BMW is in hot water again with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Monday, the NHTSA announced it is handing down a $40 million civil penalty against the automaker for a series of safety violations involving the MINI brand.
Namely, investigators say BMW did not issue timely recalls and voluntary service campaigns of 2014 and 2015 MINI Cooper models that failed to meet minimum crash protection standards. Investigators say it also failed to provide accurate information to the agency. You can read BMW’s response here.
The NHTSA imposed a $3 million civil penalty in 2012 for similar violations.
“NHTSA has discovered multiple instances in which BMW failed its obligations to its customers, to the public and to safety,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The Consent Order NHTSA has issued not only penalizes this misconduct, it requires BMW to take a series of steps to remedy the practices and procedures that led to these violations.”
The investigation stems from October 2014 when a MINI 2-Door Hardtop Cooper failed a crash test. The company claimed the model was listed with the wrong weight and would pass the test if conducted at the proper weight rating, but agreed to conduct a recall to correct the incorrect weight rating on the vehicle’s Tire Information Placard. It also agreed to conduct a voluntary service campaign to add additional side-impact protection.
In July 2015, NHTSA conducted a second crash test at the corrected weight rating on a vehicle with the additional side-impact protection. The vehicle failed the test again. That’s also when the NHTSA found out BMW hadn’t followed through with its safety campaigns.
“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,” says 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.”
In addition to paying the civil penalties, BMW will also come under additional federal oversight. It must retain an independent safety consultant to help the company develop best safety practices. It must also get with dealers to establish a plan so they won’t sell new vehicles with safety defects. NHTSA says during its investigation, a representative was able to buy a new vehicle with an open safety recall from a BMW dealer.
Photo Credit: BMW