BMW has agreed that it would pay a $40 million fine after the Mini Cooper safety scandal that the auto maker has recently been embroiled in.
Apparently, back in October 2014 Cooper Hardtop 2 Door vehicles didn’t pass safety tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, suffering excessive damage during side-impact simulations.
At the time, company officials rejected the accusations, claiming that the cars had been placed in the incorrect weight category, being much lighter and therefore not having to be as sturdy as larger-sized automobiles.
BMW declared that it would alter the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) for this type of Mini Coopers and also improve side-impact resistance, as part of a service campaign, without actually recalling the cars.
However, when another set of tests was carried out in June, Cooper Hardtop 2 Door automobiles once again fell short of expectations, despite having been placed in a weight category with less strict security requirements.
In addition, inspectors also discovered that the car maker never took any steps so as to make the vehicles less vulnerable to lateral collisions.
An inquest which commenced in September took into account all these breaches, also revealing that BMW didn’t inform regulators when defects were identified, keeping this information undisclosed so as to protect its own interests.
As a result, NHTSA officials have now decided that the German vehicle manufacturing company will have to pay $10 million straight away and afterwards invest another $10 million in overhauling its line of defective cars.
Moreover, BMW is also liable to spend another $20 million if it is found guilty of other infringements in the immediate future or if it doesn’t implement all the measures required by the agency.
All of the steps it will be taking so as to improve its safety ratings will be supervised by an independent consultant, previously approved by the government, and will be periodically reported so as to ensure that progress is being made.
The announcement was made on Monday, December 21, by NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, and the proposed sanctions will be applied immediately, given the fact that BMW officials have acknowledged that they haven’t complied with federal standards.
The controversial manufacturer has admitted that it didn’t issue a voluntary recall upon being notified of the safety flaws of its Mini Coopers, and that owners weren’t informed quickly enough regarding the dangers they were exposing themselves to when driving such vehicles.
Moreover, BMW also acquiesced the fact that it mishandled other similar incidents that were identified by NHTSA ever since 2012, when it received a much smaller fine, amounting to just $ 3 million.
Apparently, in recent years the car maker has been consistently failing to recall hazardous vehicles early enough and to address major deficiencies detected by other crash tests in a timely manner.
Now that the company has agreed to take all the corrective action demanded by the federal agency, the consent decree is expected to remain in effect for a period of 2 years, with the NHTSA having the possibility to prolong it for one more year.
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