Seoul Hits BMW Korea with $13 Million in Fines

BMW logo
The BMW logo is seen on a vehicle at the New York Auto Show in New York (Photo: REUTERS)

In a landmark ruling, South Korea's Seoul Central District Court slapped German carmaker BMW with a massive $13 million fine after the court found out that the company falsified emissions test results. Test results of more than 29,000 cars were found to be fraudulent. Some of these cars were imported way back in 2011. Apart from the $13 million fine, two BMW Korean officials were also sentenced to between eight and 10 months in prison because of their involvement in the fraudulent activity.

A section of the court's statement said, "BMW Korea was obsessed with maximizing profits without paying attention to laws and regulations. It hampered authorities' efforts to improve [the] environment while damaging consumers' confidence in itself."

BMW Korea is also facing a class action lawsuit coming from dozens of consumers. A number of these consumers claim that their cars burst into flames.

In 2018, BMW Korea was fined $10 million for failing to recall its car models which have been found to have faulty engines on time. In 2018 alone, more than 40 cases of BMW car engines bursting into flames were reported. As a result, some multi-storey car parks started to refuse to admit BMW cars in fear starting a massive fire.

As a result, more than 170,000 cars were recalled in South Korea. All of these cars were recalled due to faulty exhaust gas recirculation cooler.

In August 2018, BMW announced that it is issuing a recall order for Europe and some parts of Asia. The recall order affected more than 480,000 cars bearing the same problem. Two months later, BMW issued a recall order which included more than a million cars with the diesel engine.

Data released by the Korean Automobile Importers and Distributors Association revealed that six out of 10 cars imported by South Korea came from Germany. In total, BMW sold close to 39,000 cars during the first six months of 2017. This simply shows just how massive BMW's market is in South Korea.

After outrage from environment authorities, South Korean prosecutors started an investigation in 2016. The investigation encompassed BMW Korea, Korea Nissan, Audi Volkswagen Korea, Porsche Korea, and Mercedes-Benz Korea. The investigation was aimed to get to the bottom of the allegations regarding falsification of emission test results and other documents.

As a result of these crackdowns, a local court slapped Mercedes-Benz Korea with a $2.5 million fine after being found guilty of cheating emissions tests and its results.

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