BMW hit with $40M US penalty for safety lapses

NHTSA Fines BMW $40M for Safety Issue
NHTSA Fines BMW $40M for Safety Issue

(Reuters) - U.S. auto safety regulators on Monday fined BMW $10 million, part of a $40 million civil settlement over the German automaker's safety lapses.

The fine is the second paid by BMW since 2012 and the latest in a series of civil penalties imposed on major automakers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

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Under the settlement, BMW admitted it did not comply with minimum crash protection standards, failed to notify owners of recalls in a timely fashion and failed to provide accurate information about its recalls to NHTSA.

The NHTSA fined BMW $3 million in 2012 for similar problems.

The settlement ends a NHTSA investigation into whether the company failed to issue a recall within five days of learning that its 2014 and 2015 Mini Cooper models failed to meet regulatory minimums for side-impact crash protection.

The $40 million settlement includes a $10 million fine, a requirement that the company spend at least $10 million meeting the order's performance obligations, and $20 million in deferred penalties if the company fails to comply with the order or commits other safety violations.

BMW agreed to hire a government-approved independent safety consultant and disclose updated procedures to NHTSA. The agency has required a number of automakers to agree to independent monitors or retain outside consultants to improve safety procedures as part of settlements.

BMW said in a statement it agreed to settle the allegations as part of a two-year consent order. "The company is committed to further improving its recall processes to better serve its customers," it said.

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"The requirement to launch recalls and inform consumers in a timely fashion when a safety defect or noncompliance is discovered is fundamental to our system for protecting the traveling public. This is a must-do," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.

The agency ordered BMW to create a plan to deter dealers from selling unrepaired, recalled vehicles after an agency investigator was able to buy a new vehicle that had been recalled but not fixed, a violation of U.S. law.

Earlier this month, the agency fined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV $70 million for failing to disclose vehicle crash death and injury reports. The automaker also paid $70 million in July to resolve allegations it mishandled nearly two dozen recall campaigns covering more than 11 million vehicles.

In January, Honda Motor Co paid $70 million to the NHTSA in fines for failing to disclose death and injury reports.

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