Passenger Killed After BMW 8 Series Prototype Crashes in Germany Days Before Official Debut

Police say speed appears to be a factor.

A 53-year-old woman who was riding in the passenger seat of a 2019 BMW 8 Series prototype died after its driver lost control on a country road in southern Germany and crashed on Sunday night, just days before the car's formal unveiling at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, according to local news reports.

Police told Bayerischer Rundfunk that the driver of the 8 Series—presumably a BMW employee, considering the car is still a pre-production prototype wrapped in the typical dazzle camouflage—appears to have been speeding along a rural B-road between the villages of Bonbruck and Buch when the accident occurred. The car sailed off a right-hand curve and struck several trees, while images from the scene show the impact crushed in the roof over the right seat.

Bayerischer Rundfunk reports that while the 37-year-old man behind the wheel was unharmed, his passenger died of severe head injuries at the scene, and firefighters had to cut the roof off the BMW to remove her body. Making the story all the more tragic is that the deceased was reportedly the mother of his girlfriend.

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The car itself appears to be an M850i xDrive, which is the only trim that BMW has teased so far, as it shares the same wheels and brake calipers as the camouflaged models seen in official press photos. That would mean a turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 under the hood packing 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.

The crash of a prototype comes just four days ahead of the flagship coupe's formal unveiling on June 15th, which was scheduled to coincide with the automaker's triumphant return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race after a seven-year break. The Drive has contacted BMW for comment on the incident, and we'll update with a statement or more details as provided.

(UPDATE 6/12/2018) BMW provided the following statement: "A camouflaged BMW 8 Series coupe prototype was involved [in the crash]. The driver was a BMW associate who was slightly injured, unfortunately the passenger died at the accident scene. We are unable to comment further on the accident, since the investigation is still ongoing. We are fully cooperating with the local police in the investigation."

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