Row over BMWs during London Olympics

Last Updated: Jan 02, 2012, 16:57 PM IST

London: The 2012 London Olympics is being promoted as the "greenest" Olympic Games in history but a row has erupted after it emerged that thousands of VIPs will travel to events here during the sporting extravaganza in a rather more luxurious style.

BMW is to ship 4,000 brand-new luxury vehicles in from Germany to escort dignitaries and officials in a move described as "lunatic" by critics, a daily reported.

The enormous fleet will include more than 3,000 BMW 3 and 5 Series saloons. Parked end to end, this would equate to a ten-mile tailback.

"Most of the athletes will be staying in the Olympic Village and won’t need to travel to events, so the BMWs are really for the politicians and dignitaries.”

"Four thousand vehicles seem lunatic when we have such a good public transport system. I can understand a few officials need secure transport but 4,000? Shipping new cars in from Germany is also extremely bad news for the environment," Jenny Jones, a member of the London Assembly for the Green Party was quoted as saying by the daily.

Caroline Pidgeon, who chairs the London Assembly Transport Committee, said the BMW fleet went against the ethos of the Games.

She said: "As we were promised that the 2012 Games would be the greenest Olympics ever to take place, only electric vehicles should have been considered.”

"Electric vehicles are not only quieter, but far less harmful to people`s lungs.

"The 2012 Games should have been a big boost to the growth of electric vehicles in the UK, but instead we have vehicles which merely add to London`s serious air pollution".

BMW has donated the fleet as part of its sponsorship deal with London 2012. The firm will sell the cars after the Games on the second-hand market.

Despite heralding its green credentials, BMW has admitted that only 200 of the 4,000 vehicles will be electric cars.

A BMW spokesman was quoted by the daily as saying that the car firm was chosen by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games based on their ability to provide a fleet of diverse vehicles which could meet the 120g/km CO2 emissions threshold as set by them.

"However, a substantial proportion of the fleet will be the diesel models. The fleet of vehicles which we will supply will achieve this threshold and the Games will provide the perfect opportunity for us to showcase our efficient diesel and electric vehicle technology", he said.

PTI