BMW Coughs Up Millions For Violating Fuel Economy Caps

By Agence France-Presse BMW paid more than $42 million in fines during the year that ended September 2003, for violating U.S. corporate fuel efficiency rules, officials said Sept. 20. The luxury German automaker incurred a fine of $14 million for its 2002 model-year vehicles and another of $28 million for 2001 model year vehicles. It opted to pay the total in one fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2003, according to a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Under Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) rules, automakers are required to keep the average fuel efficiency of their passenger car fleets to 27.5 miles per gallon, weighted by sales. The corresponding truck target is 20.7 mpg, rising to 21 mpg for 2005 model-year trucks and sport-utility vehicles. But certain automakers routinely pay fines for exceeding those caps, although U.S. and Asian companies have stayed within the government's limits. BMW is among a handful of companies that have decided that paying the fines is part of the cost of doing business in the United States -- the world's largest automotive market, according to the trade magazine Automotive News. The agency's annual fuel efficiency report is due out before the year's end. It will provide details on industry-wide compliance with the rules for the 2002 model year -- the latest year for which figures are available. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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