It's hard to not be detail-oriented when buying a new car. Jeff G. went all out for BMWBlog, hyperstalking his car from the factory to his dealer. This one of the most obsessive things we've ever seen. —Ed.
We've seen a lot of new-car-ordering weirdness in our time, but this one takes the cake. Jeff G. tracked every step his '09 BMW 335i took, from assembly line to shipping movements to dealer delivery, in deliciously obsessive detail. Many people follow their car from the factory — enthusiast forums are filled with minor-league play-by-play reports — but very few take the time to hunt down photographs of the ship in port, or to track it across the ocean with the aid of GPS. Amazingly, Jeff did all that and more.
The lesson here? The Internet is wonderful. The specifics vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but the basics are the same. If you're determined enough, you ought to be able to replicate his efforts.
BMW Model Ordered
2009 Silver, (E92) BMW, Twin Turbo 335i X-drive, M Sport Coupe, in late April.
What it takes to start a guide like this:
The car was scheduled to be delivered, and awaiting my pick up at the dealer by June 15th, 2009. I figured out, I wouldn't be driving my 335i home from the dealer on that date. The car had been sitting at the "port of exit" in Germany, awaiting shipping for close to 2 weeks. I decided, after I discovered the delay, to find out where my car was, and when I would eventually get it. Here's what I've learned about how to do that.
How to track your new BMW through the production and shipping cycles in the modern age of information:
(NOTE: This only works for BMW and Mini Vehicles, This write-up is primarily focused on East Coast delivery options.)
Here's the car I ordered:
As outfitted on the "Build Your Own" section of the BMW website, and as stipulated with the featuresto my dealer for my order:
Tracking my BMW 335i:
1. First: you'll need the vehicle "VIN" number from your dealer, or a vehicle production number. As soon as the dealer officially orders the car through the BMW allocation system, they'll get the VIN number, and then you can get the VIN number from the dealer -just ask them.
Here's my VIN: WBAWC73569E06XXXX
1.2 –- What my VIN number means:
WBA WC73 5 6 9 E06XXXX
WBA= BMW AG
WC73= Model code of my 335i
5=Safety restraint identifier, indication of seat belts, duel advanced airbags, rear/side airbags, curtain airbags, ect.
6= check digit determined by vin
9= model year, "9″ code indicates a 2009 manufacture date (see the code in the chart below)
E= Plant code, "Regensburg" Germany (A=Munich)
06XXXX= Sequential production number of my car.
1.3 -– BMW Vin Example:
2. You can then get "rough" update on your cars progress from BMW NA. The production status is listed in the secure member's area of the BMW website. You'll need the VIN number to sign up for the members area. This information can be 48 hours (or more) behind the actual status of the car.
This is the status of my 335i as shown in the BMW NA Member's Area Website : "Awaiting Transport…"
And, another view of the status: "Awaiting Transport.. in the timeline view…"
Tracking the car status via phone, BMW North America:
(This information can, as well, be more than 48 hours behind the actual status)
• Call: (1-800) 831-1117
• Say "Vehicle Production Status" when prompted… or at any time after the recording starts
• then,you will be asked for your production number, or last seven digits of your vin number…
• then say – the last seven digits of your VIN. In my case: E06XXXX, (Read as, for example: E, Zero,6,ex,ex,ex,ex.)
Carefully annunciate the Es, Ts and Bs – the system is voice recognition based, and sometimes gets confused with Es
and Ts and Bs.
• then say "yes" when the voice reads it back – if correct… if not correct say "no," and repeat… (you can get it wrong 3 times,
and then the system kicks you to a live human, if you're calling during business hours… if not, BMW will give you their
operating hours for the office. Hang up, and try again if they're closed.)
• then say "partial VIN number," if not a production number… when asked…
• then, the system will give you the status of you vehicle production within the last 24 hours.
These are the BMW status code descriptions:
0 Order deleted by NA
17 Order not Specified
37 Order is at BMW NA
87 Production Week Assigned
97 Order sent to AG
100 Order deleted by AG
101 Error in data transmitted
102 Special Order (no Prod Week)
105 Order out of Prod. Period
111 Order Accepted at AG
112 Order scheduled for Production
150 Production Started
151 Body Shop Started
152 Paint Shop Started
153 Assembly Started
155 Production Completed
160 Released to Distribution
168 AG Stock
170 Waiting Workshop
172 Planned for Workshop
174 Workshop Entry
176 Workshop Complete
180 Waiting for Export Dispatch
181 Waiting for Domestic Dispatch
182 AG Load No. - Released to Carrier
190 Dispatched ex(port?) BMW AG
191 Returned to BMW AG
193 Arrived at Port of Exit (where my car was stalled)
194 Selected for Shipment
195 Shipped from Port of Exit
196 Shipment Arrival - ATA
3. Once the vehicle is listed as "En Route," you can begin following the progress in detail by other means. Once on a ship, BMW status on their website will no longer provide a detailed update, but you can still continue to track the vehicle.
3.1 -– BMW ships with several cargo lines and carriers, depending on the destination.
• Wallenius&Wilhelmsen (parent company for several ship lines listed below)
• EUKOR - a division of Wallenius Lines
• UECC - another division of Wallenius Lines
• A.P. Möller - yet another division and ship line owned or operated by Wallenius Lines
• Mark 1 Shipping – owned or operated by Wallenius Lines
• K-LINE (Usually BMW West Coast deliveries only, but sometimes ships to NY/NJ as NYK-Line) K-Line is not a W&W company
• ARC - Often operated by, or under the direction of Wallenius Lines
4. Most BMWs are shipped out of the port of Bremerhaven Germany (Known by the faithful as: "Bimmer Heaven")
Latitude: 53.5715° (decimal)
Longitude: 8.546° (decimal)
Port: Bremerhaven Germany
5. Typical BMW Shipping Ports of Call:
Here's the typical EU to NA ports of call for the weekly car transport vessels run by Wallenius & Wilhelmsen. The destination listed on your ships itinerary will likely be the next port, and not your cars final destination.
East Coast Delivery:
Bremerhaven (port of exit)
New York (actually New Jersey)
7. Figuring out which ship your car may be on:
• The easiest way is to ask your dealer. He'll have a detailed day by day track of his allocation shipments. Just call, and they'll give you the ships name.
• In advance of that, you can get a good idea of your ship's name by backing up the schedule you were given when you ordered the car, and finding the ships who's schedule aligns with the approximate final port of entry arrival date.
7.1 –- The typical BMW transport schedule:
• Car to be picked up by you at the dealer on "X" date, for example: June 25th
• Subtract 1- 2 days at the dealer to detail the car, and install any remaining dealer options : June 24
• Subtract 2-3 days in transit from the port to the dealer, so: June 22, 23, in transit via truck to the dealer from the VPC (Vehicle Preparation Center.)
Your transport time will vary based on your distance from ports of arrival. Ground shipping on the East Coast is commonly carried out by: "Bavarian Motor Transport," in Enclosed Freight Liners
• Subtract another 3 days, the car will typically spend June 19, 20, 21 at the VPC, at the port of entry
• Now look for ships who's itineraries list your port of arrival on, or close to that date, in this example, the Port of NY/NJ arriving sometime around June 18th.
7.2 –- Ship Schedules:
The Shipping schedules are posted as a PDF at the Wallenius Wilhelmsen website, and changes, but look for the Westbound schedule chart. (Wallenius Wilhelmsen: http://schedule.2wglobal.com/AppSche…countr…)
K line also posts their schedules on their website as a PDF, and those are usually West Coast bound ships – but not always
8. Track your car, if shipped by Wallenius Wilhelmsen, using the VIN #:
• Go to "track and trace" cargo section on the homepage, at the bottom right.
(as displayed June 2009, this function has changed location over the months)
• Enter the VIN in the "Cargo ID" field of the form
• Hit "Track"
• Status will be displayed once Wallenius has taken taken possession of the car and selected it for shipment.
• You will then know the ships name.
• If "no records are available" is displayed, Wallenius Wilhelmsen does not yet have your car in their possession, your car is not being transported by their fleet, or the tracking system is lagging behind actual status – which is quite common.
NOTE: My car never was displayed on this tracking site although Wallenius Wilhelmsen is listed as the logistics carrier, and agent for my ship, operated by ARC.
9. This is the Ship my 335i was actually on:
SHIP NAME: INTEGRITY
PORT OF DEPARTURE: BREMERHAVEN
DEPARTURE DATE: 06/06/2009
PORT OF DESTINATION: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK, NY
ARRIVAL DATE AT NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK, NY: 13/06/2009
(RESCHEDULED: 18/06/2009 while in the port of Bremerhaven, RESCHEDULED: at 11:25 am EST June 14th by Port of New Jersey to 6/19/2009, arriving at 12:00)
PREVIOUS SHIP NAME: AKA – M/V OTELLO (Re-named Integrity in 2005 as part of the U.S. Maritime Security Program.)
AVERAGE SPEED: 13.8 Knots
DAYS IN TRANSIT: 12
VOYAGE NUMBER: EB914
IMO NUMBER: 8919934 (International Maritime Organization ship identification number)
MMSI NUMBER: 367063310 (Maritime Mobile Service Identities – This number reflects a U.S Flagged ship.)
CAPACITY: 5,870 cars
LENGTH: 190 m
BEAM: 32 m
FLAG: USA. The ship is in service for ARC, (American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier) flagged as American in 2005
YEAR BUILT: 1992
SCHEDULED PORTS OF CALL:
BREMERHAVEN – 06-Jun (Germany)
ANTWERP – 08-Jun (Belgium)
ZEEBRUGGE – 09-Jun (Belgium)
SOUTHAMPTON – 10-Jun (UK)
NEW YORK, NY – 19-Jun (USA, Although shown as NY, the BMW VPC is actually in the port of New Jersey)
CONTINUING ON TO: BALTIMORE, MD, CHARLESTON,SC, BRUNSWICK, GA
ITINERARIES HISTORY: Baltimore, and Southampton
PORT OF NEW YORK – NEW JERSEY ARRIVAL DATA:
Terminal: Public Berth – NJ
Berth #: 1419 – INTEGRITY
Cargo : Autos
Estimated Arrival: 6/19/2009 12:00
Estimated Departure : 6/19/2009 20:00
Agent Name: Wallenius Wilhelmsen
Agent Telephone: 973-985-8456
Information Updated As Of: 6/9/2009, 11:25
10. Ship tracking live –- status of ship locations and speeds, with ship pictures. Refreshed every 90 seconds:
10.1 –- Once you know what ship your car is on, you can follow the ship's progress.
Search by Vessel Name, Port, or Ocean Area.
• Click on the port from the list: BREMERHAVEN
• Another site for Information on your ship:
(tracking requires sign in)
• Another way of tracking the ship: by name and call sign
For sailwx, enter the port latitude, and longitude of Bremerhaven, the port BMW usually ships their cars out of.
Latitude: 53.5715° (decimal)
Longitude: 8.546° (decimal)
Location: Bremerhaven, Germany
NOTE: Sailwx data usually appears out of date by several days, if not months. As opposed to marinetraffic, which is updated about every two minutes. I have attempted to track ships on sailwx, whose last known location was marked as "August, 2008, when tracking in June of 2009." The sailwx site however, is the only service that will follow your ship through the open ocean of the Atlantic.
• Ship tracking around the UK seas only, and lots of picture of the ships:
The "Marine Traffic" website often loses the ship when off the coast of England. The ship is shown as "out of range." There is a blind spot for their tracking in this specific area, but you can follow it in this area of transit via this site when the Marine Traffic site goes blind:
(this site can at times fall behind timely tracking – "Integrity" showed a "last signal" that was 48 hours old)
• An excellent and accurate site for ship tracking around the UK:
• Port: Bremerhaven Ships Currently in Harbor, live feed of information refreshed every 90 seconds:
• Ships in port BREMERHAVEN now, and the expected departures and arrivals within the next and last 24 hours:
Select from the list:
BREMERHAVEN, DE for port map, or in port, or departures, or arrivals or ships expected in the next 24 hours:
11. Live webcam of "Automobilexport"in Brevenhaven, "Osthafen/Whendebecken" harbor loading area,
South of "AmNordhafen" Access road:
11.1 –- Live from Breverhaven Germany, April 6th, 2009
If you look to the North of the The "Osthafen/Whendebecken" harbor loading area on the aerial map, you'll see a bridge that runs over the railroad automotive arrival tracks. When you look at the webcam view (below 2 photos), you'll see the bridge, looking back towards the loading area to the South. This is updated about every 2 minutes. If you have two windows open on your browser, both the webcam, and the Marine Traffic site will align – telling you what ship you're seeing in the webcam by virtue of the aerial view of the port on the MarineTraffic.com site.
Examples from 11, and 11.1 above –- Faust and Maersk Wave
This was a live webcam shot of the two car transporters in port at Bremerhavern that aligned with the above
tracking, the Maersk Wave at left below, and the Faust, marked on the side of the ship as Wallenius Wilhelmsen, below right.
Tracking my ship, the Integrity:
Many BMWs are loaded onto car carrier ships in the "Automobilexport" port sections in Breverhaven. Look for the "Osthafen/Whendebecken" harbor loading area, it is a common staging area for BMW's awaiting export, South of "AmNordhafen" perimeter road.
Integrity's movements, June 1st through June 6th:
• MarineTraffic, shows Integrity as in port at Bremerhaven Germany, West of auto export "Whendebecken" harbor loading area as of June 1, 2009.
• In port, moored in the "Osthafen/Whendebecken" harbor loading area of Bremerhaven, June 4th, 10:00am EST
• Shown as moved in port at 7:20 pm EST June 4th to a new loading area to the South, now in "Kaiserhafen ll" harbor, Bremerhaven. • Moved out of port as of June 5th.
