By Kang Young-woon and Lee Eun-joo
A group of BMW owners in South Korea have filed a class suit against the Korean unit of the German automaker on Monday over a defective engine part that has led to a series of fires.
Four owners of BMW sedans filed a representative suit with a Seoul Central District Court against BMW Korea and its official dealer Deutsche Motors Inc. on Monday to claim damages for the destruction in their cars that caught fire while being driven.
An unnamed official from Barun Law LLC representing the plaintiffs, said that each individual asked for 5 million won ($4,480.1) in compensation that include damages from user benefit infringement. Total compensation amount may increase depending on the outcome of a safety inspection launched last week, the official added. The number of BMW sedan drivers joining the legal move may increase as well.
The collective suit, meanwhile, comes after BMW Korea belatedly announced a plan last week to recall 106,317 vehicles from 42 models after a defective engine part led to a series of fire. The automaker presumes the fire to have been caused by a faulty exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) module based on its initial inspection using an endoscope.
Consumers, however, claimed the recall plan as “inadequate.”
In the petition submitted by the BMW sedan owners, the plaintiffs noted that they weren’t able to drive their BMW vehicles until they were completely repaired and remained fretful while driving. They would fear fire-prone vehicle unless all parts are replaced.
The plaintiffs also challenged the recall plan that could be delayed due to shortage of supplies as more than 100,000 vehicles are subject to the recall. The delay would ultimately lead to continued interruption in vehicle operation, they said. The plaintiffs also claimed they must be compensated for the devaluation of their used cars due to fire concerns.
The drivers also suspected the automaker would have long been aware of the faulty issue as it used a differently-designed EGR module for 2017 BMW sedans. They said that BMW tried to cover up the defect even though it was aware of the faulty component. They also asked for compensation over psychological trauma as they have been exposed to fire risk without protection.