There are always growing pains when automakers introduce new technologies. BMW is learning this with the electric powetrain used on the 2011 BMW ActiveE. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about half of the all-electric 1 Series coupes currently in the hands of the public are being recalled for a potential problem that could leave the cars stranded.

With 700 ActiveE models running around the US, 360 of these cars have insufficient sealing between the electric motor and transmission, which could lead to premature wear to the connection between the two, which in turn could result in a loss of propulsion. BMW started notifying affected owners by phone earlier this month.

While no automaker wants a recall on its hands, it's much better for BMW to learn such a lesson now on the low-production, lease-only ActiveE ahead of the car's successor, the BMW i3, which is expected to be a much higher-volume EV. Scroll down for the official recall notification.
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Report Receipt Date: JAN 17, 2013
NHTSA Campaign Number: 13V017000
Component(s): POWER TRAIN
Potential Number of Units Affected: 360
Manufacturer: BMW of North America, LLC

BMW is recalling certain model year 2011 1-Series ActiveE passenger vehicles manufactured August 17, 2011, through December, 19, 2011. Due to an insufficient sealing of the drivetrain housing assembly there may be a lack of grease lubrication on the gear shaft that transfers power from the electric motor to the transmission.

Over time, the connection between the electric motor and the transmission may wear, possibly resulting in a sudden loss of vehicle propulsion. This could increase the risk of a vehicle crash.

BMW will notify owners by telephone, and dealers will inspect the drivetrain connection and update the sealing system. Any worn electric motor gearing will be replaced. The recall is expected to begin in January 2013. Owners may call BMW at 1-800-525-7417 or email BMW at

Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm also one of the lucky Active E owners and I believe my car did not have the sealing problem. This car is pretty impressive, I had an extended drive of a 80KWh Tesla S back to back with my BMW and the drive is very similar. Where you feel more power in the Tesla S is the 35-60mph range (its probably faster than most sedans). Both BMW and Tesla have the right amount of regen braking and ultimately that technology alone is going to do a lot to convert people to EVs. 1)Pros: Subsidized lease payments, carpool access in CA, brand new technology, unlimited mile lease, ultra smooth power delivery, great handling, silent drive, one pedal driving - 2) Cons: You have to spend 5 minutes dropping off your car and drive a 328 or 528 for a day while they "service" your car
      • 2 Years Ago
      That doesn't sound as serious as say a failing oil system in the m5
        • 2 Years Ago
        What!?...But, but, BMWs are the best cars in the world!...Everyone knows they're perfect!...
          • 2 Years Ago
          not even toyota, they have recalls them selves.
          • 2 Years Ago
          I think you mean Toyota. Oh, wait...
      • 2 Years Ago
      Meh, its a super low production vehicle. Problems are to be expected.
      • 2 Years Ago
      • 2 Years Ago
      i saw this on the road and i laughed, it looks funny
      Airton Azevedo
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am one of the lucky Active E owners, just about one year now and never an issue with the car, I love it and can't wait to get into a i3 next...
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Airton Azevedo
        Aside from paying to be a guinea pig and the the 5,000 /3 month service intervals... aside from that you're lucky as hell.
      • 2 Years Ago
      No surprise here. This is what happens when you spend more money on your ad agency than you do on your engineers. So much for "The Ultimate Driving Machine"
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tesla looking better and better every day....
      • 2 Years Ago
      As a BMW Active-E mechanic, this has been an issue since day 1. Notice that the "service" we do calls for the trans and motor to be separated to "inspect"... they've (BMW) has been at the helm on this issue all the time. No matter how many emails we (techs) sent, its until the Gov't mandates an action... thats when companies care.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Very interesting. My Active E has been relatively trouble-free. However the tales of some Electronauts are really frightening. Considering the motor/transmission failure rate (based on an about 10% sample) is running a little over 50%, it doesn't speak well for BMW's quality control. I agree that BMW may have been forced into this "recall." With all the internet shilling and EV rah-rah being dispersed about this car, it's tough to know exactly what's going on. About the only thing I can say for certain about my BMW E Drive experience is that for me it's been great. But goodness, how about some communication, BMW? You expect me to believe your new i-line of vehicles are going to be useable transportation devices when it appears you can't even get the motor done right?
      • 2 Years Ago
      Before this car was even release I called it a slapped together conversion, compliance car. After the MINI E they stil did not learn. Just wait to see what an overpriced joke their next EV offering ends up to be. Stay tuned.
      • 2 Years Ago
      If only they had been forced to do the same for the thousands of BMW motorcycles and their final drive failures which did leave many more stranded.
      • 2 Years Ago
      Toyota first and now BMW!!
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