How Can Gov't Still Be Clueless About Burning BMWs?

      August 10, 2018 13:37

      Two more BMWs caught fire on Thursday in laybys on highways in Korea, one a 730Ld and the other a 320d, raising the number of unexplained combustions to 36 this year. The government now mulls grounding BMWs. The belated announcement follows a barrage of criticism from a jittery public that the government has not done enough to deal with the problem. Out of 100,000 BMWs that have been recalled, only half have been checked so far, not because owners are lazy but because the German automaker cannot keep up with the volume.

      An even bigger problem is that authorities remain clueless what is causing the luxury sedans to combust spontaneously. Some of the ones that caught fire had already been checked or were not even subject to the recall, like Thursday's 730Ld. Yet the government has yet to comment on this issue.

      Spontaneous combustions have been reported in other countries too. In November last year, the U.S. recalled 1 million BMWs due to fire risks, and in May this year, the U.K. ordered the recall of 300,000. There, problems in the electrical wiring were apparently to blame for the fires in those countries, but here it claims the problem is with the exhaust gas recirculation module. It is a mystery why the EGR module problems are particularity frequent in Korea, even though the carmaker claims it uses the same module here as anywhere else.

      BMW initially denied there were any spontaneous fires overseas but has now admitted that its cars were catching fire outside Korea too and now says the defect rate of 0.1 percent is the same for cars sold in Korea and abroad. But it still refuses to reveal specific data, so many questions remain unanswered. The government claims it will take another 10 months to get to the bottom of the mysterious fires, while BMW says it is looking in to the matter but being extremely cagey about any findings. That arrogance, combined with the government's sheer incompetence, is making Koreans very nervous. What kind of major disaster will it take until BMW and the government pull themselves together?

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