BMW Drops on Report That X3 Diesel's Emission Exceeded EU Limit

Germany to Begin Roadside Tests of Non-VW Diesels
  • Carmaker says models respond the same on the road as in tests
  • BMW shares tumble as much as 9.7% on diesel emissions concerns

BMW AG said it doesn’t cheat on emissions tests, responding to a report in German magazine Autobild that the X3 sport utility vehicle exceeded the European limit for air pollution.

The stock fell as much as 9.7 percent, the most in more than four years, on concerns that the luxury-car maker would be enmeshed in the diesel-emissions scandal that led to the resignation of Volkswagen AG’s chief executive officer on Wednesday.

A four-wheel-drive variant of the BMW SUV had emissions more than 11 times the European limit when road-tested by the International Council on Clean Transportation, the same group whose tipoff led U.S. regulators to investigate a gap between the emissions VW and Audi diesel-powered cars in the testing lab and on the road, Autobild said.

“The BMW Group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests,” the Munich-based company said in a statement in response to the report. “We observe the legal requirements in each country.”

BMW said it’s not familiar with that road test and that there’s no system in its cars that responds differently to tests than it would operate on the road. Volkswagen has admitted to installing software designed to circumvent regulations by turning on full emissions controls only when the car detects it’s being tested.

BMW X3 xDrive 20d Automobile
BMW X3 xDrive 20d Automobile
Photographer: Antoine Antoniol/Bloomberg

Two other studies by ICCT showed that BMW’s X5 SUV and 13 other BMW vehicles tested comply with legal requirements on emissions of lung-irritating nitrogen oxides, BMW said.

BMW fell to as low as 72.05 euros in the sharpest intraday decline since August 2011, and was trading down 6.8 percent at 74.40 euros at 2:20 p.m. in Frankfurt. Shares of other carmakers also declined. Daimler AG dropped as much as 5.8 percent. Volkswagen, which has lost more than 20 billion euros ($22.5 billion) in market value this week, rose as much as 7.9 percent and was up 1.6 percent.

“There’s no suggestion BMW has done anything illegal,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “However, there are concerns for the long-term damage on the business with diesel cars.”

Tougher Tests

Auto sales of the BMW namesake brand with diesel engines last year made up about 38 percent of total deliveries, roughly in line with diesel-car sales at other manufacturers, the company said.

Starting in mid-2017, new cars in Europe will need to pass tougher road tests than the laboratory review used today to measure emissions. Germany wants to speed up that timeline, Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said.

The European Union currently allows manufacturers to optimize results with tactics such as stripping the car of excess weight or removing the air conditioner, according to Tuev Sued, a German company that performs tests for carmakers. Such strategies have contributed to a widening gap between reported results for diesels and the pollution that really comes out of their tailpipes, according to the European Commission, the regulatory arm of the EU.

Emissions measured in road tests of 15 new diesel cars were an average of about seven times higher than European limits, according to a study ICCT published last October.