BMW recalls most 2020 plug-in hybrid models for fire risk, Minis too

BMW is recalling a majority of the plug-in hybrid models it built in 2020 because their battery pack poses a fire risk. That’s 4,509 vehicles covered by the campaign in the United States, including some made by Mini.

The list of cars affected by this voluntary recall includes 2020 and 2021 examples of the 530e, the X3 xDrive30e, and the Mini Countryman SE, coupe and convertible variants of the 2020 i8, as well as the 330e (pictured), the 745Le xDrive, and the X5 xDrive45e from the 2021 model year. All are equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack whose cells might have been contaminated by debris during the manufacturing process, according to a recall notice issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

BMW hasn’t revealed what exactly found its way into the Samsung-built battery pack’s cells, or how, but it pointed out the debris can cause a short-circuit, which increases the risk of fires and injuries. It added that it became aware of the problem after four gasoline-electric X5s experienced what it refers to as a thermal incident. 

Engineers are currently developing a remedy to the problem. Until a solution is found, BMW is asking owners of affected cars not to charge the battery pack, not to drive in manual mode, not to engage sport mode, and not to use the shift paddles. It expects to begin fixing cars affected by the recall on November 23, 2020.

26,700 cars manufactured between January 20 and September 28, 2020, are part of the recall globally. Outside of the United States, BMW also sells plug-in variants of the X1, the X2, and the 2 Series Active Tourer.

It has been a bad month for electrified cars. Ford delayed its Escape PHEV after a recall of its Kuga twin in Europe over fire risk. U.S. safety officials are reviewing reports of fires in the Chevy Bolt EV, and Hyundai has expanded a recall of the Kona EV.

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