► No more BMW police patrol cars
► BMW shifts priority to retail customers
► Change blamed on supply chain issues
BMW will stop selling patrol cars to UK police forces. The brand has confirmed it will restructure its UK operations to focus on retail and corporate customers in response to the ongoing supply chain bottlenecks in the automotive industry.
The German brand will redevelop its Park Lane dealership in Mayfair to suit this new strategy, phasing out its International and Specialist Sales Division (ISSD). The ISSD has supplied UK police forces with patrol cars since the late 1990s.
BMW issued a full statement to accompany the announcement. It reads: “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.”
BMW N57 diesel engine failures
The news follows BMW’s ongoing issues with its family of N57 straight-six diesel engines, as found in the previous-generation 3 Series . In January 2022, police forces around the UK were instructed not to use the engines in high-speed pursuits due to safety concerns relating to mechanical failures.
Two years prior, a fault with an N57 engine was linked to the tragic death of PC Nicholas Dumphreys of Cumbria Police. He was driving along the M6, responding to an emergency call, when the engine in his patrol car failed. It released oil under the wheels, causing his car to veer off the road.
In 2022, an inquest into the fatal accident heard that a faulty crankshaft bearing had punctured the engine oil sump, which released oil onto the road and caused a fire in the engine compartment. The inquest also heard that BMW was first made aware of the fault with the N57 engine in 2016 and that there had been at least five similar incidents since 2014.
BMW remains adamant that the fault does not affect civilian cars and was only caused by the “particular way in which the police operate these high-performance vehicles.” BMW said the way in which police officers drive “puts extra strain on some components,” citing mechanically tasking situations like extended periods of idling followed by intense bursts of acceleration.
Back in 2016, BMW UK pressured its head office in Germany to investigate the cause of the N57 engine failures. The brand’s engineers found they were likely caused by poor lubrication resulting from aging and degrading engine oil.
In response to the engineers’ findings, BMW UK were instructed to advise UK police forces to use upgraded engine oil and shorten oil change intervals to 10,000 miles on all vehicles fitted with the N57 engine. BMW also confirmed there have been no reported incidents of engine failures in N57-equipped cars not operated by the police.