BMW To Shut Down European Factories Over Coronavirus

The BMW factory in Munich, Germany. A BMW employee in Munich has tested positive for the coronavirus. AFP


German carmaker BMW on Wednesday said it would close European and South African factories accounting for half its output for a month, matching other car giants stricken by coronavirus containment measures.

It also warned that profits this year would be significantly lower as a result of the crisis.

“From today, we will shut down our European car factories and the Rosslyn factory in South Africa,” chief executive Oliver Zipse said, adding that the interruption is expected for now to last “until April 19”.

BMW’s factories around Europe — in Bavaria, elsewhere in Germany and further afield — combined with the South Africa plant accounted for half the 2.56 million cars the group built-in 2019.

Around Europe, other manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, Volkswagen, Ford, Fiat and Peugeot have also moved to shut factory doors through the coronavirus crisis.

“As for many goods, demand for cars will sink sharply” because of the virus and associated containment measures, BMW CEO Zipse said.

Workers at the Munich-based group benefit from “highly flexible and effective working-time tools” that can help cushion the impact, he added.

The German government has already simplified rules governing compensation for workers whose hours are slashed during the crisis.

BMW finance director Nicolas Peter said the group now expects pre-tax profits this year to be  “significantly lower” than the 7.1 billion euros ($7.8 billion) reported in 2019.

“Measures related to the coronavirus will have a significant impact on the course of our business,” Peter said.


BMW Boss Krueger To Step Down In 2020


German car giant BMW said Friday its boss Harald Krueger would not seek another term when his current office runs out next April.

“The Supervisory Board will address the matter of succession in its next meeting on 18 July 2019,” said the group in a statement.

Krueger, 53, had been under pressure over criticism that he has not moved swiftly enough in steering the group through the shift from combustion to electric engines, according to German media.

Krueger took the helm at BMW in May 2015, shortly before the diesel emissions scandal broke at rival Volkswagen and dragged the German automotive sector into a cloud of general suspicion.

With tougher anti-pollution measures gradually coming into force, the car group, like other European auto giants, has been forced to shift gears to electromobility.

“After more than ten years in the Board of Management, more than four of which as the CEO of the BMW Group, I would like to pursue new professional endeavours and leverage my diverse international experience for new projects and ventures,” said Krueger, who has worked more than 27 years at BMW.

BMW To Recall 360,000 Cars In China Over Defective Airbags


Germany’s BMW will recall 360,000 vehicles in China as part of the worldwide effort to root out defective airbags made by now-defunct Japanese supplier Takata, regulators in Beijing said.

Around 20 people have died in accidents linked to defects in Takata airbags since 2013, prompting a massive worldwide recall of at least 100 million cars from a wide range of manufacturers.

The recall will affect nearly 273,000 models built by BMW’s joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Brilliance Automotive and more than 87,000 imported BMW cars, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said.

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The agency said in a statement posted on its website late Tuesday that a defect could cause the airbags to eject debris at passengers if deployed.

It did not mention any specific incidents caused by the BMW-installed airbags.

The China recall affects more than two dozen different BMW models built between 2000 and 2018, including several each in the i, X and M series, along with other models.

The suspect parts will be replaced for free, the notice said.

Founded in 1933, Takata went out of business in 2017 because of the airbag crisis.

The BMW announcement came as global carmakers were gathered for the Shanghai Auto Show amid a rare sales slump in the world’s largest vehicle market.


South Korea To Fine BMW $10m Over Engine Fires

Parts of a burnt BMW car are displayed on a table during a press conference announcing the result of a five-month joint probe into BMW car engine fires, held at the South Korean government complex in Seoul on December 24, 2018. PHOTO: JUNG YEON-JE / AFP


South Korea said on Monday that it will fine German automaker BMW 11.2 billion won ($10 million) for allegedly dragging its feet in recalling cars with faulty engines linked to dozens of engine fires.

