BMW fined $40 million for Mini Cooper safety violations, Report
BMW fined $40 million for Mini Cooper safety violations, Report

BMW fined $40 million for Mini Cooper safety violations, Report

German automaker BMW has been fined $40 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to issue safety recalls in a timely manner to Mini owners.

The fine, announced Monday in a press release, caps a year of auto industry crackdowns by the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. Regulators have come down hard on a series of violations pinned to a variety of companies, ranging from problems with air bags to cheating on emissions tests.

Regulators vowed to get tougher on auto makers in the wake of General Motors Co.’s ignition switch crisis, which led to billions of dollars in damages and embarrassment for company executives and leaders at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind took the agency’s top late last year vowing to hold accountable companies failing to effectively address safety concerns.

Monday’s announcement affects the Mini Cooper, a niche product in the U.S. market. NHTSA said BMW’s fines are the second set of related violations since 2012, with the latest infractions stemming from unsatisfactory crash tests in 2014 and its failure to follow through on an agreed upon remedy.

NHTSA’s BMW fine represents the second time in recent months that a German auto maker has been called out for not playing fair with regulators. The EPA in September announced a set of emissions-testing violations by Volkswagen AG, leading to a management shake-up and company disclosers about wider-reaching problems with its diesel vehicles throughout the world.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co. and Japanese air bag supplier Takata Corp. are among auto companies receiving hefty fines levied by NHTSA for safety problems in recent months.

A two-door version of the Mini Cooper failed a crash test designed to determine whether the car met minimum standards. At the time, BMW said the vehicle was listed with an incorrect weight and would pass the test if conducted with the proper rating.

Along with the explanation, NHTSA said BMW at the time agreed to recall the vehicle to correct information on placards and beef up side-impact protection. The agency, however, said the vehicles again failed the tests in July with additional side-impact protection and NHTSA learned that BMW had not launched the service campaign it agreed to.

“NHTSA has discovered multiple instances in which BMW failed its obligations to its customers, to the public and to safety,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement issued Monday. BMW’s $40 million penalty includes $10 million due in cash, a requirement that the company spend $10 million meeting performance obligations and $20 million in deferred penalties that come due if BMW fails to follow through.

In a statement, BMW said it is working to improve its processes and will work with NHTSA. It said it agreed to a consent order that includes an admission by the company’s North American unit that it “did not comply in a timely fashion” with various reporting requirements.


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