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BMW is the latest auto maker to face claims that it installed software on diesel vehicles, which was designed to cheat emissions tests, releasing high levels of pollutants during normal operations.
On Tuesday, a class action lawsuit (PDF) was filed against BMW AG and it’s U.S. affiliate, BMW of North America, alleging that BMW X5 and 335D diesel engines may expel up to 27 times the amount of pollution allowed by law.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by Garner Rickman, of Colorado; Ziwen Li, of Florida; and Gary Reising, of Pennsylvania, seeking class action status to pursue damages on behalf all individuals who purchased or leased model year 2009 through 2013 BMW X5 or 2009 through 2011 BMW 335D vehicles.
Allegations raised in the BMW lawsuit are almost identical to those presented in claims against Volkswagen in September 2015, which ultimately led to a Volkswagen recall of some 500,000 diesel passenger vehicles in the United States, including some Audi and Porsche models, as well as a number of Volkswagen diesel lawsuits. The auto maker has agreed to pay billions in settlement agreements with the U.S. government and vehicle owners.
Similar claims have been made against Fiat Chrysler and a number of other auto manufacturers, including Mercedes and General Motors.
“The diesel vehicles made by all these manufacturers all have a common flaw; they evade emissions standards with the help of certain software… that turns off or turns down emission controls when the vehicles sense that they are not in a test environment,” the lawsuit states. “Emissions testing using accepted testing equipment and protocols conducted by engineering experts in emissions testing indicates that, unfortunately, BMW is no different than the above mentioned cheating manufacturers.”
The BMW class action lawsuit indicates owners of diesel engine vehicles paid a premium, believing their car would be environmentally friendly and release less pollution than similar gasoline-powered cars, without sacrificing power.
The complaint notes that during on-road testing using accepted emissions-measuring tools, the BMW diesel vehicles released three times the legal standard for NOx emissions on the highway; in some cases reaching as high as 20 times the standard. In the city, the emissions were 8.5 times higher than the standard, with peaks as high as 27 times the legal limit.
“However, when the vehicle was tested on a dynamometer, i.e., in the same condition used for a certification tests, the vehicle essentially passed,” the lawsuit notes. “This means the vehicles are programmed to sense test conditions and to have the emissions controls turned fully on, but derated when not in a test environment.”
The lawsuit claims that all of the emissions cheat software used by various auto manufacturers were supplied by Robert Bosch GmbH and Robert Bosch LLC, whose software can detect when the vehicle is undergoing emissions testing. According to the complaint, almost all of the vehicles found to have emissions cheat software use a Bosch EDC17 device.
The plaintiffs seek to have the complaint certified as a class action lawsuit, representing all current and former owners and lessees of the affected BMW diesel vehicles.