Probe finds ‘no clear cause’ of BMW car fires

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Probe finds ‘no clear cause’ of BMW car fires

An investigation into the cases of six BMW cars catching fire while they were being driven has found no clear cause for the incidents.

BMW Korea CEO Kim Hyo-joon said in a statement that “a collaborative investigation among the National Forensic Service, fire identification team at the BMW headquarters and BMW Korea’s technicians’ team failed to identify the clear cause of the vehicle fires because the majority of them were burned down to the ground.”

However, Kim added that it is suspected that some cars caught fire as they had been repaired with faulty parts in non-BMW service centers.

Some passengers were injured, though there were no fatalities in the accidents that occurred between November and January.

The accidents raised concern over the safety of the German cars, while Korean consumers have already lost some confidence in the German-made vehicles after the humiliating Volkswagen emissions scandal.

BMW Korea said it gave out financial compensation to victims who had their cars regularly checked at official service centers, claiming the compensation was “for the sake of minimizing customer inconvenience and out of moral responsibility, though the cause of the fires is still unknown.”

The company said it was launching a safety campaign to prevent the likelihood of fires and other accidents. Under the so-called BMW Meister Lab program, teams of state-certified mechanics will be allocated to every BMW service center nationwide by the end of this year.

BMW Korea said it will spend its own budget to train mechanics and share its technology in unofficial BMW service centers. The mechanics will also be taught how to find authorized supply channels for genuine parts.

BMW never before provided free inspections on cars that have run 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles) or more, or were five years or older. The restriction will end in March to offer a free checkup and 20 percent discount on any necessary repairs.

BMW will also release information required to repair its vehicles on its homepage in the first half of the year, allowing anyone access to the previously confidential information.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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