There is a concern that they could spontaneously combust.
A small group of police officers in the UK are currently struggling with a set of changes that have been made to their fleet. Due to safety concerns, the Northumbria police department has had its collection of inline-six common rail turbodiesel N57-powered BMW 3 Series, X5, and other units removed from duty. It is reported that these cars are at risk of having their powertrains explode if they exceed speeds of 90 mph.
Chronicle Live reports that this decision was prompted after 47-year-old Cumbrian officer PC Nick Dumphreys lost his life while being trapped in a BMW which reportedly ignited on a motorway. However, an unnamed source informed the publication that the cars which have replaced the Bavarian fleet are not up to the task of adequately enforcing the law.
It is understood that there is a frustration developing due to the low power offered by the Vauxhall vans and Ford Rangers that are now subjected to armed response duties. Traffic officials now have to make use of Peugeot wagons that employ downsized 1.2-liter three-cylinder engines. The source states, "Given the large area Northumbria Police cover, response times are significantly affected by using underpowered vehicles.
"In motor patrols, 1.2 Peugeot estates which are supposed to be only used as beat cars are being stood in as traffic cars expected to maintain pursuits. They are such a massive downgrade. We're talking about high-performance cars being replaced by 1.2 estates which aren't suitable for pursuits and can't keep up with any suspect vehicles."
The source adds that due to these slower cars, response times have been increased which could cause unneeded additional drama for critical incidents. Furthermore, there is an annoyance surrounding the lack of urgency to resolve the issue which, in turn, is expected to affect public safety. A spokesperson for the Northumbria police department stated that the new cars have not affected its ability to efficiently report to the scene.
The Northern Echo has confirmed that BMW is investigating the issue of the fire-prone engines and that officers in the Durham Constabulary have been given strict orders to not engage in high-speed chases if they are behind the wheel of a BMW. A whistleblower at this department expressed that this has caused frustrations as it hinders their ability to enforce the law.
A BMW spokesperson informed the publication that a fix is underway. They say, "We have been working with the police for some time on a technical matter linked to a small number of special high-performance vehicles. This issue is associated with the particular way in which the police operate these high-performance vehicles.
"This unique usage profile puts extra strain on some components and therefore BMW has specified a special servicing program for these vehicles." The spokesperson added that this is not an issue that will affect private owners of N57-powered products who should not be concerned about any needed repairs. This isn't the first case of BMW's igniting. Back in 2015, there were a series of cars sold in South Korea which went ablaze. This led to a worldwide recall of 1.6 million units. In 2018, another fire-related recall was issued for 47,806 BMW products sold in the USA.