106 BMW drivers saw car stall or cut out due to electrical fault, MPs told

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There have been 106 reports to May from UK BMW drivers of their car stalling or cutting out in relation to an electrical fault connected to a fatal crash, MPs have heard.

BMW UK chief executive Graeme Grieve told the Transport Committee that it had received the 106 complaints in relation to the cars’ B+ battery connector.

He said corrosion problems with the connector became apparent over time when he appeared before the committee as it investigates the timeline of BMW’s recall.

The recall followed BMW noticing an issue with the connection between the B+ cable and the power distribution box in 2016.

The connection can become damaged by wear and heat and would normally result in the car not starting after parking, but has happened while the car is in motion.

Mr Grieve said the company first had an “active discussion” with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in January of last year – 15 months after it first became aware of the problem.

BMW then extended this to a safety recall in October 2017 with the agreement of the DVSA, applying to petrol vehicles built between December 2009 and August 2011.

The recall followed the death of Narayan Gurung, a former Gurkha soldier who was killed on Christmas Day 2016 when his car crashed into a tree after he swerved to avoid a broken-down BMW.

Mr Gurung, 66, of Aldershot, died after driving his Ford Fiesta into a tree on a dark road in Hampshire to avoid the car that had cut out because of a total power outage, Woking Coroner’s Court heard.

The car giant later extended the recall to 312,000 vehicles including the BMW 1 Series, the 3 Series, the Z4 and X1 petrol and diesel models made between March 2007 and August 2011 on the day a BBC Watchdog programme featured the issue.

Earlier this month a coroner criticised BMW and the DVSA for failing to take sufficient action over electrical faults in the German manufacturer’s cars before they caused the death of Mr Gurung.

Surrey Assistant Coroner Anna Loxton criticised the DVSA for failing to press BMW for a recall of up to 370,000 cars in the UK, despite envisioning the “exact circumstances” of the former soldier’s death 10 months earlier.

Mr Grieve told MPs that not all customers had responded to the prior warning of the car failing to start after parking.

He said: “We had replied on the prior warning. It is clear now that not all customers recognised that.”

He said affected customers had received a letter relating to the extended recall on June 6, which noted that those who had experienced the prior warning should have their car inspected as a priority, adding: “I believe the wording of the recall letter gives the driver sufficient urgency.”

He said some customers had said they did not wish to drive their car and had been given the option of having it collected and taken for repair.

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