BMW Responds To Mysterious Fire Reports, Blames External Factors

The ABC News investigation into mysterious BMW fires has caused the automaker to issue a response saying it empathizes with “anyone who has experienced a vehicle fire.”

Despite this, the automaker says “We have full confidence in our products and strive to always provide the best possible owner’s experience.” The company added it “takes every incident very seriously and has a team dedicated to working with BMW owners, insurance companies, and authorities to investigate vehicle fire incidents brought to our attention.”

BMW has investigated several of the fires reported by ABC News and notes the vehicles involved are between 1-15 years old and have up to 232,250 miles (373,770 km) on them. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be much of a connection between them as the models spawn multiple generations and vehicle types.

This is particularly noteworthy, as it’s one thing if forty 2017 X3 crossovers equipped with the 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine catch on fire and another if it’s a handful of different vehicles with various powertrains.

BMW goes on to say in the “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 company notes vehicle fires can be caused by a variety of external factors including arson, improper maintenance, rodent nesting, and aftermarket modifications.

The latter point is particularly relevant as the report cited a South Korean investigation into BMW fires. However, it failed to mention that the “majority were caused by unauthorized aftermarket modifications.” That might not be the case in the United States, but even things as simple as grass and leaves have been known to cause vehicle fires.

Another factor people need to keep in mind is fire incidents involving BMWs are extremely rare. ABC News says they found 40 incidents in the past five years. To put that number into a somewhat imperfect perspective, BMW and MINI sold a combined total of 1,778,412 vehicles in the United States during the last five years. That means, if there were 40 fires out of all those vehicles, owners are facing a 0.0022% chance of a Bayerische BBQ, but even that presumes that none of those fires were related to external factors. 

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