Automaker BMW is in some serious trouble for failing to issue timely recalls surrounding late-model Mini Cooper vehicles, specifically 2014 and 2015 models, according to a statement posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The fine? $40 million.
How BMW violated recall requirements
BMW admits that it violated recall requirements when it did not issue a recall within five days of discovering that 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper models failed to meet regulatory minimums for side-impact crash protection. This recall affected 15,653 vehicles.
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In October 2014, a crash test determined that the Mini 2 Door Hardtop Cooper did not meet crash protection minimums. BMW responded and said that the car would pass the test if the weight rating was changed, but when the test was conducted again in July 2015, the vehicle failed yet again.
Mini Cooper, Cooper S, and JCW 2014-2016 models were recalled in October for front passenger airbags that could fail to deploy. And in November, BMW recalled the 2014-2015 Mini Cooper and Cooper S for defective passenger-airbag sensors in the seat cushions.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement, ‘NHTSA has discovered multiple instances in which BMW failed its obligations to its customers, to the public and to safety. 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.’
Earlier recall in 2012
Furthermore, NHTSA discovered that BMW also failed to comply with its 2012 consent order to notify owners and dealers of recalls promptly and also to submit required recall completion reports on time.
“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,” said 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.”
Moving forward, BMW is required not only to pay the civil penalties, but also to use $10 million of it to follow these steps over two years, according to the NHTSA:
- Retain a NHTSA-approved independent safety consultant to help the company develop best practices for complying with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and NHTSA regulations and submit those best practices to NHTSA.
- Evaluate, under the independent consultant’s guidance, all safety or compliance-related issues under the company’s review and provide a monthly written report to NHTSA on those issues.
- Launch a pilot program to determine whether the company can use data analytics capabilities to detect emerging safety-related defect trends.
- Establish a plan to deter BMW dealers from selling new vehicles with unremedied safety defects, a requirement stemming from the fact that during NHTSA’s investigation, a NHTSA representative purchased a new vehicle with an open safety recall from a BMW dealer.
Of the remaining $30 million, $10 million will be a flat fine, and the additional $20 million will be collected if BMW violates the order.
Do you have a mini Cooper? In order to check if your car has been recalled, enter the VIN on this site and follow the instructions to ensure your safety.