BMW vehicles bursting into flames made headlines in South Korea earlier this year, with local media reporting more than 40 cases in 2018 and some parking lots refusing to accept BMW cars over fears they could catch fire.

The auto giant recalled more than 170,000 vehicles in South Korea with a faulty exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler, which the firm blamed for the fires.

In August, it announced a recall for Europe and some Asian countries — including South Korea — of 480,000 cars affected by the same problem, before expanding it to more than one million additional diesel cars two months later.

“BMW announced earlier that it had become aware of the connection between the faulty EGR cooler and the fire only on July 20 this year,” the South Korean transport ministry said in a statement, announcing the results of a five-month probe.

“But we discovered that… BMW’s German headquarters had already formed a special team in October 2015 tasked with solving the EGR cooler problem.”

In addition to the fine, the ministry will also ask prosecutors to investigate BMW for allegedly delaying acknowledgement of the issue on purpose and dragging its feet on the recall.

In South Korea, six out of 10 imported cars are from Germany, with BMW selling nearly 39,000 in the first six months of this year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.


Criminal Case Filed Against BMW Over South Korea Car Fires

Criminal Case Filed Against BMW Over South Korea Car Fires
(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 21, 2018, the logo of German car maker BMW is pictured on a wheel on the sidelines of the company’s annual press conference in Munich, southern Germany. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP


A group of BMW owners in South Korea filed a criminal complaint against the German automaker Thursday over alleged delays in recalling more than 100,000 cars after a spate of engine fires, their lawyer said.

The timing of the recall, which was issued last month, is already the subject of a government probe, after more than 30 BMW cars — mostly the 520d sedan model — caught fire this year in South Korea.

BMW apologised Monday for the fires, blaming a faulty component that was aimed at reducing emissions from diesel engines, but that has done little to allay the concerns of angry consumers, who say the firm should have issued the recall sooner.

Johann Ebenbichler, vice head of BMW in charge of quality, told reporters the carmaker became aware of a problem with the component in 2016 but managed to identify the root cause of the fires only in June this year. He did not provide further details.

Lawyer Ha Jong-sun said he had filed a criminal complaint against six people including Ebenbichler on behalf of 20 BMW owners and one victim of a BMW vehicle-related fire.

“It is hard to believe that BMW took two years to determine the cause of the car fires… A criminal investigation is necessary to secure evidence of a cover-up,” Ha told AFP.

The offence carries a prison term of up to 10 years or a fine of up to 100 million won ($89,400) under South Korean law.

Images of BMW vehicles bursting into flames have made headlines in the South recently, with some parking lots refusing to accept the cars because of fears they could catch fire.

BMW has blamed a faulty component called the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler that generated excessive sediment and caused engines to catch fire, and said the problem was “not Korea specific”.

The company also issued a recall for 323,700 cars across Europe this week due to the same problem.

Apart from the criminal complaint, the beleaguered automaker is also facing a class action lawsuit in the South, filed by 17 owners who are demanding compensation from the company, Ha said.

In South Korea, six out of 10 imported cars are from Germany.

BMW sold nearly 39,000 cars in the first six months of this year, according to the Korea Automobile Importers and Distributors Association.


BMW To Recall 323,700 Diesel Cars Over Fire Danger – Report

Vice President of BMW for quality, Johann Ebenbichler, talks about the company’s recall during a press conference at a hotel in Seoul on August 6, 2018.  Photo: Jung Yeon-je / AFP


Germany’s luxury automaker BMW is going to recall 23,700 diesel cars in Europe over an engine fire danger, following a similar action in South Korea, a German media newspaper reported Tuesday.

The recall is to fix a faulty component that was aimed at reducing emissions from diesel engines, the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said in its edition for Wednesday.

Of the total recall, around 96.300 vehicles are in Germany, the newspaper said, claiming it had confirmation from BMW.

No spokesman for the group was available for comment on the press report late Tuesday.

But BMW has already recalled around 100,000 cars in South Korea over the engine fire danger, after more than 30 BMWs — mostly the 520d sedan model — caught fire this year.


