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The June 2018 issue of AM – Automotive Management – is out now

The label ‘Made in Germany’ has long been regarded as a stamp of quality, given the country’s reputation for engineering and attention to detail. However, it seems that ‘Decided by Germany’ is becoming a painful reality for some UK franchised dealers.

BMW has received a public thrashing during an inquest into a fatal car crash in the early hours of Christmas Day, 2016. Woking Coroner’s Court heard that the crash occurred after Narayan Gurung, a former Gurkha in his 60s, swerved to avoid an unlit BMW, which had broken down on a major road.

AM Best UK Dealerships to Work For - Last chance to registerIt emerged at the inquest that BMW had known about an electrical fault that caused some cars to stall and lose their lights since 2011. It had recalled vehicles in some other countries, but not in the UK. Shamefully, it did not recall them until after Gurung’s death. Even then, it recalled 36,410 cars, fewer than 10% of the number the DVSA asked for.

BMW UK was unable to explain the delay at the inquest, except to say that recall “decisions are made in Germany” and the fault was not considered “critical”.

Wasn’t this first phrase something we heard at the height of the Volkswagen Group emissions scandal, too? At the time, I learned dealers and VW Group UK staff were warned of “career-limiting actions” in case they spoke out of turn and without the sign-off from HQ in Germany.

After BMW’s bad press this month, its recall has just been extended by 312,000 UK cars aged seven to 11 years old. That’s up to 2,136 vehicles for every BMW workshop, in a network where many franchisees made little money in 2017.

Let’s hope Germany properly supports our franchised dealers in clearing up another mess.

Elsewhere in this month's print issue of AM:

 

 



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