BMW agrees to consent order, fine up to $40 million over slow Mini recall
BMW today was hit with a civil penalty of up to $40 million for failing to recall more than 30,000 Mini Coopers quickly enough.
The German automaker said today it entered into a consent order with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The order resolves NHTSA’s investigation into whether BMW failed to issue a recall on 30,456 2014-15 Mini Coopers within five days of learning they didn’t meet safety requirements.
BMW recalled the Mini Coopers in July, several months after it said it would issue a voluntary service campaign on the vehicles in October 2014.
“The company must take this opportunity to reform its procedures and its culture to put safety where it belongs: at the top of its priority list,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement.
BMW must pay $10 million in cash, in addition to spending a minimum of $10 million to comply with the order. BMW must also pay $20 million if it does not comply with the order or further violates U.S. safety laws.
This is the second time in three years that the company has been fined by U.S. regulators. It was fined $3 million in 2012.
BMW is required to “retain a NHTSA-approved independent safety consultant” to develop practices to better comply with U.S. laws and regulations.
It must also launch a pilot program to determine whether data analytics can detect safety trends and submit a written review to NHTSA on the company’s safety and compliance issues.
BMW is also required to deter dealerships from selling new vehicles with safety defects. That provision of the consent order stems “from the fact that during NHTSA’s investigation, a NHTSA representative purchased a new vehicle with an open safety recall from a BMW dealer,” NHTSA said in a news release.
After a failed October 2014 crash test, BMW said it listed an incorrect weight on the Mini Cooper and that it would have passed the test if it was correct. It then agreed to recall the affected vehicles to correct the weight rating on the car and to “conduct a voluntary service campaign, short of a recall, to add additional side-impact protection,” NHTSA said.
After a second failed crash test in July, NHTSA said it found BMW did not issue that service campaign. It launched an investigation into the automaker in September.
BMW also admits in the consent order to failing to notify owners and dealers of recalls in a “timely fashion” in other recalls since 2012 and for failing to provide quarterly recall completion reports on time.
"The company is committed to further improving its recall processes to better serve its customers," BMW said in a statement. "BMW NA respects the role of NHTSA and looks forward to working with them to develop solutions for the future."
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