BMW Malaysia may have just started a new trend

No, I’m not referring to that audacious (some say ridiculous) grille found on the new BMW 4-Series coupe, but when BMW Malaysia disclosed the price of the 430i M-Sport last week, it had everyone scurrying for the fine print.

While decoupling the cost of maintenance and extended warranty from the suggested retail price is new in Malaysia, some brands have been offering such options to customers without publishing the details in the public domain, perhaps not to cause confusion as to the price of the vehicle.

Apart from issuing a new price list with additional columns and an entire page dedicated to the breakdown of the extended warranties and service packages for each model, two key points were reaffirmed in that undertaking:

  • The manufacturer’s warranty is in fact two years (with unlimited mileage)
  • The cost of three additional years of warranty and five years of regular maintenance had always been factored into the price of the vehicle (no free lunch)
There are now four different price permutations when buying a BMW or MINI; without extended warranty or service, with extended warranty only, with service package only and with both.

Now, before you get your Y fronts in a bunch and pour scorn on the manufacturer’s warranty of two years, nothing has changed in the recommended retail prices of the vehicles with extended warranties and service packages (five years for BMW, four for MINI), for now at least. What you had shelled out in December 2020 for a 320i with five-year warranty and maintenance is no different from what you would pay today for the same car, subject to prevailing promotions.

The only difference is that you can now choose not to take up on the extended warranty and/or service package and get a lower price for the vehicle. For privately registered and maintained vehicles, there’s no reason not to take up on the offer. Fleet operators on the other hand may decide otherwise.

But why just two years?

On paper, a two-year manufacturer’s warranty appears miserly and BMW Malaysia will have their PR work cut out, but the period of two years is in fact the standard duration for European brands around the world (three years typically for Japanese brands), it’s just that official distributors and national sales companies tend to offer warranties beyond two years as a competitive edge, but bear in mind that the cost is actually embedded in the price of the vehicle. Simply put, there is no free lunch, even if the marketing literature suggests otherwise.

Inspired by Apple?

The move does appear as though it’s straight out of Apple’s playbook – removing the charger from their new smartphones and making you pay extra for…extras, but the writing has been on the wall, particularly when BMW started charging an activation fee for Apple CarPlay and peddled feature sets as ‘add-ons’, such as the optional Innovation Package on the 430i M-Sport, likewise on the M3 and M4.

Fancy add-ons are nice to have but not everyone needs them.

One thing is for sure, BMW and MINI customers can expect increased flexibility with more options and packages on the menu, be it a product feature or an after-sales component, hopefully without compromise on the net value of the deal. Who knows, BMW Malaysia may have kicked started a new trend in how vehicles are sold in this country, but whichever the outcome, always spare a moment to read the fine print.