South Korea Tells Some BMW Owners to Park Cars on Fire Risk

(Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s government will tell owners of some BMW AG cars in the country to keep the vehicles off the roads until the German carmaker completes safety checks to address a defect after reports of nearly 40 cases of fire this year alone.

After announcing a recall of more than 106,000 BMW cars in the country, the transport ministry said about 27,000 of them haven’t been inspected as of Monday. Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee asked regional officials to bar drivers from operating vehicles that have yet to undergo checks, according to a statement Tuesday.

“We will fully cooperate with the government’s investigation and finalize safety checks as soon as possible,” a BMW spokesman in Seoul said. “As for cars subject to a driving ban, we will offer pick up and delivery services of rental cars to our customers.”

After videos of the German luxury cars engulfed by flames went viral in the country, the glitch has confounded both the automaker and the government alike. After investigations, the Munich-based company said last week the cause of the fires was a cooler leakage in its exhaust gas recirculation unit sparking a thermal event in driving mode.

Europe Recall

The defect also prompted BMW to do a voluntary recall of 323,700 vehicles in Europe, with about 96,000 of those in Germany. Customers have been notified, a spokesman for BMW at the company’s Munich headquarters said. Germany’s transport ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Starting from Aug. 20, BMW will replace the EGR coolers and modules in the recalled cars covering 42 models, including the popular 520d and 320d produced between 2011 and 2016. Kim Hyo-joon, chairman of BMW Korea, apologized on Aug. 6 for the hazard.

BMW is South Korea’s No. 2 imported auto brand after Mercedes-Benz, accounting for 24.5 percent of the segment in the first half of this year. BMW buyers in Korea have filed a lawsuit with the Seoul Central District Court against BMW Korea, said Ha Jong-sun, an attorney at Barun Law.

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