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BMW Ends Up In Hot Water With NHTSA for This Simple Reason

The last thing BMW wants to do is being on the wrong side of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Posted: December 23, 2015 - 10:08AM
Author: Will Maley


Unfortunately for the German automaker, that's where it finds itself. NHTSA announced this week that it has imposed a $40 Million fine against BMW for not recalling vehicles in a timely fashion.

Back in September, the agency opened an investigation surrounding BMW's alleged lateness for fixing 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper Hardtop models that failed to meet the minimum for side-impact crash protection standards. BMW has since admitted that it had violated a number of laws including,

  • Not informing NHTSA of a defect within five days
  • Filing quarterly Early Warning Reporting data late
  • Taking too long to file information related to recall
  • Not notifying owners of the defect

Along with the $40 million penalty, BMW must bring in an independent safety consultant to develop best practices for complying with regulations, submit monthly recall reports, train dealers not to sell vehicles under a recall, and show NHTSA that is following 'best practices.'

“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. 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,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.

What prompted NHTSA to open an investigation into BMW?

Back in 2014, NHTSA crashed three 2014 Cooper Hardtop models and found that all failed to meet certain requirements for protecting rear passengers in a side impact. BMW said that it had certified the Cooper by using data from the heavier Cooper S, and said all Cooper models would comply at the heavier weight rating. In December, BMW issued a recall for certain 2014 Mini Coopers to install foam padding in the side panels. Then in January, recalled 2014 and 2015 Coopers to put in new labels with the heavier weight ratings, thus making them compliant.

But in July, NHTSA crash-tested the heavier 2015 Cooper S without the fix and found, like the Coopers from last year, failed to meet the requirements. Now the law requires an automaker to alert NHTSA within five days that a safety defect is present and issues a recall. BMW did not that in the timeframe given.

Has BMW Gotten In Trouble With NHTSA Before?

Back in 2012, the German automaker was fined $3 million by NHTSA after an investigation into sixteen recalls from 2010. The agency found a number of instances where BMW failed to report safety defects and recalls in accordance with federal law.