BMW fined $3 million by U.S. for delaying auto defect reports
Published : Feb 12, 2012 - 18:43
Updated : Feb 12, 2012 - 18:43
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s largest premium automaker, must pay a $3 million U.S. civil penalty for delays in reporting auto-safety defects and recalls of about 338,700 vehicles in 2010.

Munich-based BMW’s fine is the largest related to safety by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the investigator of automobile defects and regulator of recalls, since the record $16.4 million levied against Toyota Motor Corp. in 2010. It’s NHTSA’s second-largest penalty since at least 1999, according to agency records.

The 16 BMW recalls the regulator reviewed included X5 and X6 sport-utility vehicles, 7 Series and 5 Series Grand Turismo sports sedans, 1 Series cars and motorcycles, according to agency records. BMW has 30 days to pay the fine to the U.S. Treasury.

“It’s critical to the safety of the driving public that defects and recalls are reported in short order,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement yesterday. “NHTSA expects all manufacturers to address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner.”

BMW is changing how it reports recalls and defects in the U.S. because of the review, and recalled vehicles that had defects, Dave Buchko, a company spokesman, said by phone.

“In each case when a defect was identified, a recall was conducted,” he said.

The regulator, when it opened the review in 2010, said BMW “appears to maintain a practice, by design or habit, in which it provides little information in its initial filings.”

“Where information required to be provided as part of a recall report is not provided initially, BMW will assure it will provide that information, but then takes an inordinate amount of time to do so.” the regulator said in a Dec. 15, 2010, notice.