BMW i3 plug-in hybrid recall to fix fuel-vapor problem, fire concerns


2017 BMW i3

2017 BMW i3

Enlarge Photo

BMW is recalling more than 19,000 i3 REx extended-range electric cars due to concerns over the potential for fires to be started by fuel vapors.

The REx uses a small gasoline engine to charge its battery pack, offering a longer range than the all-electric i3 when both gasoline and electric power are used.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the i3's fuel-tank vent line may rub against the ribbed wire protection sleeve of the battery positive cable.

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Over time, the vent line may chafe and eventually tear, creating a hole that could allow fuel vapor to leak into the engine compartment.

Leaking fuel always presents a risk of fire, hence the need for a recall.

BMW has received no reports of accidents or injuries related to this issue, which was discovered by a dealer who noticed unusual wear on the vent line.

2017 BMW i3

2017 BMW i3

Enlarge Photo

The recall is expected to begin April 3, at which time BMW will notify owners of when to take their cars into dealerships, where any necessary fixes will be performed free of charge.

Technicians will inspect the vent line and replace it if necessary, as well as install a clip to prevent it from rubbing against the ribbed battery-cable sleeve.

The recall affects 19,130 i3 REx hatchbacks from model years 2014 through 2017.

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That encompasses every model year the i3 has been available in the U.S.

The i3 has not been redesigned since its launch, although BMW made some notable changes for the 2017 model year.

It electronically "unlocked" the full fuel-tank capacity of the i3 REx, which had previously been restricted on U.S.-spec models, and added a higher-capacity battery-pack option for both the all-electric and range-extended i3 versions.

2017 BMW i3

2017 BMW i3

Enlarge Photo

The REx's 0.65-liter two-cylinder gasoline engine remains unchanged, as do the electric motors used to power both i3 variants.

Because the issue necessitating this recall lies with the fuel system for the gasoline range extender, all-electric versions of the i3 are unaffected.

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BMW i3 REx owners seeking more information can view the recall notice and associated documents on the NHTSA's Safercar.gov website.

Owners can also call the NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 and reference safety campaign #17V088000, or contact BMW customer service at 1-800-525-7417.

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