BMW delivers first cars for Olympic fleet
GET USED TO THESE BRIGHTLY- coloured BMWs. If you work in London, you’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the Summer—they’ll be speeding past you in the dedicated Olympic “ZIL lanes” while you and your frustrated customers are stuck in a traffic jam.
These are the cars that BMW is supplying to the London Olympics as executive shuttles for athletes and dignitaries. More than 4,000 of the cars, including many BMW 3-series and 5-series saloons as well as smaller cars including electric and hybrid vehicles—have been liveried with the London 2012 logo. The overall fleet will achieve the Olympic organising committee LOCOG’s strict 120g/km CO2 emissions target, BMW says.
BMW UK managing director Tim Abbott said: “BMW’s Olympic fleet needs to be varied to deal with the complex operational demands of the Games time effort. We were selected based on our ability to provide such a diverse fleet that could achieve the challenging emissions threshold as set by LOCOG. The Games fleet will include our class leading efficient diesels, hybrids, electric vehicles and even bicycles.”
Around 250 cars will be allocated to high-ranking officials and politicians as exclusive cars for the duration of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They will be driven by volunteer drivers, and LOCOG has outsourced driver training to a company called Peak Performance, based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, which is using hundreds of professional driving instructors to act as trainers.
The instructors will grade applicants to drive the cars—only Grade 1 drivers will be allowed to chauffeur dignitaries; Grade 2 drivers will be allowed to drive the athletes, while Grade 3 drivers will be able to carry out jobs such as parcel delivery, but won’t be carrying passengers.
The £25million Olympic Route Network (ORN), dubbed “ZIL lanes” after the notorious Soviet Union lanes reserved for Polit Buro members in their Russian ZIL limousines, will be operational for 17 days of the event, covering the fortnight-long competitive period and a number of days before and after. The Paralympics will also result in restrictions but they will cover a much shorter period.
The dedicated lanes cover 39 miles of road in central London, and are only open to official cars. Even ambulances are not allowed in the lanes unless they are on a genuine “blues and twos” emergency. Taxis and private hire vehicles are not allowed to use the lanes—and London cabbies have threatened to block the lanes en masse as a protest against the restrictions.