Laguna Hills, CA – Sep. 29, 2019 – Field incidents demonstrating the failure of a specific part on three different BMW hybrid electric vehicles has led to a small but very significant recall from the manufacturer. As part of the action, BMW has recalled 139 vehicles due to potentially faulty Electric Motor Electronics (EME) modules, that number spread across three different models.
BMW estimates that roughly 10 percent of those 139 vehicles contain the defect, which has the potential to cause a complete shut-down of high-voltage electric power – increasing the risk of a crash should the error occur while the vehicle is in motion. Owners of the vehicles containing the defect should be notified within the coming weeks, with repairs conducted by dealers afterward.
The exact part causing the defect on the vehicles is the EME’s printed circuit board (PCB), which BMW reported was not produced to proper specifications. According to paperwork the manufacturer filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “this [defect] could lead to an increase in transition resistance at certain PCB contact points and cause a loss of electrical contact.”
Following this loss of electrical contact, the EME module would shut down high-voltage electrical power on the vehicle, resulting in a loss of propulsion and increasing the risk of a crash.
The vehicles involved in the recall are the 2019 BMW i3 BEV, the 2019 BMW i3 REx, and the 2019 BMW i8. While there is unfortunately no “warning” or other indication presaging the errors caused by the defect, BMW did report that in the event of a shut down of high-voltage electrical power, the affected vehicle would still retain power steering and braking via its 12-volt power.
Timeline of Events
According to the safety recall report that BMW filed with the NHTSA, the manufacturer first became aware of the possibility for the defect via field incident reports from non-U.S. markets involving high-voltage electrical power loss on the i3 and i8 vehicles.
“Further reviews were conducted, which also involved the EME supplier and sub-supplier,” the safety recall report stated. “The Tier-1 supplier informed BMW that certain EME modules may not have produced to specifications. The supplier indicated that the EME’s PCB may not have been produced to specifications on a specific assembly line by the Tier-2 supplier.”
By reviewing production records held by the “Tier-2 supplier”, BMW identified the production dates of the PCBs which potentially contained the defect. Following that, other records were cross-referenced in order to determine the exact vehicles which contain those PCBs (and potentially, the defect along with them).
BMW has indicated that owners of the vehicles involved in the recall will be notified by first class mail no later than October 7, 2019. Owners will be instructed to bring their vehicle to an authorized BMW center to have the EME replaced free.
Vehicle owners looking for more information on this specific recall may contact BMW customer service at (800) 525-7417, or the NHTSA’s vehicle safety hotline at (888) 327-4236. And for more information on other recalls involving BMW and additional major auto manufacturers, visit MotorSafety.org.