MFactory's V3 Saga
"These build journal entries are part of a Special Series on the E9x M3 V2 carbon fiber driveshaft by YFCM Technologies.
I cover the bizarre backstory to uncovering the manufacturer of the renowned and authentic V2 product, its comparaison with the counterfeit unit along with my installations tips and driving impressions.
In this entry, I take you on a deep dive on the MFactory V3 saga and the unscrupulous behaviour of Michael, MFactory's sole owner and employee."
The following are excerpts from two major emails that were sent in December 2021 to EuroConnex members and participants of the group buy MFactory for the V3 carbon driveshaft.
I have since sourced the authentic "V2" carbon fiber driveshaft from the actual manufacturer. This product was used and loved by over 400 E9X M3 owners.
A 50x units pre-order was filled within 24 hours in January 2022. I intend to make the authentic carbon driveshaft readily available directly from YFCM, and introduce new applications to market.
Michael @ MFactory was a private labeling company masquerading as a big corporation.
As of late 2022, the V3 is still not a commercially viable product and is still in testing.
Backstory to my relationship with MFactory.
The original group buy
In Fall of 2020, I negotiated a never seen before price of 1050 US + shipping for the V2 Carbon Driveshaft. These were pre-EuroConnex days, I was just another guy on forums doing group buys.
The GB terms were set to a free driveshaft for my build if 25 members joined: over 80 of you did in 48 hours.
I asked Michael for further compensation in the form of a 2nd driveshaft as managing these is extremely time intensive, furthermore when issues arise with a very large group of people.
I was shut down and my GB was taken over by Michael and I was left out to dry.
I personally bought into that GB myself in January 2021. I wanted the product, the deal was unheard of.
It was too good to be true.
The pandemic caused massive logistics issues and Michael informed me in early 2021 that he wouldn't be able to fulfill orders of V2 and needed to look for a new carbon tube manufacturer.
He suggested he found one that was specialized in golf clubs and was strictly able to do a unidirectional weave similar to an M4. He was quick to point out the new weave pattern would make for a stronger driveshaft.
The "new" V3 model.
Michael chose to develop a new V3 variant, claiming it was using the same self-locking proprietary flange and an improved unidirectional weave.
I decided to help Michael with another GB, along with crafting the messaging for the new V3 variant.
We agreed to a group buy for the V3 at 1349$ + shipping as he suggested a higher MSRP, visibly trying to make up loss profits and cover the additional expenses of developing the V3.
This was in the Spring of 2021.
Preliminary information of tests of the V3
Early prototype testing.
The V3 carbon fiber driveshaft was supposedly tested in Q2 2021 by MFactory testers. I was never in contact with these initial testers nor do I know who they are. Michael has not provided any proof of their existence.
My production unit.
The initial V3 deliveries in September 2021 were deemed to be production units.
I requested Michael to have the 1st DCT driveshaft to be able to document and review the production V3 to reassure current GB participants due to the numerous delays.
The secondary goal was to reinvigorate interest in a product that had been unavailable for over a year.
It was actually a pre-production unit to be tested.
It was upon providing the UPS tracking number that Michael informed me that I would need to test the driveshaft. I was excited but quite surprised,.
I wasn't the ideal tester to provide rapid feedback. Michael knew of my extensive plans to service & overhaul the entire drivetrain & suspension.
He used these delays to deflect blame on myself for the delays in shipping out the driveshaft in numerous posts on M3post.
Members' pre-production units for testing.
The first 3x V3 driveshafts were delivered in mid September to myself (DCT), David (MT) and Bogdan (MT).
David was identified as a MT tester and Bogdan was a warranty replacement for a CV flange failure on a V2 driveshaft he paid in full in January 2021.
Additionally, there was a E46 M3 V3 test driveshaft that was sent to Ray as well.
Critical issues during testing.
There are considerable vibrations on all V3 units that have been tested.
To be clear, I define vibrations as something that can be felt through the throttle pedal, and even violently shaking the entire vehicle. These symptoms were reported by Bogdan, David and Ray.
The MT variant has vibrations in the 70 to 100mph range.
Bogdan had the install performed by Bavarian Autohouse in Oregon, the owner has a supercharged M3 equipped with an earlier version of the carbon driveshaft. Ray & David's driveshafts were also installed by professional BMW mechanics. .
The DCT variant has vibrations in the 115-125 mph range.
My driveshaft was installed with the support of a BMW tech during my suspension and drivetrain overhaul
Vibrations appeared on my 2nd test drive and haven't disappeared since. The vibrations were felt throughout the entire car.
