BMW faces suit over 'faulty' sedan in South Korea

Susan Lee, July 30, 2018, 11 a.m.


A group of South Korean customers has jointly filed a lawsuit against BMW over a component that appears to have recently caused fires in one of its best-selling sedans, the company and the customers' lawyer said Monday.

On Monday, four owners of the BMW 520d sedan lodged a joint suit with the Seoul Central District Court against BMW Korea and Deutsche Motors, the local distributor of BMW vehicles, Ha Jong-sun, an attorney at Barun Law, which represents the four plaintiffs, told Yonhap News Agency by phone.

"The number of the 520d sedan participating in the suit is expected to increase down the road," Ha said.

The legal action comes after several BMW 520d sedans and other BMW models caught fire while being driven in South Korea, the attorney said.

"There are suspicions that the German carmaker has not responded properly to a series of fire incidents in its models sold in Korea in the past three years," he said.

Balking at Ha's argument, BMW said they have responded to those vehicle incidents by replacing faulty components and compensating affected vehicle owners.

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In the suit, the four 520d owners are seeking 5 million won (about US$4,500) in damages and are planning to expand the amount later depending on the outcome of an evaluation, the attorney said.

Separately, a BMW 520d sedan owner whose car caught fire have taken legal action against BMW Korea seeking and are seeking 10 million won in damages.

Last week, BMW Korea said it will voluntarily recall 106,317 vehicles to fix a faulty component that appears to have caused fires in the engine area of 42 different models at 61 after-sales services centers starting Aug. 20.

The German carmaker has identified the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), one of the principal methods used to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines, as the main cause of the recent fires in the engine compartment of the 520d sedan.

Forty-one other models are also subject to the planned recall as they incorporate the problematic EGR in their engine systems. Owners of the affected BMW models can visit BMW's 61 after-sales services centers across the country around the clock to have the EGR fixed within the two weeks starting Tuesday, the company said.

The recall plan was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 20.

BMW plans to compensate customers whose cars caught fire due to the faulty EGR. In particular, those who suffered an EGR-caused fire in their car will receive a new vehicle of the same kind, the company said.

The sudden twist comes after BMW's compensation plan drew criticism that it will base the compensation on the affected vehicles' market value at the time of the incident.

The transport ministry said Monday it had consultations with BMW to help resolve the EGR-caused incidents in the 520d. It said it will closely monitor the carmaker's recall plans in South Korea.

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