By on July 20, 2020

German wheel manufacturer BBS is, once again, confronting bankruptcy. However, it’s likely to come out on the other side intact if its own history is anything to go by. During its quest for global dominance, BBS found itself out of money in 2007. Decades of expansion crippled the company’s finances, but not before it became one of the most recognizable wheel brands on the tarmac. In fact, few vehicles from the the tail end of the 20th century suffer from having a set wrapped in rubber.

What would Subaru even be without its World Rally Blue paint and gold BBS wheels? How many racing video games bother to launch without the brand having its best styles represented in the customization menu? Who dares claim the BBS RS isn’t the most iconic mesh wheel in the history of tuning culture? 

The brand’s second bankruptcy came in 2011, making it seem as though the company has trouble coping with an incoming or outgoing recession — which brings us to today.

According to Autoevolution, BBS Kraftfahrzeugtechnik AG is facing insolvency with tough times on the horizon. Manufacturers around the world were hit hard by the pandemic, and BBS specifically faults COVID-19 for its current situation. “Due to the unexpected disappearance of promised payments, insolvency threatens in the coming months,” the company wrote in an internal memo.

From Autoevolution:

Under insolvency administrator and lawyer Thomas Oberle, the company aims to continue its “extensive restructuring course” in order to bounce back to profitability. “We have a time of change ahead of us,” reads another statement, and obviously, securing the financial future of BBS is top priority.

Considering that Oberle has also administrated the previous insolvency from 2011, it’s high time for the administrator to prove the naysayers wrong. However, it won’t be an easy job if you take a look at the ridiculously low share price of BBS.

While this likely means another change in ownership, the manufacturer said it won’t cease production during the restructuring phase. We imagine it has enough brand recognition to be scooped up by a company looking to turn things around.

[Image: Davis Ghosh/Shutterstock]

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14 Comments on “Hat Trick: BBS Experiences Bankruptcy for Third Time...”


  • avatar
    ar_ken

    Sad. I just put on a set on my car last week. :(

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Yes they’ll be scooped up, made in China and sold at a Walmart near you.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I bet the shareholders are getting wheel tired of the company’s performance! Their stock will become radial-active!

    Sounds like they just don’t have a bead on how to make money! They need to get to the hub of whatever the issue is!

    Boy, I’m on a roll this evening! No, I won’t knock it off!

    I’ll be a-round all week! Remember to serve your tipper, and try the Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad!

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Another example of the circular logic often found in TTAC comments [just going around and around and around]. You spoke a lot of things, but I’m really searching for another aspect or pattern. (Not to be a bore or give you any lip.)

      For those who would like to forge ahead on their own:
      https://www.wheelfire.com/ccontent/the-complete-guide-to-wheels-definition-and-anatomy.cfm

  • avatar

    I never heard about BBS, I am more familiar with BBC Seva Novgorodtsev and Sevaoborot. But yes, help always comes from the East.

  • avatar

    I was so excited my A2 GTi had a set of BBS wheels and Recaro seats. The seats were excellent. The BBS wheels bent easily, but they were clearly designed that you could replace the rims alone, they were bolted to the hub-center wheel with a screw fastener…great idea !

    Not in the US market…you could only replace the whole wheel. Also, they were a nightmare to clean.

    I have no problem with them disappearing. Painfully over-rated, even if an 80’s icon.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      The modular construction was less about servicing bent and broken bits and more about being able to offer a wide variety of offsets and styles without having to have a separate die made for every offset plus the wheel maker could offer a variety of center sections.

      As I recall the wheels could be leak prone since the wheel haves had to be sealed with silicone after bolting to the center section.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    How OEM wheel sourcing works (very very generally):
    • Find a supplier with available production capacity for the desired wheel type (let’s say cast)
    • Pick your wheel size [and all the details]
    • Pay for the molds [upfront tooling cost]. Each wheel mold costs something on the order of $X00,000 and can support a certain volume of production [per unit time]. A high-volume wheel might need multiple molds at the wheel supplier.
    • Pick your desired finish (painted, chrome, machine finish, etc.)
    • Pay for the wheels [piece cost]

    Remember that your vehicle assembly line can only support a given number of wheel/tire combinations. If one assembly line produces more than one vehicle line, this constraint could be more severe. There are possible workarounds (ex. install a placeholder wheel/tire and change it out after end of line), but this means money/time/complexity/inventory/etc.

    Be sure to charge your OEM vehicle customer more for the wheel than you paid to the supplier. You can make very good money here. But for a low-volume wheel, amortization of the upfront tooling cost can go very high on a per-unit basis.

    This is why you tend to see a relatively limited number of wheels on the “Wheels” page of the pretty OEM vehicle brochure you are perusing (“Accessory” wheels can be handled somewhat differently and you could see more of those).

    [If you want to offer a new wheel, you’ve got lead time for development/certification and lead time for the mold(s) and volume forecasts and pictures to take and catalogs to change ad infinitum. Product planners get very “into” wheel changes when there isn’t much else they can change on a vehicle. Be aware that neither Engineering nor Manufacturing will share your enthusiasm for the change.]

    • 0 avatar

      Good Comment:
      Also Marketing: make sure that the replacement wheel is priced at roughly the average monthly car payment-Ive found this to be true from Ace of Base to high line toy. This also makes sure that the cost to replace the one wheel you bent is just less than, say, 2-3 replacement wheels, so you pay almost as much for one as a full set…but not quite as much, so you don’t get out of the OE wheels even if you think maybe you should. If you bend a second wheel, you should have bought all four aftermarket….

    • 0 avatar
      cantankerous

      Although the forged OEM wheels on my 2005 Infiniti G35 6MT coupe with 40-series tires have lots of scuff marks along the outer lips of the rims from innumerable encounters with curbs and car wash rails, they have survived 190,000 miles over crappy New England roads without the slightest dent. These things must have cost Nissan a pretty penny, and I imagine they were significant cost contributors to the car. I’m pretty sure that Infiniti switched to cast wheels a couple of years later, which I suspect are not nearly as durable but are almost certainly a lot cheaper to manufacture. You get what you pay for.

  • avatar
    ccode81

    BBS Gmbh manufactures cast wheels
    BBS Japan manufactures forged wheels and does the motor sport supply.
    there are no capital connection between the two.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    They just failed to adapt. They were hot when typical sports/sporty cars came with 15″ wheels, even 14″ steelies on base MR2/CRX/Mustang/Eclipse/etc.

    Custom wheels, like custom/aftermarket seats are tiny specialized markets and or mostly brodozer, off road, side by sides, but also Chinese made and highly competitive.

    Markets shift and you ride the gravytrain while it lasts. Look at Alpine, Blaupunked, Kodak, Diamondback and others.

    Nah, don’t shed a tear.

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