BMW denies falsifying emission claims with defeat devices following testing

05 December 2017

5 December 2017

German vehicle manufacturer BMW has been forced to deny reports that it has used a ′defeat device’ in the emission system of some of its vehicles to cheat official tests.

The German broadcaster ZDF’s programme WISO, together with daily newspaper Tagesspiegel, had suggested that tests by the country’s environmental lobby group the DUH on a BMW 320d showed an increase in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions when the car’s speed was increased by 10% during road tests.

The Tagesspiegel report said DUH’s test showed that the vehicle, whose engine has a Euro 6 diesel emissions standard, emitted an average of 470 mg/km when driven at speeds of up to 120kph on a motorway. The report added that the DUH said this showed that the gas filtering system was being shut off by the engine software. At lower speeds and on the test bed, the emissions were below the 80 milligrams per kilometre limit, the reports said.

In total, five BMW models were tested, four of which used the same engine. In these models, the emissions levels were very similar, leading the DUH to conclude that a defeat device, fitted to the vehicle to monitor when it was in a laboratory test and adjust its emissions profile to pass requirements, was fitted.

In response to the reports, BMW said its vehicles complied with the legal requirements and had not been manipulated.

′There are no activities of technical provisions to affect the test mode used to measure emissions – that means that our exhaust systems are active both on the test bed and in practice,’ the group said in a statement.

Any evidence of a defeat device could prove catastrophic for both BMW and the German automotive industry as a whole, which is trying to rebuild itself following the Volkswagen (VW) scandal which broke in 2015. In that case, defeat devices were being used to alter emissions parameters of the vehicle under test conditions in the US. The company was fined and agreed on a compensation package of around $30 billion (€25.3 billion) in the country but has simply issued recalls in Europe. However, VW is now facing legal challenges from consumer groups and fleet buyers, while it has also been fined over false advertising.

Meanwhile, the German industry has been fighting for the future of diesel technology, agreeing to a recall of 5.3 million cars following a summit held between the German government and automotive executives. Also, vehicles that cannot be updated are subject to scrappage incentives, giving consumers an opportunity to trade in their more polluting vehicles for cleaner models.

BMW is also part of an investigation into a potential cartel between itself, VW, Audi and Daimler over cooperation in a number of different areas. The company has again denied the allegations.