Allegations of emissions manipulation by BMW escalate to German prosecutors

07 December 2017

Allegations of emissions manipulation by BMW escalate to German prosecutors

07 December 2017

Earlier this week, a report by the German broadcaster ZDF’s programme WISO, together with daily newspaper Tagesspiegel, suggested that tests on a BMW 320d by the country’s environmental lobby group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) showed an increase in nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions when the car’s speed was increased by 10% during road tests. BMW has denied that it has used a ‘defeat device’ in the emissions system of some of its vehicles to cheat official tests but the Munich public prosecutor's office has announced that it has ‘initiated a preliminary investigation due to the reporting.’

The Tagesspiegel report said the test by the DUH showed that the vehicle, the engine of which meets the 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 exhaust 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 report said.

BMW responded that the DUH test deliberately used atypical driving modes in order to generate ‘striking emissions values’ and announced that it would defend itself against ‘false reporting’ with all the means at its disposal.

BMW has again rejected the allegations - a spokesman said the company was ‘still 100 percent confident’ that the DUH-tested vehicle met all requirements. The test figures revealed by the DUH have already caused the Federal Ministry of Transport to investigate the allegations. It has commissioned the motor vehicle authority, the Kraftfahrtbundesamt (KBA), to undertake an investigation.

Nevertheless, the Munich public prosecutor's office is now considering, based on its own information, whether there are sufficient grounds for suspicion to initiate a preliminary investigation.

It is possible that BMW could yet start legal proceedings against the DUH but the spokesman only commented that the company is currently considering its options.