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German Wheelmaker BBS Is Bankrupt Yet Again [Corrected]

Illustration for article titled German Wheelmaker BBS Is Bankrupt Yet Again [Corrected]
Photo: BBS USA

BBS Kraftfahrzeugtechnik AG, known for its iconic basketweave wheels, has once again filed for bankruptcy. While the company will be restructured under proceedings similar to an American Chapter 11 filing and will likely live on, the announcement shows how precarious the current economic situation can be for suppliers of specialty auto parts.

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According to a report from Autoevolution, the current proceedings are the third restructuring for BBS in fifteen years after an initial bankruptcy in 2007 and another four years later in 2011. BBS is confident that it will be able to emerge from this restructuring, which it attributes to the temporary production shutdown caused by the covid-19 pandemic lockdown measures taken in Germany.

These bumps in the road came after the German company, which was founded in 1970 and went on to manufacture an innovative three-piece racing wheel designed in 1972, went public in 1980, and aggressively expanded into the Japanese, Italian and American markets shortly thereafter.

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You’re probably familiar with the company’s (rather expensive) multi-part basketweave cast wheels, and you’ve also probably heard of BBS’s The BBS name has rode on the wheels of Formula One master Michael Schumacher when he celebrated his world championship in 1995 for Benetton Renault. BBS-markd wheels turbofan wheels also featured on Japan’s Super Silhouette racers a decade earlier as well. And you’ll still see BBS’s wheels in series from Indycar to endurance racing to hillclimbs and, of course, Formula One.

These wheels are made by the Japanese subsidiary mentioned above, which has been a distinct company from the German parent for years, even though they continue to share a three-letter acronym.

Despite the company’s recent challenges, The German BBS has continued to be a leader in high-performance wheel technology in both the racing and street markets. Honda recently called on the company to design an innovative lightweight wheel for the current-generation Civic Type R, for example.

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Though the company will survive yet another chink in its armor, perhaps it is a good idea to think up another source for basketweaves. Maybe cutting them out of steelies might work. Actually, on second thought, please don’t try that.

Correction: Tuesday, July 21, 2020, 3:07 PM ET: This story has been updated to clarify the distinction between the German entity in question and the Japanese spin-off of the same name.

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

They need to stop pricing their wheels at almost two grand per axle. And also start selling to heavy machinery industries. Imagine a forklift with some BBS CH-Rs. Negotiating some deals with manufacturers to sell their wheels on higher trim levels like they did in the ‘80s and ‘90s would also be helpful.