process ~400 cars per day (BMW -
New and European Delivery, MINI, and on occasion Rolls Royce). The
facility holds 3000 cars, with many more cars waiting down at the docks
to travel the 1.3 miles to the VDC.
7-Series, 5-Series, and 3-Series are all shipped with a thick waxy
coating. This coating is removed with a very hot power car wash. The
wax is then recovered and separated from the water, and then it is used
to fuel the burners that heat the water for the car wash. These cars
are waiting to be cleaned.
Here you can see the wax on the car.
The new X3 is transported in these felty shipping packs. There are zippers around the gas cap, driver's door, and the hood.
the shipping protection is removed, the cars receive one final wash
before entering the VDC building. This next picture is the first step
inside the building: software campaigns (in the case of the MINI V.36
if it hasn't already been installed).
the quickest, a Priority One car could be fully processed in two days.
In the past, BMW dyno tested a sampling of arriving cars to see if they
were compliant with the HP figures they expected. This process is now
done at the factory.
X3 is getting ready to be checked out and if needed, the yellow grilles
can be removed from the floor and the bottom of the car can be accessed
from a trench below.
cars suffer damage in shipping. This new 5 is getting ready to go to
paint. The interior has been stripped and the windows on the side being
painted have been removed.
If the car suffers damage in
excess of 3% of it's value it has to be disclosed to the dealer. As I
understand it, if BMW replaced the engine in your car at the VDC, that
would not have to be disclosed to the dealer. This is because all BMW
parts are being used and installed to BMW spec. However, repaired body
damage (something on the order of the MINI's roof, not like a replaced
bumper cover) would be declared to the dealer.
Another BMW waiting to be repaired to BMW specifications.
MINI was on the lower level of a transport truck. The shipper lowered
the upper deck and crushed the roof. BMW has replaced the roof and the
car will soon visit the paint shop.
because they were trying to repair a car doesn't mean it was going to
be sent out to a customer. The repair still has to be inspected
afterwards and get approval that it meets BMW's specifications. So we
really don't know what the future holds for that MINI with the
crushed/repaired roof. The people I spoke with at the VPC took a lot of
pride in the quality of their work and the finished product and were
adamant that if a car couldn't meet spec it would be scrapped (we were
talking about cars with frame damage at the time).
paint shop was the next station we saw. This 3 needs to get the
driver's side door painted. The environment in the paint booth is
strictly controlled. After paint, the cars are moved into another room
where the paint is baked.
This is the exit to the paint shop.
The MINI color pallet
CANDY BLUE SIGHTING! Ok, so it's not a Candy Blue MINI, but it does appear they are ready to paint MINIs candy blue should the need arise.
is a Z4 that is in the training area of the body shop. Technicians from
dealerships in the Western Region come to the VPC for training.
A straight shot down the length of the Z4
was a new 5-Series with extensive front end damage. This car was BMW's
cold weather test vehicle and it was the first new 5 to be crashed,
during testing in Alaska. The car was now being used as a demonstration
piece in the training area. This next shot was made possible because
the front end bodywork, back to the frame rails, had been removed.
The BMWs and MINIs are processed together.
MINIs nearing the end of the check-out at the VDC.
This MINI has completed the process at the VDC. All it needs now is for a truck to pick it up and take it to it's owner.
you remember earlier when we saw that MINI with the roof being
replaced, this is the type of truck that it was on. The top of the
trailer pops up a few feet to allow better access. The cars on the
bottom are suppose to be unloaded first poor MINI with the crushed roof.
With that, the cars are loaded up and leave the Port Hueneme Vehicle Distribution Center.
Special thanks to David Bunting for his photos and insight!