Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation Son Byeong-suk issued a statement on Friday urging the owners of BMWs to refrain from driving their vehicles, following a series of fire hazard incidents. BMW Korea has agreed to offer free rental cars to drivers who get checkups at the German carmaker's service center. On Tuesday, another BMW 520d sedan caught fire while running on the Yeongdong Express Highway in Gangwon Province.
There have been about 30 cases of fires on BMW vehicles so far this year. On Friday, BMW submitted technical documents, which determined exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) device as the cause of the fires. Asked why the fires are concentrated on BMW cars in Korea, the carmaker said that it is because many BMW 5 series vehicles were sold in the country. However, there has been no reported EGR-caused fire on BMW cars in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the 5 series vehicles account for 29 percent of total BMW car sales, similar to 30 percent in Korea. It is necessary to launch an investigation for more convincing explanations.
BMW belatedly recalled the model in question on July 26 at the ministry's request. BMW should have urged BMW drivers to refrain from driving their cars before the government did. However, the company balked out of concerns over falling resale prices of its vehicles and compensations for consumers. It is no news that auto importers mistreat Korean consumers. When another German carmaker Volkswagen was under fire for manipulating its emissions data in 2015, it offered over 10,000 U.S. dollars to each affected owner in the United States, and nearly half the amount in Canada. However, the company offered service vouchers worth less than 1,000 dollars to owners in Korea.
Korean consumers are partially to blame for the attitudes that cause auto importers to neglect them. During Volkswagen’s diesel gate in 2015, the company suffered from falling sales in most countries but saw sales rise by 16 percent in Korea, as consumers were enticed by various sales promotions offered by the company. As the resale values of the BMW 520d models have declined lately, some younger consumers are absurdly trying to hunt for bargain. Unless consumers try to defense their own rights, they will always be taken advantage of.