South Korea’s transport ministry is planning to call a criminal probe on BMW after investigators concluded that the car maker concealed fire hazards and delayed recalls.
South Korean officials have also fined BMW with 11.2 billion won ($10 million) for the delayed recall of 22,670 vehicles. The officials have been investigating the German car maker since August, finding defects that could lead to coolant leaks and set the engine on fire, Bloomberg reports.
The same report goes on saying that there have been nearly 40 cases of BMW models catching fire reported this year. BMW, which has recalled 1.6 million vehicles worldwide this year over the issue, saw its sales fall by about 10 percent during the first 11 months of the year in South Korea.
BMW Korea has issued an apology statement following the announcement of the transport ministry, saying that they will cooperate with the ongoing investigations.
South Korea officials said that the investigation found a faulty design in BMW’s exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) unit that sparked the fire, and added that they will decide if more recalls are necessary.
BMW on the other hand denied that there’s a design defect and said that they recalled models in a timely manner.”We embarked on recall measures without hesitation at the time when the root cause of fires was confirmed,” BMW Korea said.
The rate of BMW vehicles catching fire was 0.14 percent in South Korea. That’s similar to the 0.19 percent in Germany and 0.17 percent in the UK but lower than the rates in the U.S. and China.