WASHINGTON — BMW was slapped with a civil penalty of as much as $40 million by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to issue a timely recall of 30,456 2014-'15 Mini Coopers that did not meet safety requirements.
NHTSA imposed a $3 million civil penalty on BMW in 2012 for similar violations.
"The company must take this opportunity to reform its procedures and its culture to put safety where it belongs: at the top of its priority list," said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind in a statement on Monday.
NHTSA oversees vehicle safety in the United States.
BMW must pay $10 million in cash, at least $10 million to comply with the government's order and $20 million in deferred penalties if it does not comply with the order or further violates U.S. safety laws.
The German automaker also must establish a plan to "deter BMW dealers from selling new vehicles with unremedied safety defects, a requirement stemming from the fact that during NHTSA's investigation, a NHTSA representative purchased a new vehicle with an open safety recall from a BMW dealer," NHTSA said.
BMW admitted that it has failed to notify owners and dealers of recalls in a "timely fashion."
"The company is committed to further improving its recall processes to better serve its customers," BMW said in a statement posted on its website. "BMW NA respects the role of NHTSA and looks forward to working with them to develop solutions for the future."
In October 2014, a Mini Cooper failed a federal crash test. BMW said it listed an incorrect weight on the Mini Cooper and that the vehicle would have passed the test if the listed weight was correct.
It agreed to conduct a recall to fix the incorrect weight rating and to conduct a service campaign to add additional side-impact protection.
In July 2015, the vehicle again failed a federal crash test. NHTSA said it discovered that BMW did not issue the service campaign, which is a step that falls just short of a recall.
BMW admitted in the federal consent order that it failed to notify owners and dealers in a "timely fashion" in multiple recalls since 2012. It also did not provide required quarterly recall completion reports to NHTSA on time.
Edmunds says: Federal safety regulators continue to crack down on automakers in an era of record recalls.