Fire Hazard Leads to BMW Hybrid Recall and Subsequent Lawsuit

Lawsuits are all too common in the auto world, and many times for good reasons. Automakers aren’t always forthcoming about issues and will sometimes ignore or deny them. While BMW issued a recall due to the fact that hybrid batteries on the 2021 X3 are catching on fire, one owner isn’t convinced the German automaker acted in a timely manner.

There’s a lot that is unknown about the case as of yet, but the plaintiff believes that BMW knew there was an issue long before the recall was issued. There’s also the problem that the plaintiff’s vehicle was never repaired. So what’s BMW’s next step?

BMW issued a recall

One of the great things about hybrid vehicles is the fact that you can charge up the battery and roll on electric energy for a short while. It also helps the vehicle use less gasoline and gets superior mileage. Or, it would be if owners were actually able to charge the battery, anyway. For some BMW owners, plugging in their vehicles might prove to be dangerous.

According to Car Complaints, “The Samsung high-voltage battery may not have been manufactured according to specifications. During battery cell production at Samsung, debris may have been able to enter one or more battery cells and cause short circuits. A short-circuit could cause what BMW calls a “thermal event,” which is automaker lingo for, “fire.”

The list of recalled vehicles is rather long, but it includes the following: 2020-2021 BMW 530e, 2020-2021 BMW 530e xDrive, 2020-2021 BMW 530e iPerformance, 2020-2021 BMW X3 xDrive30e, 2020-2021 MINI Cooper Countryman All4 SE, 2020 BMW i8, 2021 BMW 330e, 2021 BMW 330e xDrive, 2021 BMW 745Le xDrive, and finally the 2021 X5 xDrive45e.

A California resident is suing

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Owners have been instructed to bring their vehicles to their local dealership for repairs that are supposed to fix the problem. Car Complaints reports that a California resident named William Martin Burbank did just that, but the repairs never happened.

Not only were no repairs made, but the dealership told Burbank that his X3 was unrepairable. Frustrated, Burbank requested that the dealer buy the vehicle back, but the dealer refused. At that point, Burbank was forced to buy another vehicle. His BMW X3 is still sitting on the dealership lot, and it’s unclear if the repairs will ever be made.

Frustrated, Burbank decided to sue the company, stating that the battery was a hazard to his health, and to the health of other owners. He also pointed out in his lawsuit that the brand will suffer, as no one who is aware of this recall will buy one of the affected vehicles. This, in turn, will lower the value of said vehicles, causing the resale value to plummet.

How long did BMW know about the battery hazard?

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It’s unclear when BMW knew there was an issue with the X3 battery, but the plaintiff believes that the German automaker was aware of the problem and didn’t speak up until there was no way to avoid it any longer. Car Complaints reports that according to the lawsuit, “Prior to the manufacture and sale of the Class Vehicles, Defendant knew of the battery system defect through internal sources, testing, and consumer complaints, including specific instances of potential Class Members bringing Class Vehicles to BMW for inspection and repair.” 

If this is the case, it wouldn’t be the first time the German automaker has been in hot water for not being honest about faulty batteries. BMW Korea had several locations raided by authorities after covering up the fact that some batteries were catching on fire. 

So is this the same type of situation? We’ll just have to wait and see how the case unfolds.