May 12, 2017 — An investigative report by ABC News has uncovered at least 40 reports of parked BMWs catching on fire without explanation.
All of the so-called “BMW mystery fires” occurred in vehicles that were parked with the engine not running. Some vehicles had not been used for several hours or days before spontaneously bursting into flames.
Investigators found over 40 similar reports of fires in parked BMWs. None of the vehicles are not under recall for fire hazards. The reports span a wide range of model-years, types of BMWs, and countries including the United States, Sweden, China, India, and South Korea.
The most recently-filed report in the U.S. was on February 2, 2017, when the owner of a 2016 BMW 228i reported:
“[BMW] spontaneously combusted in my driveway after being parked for approximately four and a half hours… The vehicle was totally engulfed in flames and destroyed in approximately 10-15 minutes.”
BMW has investigated several fires and inspected some of the vehicles that were highlighted in the ABC News report. Some of the fires were blamed on improper maintenance and even rodents.
The mystery remains unsolved. According to the company, “In cases that we have inspected and are able to determine root cause, we have not seen any pattern related to quality or component failure.”
The problem may be related to the fact that modern cars are never really “off” because power to the electrical systems remains on, even when when the engine is not running. For example, BMW pioneered the use of lithium-ion batteries that turn on and recharge automatically.
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