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In drastic decision, BMW Motorrad halts motorcycle sales in US and Canada

The move, which could have unpredictable consequences, affects gasoline-powered bikes, both new and pre-owned. The German brand says safety is not involved

BMW Motorrad has halted sales of all its new and used motorcycles, except for its one electric model.
BMW Motorrad has halted sales of all its new and used motorcycles, except for its one electric model.

BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle division of the German automotive giant, is facing an unprecedented crisis in its U.S. and Canadian markets. The brand has voluntarily decided to halt sales of its new and used products through its dealership network, with the exception of the all-electric CE 04 model.

In a press release, the company said that “BMW of North America is dedicated to providing vehicles to our customers that meet their expectations. To ensure that our vehicles are of the highest industry standards, BMW performs ongoing testing and evaluation. Following a recent quality analysis, BMW is pursuing measures to further evaluate the material used in a component of its motorcycle evaporative system, which may not have been produced to material specifications. As a result, BMW of North America is issuing a temporary, voluntary stop sale for all new and pre-owned BMW motorcycle models in dealer inventory, except for the CE 04.”

The statement also sought to allay fears that safety could be affected, and says that owners of bikes that have already been delivered should not feel concerned: “This temporary stop sale is not safety-related and BMW owners may continue to ride their motorcycles as normal.”

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BMW North America’s statement suggests that the problem concerns emissions, which are under stringent regulations in the affected markets. The brand’s drastic decision to stop sales at all its dealerships is therefore unrelated to user safety; however, BMW could face severe penalties if the alleged anomaly were to be detected and reported by regulatory authorities.

For the time being, no regulatory agency has urged BMW Motorrad to suspend its commercial activity. Instead, the company has decided to take the step out of a sense of responsibility over such a sensitive issue as emissions, but also because of the legal and economic consequences that such a case could potentially entail: the shadow of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate remains long, nearly a decade after the scandal broke.

In simplified terms, the evaporative emissions system (EVAP) works to reduce or eliminate fuel vapor leaks, which occur mainly in the gasoline tank and the conduits that direct it to the engine intake for combustion. Leaks mean that fuel quickly evaporates into the atmosphere, and the lighter fuel components (such as aldehydes, olefins and kerosenes) are converted into pollutant gases.

Elements of the EVAP system that could be affected include the fuel tank, the cap, the fuel level sensor and the canister, a filter that absorbs and stores vapors. When an EVAP failure occurs and fuel gases are released into the atmosphere, the engine’s on-board diagnostic system can display up to 17 error codes, making them easily identifiable in a technical inspection.

Locating the exact point of the leak will be quite complex, however, as the perfect sealing of all these components is more complicated than it might seem due to the high volatility of gasoline.

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