BMW has stopped sales of its vehicles to all UK forces with immediate effect, as reported by Cardealermagazine.co.uk
It has also shut down its International & Specialist Sales Division in London with the potential loss of around 20 jobs.
BMW told Car Dealer that it would now be ‘prioritising sales to retail and corporate customers’ and that it would be moving away from sales to the police and other authorities.
The sales halt to the police follows several forces across the UK restricting the duties carried out by BMW police cars featuring the N57 diesel engine.
Some police forces stopped BMWs from being used during high-speed pursuits, instead using the vehicle for standard response duties.
The N57 engine features in the 330d, 530d and X5 models used by police up and down the country.
Police forces have seen several cars engulfed in flames, the most serious of which claimed the life of police officer Nick Dumphreys who died after the BMW he was driving in Cumbria caught fire during a blue-light run.
PC Nick Dumphreys, 47, died at the scene when his marked BMW crashed on the M6 near Carlisle in January 2020.
A forensic accident investigator concluded that the officer, who was responding to an ‘immediate’ grade call about an assault involving knives, lost control of the car after sudden engine failure spilt leaking oil onto the wheels.
BMW said the problem with the N57 engine was down to the ‘particular way’ police use the vehicles and that there was ‘no need for action on any civilian vehicles’.
One serving traffic police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told Car Dealer:
‘We have had no end of problems with the N57-engined BMWs.
‘After the fires, a lot of our cars were just put aside, and we weren’t allowed to use them.
‘The problem comes from the fact we have to leave them idling at a scene to keep the lights running for a long time and then, if another call comes, blast them at full speed to the next job – the engines just hated that.
‘The end of sales of BMWs to police forces is a huge thing. They’ll be missed despite the problems. They’ve been used by forces for decades.’
Most UK Police Forces are now swapping to Volvo V90 and XC90 models as well as Volkswagen Touaregs.
‘This really is a sad state of affairs, but I can understand why BMW has done it – we’re probably a pain in the ass and we get the cars far cheaper than they can sell them to normal customers,’ the officer added.
In a statement, BMW told Car Dealer:
‘With high demand for our cars continuing to outstrip supply, we will be prioritising sales to our retail and corporate customers in the future and moving away from some areas of our authorities and specialist business.
‘BMW Park Lane has historically been responsible for specialist vehicle sales and so now is being restructured.
‘It is proposed that some responsibilities will move into the BMW UK National Sales Company (NSC) in Farnborough. BMW Park Lane is now entering into a consultation period with a small number of impacted staff.’
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on police driving, Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, said:
‘A national position has already been adopted regarding the end of life of the effected BMWs.
‘Vehicles that have been assessed as at risk and unsuitable for police use have been removed from service and their engine made unusable prior to disposal. Any remaining usable BMWs with the engine type identified are subject to rigorous monitoring.
‘Our priority is to ensure the safety and the long-term integrity of the equipment our officers use.’
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