BMW is setting up its own national sales and aftersales distributor in Portugal by taking over independent importer Baviera, industry sources said.
Baviera has been the main importer of BMW vehicles to Portugal since 1983.
The move has been developing for three years. In 2000, BMW was within days of creating BMW Portugal to handle Portuguese distribution for BMW and its then-subsidiary brands, Rover and Land Rover. But BMW's decision to sell off Rover to the automaker's management and then Land Rover to Ford killed that plan.
Instead, BMW extended its contract with Baviera for another four years.
BMW's new Portugal distributor will be directly owned and operated. BMW chose not to use the resources of BMW Iberica, its Spanish direct sales company, in Portugal because BMW marketing strategies for the neighboring countries differ.
"We believe in decentralized market responsibilities, but we will help our future colleagues in Portugal with everything they will need," said Klaus Berning, chairman of BMW Iberica. "Beyond that help, they have to have their own resources," such as the freedom to buy their own advertising space.
The Spanish and Portuguese distributors will share a new parts depot BMW Iberica opened last November in Guadalajara, between Madrid and Zaragoza, with a capacity to supply 4,000 different parts to Spanish and Portuguese BMW and Mini dealers.
BMW Iberica also has set up a car logistics park in Zaragoza, in Spain's central Aragon region, that can handle 40,000 cars annually imported from Germany, the UK and the USA for BMW and Mini dealers in both Spain and Portugal.
From the USA, 10,000 X5 and Z4 models built at the Spartanburg plant are shipped through the port of Vigo. Minis are shipped from the UK. About 23,000 cars from Germany arrive by truck and train.
Separately, Grupo Berge will continue as importer for BMW's Rolls-Royce brand in Portugal.