BMW recently decided to stop supplying cars to the British police.
The German company intends to close its dedicated sales unit to focus on sales to its retail and corporate customers. The company’s official announcement did not mention the fact that several British police had banned their drivers from high-speed operations in certain BMW models following the problem with the N57 diesel engine fitted to models such as the 330d, 530d and X5. The engine in question is reportedly connected to the recent death of an officer in a crash with another vehicle.
Notably, police officer Nicolas Dumphreys died in January 2020 when his service vehicle crashed on the M6 motorway while responding to an emergency call. Investigations say a mechanical malfunction caused a fire in the engine compartment of the car Dumphreys was driving. This was not the only incident, however, as BMW became aware of another incident involving a problem with the N57 3-liter six-cylinder diesel engine in 2016.
BMW UK then contacted the company’s headquarters in Germany and an investigation was carried out which concluded that the engine failure was due to insufficient lubrication. The fact that civilian vehicles did not experience such problems suggests that the cause of the problem may lie in the way the police often use their vehicles. Especially, leaving them unemployed for a long time. Following an internal investigation by BMW, the company advised British police forces to reduce the intervals between oil changes for their vehicles, but it appears Cumbria Police were not informed of the specific instructions regarding their officers’ service vehicles.
Some police forces have stopped using their N57-powered vehicles and have already used alternative vehicles such as the Volvo XC90. However, the widow of the slain officer, while welcoming BMW’s decision to stop supplying police vehicles, criticized the decision of the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) not to remove all N57 engined patrol cars from service.