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Tesla Rival Recalls a Popular Model Due to Fire Concerns

Electric vehicle fires have been both a safety concern and a political battle.

While Tesla  (TSLA)  is currently getting a lot of flack for a number of fire risk-related recalls, this is actually something that is fairly common across the auto industry.

Due to their high-voltage, lithium-ion batteries used to keep them running, electric vehicles are particularly prone to shorting into a fire that is larger and more difficult to control than what is typically seen with gas-powered engines.

Which Models Were Recalled?

The latest auto company to put out a recall notice is German luxury car maker BMW  (BMWYY)

First spotted by car site Autoblog, it said that "a small number of" 2022 i4 sedans and iX SUVs were recalled due to the risk of battery fires.

The xDrive 50, iX M60, i4 eDrive40 and i4 M50 are some of the models affected.

The recall was preceded by an incident in which a safety inspection of a 2022 i4 eDrive back in April found pieces of cathode debris inside the battery.

Cathode, or negatively charged particles, are necessary to keep an electrical device running but, by creating high energy density, can lead to fires.

Two similar incidents with a 2022 iX xDrive50 and a 2022 iX M60 were reported later in June.

"Fortunately, the recall affects a very small number of vehicles," BMW spokesperson Jay Hanson told media outlets. "And our Customer Relations team has already proactively reached out to all of the owners of affected vehicles to provide information and assistance."

BMW iX SUV Lead JS

While dealerships were already informed of the problem and advised to pull the cars from their lots, all owners are expected to receive a letter announcement by Sept. 19.

In total, 83 vehicles are now affected and BMW advised their owners not to drive them and keep them parked away from other vehicles.

Electric Car Fires: The Politics

Car fires are still very rare in the industry overall, as research by insurance firm AutoinsuranceEZ found that electric engines have a 0.03% chance of catching fire while for gas engines have a 1.5% chance.

But given their potential for serious harm, the risk of a car fire can prompt widespread recalls. Back in December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration forced Tesla to recall over 54,000 Model 3 and Model S vehicles.

More recently, Ford Motor Co.  (F)  also announced that it would be recalling approximately 48,924 Ford Mustang Mach-E vehicles produced between May 27, 2020, and May 24, 2022, due to a safety defect.

The Mustang Mach-E is a direct competitor of Tesla's Model Y.

Stories of a mother of five dying after being trapped inside a Tesla during a raging fire or firefighters having to use over 30,000 gallons of water to put out a Tesla fire spurred broader outrage from the public.

Conservative groups and automative industry lobbyists, meanwhile, often use any problem with an electric car to point to why people should choose gas-powered cars instead even if the industry has been rapidly moving toward electric.

McKinsey data shows that electric vehicles sales rose by more than 40% from 2016.

"Anytime you have that new technology you're going to have new issues that pop up — issues that they're not able to foresee — and that's where you're going to see that increase in recalls," Sedgwick sales head Wayne Mitchell recently told Axios.

BMW stock was largely unaffected by the recall as, in the last five days, shares rose by over 6% to $27.45.