Road Test

BMW accused of cheating on diesel emissions

BMW-1800
Hopefully smoke without fire. Source: Fotolia, BMW [M]

Bad press about Germany’s car industry and emissions has become a chronic disease since VW’s Dieselgate scandal became public in 2015. BMW is the latest to fall victim to the illness. An environmental group, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, accused the luxury carmaker had manipulated the engine of its 320 diesel model, part of BMW’s best-selling 3 Series. The car spews out up to seven times more nitrogen oxide on the road than during lab tests, the group said. The toxic gas poses a health hazard and contributes to creating smog.

BMW initially said little about the accusations, which newspaper Tagesspiegel and broadcaster ZDF reported on Monday evening, but the carmaker refuted them later. “There are no activities or 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 Munich-based carmaker said.

Umwelthilfe tested the vehicle under different conditions, both in a laboratory as well as on the road, and by driving 10 percent faster than the usual European test standard. BMW complained that it did not make sense to compare random road test results to official lab measurements.

Cars commonly emit more nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide on the road than in laboratory tests. On the test bed, a car is typically made as light as possible and the radio and air conditioning, for instance, are switched off.

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