2012 BMW ActiveE - Driven in Monterey, February 2012Enlarge Photo
BMW is recalling its ActiveE electric cars to replace a potentially faulty component whose failure could leave drivers without power steering.
According to the text of the recall, "variations in electrical current" may occur within the electric power steering, leading to a sudden loss of the power assistance within the steering system.
That would abruptly increase the effort required to steer the car--in effect, the driver would be faced with unassisted steering in a 4,000-pound car--which could increase the risk of an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued the recall early this morning.
BMW will notify ActiveE lessees of the problem and the recall within a few days.
Those lessees can then schedule an appointment with their local ActiveE-certified dealer to have the steering-assistance module replaced.
It's unclear whether the necessary part(s) are already in stock at dealers or whether they'll have to be provided.
The recall did not specify the individual components affected, referring only to the "steering-assistance module" as a whole.
All such safety recall work is provided by BMW free of charge.
BMW delivered the first ActiveE in January to a U.S. driver. Ultimately, it plans to lease 700 of the cars in a few regions of the country for a two-year test program.
The recall also applies to certain models of the 2012 BMW Z4 sports car, from which the ActiveE's electric power steering system was presumably taken.
ActiveE lessees and Z4 owners can contact the BMW Customer Relations center at 800-525-7417.
Those drivers can also contact the NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline, which can be reached at 888-327-4236.
A summary description of the recall (NHTSA campaign number 12V302000) can be found on the SaferCar.gov website.