Federal safety regulators launched an investigation in 2010 after noting a “troubling trend” in which “BMW appears to maintain a practice, by design or habit, in which it provides little information in its initial filings.”
The initial reports were missing critical information such as plans to remedy the problem and it took BMW over 30 days on average to update the reports with required information, the safety regulator said.
A review of 16 BMW recalls issued in 2010 found “a number of instances” in which the automaker did not comply with federal law, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
While BMW denies that it violated federal law, it agreed to make internal changes to its recall decision-making process in order to “ensure timely reporting to consumers and the federal government in the future.”
US law requires automakers to report defects within five days and promptly issue a recall to correct the problem.
“It’s critical to the safety of the driving public that defects and recalls are reported in short order,” David Strickland, head of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, said in a statement.
“NHTSA expects all manufacturers to address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner.”
There were no accidents or injuries related to the 16 defects, which affected 339,000 vehicles.
However, the safety regulators said BMW should not have dragged its feet in reporting the problems to regulators and customers.
It noted that only six of the 16 defect reports BMW filed in 2010 included the number of vehicles affected while only five of the initial reports included the required chronology detailing how the defect was discovered.
The fines, while hefty, pale in comparison to the $48.8 million Toyota paid for waiting months to report problems its vehicles had with sticky pedals and sudden, unintended acceleration.
At least 89 fatalities were linked to the defects, which tarnished Toyota’s once-stellar reputation and led to the recall of more than 12 million vehicles worldwide.
BMW did not immediately return a request for comment.