Earlier this month South Korea opened an investigation into an alleged delay by BMW in announcing the recall.

On Monday, the German motor titan apologised at a press conference for the spate of engine fires in South Korea, and said the country was not alone.

BMW blamed a faulty component called the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler that generated excessive sediment and caused engines to catch fire, and said the problem was “not Korea specific”.

“A similar rate (of failure) was observed in other jurisdictions,” said Johann Ebenbichler, vice president of BMW for quality, without listing other countries where such accidents had been reported.

The carmaker used the same software and hardware for its vehicles sold in Europe, he said, adding that the firm had decided to undertake the “same campaigns” there as in South Korea.


Kaduna Police Recover 20 Stolen Vehicles, Arrests 12 Suspects

kaduna policeThe Police in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria, has recovered 20 assorted stolen vehicles from suspected robbers in the last couple of weeks.

The State Commissioner of Police, Umar Shehu, disclosed this while parading the suspects and the stolen cars before newsmen at the Zaria Area Police Command.

The Police Commissioner disclosed that the stolen vehicles were recovered from the snatchers at different locations over a period of time.

He said that the Command’s robust intelligence gathering paid off due to diligent investigation, leading to the recovery of the assorted cars snatched from the owners at gun point from different locations in Minna, Kano, Kontangora, Maiduguri, Abuja and Kaduna.

The suspects were able to take the Police to some of the places where they sold the stolen vehicles, as both the snatchers and dealers are now in police custody, and would be charged to court for stealing and criminal conspiracy, as soon as investigations are over.

Some of the recovered vehicles include three Honda Civic, one BMW, four Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Avensis, Toyota Pontiac, Toyota Camry, two Honda Accord cars (E.O.D), among others.

The Police boss added that an AK 47 rifle, and some locally made guns, live cartridges, currencies of various denominations, car theft jammers and SIM cards were also recovered from the suspects.

The robbers were said to have been terrorizing commuters along the Kaduna-Kano road, Kaduna- Abuja road, Abuja-Minna road, amongst others.

While appealing to members of the public to collaborate with the Police in its effort to rid Kaduna State and its environs off criminals, Mr Shehu said efforts are being made to arrest other suspects that are still on the run, while he also declared total war on criminals.

Even with the pressing charges by the Police against them, the suspects still claimed innocent of the allegations.

Meanwhile, two suspects were arrested for different offences ranging from drug peddling and armed robbery. The drugs suspects were caught with bags of Indian hemp and cocaine.

Due Process Was Followed In Purchase Of Bulletproof Cars-NCAA

The Director, Finance and Accounts of the National Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr Salau Ozigi on Tuesday maintained that the purchase of the two bulletproof BMW vehicles for the minister of aviation was carried out following the “usual process of lease arrangements”.

“All the procurement processes was followed from the office of the NCAA to the office of the supervising ministry” he added.

He however noted that transaction was not done on an “outright purchase” system adding that it was “done by an auto lease arrangement with First Bank of Nigeria Ltd”.

He said 22 banks submitted bids to carry out the lease arrangement but three banks, First Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Union Bank, were chosen after their bids were critically analysed and First Bank was eventually awarded the contract.

The vehicles, which according to Ozigi, were included in the 2013 NCAA Budget under the Safety and Security Vehicles, have been supplied by Messrs Coscharis Nigeria Limited and are parked at the NCAA office in Abuja.

He blamed the economics of demand and supply on the high price of the vehicles noting that “only Messrs Coscharis Nigeria Limited is the only authorised dealer or supplier of BMW of this nature” insisting that “there is a lot of economics of demand and supply in this regard”.

Ozigi further noted that there is a price monitoring unit within the agency responsible for ensuring the value for money is gotten for whatever is paid for by the agency, adding that fees for the four year warranty, clearance and maintenance of the vehicle, including “some other things” could have been considered to get the value for vehicles.

