BMW Follows Toyota by Paying $3 Million Fine for not Reporting Known Safety Defects within Five Days to NHTSA

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has levied a $3 million fine on BMW of North America, after the German automaker failed to comply with requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act that BMW report safety defects and so called non-compliances to the federal government in a timely manner, which means five days after discovery.

The BMW penalty is the biggest since Toyota Motor Corp paid almost $50 million in fines because of its cover-up of safety issues ultimately resulted recalls of millions of Toyota and Lexus vehicles in 2009 and 2010 for unintended acceleration.

NHTSA’s examination of 16 BMW recalls issued in 2010 found evidence of a number of instances where the automaker failed to report safety defects to the agency in accordance with federal law. About 340,000 defective BMW motorcycles, cars and sport utility vehicles were involved in the coverups. In simple English, BMW had not reported known safety defects within five business days. The fines will be paid into the Treasury Department’s General Fund.

Thus becomes clearer the reason BMW in early 2011 recalled six, yes six, 2012 model year X5 xDrive 35i sports activity vehicles because the ZF made transmission may not actually be in park even if the “P” position has been selected and is displayed.

An internal NHTSA document said its Recall Management Division (RMD) conducted a review of BMW of North America defect and noncompliance information reports (so called Part 573 reports) and noted a troubling trend. “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,” RMD noted.

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

As part of the settlement, BMW of North America and its parent company Bayerische Motoren Werke AG agreed to make internal changes to its recall decision-making process to ensure timely reporting to consumers and the federal government in the future.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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