By Mark Atkinson for MSN Autos
Only a few hours before the opening ceremonies - and two days after competition started (how weird is that?) - the 2012 Summer Games in London are looking more and more like they'll be a success. All the pre-event planning and training is done; all that's left is for the athletes to do their parts.
However, making the Games run smoothly is no easy task, and transportation is certainly one of the biggest and most complex parts of that effort. BMW is the official vehicle sponsor of the London Olympics and handed over the keys to over 4,000 different BMW and Mini vehicles to be used by nearly 7,000 volunteer drivers to shuttle athletes, VIPs and dignitaries around the already congested city.
In keeping with the theme of what's been dubbed the 'Austerity Games' thanks to the United Kingdom's tight financial situation, BMW claims it's provided the most efficient fleet of vehicles ever to an Olympic Games. The combined fleet values of 64.5 mpg (Imperial) and - perhaps more importantly in Europe - only 120 grams CO2 per kilometre is pretty impressive.
While there are a few halo vehicles to capture attention (electric versions of the Mini Cooper and BMW 1 Series, plus the new 5 Series Active Hybrid), those only make a small percentage of vehicles in use. The bulk of the fleet will be diesel-powered 320d (1,550), 520d (700) sedans and Mini Countryman (200) crossovers. There are also a handful of X3 and X5 SUVs around for support and medical roles, along with 25 R1200RT motorcycles.
Perhaps the most intriguing is that BMW includes the 400 Streetcruiser bicycles for coaches and officials in rowing competition. How do calculate human power into an official fuel-economy equation.
Previous games sponsors include General Motors (Vancouver, 2010; Salt Lake City, 2002; Sydney, 2000), Volkswagen (Beijing, 2008), Fiat (Turin, 2006) and Hyundai (Greece, 2004).