London: BMW is recalling more than 300,000 cars in the UK because of an electrical fault that has caused some vehicles to cut out.
The German carmaker had issued a safety call covering about 36,000 petrol vehicles last year but has extended it after acknowledging the fault could affect more cars.
The company is expected to contact directly those customers affected by the recall of the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, Z4 and X1 petrol and diesel models made between March 2007 and August 2011.
The latest recall follows a BBC Watchdog Live investigation, which discovered that vehicles could cut out while being driven.
“We now recognise that there may have been some cases of similar power-supply issues in vehicles not covered by the original recall,” BMW said. “In order to reassure customers with concerns about the safety of their vehicles, we are voluntarily extending the recall.
“We are therefore announcing today that we will take the proactive step of expanding the existing UK recall to cover all vehicles potentially affected by the power-supply issue.”
Mwape Kambafwile told the BBC he stopped driving his BMW 3 Series car after it cut out while he was driving in December 2016.
He said: “I just thought to myself, if I was driving on the motorway with my family in the car, that could have been very dangerous.
“I took it to BMW. The next day they called me to say they had found a fault, it looks like the cable had burnt out and no current was passing through the fuse box.”
BMW allowed Kambafwile to take the car home without any warning not to use it, but he said he felt too uncomfortable to drive it.
“I walked to work. It was a nightmare, it wasn’t safe enough to drive.”
Last week an inquest heard that BMW failed to recall thousands of potentially dangerous cars despite complaints from customers over the loss of power from as early as 2011, until a fault led to the death of a Gurkha veteran, Narayan Gurung.
Gurung, 66, was killed on Christmas Day in 2016 when he swerved to avoid a BMW that had broken down in Guildford, Surrey.
He died at the scene after his Ford Fiesta collided with a tree; his wife was seriously injured.
The BMW in question had an electrical fault, causing its brake lights to fail and the car to stall on a dark A-road.
It was not until three months after Gurung died, in February 2017, that BMW recalled 36,000 of the affected vehicles in the UK, having previously recalled cars with the fault in the US, Canada, South Africa and Australia.
Andy McDonald, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough and the shadow transport secretary, described BMW’s conduct as “deeply concerning”.
“The company was aware of the potential for their vehicles to endanger the public for some time but delayed withdrawing them from our roads. It shouldn’t take a BBC investigation to provoke action to keep our roads safe,” he said.
“BMW has serious questions to answer. But the government must also explain why it did not act sooner, what action it will take to hold BMW to account, and review the powers available to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.”
Alex Neill, the Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “This recall from BMW raises serious questions about the adequacy of the car recall system in this country.
“Drivers will be asking why it took so long for BMW to fully recall these potentially dangerous cars in the UK, several years later than recalls around the same fault in a number of other countries.”