Police conduct criminal investigation into BMW car fire

By Lim Chang-won Posted : August 13, 2018, 17:41 Updated : August 13, 2018, 17:41

[Courtesy of a fire station in Hanam]

SEOUL -- South Korean police started collecting testimonies from the owners of BMW sedans that have caught fire on the road for a criminal probe to see if the Germany carmaker covered up any serious safety defects.

Lee Kwang-duk was the first to appear and testify at a political station Monday after a group of 21 people filed a joint complaint calling for a criminal investigation into six BMW officials in Germany and South Korea for violating the Automobile Management Act.

Lee's 2014 BMW 520d sedan caught fire last month after his friend drove it for about an hour. He argued that the German company tried to hide evidence on faulty parts.

BMW is recalling more than 100,000 vehicles for safety diagnosis and the exchange of EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) modules. BMW officials in Seoul insisted that due to an EGR defect, the high-temperature exhaust gas is suspected of inflowing into the intake manifold without being cooled, leading to the creation of a hole and a fire on the engine cover.

So far this year, 38 BMW vehicles have caught fire in South Korea. The transport ministry has conducted a separate probe into possible software manipulation. There have been unconfirmed allegations that BMW has engineered emissions reduction software to pass regulations. EGR reduces nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel engines.

Volkswagen has been embroiled in legal actions after it admitted in September 2015 to using cheating devices in U.S. emissions tests. In South Korea, the Germany company was slapped with a record fine of 31.8 million US dollars in December 2016 for obtaining government permission with fabricated documents.

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