A few years ago, we published an article that the Philippines will become a new export destination for BMWs... from Malaysia.

Well, now we can confirm it: BMW Philippines has started to sell BMW units that were assembled in Malaysia, specifically at a factory in Kulim, Kedah.

We reached out to BMW Philippines distributor SMC-Asia Car president Spencer Yu, who likewise confirmed that the BMW 5 Series we were driving was indeed Malaysian-made.

We were able to confirm it during our test drive of the new BMW 520i wherein there was still some documentation inside the glove compartment.

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The paperwork showed that the 520i we were driving was assembled in Malaysia at the BMW Kulim Plant by Sime Darby Auto Bavaria. Being assembled in an ASEAN country means these units will benefit from discounted import duties, leading to better pricing.

“There is indeed a cost advantage on acquiring vehicles from Malaysia like the BMW 520i Luxury,” said SMAC president Spencer Yu. “Taking into consideration critical factors such as production and shipping costs, we are able to realize marginal savings. SMAC then passes on these savings to the customer allowing us to have the most competitive products in the segment.”

With the benefit of ASEAN FTA, Spencer says the BMW 520i Luxury would be priced at around PhP 4.5 million, give or take. To put that pricing in perspective, BMW has successfully the comparable Japan-made Lexus GS350 (PhP 4.888 million) which has import duty benefits from JPEPA.

But because of BMW's participation as a mobility partner in the 2019 SEA Games, they were able to price a limited number of units at PhP 3,990,000 for customers. That's a whopping PhP 1 million (to be exact, PhP 1,005,000) less than the diesel powered 520d Luxury.

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Understandably there will be some raised eyebrows amongst BMW customers that their 5 Series is not built in Germany, but Spencer was quick to reassure them.

“Filipinos may expect that BMW vehicles assembled in Malaysia are engineered in true BMW fashion, by a team of experts appointed by our executive office in Germany. This means that our discerning buyers may now purchase the best of BMW with the best value,” continued Yu.

The facility started assembling BMW models in 2016, and was reported to be in the process of working on assembling other BMW models such as the 3 Series and 7 Series. There are also reports that they will be manufacturing BMW's SUV (sorry, SAV) models like the X1, X3, X4, or maybe even more. Many of those BMW X models are usually built at their Spartanburg, South Carolina facility in the US.

Given the cost advantage, will BMW Philippines offer those other ASEAN-assembled models as well?

“Working towards that goal,” concluded the president of BMW Philippines.