South Korea fines BMW $10 million over several engine fires

People try a new BMW 530e M Sport car at a car showroom at a shopping center in Bangkok, Thailand December 16, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 December 2018

South Korea fines BMW $10 million over several engine fires

  • BMW recalled some 172,000 vehicles in July and October over the fires it has blamed on a faulty exhaust gas component. The company said there had been no reports of injuries linked to the fires

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea said Monday it will fine BMW 11.2 billion won ($9.9 million) and file a criminal complaint against the company with state prosecutors over an allegedly botched response to dozens of engine fires reported in the country.
South Korea’s Transport Ministry its investigation panel after a five-month review concluded that the German automaker deliberately tried to cover up technical problems and moved too slowly to recall vehicles after around 40 of its cars caught fire earlier this year. The ministry found the fires to be caused by faulty valves in the vehicles’ exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) coolers.
BMW apologized and recalled some 172,000 vehicles of 65 different models in July and October over the fires.
BMW AG’s South Korean unit said in a statement that the ministry’s findings were generally in line with the company’s assessment that the fires were caused by leaks of coolants in the EGR coolers. Combined with carbon and oil sediment the leaks could combust and cause fires when the vehicles were driven at high speeds for long periods of time, but BMW said the issue could be solved by the exchange of faulty hardware.
The company did not directly address the ministry’s accusation that it tried to play down the severity of the problem and recalled a narrower range of vehicles than it should have during its first recall in July.
“The BMW Group is cooperating with the ongoing investigation and is committed to resolving the issue,” it said in the statement.
Junghyun Kim, an official from BMW Korea, said there had been no reports of injuries linked to the fires in South Korea.


India opens vast railway network to private players

Updated 02 July 2020

India opens vast railway network to private players

  • The 167-year-old train network carries 20 million passengers daily
  • India’s railway ministry said it would now permit businesses to run trains along 109 routes
MUMBAI: India has opened up its vast railway sector to private companies, allowing firms to operate trains on certain routes, in a bid to boost its stuttering, virus-hit economy.
The 167-year-old train network carries 20 million passengers daily but is plagued by deadly accidents, rickety infrastructure, lack of modern amenities and poor investment.
In an announcement late Wednesday, the railway ministry said it would now permit businesses to run trains along 109 routes, inviting bids from firms weeks after New Delhi opened up coal mining to the private sector.
“This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains over Indian Railways network,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world class travel experience to passengers,” it added.
The project will require an investment of $39.8 million and private players will have to pay the government fixed haul charges and a percentage of profits determined during the bidding process.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to privatize a range of industries that have been under state control for decades, sparking criticism from the opposition Congress party.
“Now the government is in a desperate mood to sell a great chunk of one of our largest national asset #IndianRailways,” Congress politician Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury tweeted.
“Privatization cannot be construed as a panacea of railways malady,” he added.
The tottering network is notorious for accidents, with 15,000 passengers killed every year according to a 2012 government report that described the deaths as a “massacre.”
Asia’s third-largest economy has been clobbered by the pandemic and a months-long lockdown, growing at its slowest pace in at least two decades last quarter.
The shutdown, which put millions out of work overnight, is widely expected to plunge the country into recession.
Fears for the economy prompted the government to allow many businesses to resume operations starting last month despite an ongoing increase in infections, which have now crossed 600,000.
Even before Modi announced the lockdown in late March, the economy was struggling to gain traction with sluggish growth, record unemployment and a flurry of bad loans making banks reluctant to lend.