Debunking the claim that money budgeted for the procurement has been overspent he said “on this arrangement, NCAA has been committed to the payment of N23.2 million or there about on a monthly basis” noting that “NCAA has made a payment of N52 million up till the end of September” insisting that it is within the threshold of the amount appropriated for 2013.

Aviation Lawyer, Irukera, Examines Laws Guiding Industry’s Activities

In recent times the Nigerian air space has recorded alarming numbers of air mishaps, recording about 10 air crashes in the last 20 years, that’s an average of 1 every two years. Several lives have been lost, including those of top government officials and foreigners.

On this edition of Law Weekly we analyse the laws guiding the aviation industry as regards safety, operation and compensation.

The aviation industry is governed by the Civil Aviation act of 2006, and other regulations like the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, NCAA regulations and some others.

An aviation lawyer, Tunde Irukera, examines how these regulations have been complied  with so far to make air travel safer, and some of the challenges facing the industry.

We Did Not Approve Armoured Cars For Oduah – National Assembly

The National Assembly Chairman House Committee on Media and Publicity, Zakari Mohamed has countered claims by the NCAA that the alleged purchase of armoured vehicles for the Aviation minister was approved by the House of Reps.

While speaking from the Channels TV Abuja studio as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Mr Mohamed who is also a member of the aviation committee, stated categorically:

“I want to say clearly for the records, I am a member of the aviation committee and I partook in the budget defence of 2013 and I remember that there was a defence (during which) NCAA in its budget this thing was brought.

They said ‘purchase of security and armoured vehicles’, it was a lengthy debate and we rejected it, we turned it down and said gentlemen we will not as a body approve this and of course you need to take it back”.

Speaking further he said “they took it back and came back with ‘used utility vehicles’. When they brought utility vehicles we said yes that is not enough, itemise the utility vehicles. Hiluxes, Corrollas were stated there for the use of the NCAA in their operations”.

And we said ok, we will now be guided by this since we have the items and we have the monies being attached on it, we will approve and we approved. So if somebody comes to begin to tell Nigerians that we approved, then I think we need to make things very clear that what we approved were operational vehicles which were stated in black and white – the number, the prices”.

He further shed light on how the appropriation act works; stating that if the parliament approves the purchase of any item and it is appropriated in the budget, then at the time of purchase the buyer decides to use the money approved to purchase other items not originally stated, such persons or organisations have flouted the appropriation act.

He claimed that if such purchases would have to be done, “you will have to come back to the parliament … but in this case what we approved was ‘operational vehicles’ and there was no occasion, (I can remember vividly) when they brought back their budget to the house and instead of utility vehicles changed it to armoured or security vehicles. We didn’t veer, and the only statutory body that is empowered to veer monies; move it from one subhead to the other is the |National Assembly”

When asked to verify other processes involved in such purchases which the NCAA claimed to have passed through, he promised that series of meetings have been scheduled to immediately look into the claim. He stated that the committee will invite a cross section of people who should have the details including the due process office as he would prefer to be guided by facts.

He urged Nigerians to be patient as a committee is already in place to work on this and their findings and recommendations will be out within 1 week.

He added that flouting the appropriation act carries a minimum jail term of 2 years.

Armoured Cars For Aviation Minister: Price, Process Not Justifiable – Utho

A Public Affairs Analyst, Paul Utho has described recent developments in the Nigerian aviation sector as disturbing and worrisome considering the level of investment reported to have gone into the sector over the years.

Speaking as a guest on Sunrise Daily, Mr Utho expressed disappointment that the same issues keep happening over and over again in the Nigerian aviation sector, referring to incidents of plane crashes and allegations of corruption.

According to him, “for NCAA to even come out to try to justify why bullet proof cars should be bought for the minister, makes you even begin to think that there is something really really wrong in the system”.

“If we were talking about the minister of Defence, I would have said ok, maybe some justifiable reasons. But for the minister of aviation, is it like she doesn’t fly anymore? Is it that she prefers to go by road now?”

