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I've been very happy with the quality of the paint on my 545i--both appearance (not too much orange peel) and durability. In fact, compared to Porsches and Mercedes I've owned, I find it to be more durable.

Car manufacturers for many years have been using water based paints (due to environmental issues) which are not as durable as the solvent based paints formerly used. The BMW paint process includes drying/curing at high temps, and the clear coat is a powder based paint, which is melted in an oven to achieve the smooth, clear finish. Here's the Dingolfing plant website--click on production, paintshop for info:
http://www.bmw-plant-dingolfing.com/dingolfing/htdocs/lowband/com/en/index.html
 

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Wolverine said:
Here is a link to an article about the German paint differences.


http://www.properautocare.com/aregepadi.html

Basically, the Germans use solvents that are banned by the EPA here because they feel their paints are more 'vivid' using the solvents. Also the clearcoat is softer, which makes it more resistant to chips, but more susceptible to swirls.
Properautocare.com is generally a good site, but in this area, their info is dated, certainly for BMW (see my other response) and Porsche, and I believe for all car manufacturers. Water based paints have been used for years now for environmental reasons.
 
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