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Questions raised about BMW fire explanation

Nov 08,2018
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A vehicle is being tested as part of a probe into fire-prone BMW cars. [KOREA TRANSPORTATION SAFETY AUTHORITY]
Interim findings in an investigation of fire-prone BMW vehicles in Korea indicate that a malfunction of the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve was the cause of the events, according to a team led by the Korea Transportation Safety Authority, the government agency for road safety. The result brings into question the German luxury carmaker’s focus on the EGR bypass.

The unexpected preliminary information increases chances BMW will be forced to recall additional vehicles.

“We will consider whether the current recall is appropriate based on the investigation results, and continue testing to check other causes for the fire after replacing the EGR module,” the team said.

But BMW appears to be sticking with its original conclusion.

“Since the fundamental cause of the fire lies in the leakage of the EGR cooler, we believe that our explanation is not that different from the investigation team’s result,” said a BMW Korea spokesman. “We need to wait for the final investigation report.”

The team will recommend additional measures to the Ministry of Transport based on final investigation results to be released next month.

The latest announcement places further pressure on BMW, which already made an additional voluntary recall of 65,763 vehicles in October after recalling 106,000 cars in July.

The joint investigation, a team made up of civilian experts and government officials, said it was able to recreate the conditions for the fires in the BMW vehicles, which included a leak in the EGR cooler and driving at high speeds when the EGR valve is in a partially opened state.

The report explained that sediment in the EGR cooler was ignited by the exhaust gas supplied through the partially-opened EGR valve.

The EGR module, which recirculates some of the vehicle’s exhaust gas, reduces nitrogen oxide emissions.

The EGR valve controls the amount of recirculating exhaust gas, whereas the EGR bypass controls the flow of exhaust by either shutting on or off, allowing the exhaust to bypass the EGR cooler back into the engine.

The investigation team focused on the EGR valve, which was not previously mentioned as problematic by the German manufacturer.


BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]