Reacting to claims that the armoured cars are not for an individual but for the ministry, he asked, “Who is the head of the ministry? Who else is going to use the vehicle?” He insisted that it is illogical to spend N250 million on bulletproof cars in a country where ASUU has been on strike for 3 months, and the NCAA has over time complained over unavailability of funds.

He disagreed with claims by an NCAA official who stated on Sunrise Daily last week that funding was not a problem for the agency. He claimed that his interactions with officials who work in some of these agencies revealed that trainings are not regular, some technical staffs are totally left out of the little training, and some salaries are usually delayed.

On possible risks to the aviation minister’s life as it was in the case of former DG of NAFDAC, Professor Dora Akunyili, Mr Utho stated that Nigerians would have asked for bulletproof car to be purchased for the former DG because everyone felt the impact of her good job at the agency and therefore she should not be compared with the current Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah.

He also suggested that the figure quoted for the purchase of the cars leaves much to be desired as there are revelations that each of the cars should have cost N75 million . He spoke further on the manner in which they were purchased as having not followed the due process as well as on the alleged rot in the administration of airlines’ operation.

Mr Suraj Olanrewaju of the Movement Against Corruption also joined the discussion via phone to lend his voice to the issues. Supporting the allegations of corruption against the aviation sector, he queried why the NCAA or any other agency should be responsible for purchasing an official car for the minister when she is head of the Ministry of Aviation.

“For us (Movement Against Corruption), it is a clear situation of corruption, it is a clear situation of abuse of office, it is a violation, clear violation of the appropriation act 2013”.

They both called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC to step into the matter.

Aviation Scandal: Group Appeals To Jonathan To Sell Controversial BMW’s

A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on the President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonthan, in a public appeal, to “urgently order the sale of the two armored BMW cars reportedly bought with funds from the Aviation Ministry, and to use the accrued funds to provide compensation to families of victims of recent air accidents as well as use part of the funds to set up a Trust Fund to jump-start genuine reform of the aviation industry.”

The confirmed purchase of two armoured BMW’s by the aviation authority, which was allegedly for the Minister, Stella Oduah, raised a lot of backlash on social and printmedia and was widely criticised by Nigerians.

Critics also condemned the timing of the purchase which is coming at a time when there have been several mishaps in the Nigerian air space.

However, SERAP, which is now calling for the sale of the cars backs up the appeal, adding that, “selling the cars as proceeds of corruption and using the funds to pay compensation to families of victims of persistent air accidents would also have the great additional benefit of reining in endemic corruption in the sector as perpetrators would know that they would not be allowed to profit from their crime.”
Following the outcry against the purchase, a manhunt which was reportedly declared in search of Nicholas Edwards, who is believed to have exposed details of the purchase, has also been condemned.

In a statement signed by Adetokunbo Mumuni and sent to Channels Television, the group asked the president “to publicly assure Nigerians that the whistleblower that leaked the information of the two BMW armoured cars bought for Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah will be fully protected from any harassment, intimidation or persecution by the authorities.”

SERAP also said it would offer “free legal services to ensure full protection and safety of the whistleblower in line with international standards. We appeal to the whistleblower to get in touch with our organization, and assure whoever this may be our full support and confidentiality. The whistleblower should be celebrated and not persecuted.”

The organisation went further to state that the purchase of the cars “illustrates the level of corruption in the sector, and explains why people’s lives have been repeatedly messed with by those entrusted with air safety and security in the country’s aviation industry.”

According to the organisation, “the cost in human lives of this diversion of critical funds is incalculable, and the president can no longer continue to treat this as normal as corruption in the aviation industry continue to cause so much suffering and misery for millions of families across the country.”

This alleged diversion “constitutes a serious breach of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Act and the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party, the group said, adding that, “high ranking corruption in the Ministry can only continue to make the aviation sector unsafe for Nigerians and thus exacerbate the increasing level of violation of the citizens’ human right to life and to security and dignity of the person.”