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BMW Recalls Mini's Due to Gas Tank Static Problems

BMW is recalling all new Mini's because of a design fault that could cause an explosion when the cars are being refueled.

Static electricity could cause a small spark when a gasoline refueling nozzle is inserted or during the refueling of the vehicle. This could in turn ignite fuel vapour around the fuel fill door..

The problem was discovered when technicians found special paint used to "bond" the fuel filler neck was wearing off too quickly. This may hace caused the fill neck to accumulate a static charge during refueling and then ignite the air/fuel vapor mixture near the fuel door and nozzle area.

Mini engineers at the plant in Cowley, Unitied Kingdom, will fix the approximately 500 models already delivered to customers and modify the others which have not been delivered.

BMW officials stated that there had been no explosions or injuries at any time during the launch process and that the risk was very small.

However, the company said it was aware of two cases where a build-up of static electricity had caused a localized fire.

The recall is estimated to cost the German car maker about $463,000.

BMW saved the Mini brand and designs for the new model when it pulled out of UK car maker Rover a year ago, following six years of heavy investments and even heavier losses.

The Mini went on sale in the UK just a few weeks ago. It will be offered in other European countries from this month onward, and in the United States and Japan in 2002.

The Munich-based company hopes to sell 100,000 Minis around the world during the coming year.

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