Feeling Burned by ABC News Report, BMW Fires Back

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
feeling burned by em abc news em report bmw fires back

Last week’s ABC News investigation into unrecalled BMW models bursting into flames after being parked raised a number of questions, but didn’t provide viewers with many answers.

While the automaker, like others, has seen its fair share of fire-related safety recalls in recent years, the models involved in the apparent rash of spontaneous fires appear quite diverse — both in model type and age. Any fire can have a number of causes, leading many to see the report as sensationalism, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it couldn’t find a recall-worthy issue behind the blazes.

After taking time to examine ABC‘s findings, BMW decided to speak out.

In an official statement posted to its website, the automaker said it empathizes with any customer who has experienced a car fire and remains dedicated to keeping its clientele safe. It stressed its products are not dangerous, stating, “We have full confidence in our products and strive to always provide the best possible owner’s experience.”

Calling incidents of fire in BMW vehicles “extremely rare,” the automaker detailed its go-to investigations team, which works with insurance companies and law enforcement to pinpoint the cause of unusual blazes.

As for the content of the news report, BMW offered up this explanation:

We have investigated and where still possible, inspected the vehicles identified by ABC News. These vehicles span an age range of 1-15 years, accumulated mileage of up to 232,250 miles, multiple generations and model types. In cases that we have inspected and are able to determine root causes, we have not seen any pattern related to quality or component failure. Vehicle fires can result from a wide variety of external reasons and can range from improper accident damage repair, previous vehicle flooding, lack of, or improper preventative maintenance, rodent nesting, unauthorized modifications to the vehicle (such as remote starters, stereo installations, etc.) and even arson.

As for reports of combustible Bimmers in overseas markets, the automaker honed in on one country in particular. BMW of North America doesn’t normally comment on issues in other markets, but it did say that “as in the US, the incidents in Korea have been investigated and it was determined that the majority were caused by unauthorized aftermarket modifications.”

Join the conversation
2 of 10 comments
  • TMA1 TMA1 on May 15, 2017

    I thought "unauthorized modification" was a German phrase meaning "repair."

  • Bullnuke Bullnuke on May 15, 2017

    ABC needs to hire Stone Phillips and his incendiary assistant to investigate this. Then we'll get to the bottom of the situation with exciting videos of burning Bimmers.

  • Mike Beranek This guy called and wants his business model back.
  • SCE to AUX The solid state battery is vaporware.As for software-limited pack capacity: Batteries are obviously the most expensive component of an EV, so on the rare occasion that pack capacity is dramatically limited (as in your 6-year-old example), it's because economies of scale briefly made sense at the time.Mfrs are not in the habit of overbuilding pack capacity just for fun, and then charging the customer less.Since then, pack capacities have been slightly increased via software because the mfr decides they can sacrifice a little bit of the normal safety/wear margin in the interest of range. We're talking single-digit percentages, not the 60/75 kWh jump in your example.Every pack has maybe 10% margin built into it, so eating into that today (via range increases) means it's not available to make up for battery degradation tomorrow. My 4-year-old EV still has its original range(s) and 100% SOH, but that's surely because it is slowly consuming the margin built into the pack.@Matt Posky: Not everything is a conspiracy to get your credit card account, and the lengthy editorial about this has nothing to do with solid state batteries.
  • JLGOLDEN In order for this total newcomer to grab and hold attention in the US market, the products MUST be an exceptional value. Not many people will pay name-brand money for the pretty mystery. I can appreciate the ambition of selling $50K+ crossovers, but I think they will go farther with their $30K-$40K offerings.
  • Dukeisduke They're where Tesla was when it started - a complete unknown. I haven't heard anything about a dealer network. How are they going to sell these? Direct like Tesla? Franchises picked up by existing new car dealers?
  • Master Baiter As I approach retirement, and watch my IRA and 401K account balances dwindle, I have less and less interest in $150K vehicles.