South Korea’s transportation ministry has stressed that the ban is more in the nature of safety checks rather than punitive action. Following its own internal investigation into the root cause of the engine fires, it said it could take legal action.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s transport ministry stated, it will ban nearly 20,000 BMW vehicles from its streets midst mounting public fears of engine fires.
The ban comes in the wake of 27 BMW engines going up in flames between January 2018 to July 2018; this is despite BMW’s Korea unit’s prompt apology followed by a recall of 106,000 diesel vehicles including the 520d from August 20 2018.
“I am asking owners of the BMW cars subject to the recall to actively cooperate to prevent bigger accidents, despite your inconvenience,” said Kim Hyun-mee, South Korea’s Transport Minister at a press conference.
The statement went on to add, BMW vehicle owners can drive their vehicle for safety checks. The intention behind the ban is to quicken safety checks rather than take punitive action against the owners.
While officials from BMW have identified defects in the exhaust gas recirculation system as being the root cause for the defect, the South Korean government is conducting its own, separate, probe into the case and plans on taking legal action, if necessary.
The ban order will be effective as soon as owners of the affected cars receive a mail notice, which can be as early as August 15, said Kim Hyun-mee.
BMW, which trails only Mercedes in imported car sales in South Korea, saw sales more than double to 59,624 vehicles in 2017, from five years ago.
Although South Korea is a relatively small market and ranks only eleventh in global auto sales, it is nevertheless a major market for premium vehicles and is currently dominated by Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor.