Are you one to the early adopters that has taken a leap of faith and ordered a BMW i3? I say leap of faith since it is BMW’s first real production electric vehicle. Plus, there so few of them here in the US that many people have placed their orders without actually ever seeing one in person let alone taking one for a test drive. If you have been lucky enough to test drive one, it was likely only for a short distance and on a designated route.
Plus, since there were no actual US spec i3’s here in the US until this week, all of the cars used for test drives have been pre-production European spec vehicles that didn’t have the polished fit and finish of a production vehicle. Oh, and if you did test drive one, you drove the fully electric i3 because there were no i3’s with range extenders here for test drives at all. So yeah, if you already have an i3 on order, you are likely an early adopter that is pretty excited about this revolutionary vehicle. Enough so to place your money down on one without really knowing for sure if BMW has delivered on their promise to make the i3 a “real” BMW.
So what can you do while your i3 is being built? You can obsessively track it’s every move, that’s what you can do, and this article is meant to help you do just that. There are various steps you can take listed below, depending on just how much you want to stalk your i3. Have at it!
Step One: Get your production number from your client adviser. Sign into My BMW account at bmwusa.com. Enter your production number and select Track my BMW. There are six steps listed: Order documentation, Production begins, Production ends, En route to the U.S., Finishing touches and At your BMW dealer.
Step Two: Obtain the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
The VIN is typically assigned when the vehicle is well into production. Until it’s been assigned a VIN you’ll only have the production number to work with however you can get the VIN from that without even asking your client adviser.
To do so you need to look into the source code of your bmwusa.com tracking page. Here’s how:
- Log in to the My BMW section of the bmwusa.com web site.
- Go to the “Track my BMW” section.
- Once you see the state of your i3, use your browser to open the source code for the web page (browser dependant, but often a right click and ‘View Page Source’ or some such). Search in the HTML code for “VIN_7″, and right after one of those instances you will see value=”VX…..”. That VX***** value field is the last 7 alphanumeric characters of your VIN.
(For the Safari browser on Apple machines, to view source code of a web page, you need to A) go into Preferences in the Advanced section and select “Show Develop menu in menu bar; B) Click on the “Develop” menu in the top menu bar; C) ”Click on “Show Page Source”; D) follow instructions above.)
Step Three: If you only have a partial VIN, use the VIN decoder website to get the whole VIN: http://www.bmwarchive.org/vin/bmw-vin-decoder.html
Step Four: Once your car has shipped, and is on a ship across the Atlantic, you can track that ship here: https://att.2wglobal.com/gstattweb/ocean.do?method=getDefaultOceanQuickSearchPage
Enter the last 7 alphanumeric characters of VIN in the Cargo ID box on right side. Alternatively you can enter your entire VIN. If you want to see all the i3’s listed on the ship, enter the wildcard “WBY1%” and you’ll see the list of every one on the ship.
Conservative estimates on timing:
- 2 weeks for production
- 1 week for transit to port*
- 4 weeks for shipping to West Coast
- 1 week for transport and prep to dealer
- subtract 10 days for East Coast delivery
* There are several days of variability based on when your car arrives at the European port for the trans-oceanic ship. If you’re lucky you’ll gain a couple days; if you’re unlucky (arriving at port just after a boat leaves) you’ll lose a couple days.
Back in 2009 we did a comprehensive post (http://www.bmwblog.com/2009/07/14/how-to-follow-a-new-bmw-from-order-to-shipping-and-to-delivery/) about tracking any BMW order. This is still a great resource and a must read for anyone interested in tracking their cars progression
Here is a shipping schedule. Enter origin as Germany/Bremerhaven:
If your car is being shipped to the US west coast, it will pass through the Panama Canal, and you can even watch it on webcams! Use the MarineTraffic.com site to track the ship (see the link to our 2009 post above for more on that), and start looking for the ship on the cameras just before it gets to the location on the map. The marine traffic will also give you a thumbnail and pictures of the ship so you can confirm. The ship will pass through the Gatun locks, then the Pedro Miguel locks (see also Centennial Bridge cameras), and finally the Miraflores locks.
Other Info: Call on the phone 800-831-1117. Say “Vehicle Production Status”; then your order number or VIN; and then clarify if it’s an order or a VIN. If you need more info, you can ask to speak to a representative and they will be happy to give you up to the minute details on your vehicles status.
There is also a new service for BMW i customers called BMW iConcierge. You can contact your BMW iConcierage here: 855-236-1025 or Bmwiconcierge@bmwusa.com
VIN Production Sequence:
U.S. BEV i3′s have VIN codes starting with VX5 (last 7 alphanumeric characters). The first known production U.S. BEV i3 was VX51048, leaving Germany on March 27th.
U.S. REx i3′s have VIN codes starting with VX6 (last 7 alphanumeric characters). The first known production U.S. REx i3 was VX62568, leaving Germany on March 24th.
Note: Much of this information was obtained from the BMW i3 Facebook group with Mary Demarest-Paraan doing a lot of the heavy lifting!