BMW and Audi suspend shipments by train to China

Railway official cites client worries about insurance and Russian confiscation

For Nikkei Asia

JENS KASTNER, Contributing writerApril 26, 2022 12:38 JST

HAMBURG, Germany — BMW Group and Audi have suspended shipments of cars by rail from Germany to China, the biggest market for both carmakers, due to the Ukraine war.

Most of the 846,237 vehicles BMW delivered to Chinese customers last year were produced at its joint venture factory in Shenyang, but between 150,000 and 200,000 were imported from Europe. Beginning in September, BMW began dispatching cars bound for western provinces by train, at a pace then set to reach 16,000 a year.

„Due to the current geopolitical situation, our train transport on the Silk Road and Trans-Siberian Railway have temporarily been switched to alternative routes or transportation modes to ensure planning and supply security,“ said a BMW spokeswoman. „Vehicles for China and Mongolia are now transported by ship from Bremerhaven.“

A spokesperson for Volkwagen Group’s Audi brand also confirmed that it has ceased rail shipments. Most of the 701,289 vehicles it delivered in China last year were also locally produced, but sales of imports rose 53%. 

Based on data from the Netherlands‘ Nunner Logistics and shipping information service Drewry Supply Chain Advisors, the cost to send a shipping container to Shanghai on the usual rail route is now about 78% higher than by sea freight. But the train route is usually several days shorter.

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