US regulator fines BMW $3 million over delayed recalls

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the world's largest maker of luxury cars, has agreed to pay $3 million in civil penalties for failing to report safety defects in time, the US safety regulator said yesterday.

The penalty is the largest since Toyota Motor agreed in 2010 to pay nearly $50 million in fines for not complying to disclose in a timely manner sudden acceleration faults that forced the Japanese automaker to recall millions of cars in 2009 and 2010.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said that BMW provided too little information on its safety-related reports and did not report faults promptly, as the law requires.

The NHTSA launched an investigation in 2010 to determine when BMW first learned of defects and non-compliances related to several motorcycle and vehicle recalls and whether the company notified the regulator in a timely manner.

The investigation led the NHTSA to believe that BMW had not fulfilled its obligation to report a known safety defect within five days, as is required under the law.

BMW issued 16 recalls in the US in 2010 covering more than 100,000 BMW cars, SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and motorcycles. The vehicles involved included 1 Series, 5 Series, 5 Series Gran Turismo, 6 Series, 7 Series and X5 and X6.