South Korea Government Bans Uninspected BMW Vehicles

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
August 14, 2018World News

South Korea is banning some 20,000 BMW vehicles, as public fears rise over engine fires in the vehicles.

A series of 27 engines inside the German vehicles have gone up in flames between January and July this year.

BMW says it has found the root cause of the fires, and its Korea unit apologized last week.

The company said in a statement that the fires stem from an Exhaust-Gas-Recirculation (EGR) module malfunction. The malfunction “may, in rare cases, cause fires in some BMW diesel vehicles,” it stated.

“Part of this EGR module is the EGR cooler. In some cases, small quantities of the glycol coolant can escape and build up in the EGR module. When combined with carbon and oil sediments, this deposit can become combustible. With the high temperatures of the exhaust gases in this unit, these deposits can ignite. In rare cases, this may cause melting of the intake manifold and in extreme cases a fire may result.”

The company announced a planned recall of 106,317 diesel vehicles beginning next week, including its 520d model, reported Yonhap.

The German carmaker had not been able to complete inspection of 27,246 of the models as of midnight Aug. 13, South Korean officials said.

“With concerns over additional engine fires in BMW cars increasing, the central government has requested regional authorities issue an order to suspend the operation of uninspected BMW vehicles starting Wednesday, together with an order to put them under safety checks,” Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee said in a publicly broadcast press conference.

“I am asking owners of the BMW cars subject to the recall to actively cooperate to prevent bigger accidents, despite your inconvenience.”

The South Korean government said they’re running their own separate probe into the defects, and owners hit by the ban must be off the road once a notice arrives in the mail. They can only drive the vehicles for the purpose of inspections.

NTD Photo
A South Korean model posing with BMW i8 Concept during a press preview of the Seoul Motor Show in Goyang, north of Seoul on March 28, 2013. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

In the European market, the malfunction affected the BMW 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, X3, X4, X5, and X6 vehicles with 4-cylinder diesel engines (production from April 2015 until September 2016) and 6-cylinder diesel engines (production from July 2012 until June 2015).

South Korea is a relatively small auto market, but it sees major sales for premium cars.

BMW is the second-most popular foreign brand of vehicle to Mercedes in the country and has seen its sales in 2017 more than double from five years ago.

Audi Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz are expected to gain market shares in South Korea due to concerns over the fires.

Reuters contributed to this article

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