It appears these issues may have been known by Michael beforehand, as during our conversations he specifically asked to look for vibrations at 124 mph.
The V3 was removed on Bogdan and Ray's car. With the OEM put back in - there were no vibrations.
Communication of issues.
I first communicated my issues to Michael on November 25th. His response was that it was a resonance and it was normal. I stressed that I felt vibrations on the throttle pedal and it was beyond humming noises or resonance.
I received further feedback from Bodgan and David on the 26th. Bogdan communicated what he felt were unsafe vibrations at 70mph and he didn't wish to take it at any higher speeds. David's vibrations were now at 100mph and were described as driving on a rough road.
Pressing the issue.
On November 26th, I reached out to Michael to press my concerns that all known V3s that were installed had vibration problems to better understand how he planned to address these issues, and where they may come from.
I was further concerned as Michael had told me he had already shipped out 20x driveshafts to GB participants with the knowledge of our issues.
This is when things started going South.
MFactory & Michael's response to these issues.
I will be paraphrasing Michael's responses here as some are insulting to initial testers and M3 owners that are in these group buys.
If some of you have doubts on things that may have really been said, feel free to contact me and I will provide excerpts of Michael's answers to my concerns.
- "But you approved it?"
- Michael suggested I had already approved the driveshaft in an attempt to shift blame. I immediately pointed out I had already told him about vibrations and referred to my messages stating so.
- "It's the installer's fault, look at the instructions!"
- Michael suggested Bogdan's issues were due to his mechanics not following instructions and he didn't know what to answer him.
- I asked whether the instructions had changed from the previous V1 and V2 variants.
- Michael specified there were no instructions provided on V1 and V2.
- I suggested initiating a problem solving discussion with the mechanic directly.
- Bogdan was unwilling to pay for further labor charges as he felt it wasn't his responsibility.
- Michael suggested the mechanics's words meant nothing if he was unwilling to do anything about it.
- "It isn't a balancing problem!"
- Bodgan provided pictures of the driveshaft and immediately pointed out there were much more balancing weights used than his previous V2.
- Michael suggested no two wheels were balanced the same and offered to check Bodgan's driveshaft on the balancing machine again. If it checked out, there would be nothing he could do.
- Michael further pressed the angle that this wasn't an OEM product and anybody expecting such should rethink their purchase.
- I voiced further concerns that these products had been marketed with the highlight that MFactory was an OEM subcontractor. He was quick to backtrack and say Toyota uses these on race cars and he didn't make anything for regular street cars.
- That response rattled my confidence and I asked point blank whether that was his planned response should issues arise.
- Michael's response was rattling: "my response will depend on the response of the customer"
- "If you want service, pay retail!"
- Michael was further quick to point out that he wouldn't ever pay for labor charges and further pointed finger at installers, suggesting he had just as many issues with the V1 and V2.
- Michael made the point that customers expecting support after sales should pay full retail and shipping instead. He expects customers to put in efforts and that he isn't offering a service, but rather an aftermarket "race" part.
- "A small stone chip can cause failure, and that's not my problem!"
- The extremely concerning comment from Michael was the suggestion that "just a small stone chip can cause the driveshaft to fail" and "that's not our problem, but we still get the blame".
- He further pointed to installers not reading the instructions. Keep in mind these previously didn't exist for V1 and V2. He admitted to building the V3 instructions from the V1 and V2 feedback, there is nothing new that installers didn't know about.
- Michal further stated that "cruising usually does increase the chance of things to vibrate more"
- "Test it at 180mph!"
- Michael initially told testers to keep it safe in their testing regimen, and have fun.
- It was later suggested by Michael to David, MT tester, that he performs a redline 6th gear acceleration test to look for vibrations. Safety visibly wasn't a concern anymore.
How the relationship unraveled between Michael and EuroConnex.
On November 27th, I was made aware of comments Michael made on M3post suggesting he hadn't screwed me out on the first group buy and that I wouldn't run a 2nd group buy if he did.
I messaged him asking to avoid stirring the pot and simply delete that message. I wasn't looking to argue - but he was, as has been common in various discussions in the last year.
I pressed that our relationship was tense considering the 100% defect rate he currently had on V3s.
I advised that his lacklustre responses the day before weren't indicative of someone admitting or anticipating the scenario of all driveshafts being defective.
I further reminded him that my loyalty was to M3 owners and not to him; I wouldn't tag along for the ride if things went South. What mattered to me was transparency and to have a quality product delivered to all of you.
That ticked him off and he asked me to pay for the defective driveshaft in full and refund any payments he may have made in the past.
