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BMW Hit by News That Could Slow Its Efforts Against Tesla

German high-end vehicle manufacturer BMW is going off the road as it tries to win against Tesla in electrification.
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BMW undefined just got a bit of bad news, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. 

The German luxury-vehicle manufacturer is, like all players in the industry, racing to offer electric cars as soon as possible. Eyes are also on the industry as gasoline prices at the pump hit records in the wake of soaring crude-oil prices.

EV experts say BMW is one of the brands that can compete with Tesla TSLA in electric vehicles. The premium vehicle maker has a portfolio of models that may indeed pull consumers away from buying Tesla. For example, the BMW i4 electric model can go toe-to-toe with Tesla's Model 3.

But while it attends to the positive EV fronts, BMW must now also take care of a problem with its gasoline cars.

Engine Ventilation System at Issue

The automotive group must recall nearly 1 million vehicles in the U.S. to fix a problem related to the engine ventilation system. The system could overheat and increase the risk of fire. This is the second time the automaker has recalled some of the cars.

Specifically, BMW will recall 917,106 cars, according to a notice from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"BMW has not received any reports, nor is BMW otherwise aware, of any accidents or injuries related to this issue," the regulator said.

The models potentially affected by this problem span several years. They are:

Model Year 2006-2011 BMW Z4 Roadster 

2006-2008 BMW Z4 Coupe, 

2007-2010 BMW X5 SAV, 

2006-2007 BMW 5 Series wagon, 

2006-2010 BMW 5 Series Sedan

2007-2013 BMW 3 Series convertible

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2006-2012 BMW 3 Series Wagon 

2008-2013 BMW 1 Series convertible

2007-2013 BMW 3 Series Coupe, and, 

2008-2013 BMW 1 Series Coupe.

BMW i8

BMW Is Developing the Fix

According to NHTSA, in early 2019 a field incident involving a thermal event in the engine compartment was reported. At the time, it appeared to be an isolated incident. 

But, in mid-2020, a similar report was received, and by the end of 2020, three reports had been received. Each of the vehicles had been part of the previous recall. 

"Vehicle inspection findings were inconclusive," the regulator said.

In early 2021, three additional field incidents were reported. At that time, thoughts focused upon the possibility of a service repair issue. By the end of 2021, two additional field incidents were reported.

"In January 2022, the engineering investigation included a detailed parts collection and analysis," NHTSA explained. "Recall parts from field vehicles, which had the remedy performed, were returned for testing and analyses. Similarly, recall parts from stock were retrieved for testing and analyses. Ultrasound, microscopy, and x-ray techniques were utilized to closely examine and compare the parts.

In addition, supplier production and process records involving recall parts were reviewed, including the injection molding process, and the production rate ramp-up of recall parts in early 2018. 

"By the end of February, it was determined that supplier production and process issues could cause unwanted production variation and, over time, lead to PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve heater damage in the field," according to NHTSA.

In view of these conclusions, BMW has decided to voluntarily recall the potentially affected vehicles and implement a new remedy, the regulator says.

"The remedy is currently being developed" and the repair will be done free to car owners starting on April 25, said NHTSA.

The agency added: "Owners who have had this remedy performed at their own expense prior to the recall notification may be eligible for reimbursement according to BMW Group’s reimbursement plan."