BMW AG became the latest in a list of carmakers under investigation over suspected illegal devices to influence emissions setups in its diesel vehicles -- even as the German carmaker said it simply made a mistake.
Munich prosecutors led searches involving 100 officials on March 20, a day before the carmaker’s annual earnings press conference, visiting BMW’s headquarter in the Bavarian capital as well as its engine plant in Steyr, Austria. The probe involves some 11,400 7-Series and 5-Series sedans.
BMW approached Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority in February after internal tests found the manufacturer had installed the wrong software in the cars, resulting in higher emissions. Prosecutors then started initial proceedings that have now deepened into a fuller investigation.
“BMW is taking this case very seriously and is vigorously pursuing clarification on this issue,” the carmaker said. “BMW continues to assume this was a mistaken allocation of software and not a targeted manipulation of emissions controls.”
As authorities raided BMW, Volkswagen AG confirmed another search, in early March, at its Wolfsburg headquarters. That probe centers on a financial-market statement outlining the number of gasoline cars with potential carbon-dioxide emission issues that had to be corrected. The investigation won’t lead to any incriminating results, Manfred Doess, VW’s general counsel, said on March 20 at a press conference in Stuttgart.
BMW had so far escaped deeper scrutiny by authorities on its diesel emissions, and has repeatedly claimed its vehicles are free of the kind of defeat devices that plunged Volkswagen into its deepest corporate crisis in 2015. Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG is also subject to probes.
By Elisabeth Behrmann