Sales of the new Mini were suspended yesterday after the discovery of a design fault that could ignite a fireball next to the fuel tank when drivers fill up.
The Mini's manufacturer, BMW, has stopped all deliveries of new cars and recalled 500 already collected by owners. In
the week that new number plates are introduced, the recall represents a serious embarrassment to BMW, which had been energetically promoting the updated version of Sir Alec Issigonis' classic design.
But the need to examine the new models became apparent when the company found there was a "small chance" that static electricity in the neck leading to the fuel tank could ignite when a petrol pump was inserted.
BMW admitted yesterday it could cause a "small ball of fire" but said there was no chance of the cars exploding on petrol station forecourts.
Drivers are being advised to return new Minis to their dealers, while no further models will be released until the problem is fixed by fitting a new earth to give the static an outlet.
The new Mini One and Mini Cooper models were launched by BMW in July.Reuse content