Yong Hwan-jin and Choi Mira
BMW on Wednesday announced its third massive recall of up to 99,000 vehicles including an immediate recall of about 20,000 cars in South Korea to replace any faulty intake manifold, another part that was found to have caused a fire in BMW cars.
Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Wednesday that it approved a recall plan by the German carmaker, a follow-up measure after the Korea Transportation Safety Authority-led public-private investigation team in December announced the final result of probe on BMW’s fire-prone cars. The team demanded additional measures to the company as it had found the intake manifold caught on fire in cars whose exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) modules were already replaced with new ones during the first recall last year.
This is the German carmaker’s third recall in Korea following a recall of some 172,000 vehicles of 65 models last July and October due to fire problems.
The carmaker will immediately recall 20,363 cars that were found with faulty EGR components in the first round of recall in July to replace their intake manifolds, which were not subject to recall at that time.
For other 79,300 vehicles with their EGRs removed during the first recall, BMW will change the intake manifold for only the cars whose eliminated EGRs are found to have coolant leakage. The transport ministry said it will conduct snap inspections to make sure the company checks all of the removed parts thoroughly.
BMW had been the most popular foreign auto brand in Korea. Its 520d model, which accounted for most of the fire-prone cars, had been the highest-selling import model in the country for the past two years.
But its sales halved in a month after its recall was first announced in July and consumers raised doubt over BMW’s damage program and safety of its vehicles after a number of fires broke out on its inspection-cleared cars.
BMW currently faces a potentially costly legal battles in the country as more than 3,000 BMW car owners last month signed up for damage suits against the German automaker demanding 10 million won ($8,870) to 50 million won for driving fire-prone cars.
Last month, the public-private investigation team also imposed a fine of 11.2 billion won against BMW, claiming the company had concealed the auto defect and delayed recalls of its fire-sensitive cars despite being aware of the problem since 2015.
A series of fire incidents in Korea has led BMW to recall its cars worldwide last year.