BMW (Thailand) Co. Ltd. says it will no longer provide warranty and service to cars bought on the gray market, beginning in March with the worldwide launch of the 5-Series.

Gray vehicles are new or used vehicles legally imported from another country and outside the auto maker's official distribution system. It also is referred to as parallel importing.

The Bangkok Post says the action is seen by industry observers as an attempt to keep gray products out of the Thai market because rising sales of non-authorized BMW and Mini brand cars are threatening the auto maker’s business.

But BMW Thailand President Michael Kordys says the decision is part of a new global warranty and services policy and is unrelated to independent importers. The BMW warranty only will be valid in the country of origin.

Kordys says the validity of warranty and services remains unchanged for models imported prior to March.

The executive says because of the widening gap in fuel quality and emissions standards in various regions, BMW and Mini cars' technical specifications vary between markets.

BMW and Mini vehicles sold through authorized dealers get specific adjustments for Thailand's climate.

The Bangkok Post says other luxury-car distributors are surprised by BMW's move to refuse to service the vehicles.

Executives at Daimler AG’s Mercedes and Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus luxury divisions, as well as Porsche AG importer AAS Auto Service Co. Ltd., say they service all their cars regardless of origin.

“As long as it bears our logo, we accept it,” the newspaper quotes one executive as saying. “It's a worldwide requirement.”

However, they do agree some form of discouragement be used to deter buyers from going through the gray market, such as canceling warranty on cars without Thai homologation, charging more for servicing and parts and giving gray-market cars second priority during servicing. All say they give their official customers priority and standard rates.

“Those who buy from the gray market would be charged higher fees,” executives at Lexus and Porsche are quoted as saying.