BMW plug-in hybrids recalled due to fire risk

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BMW has recalled 26,900 plug-in hybrids globally after discovering a problem within the battery that could potentially cause a fire.

The models span BMW’s extensive range of plug-in hybrids, from the 2-Series Active Tourer to the 7-Series flagship sedan, and are “mostly” in Europe the company said, without giving a number.

BMW’s recall includes 4,509 vehicles in the U.S. NHTSA documents indicate the battery manufacturer is Korean supplier Samsung. BMW said it has not received any reports, nor is it aware, of any accidents or injuries related to the defect, but it also acknowledged a “thermal event” occurred.

“On August 4, 2020, BMW became aware of a field incident involving a Model Year 2021 BMW X5 in which the vehicle experienced a thermal event,” BMW said in the NHTSA documents. “An analysis was initiated. Between early August and mid-September, BMW became aware of three additional field incidents.”

“A review of supplier production and process change records indicated that for the incident vehicles, battery cell production at the supplier occurred during a specific and limited time period.  Further reviews indicated that during this time period, a higher rate of impurities (debris) could have been allowed to enter one or more battery cells,” the NHTSA disclosure said.

Fewer than a third of the affected models have been delivered to customers, while the rest are still at dealerships, a spokesman for the brand said.

“Internal analysis has shown that in very rare cases particles may have entered the battery during the production process,” the brand said a statement. “When the battery is fully charged this could lead to a short circuit within the battery cells, which may lead to a fire.”

The cars were built between January 20 and September 18 this year. The recall includes the 330e, which was the No. 4- selling plug-in hybrid in Europe through seven months, figures from market research JATO show. The call back also includes the Countryman from BMW’s sister brand, Mini.

In August, BMW initiated a separate recall of 4,460 plug-in hybrids, also to correct a problem with the battery.

“It is not the same fault as in August. But the root cause is similar: irregularities during the production process of the battery,” the spokesman said.

Although the recall will delay the delivery of the plug-in hybrids, BMW said it still expects to reach its new, tougher fleet CO2 emissions target in Europe this year.

Affected cars will be checked at test centers. Until that processed is completed, customers are being asked not to charge their cars.

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Saurabh Shukla

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