BMW has detected a potential risk of fire in a relatively small number of BMW iX and i4, its flagships of the electric range, due to battery modules that did not meet the manufacturer’s specifications. We have learned that in the United States 83 units need to go through the official service. They have asked their owners not to use them: neither drive nor recharge.
Since the production of the BMW iX and i4 has been done in Europe, there will also be affected units in the Old Continent, as well as in other export markets. The problem is with units manufactured between November 22, 2021, and July 30, 2022, which can suffer a short circuit that ends in fire due to a defect in the cathode plate. BMW has been aware of the problem before there have been fires or damage to third parties.
If there is someone affected in Spain, you will receive a notice through the DGT about the details of the review campaign. As is often the case in these cases, any change required by the batteries will not cost the customer, there is only the inconvenience of not being able to use the car until it can be received at an official service.
BMW began packaging battery modules in Leipzig when production of the BMW iX began and has recently added capacity to package those for the BMW i4 when it previously needed a supplier. BMW Group at the moment does not produce its cells, it draws from some suppliers and these must meet the specifications imposed by the manufacturer. In this case, it is Samsung SDI.
The call for review is voluntary, no regulator has had to force it, nor is it conditional on the fact that something has already happened. In the world of recalls, this is the most desirable scenario (the one after no quality issues are detected). Fortunately for BMW -and its supplier-, the number of potentially affected units is small, not as happened to General Motors and LG with tens of thousands of Chevrolet Bolts; They were all called for a review.
In batteries with NMC chemistry (nickel, manganese, and cobalt) there is a certain risk of fire when there are manufacturing defects or the battery control system is not able to detect an abnormal situation in time. Despite what it may seem, electric cars (whatever batteries they have) are not more likely to catch fire than any other, neither in absolute nor relative terms. What’s more, BMW has already had to make recalls for fire risk in thermal and plug-in hybrid models. What is certain is that, if they catch fire, extinction is very complicated, takes time, and requires special means.