BMW ActivE Issues Come to Fore


It has become industry practice before a vehicle is made available in the market, that carmakers test drive their cars to a select few for a number of months. This process would allow the carmaker insight into the performance and use of the vehicle for eventual upgrade and tweaking.

One of the cars that have undertaken this process is the BMW ActivE, the German automaker’s electric conversion of a BMW 1 Series two-door sedan. As of late, there are 700 vehicles currently on the roads today.

Last January 17, 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall for BMW ActivE electric vehicles that were built between August 17 and December 19, 2011. The main reason for the recall is the inadequate gear lubrication. This is one of the reasons for the recall and may be a result from the inadequate sealing of the drivetrain housing assembly. When gear lubrication goes below a certain level, the electric drive motor and gear assembly can suddenly fail, causing the gear to grind on the output shaft of the electric motor that would cause splining failure.

When the electric motor splines, then a new motor needs to be fitted into the vehicle. There have been sixteen (16) reported failures for those with the new BMW ActivE. In response, the carmaker had modified the design of its electric motor alongside a new gasket to prevent the loss of gear lubrication. The recall is being done to address all the existing areas of concern, from the fitting of a new gasket between the motor and gear assembly as well as proper sealing of the two components. Since half of the cars produced had already been modified during its regular servicing, the recall would just cover the others either those who have already been serviced or would still be serviced in the future.

The recall was issued through a letter sent by BMW to those affected vehicle lessees.

Other concerns that have been aired include the reduced range of the vehicle during cold weather, down to seventy (70) from the hundred (100) mile BMW rating or the ninety four (94) EPA mileage rating. Also criticized is the limited trunk space of the vehicle, but overall many of the users of the ActivE are happy with their vehicles on the road.

The first production electric vehicle is set to reach showrooms in 2015, with the 2014 BMW i3 being unveiled in this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.