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BMW recalls ‘small number’ of i4 and iX electric vehicles over potential battery fires

BMW recalls ‘small number’ of i4 and iX electric vehicles over potential battery fires

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The risk of battery fires in EVs is still relatively low

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Photo by Roberto Baldwin for The Verge

BMW issued a recall notice for a “small number” of 2022 i4 sedans and iX SUVs due to the risk of battery fires. According to the recall, the high voltage battery “may have internal damage,” which can result in an electrical short circuit.

The recall only covers 83 vehicles that have been sold in the US, but BMW is advising owners not to drive them, to park them outside or away from other vehicles and structures that could catch on fire, and not to charge them. BMW dealers will replace the battery free of charge.

The recall was issued after BMW became aware of “a non-US field incident involving a 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40” last April. An engineering analysis found that debris, specifically pieces of cathode, were seeping into the battery cell. Two more “incidents” were reported in June, one in the US involving a 2022 iX xDrive50 and the other outside of the country involving a 2022 iX M60. Both were found to have debris in the battery cell, which is supplied by Samsung SDI.

BMW says it has not received any reports of accidents or injuries as a result of the battery defect

BMW says it has not received any reports of accidents or injuries as a result of the battery defect. “Fortunately, the recall affects a very small number of vehicles,” Jay Hanson, a spokesperson for BMW, said in an email to The Verge. “And our Customer Relations team has already proactively reached out to all of the owners of affected vehicles to provide information and assistance.”

The BMW i4 and iX are the latest EVs to get hit with a recall. Ford issued a recall earlier this summer for 49,000 Mustang Mach-E SUVs over concerns that a safety defect may render the vehicle immobile. The Toyota bZ4X was recalled when it was discovered that loose hub bolts could cause the wheels to become detached while driving. Other EVs have also been recalled over various software bugs and other minor issues.

Battery fires, while rare, remain a serious concern for EV makers. More data is needed, but researchers have determined that the vast majority of EVs are at low risk for battery fires. Though when fires do occur, EVs with lithium-ion batteries burn hotter, faster, and require more water to extinguish — a fact that has led some towns to retrain their emergency responders for when such incidents occur.

The most serious incident involved the Chevy Bolt, which was recalled after GM reported at least 19 battery fires due to defective cells from the supplier LG. The automaker was forced to temporarily shut down production after a software fix failed to prevent several more fires. Chevy resumed production earlier this year after installing new battery packs.