BMW To Pay $40M For Failing To Recall Mini Coopers In A Timely Manner

Three months after federal regulators opened a probe into whether BMW failed to recall more than 30,000 Mini Cooper cars in a timely fashion after certain models did not meet side impact crash standards, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined the car manufacturer $40 million after finding a series of violations. 

NHTSA announced on Monday that for the second time in the past three years it has imposed a multi-million fine against BMW for violations of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and other regulations.

According to the consent order [PDF], BMW acknowledges it violated requirements to issue a timely recall of vehicles that did not comply with minimum crash protection standards, to notify owners of recalls in a timely fashion, and to provide accurate information about its recalls to NHTSA.

The order resolves a September investigation into BMW’s failure to initiate a recall within five days of NHTSA finding nearly 30,456 model year 2014 to 2015 Mini Cooper, Cooper S and 2015 John Cooper Works vehicles failed side impact crash tests back in 2014.

In October 2014, a Mini 2 Door Hardtop Cooper failed a crash test designed to determine whether the vehicle met crash-protection minimums.

“NHTSA viewed these results as indicating a potential problem and believes BMW should also have been concerned with the compliance of the vehicles,” regulators said in September.

The company responded that the vehicle was listed with an incorrect weight and would pass the test if conducted at the proper weight rating, but agreed to conduct a recall to correct the incorrect weight rating on the vehicle’s Tire Information Placard and to conduct a voluntary service campaign, short of a recall, to add additional side-impact protection.

NHTSA completed tests in July 2015 on model year 2015 Mini 2 Door Hardtop Coopers. One of the vehicles included a contemplated fix – a foam pad on the rear panels – while the other vehicle was no modified from factory settings.

“The test of the Mini 2 Door Hardtop Cooper with the additional padding and at the higher test weight passed the test,” NHTSA states in the notice.

However, NHTSA was informed at that time that the BMW had not launched the service campaign it had agreed to the previous year.

“This was the only vehicle on which the service campaign was performed and thus was not representative of in-use vehicles,” regulators said of the July test.

Under the new consent order, BMW acknowledges that it failed to recall the noncompliant vehicles in a timely fashion.

Additional violations discovered in NHTSA’s investigation, include BMW’s failing in multiple recalls to notify owners and dealers of recalls in a timely fashion and to provide required quarterly 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,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a statement. “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.”

The $40 penalty imposed includes $10 million due in cash, a requirement that the company spend $10 to meet performance obligations, and $20 million in deferred penalties that will be due if the company fails to comply with the order.

Monday’s penalty comes three years after BMW was ordered to pay $3 million for similar violations.

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