For years, they have been known as among the safest cars in the world. But on Saturday, something went terribly wrong in a BMW in Gujarat.
It was possibly an electrical short circuit, which resulted in the death of four people -- all linked to BMW. That includes the general manager of BMW's Gujarat business partner, Parsoli Motors, and three technicians.
They were all burnt to death, trapped in the car after its central locking system reportedly failed. It is the first such incident in the world involving a BMW.
The incident took place when the luxury car that costs Rs 50 lakh was on a routine inspection drive on the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Highway.
Forensic experts, police and fire officials are probing what caused the fire. Initial reports suggest a fault in the electrical wiring of the car.
"Prima facie it seems that there was a short-circuit in the car leading to the fire and then those four people inside were burnt to death. It also seems that the victims could not open any of the doors of the car when they saw flames and we had to cut the metal of the car with automatic machines to bring out the bodies," said Mehernosh Dastoor, chief fire officer, Ahmedabad.
A high-level BMW team from Chennai has arrived to carry out further probe.
Eyewitnesses say the BMW hit the rear of a trailer and was dragged for about 100 metres. The trailer driver did not realise that the vehicle was stuck behind it. The crash caused a short-circuit and the BMW caught fire. The central locking system failed and jammed the doors, leaving the four occupants stuck inside. All of them were burnt to death.
"The electrical system failed as well as the central locking system and that is surprising for such an expensive car like BMW which is known for its sophisticated safety systems," said Isamuddin Gulam Qadri, an automobile expert.
While BMW officials were not available to comment on camera about the incident which snatched away four of its associates, sources close to the development say BMW has taken the incident seriously as it concerns passengers safety and decided to conduct an internal probe to ascertain causes of the fire and failure of the locking system.