I told him that was a major red flag to me - yet I had anticipated it that I'd be left out to dry, again.
That triggered him; he quit our group chat, blocked me on WhatsApp and immediately started smearing EuroConnex and myself to members in emails and on M3post.
He was hiding something.
Backstory to claims of proprietary flange, and carbon tube manufacturing.
Subcontracting the carbon tubes.
It has long been public that MFactory does not manufacture its carbon tubes and subcontracted the production to suppliers that manufactured to OEM standards.
This is standard practice in the industry - nothing wrong up to now.
In 2016, Michael made these claims regarding the carbon tube manufacturers.
"There are only 2 [manufacturers] in Taiwan that makes the driveshaft tubes for the aftermarket performance industry. They only make the carbon part of the driveshaft, and they are both very good at it (and both products look identical, because they use the same type of machines)."
He claimed the manufactured the flanges in-house.
He also specifically mentioned this critical piece of information regarding the flanges.
"However, they outsource the manufacturing of the flanges/joints, and this is where the issues lay. [...] Although our carbon tubes are sourced from one of the above companies, the difference is we make our own flanges/joints in-house as we are that one company, and as we are offering our own branded driveshaft, no competitor has access to our flanges/joints"
Uncovering the V2 manufacturer.
The community at work.
In September 2021, I was made aware by a EuroConnex member of a company called YCFM.
They appeared to manufacture carbon fiber driveshafts in Taiwan. They claimed they had duly registered and published patents in the US, EU, TW, JP and CN.
Michael's deflections: JFiber.
I communicated this finding to Michael Yip at MFactory.
He alluded to this being very similar to the J-Fiber / V1 saga back in 2014-2015 when carbon driveshafts first made an appearance on the market but had mission critical issues. He claimed this was the same chief engineer as J-Fiber.
He claimed it was strictly his former V2 carbon tube manufacturer trying to do its own thing. He specifically highlighted that very few companies could actually manufacture the flange with the proprietary locking mechanism MFactory had developed.
This piece of information is critical to the story.
My research into YFCM.
I got into contact with YFCM, doing due diligence on who they were and what was their relationship with Michael & MFactory. They provided me with patent certifications.
The (legal) community at work, again!
I was in touch with a fellow EuroConnex member: he is a lawyer working in International Intellectual Property law.
Upon reviewing the patent documentation that was provided by YFCM, we were able to track down the patents in various registries.
They were legitimate, and fully published. They were filed in December 2015. This date is critical to the story.
I have the complete PDF documentation of the US and EU patents and they are available here.
YFCM is the patent holder.
YFCM developed, patented and managed the manufacturing of their patented flange, along with manufacturing the carbon tube with Toray pre-preg carbon filament with a signature yellow braid.
They further clarified they did not manufacture or license their technology for Michael to use on the V3.
No license was ever granted to MFactory.
They also further clarified they did not manufacture or license their technology for Michael to use on the V3.
YFCM is the complete manufacturer.
YFCM was the actual manufacturer of the complete V2 carbon fiber driveshaft.
They private labeled the product to Michael under the YCW Engineering brand for distribution purposes.
YFCM manages logistics.
They also took care of shipping to individual customers from Taiwan. Michael did not handle anything in the process, nor provided any flanges, nor stocked any product.
YFCM's engineer thoughts on the V3.
I have provided detailed pictures of the V3 along with claims Michael made regarding the proprietary self locking mechanism.
Bicycle & Golf Club Carbon Tubes.
The V3 carbon tubes are made with a rolling and pasting method as is used of golf clubs instead of the winding method of YFCM.
They corroborated the findings that the V3 product offered by Michael was manufactured by a bicycle carbon tube manufacturer who didn't have the necessary high speed balancing equipment to test for the RPMs our cars experience.
The flange design.
The V3 flange does not feature the locking mechanism.
Michael confirmed in an email to all participants that he used the older V1 flange for the V3, contrary to what he advertised in the Spring of 2021.
As of today, Michael continues to make the claim he uses the self locking proprietary mechanism on the flanges in the initial post Group Buy thread on M3post here
It is now finally true that Michael is part of the flange manufacturing of the V3.
The V1 flange.
The V1/V3 flange design is known to unglue and fail.
This flange was previously used by J-Fiber and had notorious ungluing carbon tube failures.
Below is an example of that failure.
Up next: I get my hands on the authentic V2 and compare to the V3 unit I have on hand.
I ordered 2x test units in December 2021 to review.
1x MT was sent to a previous V3 tester and 1x DCT unit was sent to me.
Side by side pictures will tell the truth.