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European agency: BMW X3 fails emissions

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By Matthew Clark
Published Sept. 24, 2015

The Greer-made BMW X3 xDrive 20d produced 11 times the emissions standard limits set by the European Union, according to a German magazine.

Auto Bild reported the model — which is manufactured exclusively at BMW’s facility in Spartanburg County, and is assembled at plants in Chennai, India, Kaliningrad, Russia, and Graz, Austria — tested even higher than the Volkswagen Passat.

The BMW X3 produced more than 11 times the emission standard limits set in Europe. The model is manufactured exclusively in Spartanburg County. (Photo provided)The BMW X3 produced more than 11 times the emission standard limits set in Europe. The model is manufactured exclusively in Spartanburg County. (Photo provided)
According to European Union law, known as the Euro 6 standard, all newly registered diesel vehicles have to meet a nitrogen-oxides limit of 80 milligrams per kilometer. That is higher than the emissions regulations set in California. The European standard took effect Sept. 1.

The International Council on Clean Transportation conducted tests in early September. It is the same agency that tipped U.S. officials to the software issues with Volkswagen vehicles that created a gap between road tests and lab tests.

In a statement following the report, BMW officials denied any wrongdoing and said there is no part of the X3 system that would differentiate road and laboratory testing.

“In other words, our exhaust treatment systems are active whether rolling on the test bench or driving on the road,” the company said in a statement to GSA Business. “Clear, binding specifications and processes are in place through all phases of development at the BMW Group in order to avoid wrongdoing.”

The company also said it does not manipulate any emissions tests. “We observe the legal requirements in each country.”

The International Council on Clean Transportation conducted other tests involving BMW vehicles. In those tests, the X5, also produced in Spartanburg County, and 13 other BMW types tested at or below the emissions standards. Additionally, the report did not indicate discrepancies between lab and field tests, which was the case with Volkswagen. BMW said it was reaching out to the council to learn more about the tests carried out.

The testing included a new Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Cycle, which will be the standard test in Europe beginning in 2017. The new test is meant to bridge the gap between testing and real-life driving. Twenty-two out of 32 cars tested under this cycle, including the X3, failed to meet the Euro 6 standard. All 32 vehicles tested did meet the standard under the New European Driving Cycle, which is the current testing benchmark.

“The results indicate that the implementation of nitrogen-oxides control technologies by a few manufacturers is delivering acceptable results over both cycles,” Vicente Franco, an International Council on Clean Transportation researcher, said after the study. “Other manufacturers seem to be focused on meeting emission limits over the current test cycle while neglecting real-world operating conditions.”

Volkswagen was cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for using software to fool U.S. emissions tests. Volkswagen A.G. CEO Marvin Winterkorn submitted his resignation to the group’s supervisory board less than a week after the allegations were made public. Volkswagen said up to 11 million diesel cars were affected by the software. Volkswagen A.G. said it will voluntarily submit a complaint to German officials to launch a criminal investigation.

According to the Spartanburg County factory website, the facility produced 11,678 X3 vehicles in July, second in production to the X5. Last year, diesel sales accounted for 38% of all BMW vehicles sold worldwide. Europe accounted for 80% of those sales, while the United States was 6%.

BMW officials said they “were willing to discuss our testing procedures with the relevant authorities and to make our vehicles available for testing at any time.”

“We support the swift introduction of the new regulations to create clarity for consumers and the industry as quickly as possible,” the company said.

BMW A.G. stock was down 5.15% midday to 75.68 euros ($85.17).

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