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BMW car catches fire in Seoul even after recall

Posted October. 08, 2018 08:19,   

Updated October. 08, 2018 08:19


A BMW vehicle that had its exhaust gas recirculation system replaced through recall has caught fire, adding to the suspicion that a defective EGR, which the German automaker singled out as the cause of successive fires, might not be the actual cause.

A BMW 520d sedan caught fire while running on a road near Songpa District Office in Seoul last Monday. According to police and BMW Korea, the vehicle received safety check at a local BMW dealership on August 7, and had its EGR module replaced through the ongoing recall by the automaker. There were four BMW cars that caught fire after safety checks, but it was the first time that a BMW vehicle that already received recall work has caught flames.

BMW Korea reportedly has yet to find the exact cause of the fire. “We reported the latest fire case to the German headquarters,” BMW Korea said. “The Korea Transportation Safety Authority took the car that caught fire.” KTSA said it did not find any sign of a coolant leak from the vehicle.

BMW has claimed that its vehicles caught fires due to leaks of coolant from the EGR system, which caused parts to overheat. However, Korean automobile experts have raised suspicion that the fire could have been caused by defective vehicle design or software defect. Critics say that BMW has designed software irrationally to enhance the performance of its vehicles and enable them to meet emission standards even by disregarding limitations of components’ capacities.

BMW Korea has denied Korean experts’ claims. However, as a BMW car whose EGR was already replaced has caught fire, BMW can no longer afford to stubbornly insist on its claim.

“The government and BMW will now have to reexamine the cause of fire from scratch all over again,” a Korean auto industry source said. There are 106,000 cars that are subject to EGR module recall by BMW in Korea, with 48,000 of them having been recalled thus far.

Eun-Taek Lee nabi@donga.com