To prove its innocence, BMW invited a select group of journalists to its secret test track at Aschheim, north of its Munich-based headquarters. Its board member in charge of development joined a test driver to prove how its 320 diesel car performs on the road – and why emissions results released on Tuesday by environmental group Umwelthilfe were based on unrealistic driving conditions.
Umwelthilfe’s accusations, which have already triggered a preliminary investigation by Munich prosecutors, has cast a dark cloud over the luxury carmaker, which has so far been untouched by VW’s diesel emissions scandal. On Tuesday, the environment organization said BMW had manipulated the engine of its 320 diesel model, part of BMW’s best-selling 3 Series, and that the car contains an illegal emissions-control system.
At the test track, BMW again rejected the allegations, saying it was “100 percent certain” the model examined by Umwelthilfe complied with regulations. The environmental group claims that the car spews out up to seven times more nitrogen oxide on the road than during lab tests. Especially when the engine’s revolutions per minute reached 3,500 or higher did production of the toxic gas increase, Umwelthilfe said.