For the second time in the last three years, BMW has been fined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency slapped with the automaker with a civil penalty that could total up to $40 million for slow action on a promised recall. According to Automotive News, the agency slapped the fine on the automaker for failing to recall 30,456 2014-15 Mini Coopers quickly enough.
BMW entered into a consent decree with the safety agency, the automaker announced yesterday. The order resolves an NHTSA probe into whether the carmaker ordered the recall of the Mini Coopers within five days of learning there was a defect. The issue began in October 2014 when BMW indicated it would issue a recall for the 30,456 Mini Coopers. The recall started in July, nine months later.
In a statement, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said that BMW “must take this opportunity to reform its procedures.” He indicated that the automaker must also change “its culture to put safety where it belongs: at the top of its priority list.”
In the consent decree, BMW agreed to pay $10 million cash and it must put another $10 million to comply with the order. If the company fails to comply with the order or violates U.S. safety laws, it must pay another $20 million. The latest NHTSA action represents the second time in three years the automaker faced an NHTSA penalty. In 2012, the automaker was fined $3 million.
Under the consent decree, BMW must also:
- Hire an “NHTSA-approved independent safety consultant” to develop procedures that will enable the automaker to comply with U.S. regulations.
- Launch a pilot program to see if data analytics can spot safety trends.
- Submit a written review of the company’s safety and compliance issues.
- Keep dealerships from selling cars with defects. This provision of the decree stems from its investigation, an “NHTSA representative purchased a new vehicle with an open safety recall from a BMW dealer,” the agency said in a news release.
Yesterday’s action grew out of a failed crash test in October 2014. At that time, a Mini-Cooper failed the crash test because of an incorrect weight listing. The automaker maintained that if the correct weight were listed, the Mini would have passed. BMW then agreed to recall the affected vehicles, fixing the weight rating. NHTSA said the automaker also agreed to “conduct a voluntary service campaign, short of a recall, to add additional side-impact protection,” NHTSA said. Another failed crash test last summer led the agency to find that BMW had not recalled the affected vehicles. The regulator opened an investigation into the issues in September.
In the consent decree, BMW admitted it has failed to notify owners and dealers of open recalls quickly. And, it admitted it had failed to file its quarterly recall completion reports on time.
In a statement regarding the entire issue, BMW said that it is “committed to further improving its recall processes to serve better its customers.” Further, the automaker noted that it “respects the role of NHTSA and looks forward to working with them to develop solutions for the future.”