In a report the network is rolling out today on Good Morning America, World News Tonight with David Muir and Nightline, ABC says it discovered a pattern of dozens of fires that occurred even though the owners said their cars were parked and not running.
A BMW spokesman said the company has investigated the fires and saw no pattern related to a product defect. It points out that car fires occur for a number of external reasons. In a statement today that was sent out preemptive of the report, in an email with the subject line "Sensationalistic ABC Reports on BMWs Expected," BMW of North America said:
With approximately 4.9 million BMW vehicles on U.S. roads, fire incidents involving BMWs are very rare. BMW takes every incident very seriously and has a dedicated team prepared to work with BMW owners, insurance companies and authorities to investigate any vehicle fire incident that is brought to our attention. We have investigated and in some cases inspected the vehicle identified by ABC News. These vehicles span an age range of 1-15 years, accumulated mileage of up to 232,250 miles and multiple generations and model types.
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. Vehicle fires can result from a wide variety of external reasons unrelated to product defect. In addition, ABC News indicated that they had some examples in other countries, but we are unable to comment on any incidents outside of the US.
ABC features BMW enthusiast Bill Macko, 55, who says he had owned seven Bimmers since 2000 and is a member of the BMW Car Club of America. "BMW wasn't just a car" to him, ABC said. "It was an identity."
"I was an aficionado," Macko said. "I had brought so many people on board to BMWs, it was crazy. Everybody knew that I loved them so much ... I mean, I lived the product, you know?"
But on Dec. 1, 2015, Macko says his wife had just parked their 2008 BMW X5 caught fire in their garage in Olney, Md., and reported a strange smell. Macko walked to the car in time to hear a "snap, crackle, pop" and see it burst into flames. The fire gutted their home.
Macko had the car at the dealership days before, so he thought the installation of a new battery might have led to the fire, but he says he learned he's not the only BMW owner reporting a mysterious fire. It's common for automakers, including BMW, to issue recalls regarding fire risk, of course, but ABC says the 40 BMW fires it investigated were not associated with any such recall.
You can read ABC's full report here.