N54 Legal Matters

I received a piece of mail yesterday that was a bit interesting. It seems that one legal challenge to the issues with the high pressure fuel pumps (HPFP) on the N54 engine has reached a resolution. If you’ve been following the message boards you’ll have some background of what
has transpired, from one perspective anyway. The condensed version is this, there were problems with the original HPFP on the N54 engine. BMW eventually issued a recall for the pumps and has been replacing them with what is described as a new generation HPFP.

However, before the recall, numerous owners of BMWs equipped with N54s had to replace the pumps after the pumps’ failure out of their own pocket. Those that did pay the freight out of pocket to replace the pump will be reimbursed for actual costs plus rental car fees (up to $44 per day) and will receive an additional cash payment that depends on the total number of pumps that had to be replaced. In lieu of a cash payment, the claimant can opt for an $800 purchase credit on a new BMW.

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The settlement also states that the previously announced warranty extension for the HPFP will remain in place and that a 1 year or 12,000 mile warranty extension for defective turbochargers is to be implemented.

I have to confess that I’ve had the HPFP and two injectors replaced under warranty (my 2008 135i did eventually exhibit the ‘long start’ symptoms of the faulty HPFP). So I’m not entitled to any compensation. Also, if it can be shown that modifications to a vehicle impacted the
operation of the HPFP, that owner would not be entitled to compensation.

The question is, “is it fair?” Yeah, looks fair to me. Nobody hits the jackpot with the settlement. Well, nobody but the lawyers that is (maybe). The law firm that handled the case will earn compensation up to, but not to exceed, $1,750,000. I do suspect that a lot of time and
effort went into the lawsuit, so I’m not even sure that’s an onerous amount. All in all, it looks about right to me, but then I don’t play a lawyer on TV.

The i8 Breaks Cover

Thanks to the good people at Brenda Priddy & Co. we got to see what appears to be a production version of the i8 in camouflage recently. Yes the doors will not be the same, in particular the see-through panels and the ‘butterfly’ hinges. But those were never destined to make it into production thanks to crash safety legislation. So, do we expect that first drives of the production i8 will occur this year? Possibly. But if the i8 is out in production form, you can be sure that first drives (and undisguised photos) of the i3 will be in the very near future. After
all, BMW has mentioned a 2013 model year designation for the i3 and, barring issues with batteries, that means a press launch sometime in 2012.


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As much as I like talking to engineers and production floor personnel, I also have thoroughly enjoyed spending time talking to designers. And BMW has as good a group of designers as anyone else in the industry. BMW design has some specific, bedrock, fundamentals that define the boundaries of their design envelope.

First and foremost for the designers is the notion of proportionality. The cars have to be proportionally correct. They have to approach concinnity, a harmonious perfection of design, if you will. Then, in BMW’s eyes, manipulating light and shadow trumps the graphical. They
sculpt surfaces, they do not draw a multitude of lines on them (though there are definitely lines, but they exist to provide the light and shadow contrasts). And somewhere on the list of design transgressions is using LED lighting as point sources. BMWs will not use ‘string of-pearl’ LED lighting.

And that brings up how best to view third party (unofficial) renderings of BMWs. Knowing the design language/palette of BMW helps to interpret the renderings into “it’s close” or “out in left-field”. Take any third party rendering with a big grain of salt and put your knowledge of BMW’s design themes to use in evaluating them.