This was rather unexpected.
Earlier, we had reported that BMW Philippines, under SMC Asia Car Distributors Corporation, has started to explore the possibility of importing BMW models that were assembled in Malaysia. They did so successfully with a batch of units that were used in last year's staging of the South East Asian Games (SEA Games) in the Philippines.
As we had just learned from Spencer Yu, the president of BMW's Philippine distributor, those units -including the 520i Luxury we tested earlier- was just a special batch of units that were limited to the SEA Games.
As a mobility partner for the Games, BMW Philippines explored possibilities to provide transport solutions for the executives and high ranking dignitaries attending the events around the country. The brand has a long history of performing such duties and have imported vehicles to support other major events that are held in the country like conferences of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) Summit, and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
To participate, BMW sought a way to bring in units in a more cost effective manner, and the Malaysian-assembled vehicles provided that advantage. With the benefit of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), BMW Philippines was able to import the the petrol-powered 520i Luxury, which was priced at PhP 3,990,000.
That SRP is PhP 600,000 less than the lowest priced 5-Series that they launched in 2018, which was the diesel-powered and German-made 520d Luxury at PhP 4,590,000.
Beyond the SEA Games batch, BMW Philippines is now looking where to get their next supply of vehicles, and are still in negotiations as to which direction they could take. If BMW Philippines reverts to German-made 5-Series units, we expect the prices to return to previous levels.
If you are interested to grab a brand new Malaysian-made 520i Luxury for under PhP 4 million, Mr. Yu informed us that they still have 40 units left.
The huge price cut was a result of reduced import duties and taxes on vehicles that were assembled in an ASEAN country. Together with other factors to enhance cost-effectiveness, the 520i Luxury took advantage of the benefits of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), and effectively lowered the price by 13 percent.
BMW Philippines had been looking at importing more vehicles from Malaysia, but it appears they will have to put those plans on hold for now until matters are resolved. As to what those issues are, we're not quite certain, but we were assured that they were not related to build quality in any way.
When (not if) BMW Philippines reverts to German-made 5-Series units, expect the prices to return to previous levels.
If you are interested, however, to grab a brand new 520i Luxury for under PhP 4 million, Mr. Yu informed us that they still have 40 units left. Expect them to go fairly quickly.