• Shown docked again back in "Kaiserhafen ll" area at Bremerhaven Germany, June 6th, 7:32am
June 4th, The Integrity docked to the South of the MV Faust at Bremerhaven
June 6th, 7:32am EST Below is the "Kaiserhafen ll" port area at Breverhaven, South of the more common "Osthafen/Whendebecken car loading area shown above. This picture shows the movement (shown as a green line) of car transporter "Integrity" from the Whendebecken location in port to Kaiserhafen ll .
• Other live webcams, 6 views of the port at Bremerhaven:
• More webcams:
• Collection of webcam port views at Bremerhaven:
• Panning views of Southampton: http://www.cowesharbourweather.com/webcam.aspx
VIDEO: Here's a video tour of the inside of a typical W&W car transporter, shot with an in car camera:
11.2 –- The day by day shipping journey of the Integrity, and my 2009, BMW 335i M Coupe:
The Integrity, (AKA: M/V OTELLO) in service for ARC (American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier) Bremerhaven Germany
June 6th, 2009, departs Bremerhaven Germany for Antwerp Belgium, the first port of stop of four on it's way to the port of New York/New Jersey.
June 9th, 2009, 10:09pm UTC, the Integrity is photographed by "RW68″ who lists his location as the port of Bremerhaven, 6/9/09
June 9th, approximately 2:45 pm UTC, a photographer named Stan Muller takes three pictures of the Integrity while underway leaving
the port of Antwerp on June 9th, 2009.
My 335i is on this very ship, in the port of Antwerp on June 9th.
June 9th, 5:33am EST, shortly after Stan's picture above, the Integrity is tracked leaving the port of Antwerpen and the "Vrasenedok" transport dock near Brussels – destination; Zeebrugge Belgium. The ship photos in the pop-up window on MarineTraffic show the Integrity as green, not blue – the ship was repainted blue in 2008.
June 9th, 1:05pm EST, ( about 5 hours after leaving the port of Antwerp,) the Integrity is now moored in the port of Zeebrugge Belgium, "Verbindingsdok" port loading area. Zeebrugge port records indicate that the Integrity arrived in port 4:00pm UTC
June 10th, 2009, Integrity underway at 12.3 kn, now entering the port of Southampton, "GB SAU," arriving from the port of Zeebrugge Belgium.
Watching the Integrity enter the port of Southampton – live.
(while on a wireless laptop in the lobby of a Westin Hotel in Atlanta Georgia… isn't technology great)
Live Webcam Sequence Capture: June 10th –- 11:47 UTC (45 minutes after the above mapped position)
Integrity, as it passes in transit between Fawley and Cowes in the UK, entering the port mouth of Southampton:
June 10th –- Integrity Moored in the port of Southampton
June 11th, 6:56am EST, Having left the port of Southampton, the Integrity is underway off the coast of England, South of Porthleven/Penzance, near the "isles of Scilly" traveling at 17.3kn, – ETA New York is listed as; 9:00 UTC, June 19th.
June 12th, 9:00am EST, Integrity is tracked via its call-sign, WDC6925, in the Atlantic. Last known position mapped below is 13 hours and 4 minutes out of date as of this track, located at position N 47°54′, W 010°48′.
June 13th, 7:53am EST, Last known position reported June 12th 6:00 pm UTC, at N 45°30′, W 016°54′. Bearing towards the Azores.
June 15, 5:30am EST, Position N 41°42′, W 037°54′. The integrity has been averaging about 350 miles per day. Estimated speed at between 14 and 17.5 kn, – or about 15 to 19 miles per hour.
June 16, 6:30am EST, Last position tracked at 1:30am EST June 16, N 41°18′, W 046°30′. There were two position updates in the last 23 hours
June 18th, 6:50am EST
June 19th, 7:00am EST, Integrity enters the Port of New York New Jersey, shown moored at NEAT, (North East Auto Terminal) port records list arrival time as 6:11am. The Integrity is moored in Berth #: 1419.
NY/NJ AIS Port Traffic:
Final Destination, VPC New Jersey Port, shown below is the Northern NEAT (North East Auto Terminal) dock.
BMW VPC, SouthWest Docks,
VPC New York/New Jersey:
BMW VPC/VDC (Vehicle Distribution Center):
The car will spend up to three days being prepped for the American market, and being repaired to factory specifications should damage have occurred in transit, in my case, none did.
(Above) Ground shipping:East-coast deliveries are made by Bavarian Motor Transport, in enclosed Freightliners. This is a BMT truck.
Home at last:
The BMW 335i (back left hand bay) moments after arriving home from the dealer.
That's the entire journey.
This post originally appeared on BMWBlog on July 14, 2009. It was repackaged there from a story on GarageJournal.