BMW Is Recalling 19,000 i3 EVs For…A Fuel Leak?

A fuel leak in an electric vehicle? We never thought we’d see the day. But that’s what we’re looking at in this latest recall… sorta.

The model in question is the BMW i3, which as we all know is an electric vehicle. But you can get it with a supplemental internal-combustion engine that acts as a “range extender,” thereby turning the EV into a plug-in hybrid.

As it turns out, the vast majority of customers in the United States who’ve bought or leased an i3 have opted for that range-extender engine. And every last one of them will need to bring their electric hatchbacks in for service.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the line that vents fuel vapors from the range-extender’s gas tank may rub against the battery positive cable, potentially causing a fuel leak. Fortunately no such incidents have been reported, but since the leak could lead to a fire, BMW is calling them in. All of them.

By our calculations, BMW has (as of the end of last month) sold a total of 25,123 of its i3s in the United States. The recall only affects those equipped with the range extender – a total of 19,130. In other words, more than three quarters of i3 customers in the US have opted for the plug-in hybrid model over the pure EV – which in and of itself may be useful information for any company considering developing an electrified vehicle.

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