WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) -- BMW AG and Volkswagen AG recalled vehicles in the U.S. for defects that could cause fires, the federal auto-safety regulator said today.
BMW, based in Munich, recalled 1 Series luxury cars for model years 2008 to 2011 for a flaw in front-seat safety-belt retractors that could ignite, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its Web site.
The notice didn't say how many vehicles are affected. Volkswagen, based in Wolfsburg, Germany, recalled 15,902 Routan minivans because rear-door latches can short-circuit and catch fire.
The recalls were announced two days after a U.S. Senate committee sent legislation to the Senate that's intended to toughen auto-safety regulation and increase penalties for infractions.
Volkswagen's recall for model year 2009 minivans, built with Chrysler Group LLC, follows a June 7 recall by Chrysler for 284,831 Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country minivans, according to NHTSA.
Tom Kowaleski, a U.S.-based spokesman for BMW, and Jill Bratina, a U.S.-based spokeswoman for Volkswagen, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
The BMW fire risk could occur in crashes of “significant severity,” Jan Urbahn, BMW general manager for safety engineering, wrote in a June 8 letter to NHTSA.
Vehicle seat belts are equipped with a mechanism to tighten, or add tension, and help prevent the person from jerking forward in a crash.
“In rare circumstances, it is possible that the insulation around the pre-tensioner could ignite,” Urbahn wrote.