British cars don’t exactly come with a stellar reputation for reliability and it’s mostly at the expense of Land Rover. As the joke goes, they say 90 % of all Land Rovers manufactured are still on the road. The other 10% have actually reached their destination.
It wasn’t all fun and games on 11 October 2023 though as a Land Rover caught fire at the Luton airport carpark, sparking a raging inferno that engulfed the entire building, causing it to collapse. The collapse destroyed up to 1,500 cars and forced the airport to cancel over 140 flights, disrupting the travel plans of up to 50,000 passengers.
The incident comes 6 years after another Land Rover burst into flames in a multi-storey carpark at Liverpool’s Echo Arena, now known as the M&S Bank Arena. That fire in 2017 caused a 1,000-celcius inferno that incinerated up to 1,600 cars. Such was the heat from that fire that it was hot enough to melt aluminium and engulfed seven floors of the parking building.
Yesterday’s blaze in Luton comes just 6 months after Land Rover issued a recall for several models of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport specifically to address issues that could lead to fires.
Over 100 firefighters spent 12 hours battling the fire at Luton’s Terminal Carpark 2, before the £ 20million (~RM 116 million) building caved in just before 9 pm.
Investigators believe that a diesel-powered Land Rover suffered an electrical fault or leaking fuel line that caused the fire. From the photos, it’s speculated that the model is a previous-generation Range Rover Sport.
Temperatures from the Luton Airport fire didn’t reach the intensity of the Liverpool fire but still hit a searing 600-celsius, leading to the building’s integrity being destroyed and causing the collapse. A total of 5 people were taken to hospital due to the fire.
Last year, a Range Rover owner was forced to escape via the car’s window after the doors locked and it caught on fire, with smoke seeping through the dashboard. Although a recall was issued for the car, Land Rover refused to take responsibility for the fire as they claimed the recall was for issues regarding engine management, steering and emissions.
In another similar case, another owner’s car caught fire at her home with the flames then spreading to her home and her neighbours’ houses.
Again, Land Rover denied any liability as it claimed the car was just past its warranty.