BMW was uncooperative with fire investigation: authorities

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Aug 21, 2018 - 09:27
  • Updated : Aug 21, 2018 - 09:35

The Korea Transportation Safety Authority (KOTSA) under the Transport Ministry on Monday said BMW Korea was uncooperative in transferring technical documents needed to look into engine fires prior to official orders by the ministry.

“We confirmed irregularities in the BMW 520d frequently catching fire this June and requested BMW Korea for technical documents on June 25, July 5 and July 19. But BMW Korea did not transfer the files and in some cases, parts of the documents were missing,” said Kwon Byung-Yoon, president of the Korea Transportation Safety Authority, during a press briefing.

Kwon added BMW Korea had replied it was looking into the cause of the fires with its headquarters in Germany, and handed over documents earlier this month upon official orders made by the Transport Ministry on July 16. KOTSA added that the submitted documents were still deemed insufficient, without further elaboration.

Manufacturers are not legally bound to transfer documents requested by KOTSA unless the ministry orders an investigation into the recall.

KOTSA has asked BMW to submit its report on the faulty EGR, the EGR map for affected models, and documents on the altered engine design, by Wednesday.

BMW 520d sedan that had passed the emergency safety inspection engulfed in flames and smoke at around 4:50 p.m. in North Gyeongsang Province on Monday. (Yonhap)

Amid mounting questions over engine fires, the ministry has pledged to complete investigation into the fires by the end of the year. Police have started looking into BMW data and whether the carmaker had purposely covered up defects following law suits filed by a group of BMW owners against the German carmaker.

Meanwhile, BMW Korea officially began its recall of 106,317 diesel vehicles over the risk of fire caused by faulty exhaust gas recirculation.

The number of vehicles subject to recall is the most ever among imported car brands here.

At 61 BMW service centers nationwide, the EGR cooler and valve are to be replaced with improved ones in affected vehicles produced between 2011 and 2016, and the EGR pipes are to be cleaned.

BMW issued a voluntary recall in late July due to EGR cooler leakage, which caused a series of engine fires.

Over 40 BMW cars have caught fire on roads this year so far.

“Considering the number of auto parts secured so far, vehicles that have shown signs of irregularities in the safety checks will be given priority in the recall. We are doing the best we can to secure auto parts needed for some 106,000 units,” BMW Korea said in a statement.

Scrambling to complete the recall within the year, EGR parts will be sent from the BMW headquarters via air.

As of Sunday, roughly 100,000 vehicles have received safety inspections, with 4,300 waiting in line.

The company said it is reaching out via text messages and phone to some 1,700 customers who have not received the emergency checks.

Reservations for recalls can be made through the customer center at (080) 269-5181, as well as the BMW Plus mobile application. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (