WASHINGTON – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that BMW of North America LLC has agreed to pay $3 million in civil penalties in response to the agency’s claim that the automaker failed to comply with requirements to report safety defects and non-compliances to the federal government in a timely manner.

These requirements are outlined in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.

“It’s critical to the safety of the driving public that defects and recalls are reported in short order,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “NHTSA expects all manufacturers to address automotive safety issues quickly and in a forthright manner.”

Federal law requires all auto manufacturers to notify NHTSA within five business days of determining that a safety defect or non-compliance exists and to promptly conduct a recall. NHTSA said its examination of 16 BMW recalls issued in 2010 found evidence of instances where the automaker failed to report safety defects to the agency in accordance with federal law.

As part of the settlement, BMW of North America LLC and its parent company Bayerische Motoren Werke AG agreed to make internal changes to its recall decision-making process to ensure timely reporting to consumers and the federal government in the future.

In December 2010, NHTSA launched an investigation to determine when BMW first learned of defects and non-compliances related to several motorcycle and vehicle recalls and whether the company notified NHTSA in a timely manner. NHTSA’s investigation led the agency to believe that BMW had not fulfilled its obligation to report a known safety defect within five days, as is required under the law. The fines will be paid into the Treasury Department's General Fund.