The US auto safety regulators have imposed a $40 million civil penalty and a series of performance requirements to BMW North America for failing to meet safety requirements.
The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that BMW violated requirements to issue a timely recall of vehicles that did not comply with minimum crash protection standards, to notify owners of recalls in a timely fashion and to provide accurate information about its recalls to NHTSA. It is not the first penalty for BMW, as the automaker has been also fined with 3 million dollars in 2012 for similar violations. The settlement ends a NHTSA investigation into whether the company failed to issue a recall within five days of learning that its 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper models failed to meet regulatory minimums for side-impact crash protection.
“The requirement to launch recalls and inform consumers in a timely fashion when a safety defect or noncompliance is discovered is fundamental to our system for protecting the traveling public. This is a must-do,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “For the second time in three years, BMW has been penalized for failing to meet that obligation. 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.”
The 40-million-dollar civil penalty includes a 10-million-dollar fine in cash, a requirement that the company spends at least 10 million dollars meeting the order’s performance obligations, and 20 million dollars in deferred penalties that will come due if BMW fails to comply with the settlement or commits other safety violations.
In addition to paying the penalties, BMW must also hire a NHTSA-approved independent safety consultant to help the company develop practices for complying with the regulators and submit those practices to NHTSA. The automaker has to evaluate, under the independent consultant’s guidance, all safety or compliance-related issues and provide a monthly written report to NHTSA on those issues and also to launch a pilot program to determine whether the company can use data analytics capabilities to detect emerging safety-related defect trends. BMW has to establish a plan to deter dealers from selling new vehicles with unremedied safety defects, a requirement stemming from the fact that after an agency investigator representative bought a car with an open safety recall from a BMW dealer