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What does OEM, aftermarket, non genuine and genuine really mean?

First it's important to understand that BMW themselves manufacture very little of the cars they assemble and sell.

When a new model is being developed BMW provide outside manufacturers with specifications of a certain component they will require for the new model. These manufacturers then design the product to meet these specifications.

Once this is complete, the manufacturer provides an ‘offer to supply'.

BMW then select from one of these manufacturers who then commence manufacture and supply to BMW for vehicle assembly. This manufacturer has now become an OEM or "Original Equipment Manufacturer" and is manufacturing and supplying ‘genuine' parts to BMW.

This company may provide BMW with this component for the entire production run of the vehicle or may only be given the contract to supply for a certain period of time or number of units before the contract expires.

At this point BMW will attempt to renegotiate their pricing structure taking into account the fact that the manufacturer should by now have recovered their initial research, development and design costs and be able to reduce their per unit cost dramatically.

While company ‘a' has been supplying BMW with this component some of the other companies who also did research, development and design work (but failed to win the initial contract) have been busy getting production online for this component knowing that there will at some point be a large ‘aftermarket' demand for this part.

So when the contract renewal negotiations with company ‘a' break down due to pricing or other issues, company ‘b' steps in and commences supply at the lower price demanded by BMW.

So now company ‘a' has tooling, quality control, manufacturing and packaging ability for a part BMW no longer purchase from them.

They are still an OEM supplier so they simply (and it is usually this simple) remove the BMW logo from their tooling, continue manufacture and order packaging with their own name. This is therefore an OEM part and the exact same part BMW sold without the ridiculous price tag.

Now we get to ‘aftermarket'.

Some people consider that OEM and aftermarket are the same. In some cases this is just a poor use of words and the items they use or sell and call aftermarket are actually OEM.

But there are aftermarket parts that are manufactured and supplied by companies who have never supplied to BMW, never passed any of BMW's quality systems and therefore should be avoided at all costs.

So when you take your BMW to a service centre that is not BMW authorized, as long as they use OEM parts your vehicle is not suffering in any way. You are just saving money, sometimes as much as 50%.

We use parts from ATE, Hengst, Knecht, Mahle, Bosch, NGK, INA, FAG, ZF, Behr, SWF, Elring, Victor Reinz, Continental, Lemforder, Valeo, Beru and many other European manufacturers that are all OE suppliers to BMW.

And of course we also use genuine.