The government of South Korea fined has the German automaker BMW for US $10 million dollars due to a series of fires registered in the engines of their units, on suspicion of using defective parts.
The BMW crisis in South Korea erupted during the summer when dozens of reports of vehicles that caught fire went public, prompting high-level research.
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The German automaker considered that the fires were the result of a problem with the exhaust systems of the cars and began to check vehicles that could be at risk.
However, a panel established by the government to investigate the matter found that BMW tried to hide the problem and then took too long to recover the 172,000 vehicles affected, according to the Ministry of Transport.
In a statement issued on Monday, BMW said it launched the recall “as soon as the cause of the fire was confirmed.” The statement did not address the allegation that the automaker initially tried to cover up the problem.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has fined BMW with 11,200 million won (US $ 9.93 million) for allegedly trying to hide defective parts and delaying their vehicles after some engines caught fire.
Around 40 BMW vehicle engines caught fire earlier this year, prompting the luxury German automaker to recall about 100,000 vehicles in August, the Yonhap news agency reported.
A research panel composed of civil experts and officials found that the fire was caused by defective exhaust gas recirculation valves (EGR), the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry ordered BMW to replace all EGR systems in the recalled vehicles and carry out additional reviews on the durability of the EGR system.
The ministry referred the case to prosecutors for further investigation.
A leak in the cooler and defective values in the EGR system caused engine fires, the ministry said.
The ministry criticized the BMW headquarters in Germany for knowing about the defective parts in the EGR system in 2015.
In October 2015, BMW headquarters set up a working group to readjust a cooling device in the EGR system to prevent fires, the ministry said.
BMW had said it learned that the EGR system is related to the engine fires that happened this year, according to the ministry.
Due to engine fires, BMW, the second most popular brand of imported cars in South Korea, saw its sales fall by 9.9% in the Asian country.
According to industry data, in the first 11 months of this year, BMW sold a total of 47,569 vehicles in South Korea, compared to 52,817 vehicles sold in the same period last year.
BMW was the second most popular brand of imported cars in South Korea last year, selling nearly 60,000 vehicles, according to the Korea Association of Importers and Dealers of Automobiles.
The German company sold more than two million vehicles worldwide last year.