It sounded like a brilliant marketing move by BMW: pay to have the name of its Mini Cooper Roadster associated with the cold snap currently engulfing Europe and everyone would be talking about it. But the car manufacturer is regretting the decision after the freezing weather was blamed for the deaths of more than 70 people.
The death tolls were highest in Poland and the Ukraine where at least 40 people have died and more than 500 have been hospitalised as a result of the cold. Temperatures have plummeted as low as -33C since the weekend, as the cold front from Siberia has extended westwards over central and south eastern Europe.
The mounting fatalities lent a sinister aspect to Germany's practice of allowing companies to sponsor high and low pressure weather systems. BMW, it emerged yesterday, paid €299 to have the current deadly high named "Cooper" after the Mini. The company also plans to name a low pressure area "Minnie" later this year.
BMW said yesterday that it regretted that people had died as a result of Cooper. "Of course we are sorry. It was not intentional, you cannot tell in advance what a weather system will do," company spokeswoman told i.
In Britain, temperatures plunged to -7C in some areas last night, and are not expected to push above 2C today. Forecasters said eastern England could see flurries of snow on Friday, while an Atlantic front is expected to move into Scotland from the west on Saturday, resulting in up to 10cm of snow across higher ground. Milder weather is expected on Monday.