There’s a Class-Action Lawsuit for a Dangerous BMW i3 Range Extender Problem

When you buy a new electric car, you trust that the technology created by the manufacturer is safe to drive. The BMW i3 is an EV that first appeared for the model year 2014. And according to a class-action lawsuit, it has a dangerous problem. Here’s what you should know about the alleged issue with its Range Extender.

The problem with the BMW i3 Range Extender

A current class-action lawsuit argues that BMW i3 cars with Range Extenders (REx) lose their ability to accelerate, according to CarComplaints.com. The owners filing the lawsuit suggest that a design defect causes the vehicle to slow suddenly when the batteries’ charge drops below a certain point. Some owners have also lost their brake lights at the same time they lose speed.

According to the lawsuit, BMW knew about but didn’t publicize the dangerous defect found in 2014, 2015, and 2016 i3 vehicles with Range Extenders. The gas-powered Range Extender turns on automatically when the battery charge level decreases to 6.5 percent. However, the lawsuit says, the slowing issues also occur when the i3 switches from battery power to the Range Extenders.

The Range Extender has a two-cylinder 650cc gasoline engine that powers a generator that powers the battery. This makes it different from a hybrid car, where the engine could kick in periodically throughout the battery’s charge span. The use of the Range Extender, according to the lawsuit, should increase the range from about 80 miles to about 150 miles. The Range Extender feature adds almost $4,000 to the cost of the vehicle.

According to CarComplaints.com, the lawsuit suggests “breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, consumer protection, and fraudulent concealment.” It points to federal law, as well as laws in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington. According to CarComplaints.com, the original lawsuit was filed in 2016. That’s when Edo Tsoar found his leased 2015 BMW i3 REx slowing down in traffic while on a hill once the Range Extender kicked in.

The danger with the BMW i3 Range Extender

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According to the lawsuit, the BMW i3 cars with Range Extenders are at increased risk of accidents and injuries to occupants. The vehicles can’t accelerate when the battery drops below a 6 percent charge, the lawsuit maintains. Because drivers can also lose speed when the Range Extender turns on, there can be a risk of crashes if that happens in traffic. The problem is exacerbated by driving uphill when the Range Extender slows the speed.

A judge threw out part of the lawsuit

A federal judge recently reduced the lawsuit, but it will still apply for some California BMW i3 owners and lessees. Once BMW filed a motion to dismiss, a judge dismissed most of the lawsuit’s claims, CarComplaints.com reported.

But the judge allowed some claims, including Song-Beverly and Magnuson-Moss, to move forward. Both affect i3 REx cars in California. Both suits continued as class actions, but six days after the two were renewed, a judge ruled that the Magnuson-Moss class wouldn’t be certified until it had more than 100 members. So that class-action lawsuit was withdrawn.

The lawsuit proceeds for California drivers

The judge decided the lawsuit could move forward for entities (with five or fewer California vehicles) and all individuals with BMW i3 REx cars from model years 2014, 2015, or 2016 that were purchased or leased in California before May 16, 2016. That lawsuit is Braverman et al. v. BMW of North America, LLC, et al., and the lawyers for the plaintiffs are with the firms Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, Chimicles & Tikellis LLP, MLG Automotive Law, and the Margarian Law Firm.

Owners of a BMW i3 from model years 2014, 2015, or 2016 should be aware of this potential safety concern with the Range Extender. And owners in California might be interested in the class-action lawsuit as well.