On March 20, 2018, representatives of the Munich public prosecutor’s office conducted a search at BMW’s headquarters for material relating to a software update on some diesel-powered sedans. Almost immediately, BMW issued a statement explaining its position on the investigation and search; BMW stated that through its own internal testing, it discovered that software developed for—and legal in—other models had been inadvertently installed in some BMW 740d and M550d vehicles. Upon this discovery, BMW notified the relevant authorities and issued a voluntary recall of the 11,400 cars involved. That happened around February 23, almost a full month before the most recent search at the BMW building by Munich prosecutors.

BMW’s public statement on the matter follows:

“The BMW Group confirms that the Munich public prosecutor has opened an investigation regarding a software update which has been mistakenly allocated to around 11,400 BMW 750d and BMW M550d vehicles. On 20 March, employees of the prosecutor’s office searched two BMW Group locations in connection with the investigation.

“As previously communicated, in the course of internal testing, the BMW Group realized that a correctly developed software module had been allocated in error to models for which it was not suited. Therefore the BMW Group plans to recall 11,400 vehicles, for which a corrected software will be made available as soon as it has been approved by the relevant authorities.

“All further steps are being taken in close cooperation with the relevant authorities.

“The BMW Group takes the situation very seriously and has a significant interest in the circumstances being fully explained. The company is cooperating fully with the authorities. In addition, the company had already started an internal investigation and will obviously forward all information gathered so far to the authorities. The BMW Group continues to assume that the situation was caused by an incorrect allocation of the software and does not represent a deliberate attempt to manipulate exhaust emissions.

“Many of the affected vehicles were initially sold with the correct software and ran correctly for over two years. The incorrect software was employed a significant time after these models originally started production.”

Obviously, the installation of improper software should not have happened, and may point to flaws in either BMW’s production or quality control or both. In the continuing aftermath of Volkswagen’s illegal cheating on diesel-emissions testing, every regulatory body in the world that has anything to do with automotive software seems to be gunning for the next miscreant, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

In such a climate, however, it is essential that automotive companies take the greatest care in doing everything right when it comes to emissions, and that includes our favorite marque. That BMW says it discovered the problem itself, is initiating corrective action, and promptly notified the authorities makes the case that it has nothing to hide, as does the fact that its diesel vehicles have been cleared for sale by regulatory agencies around the world, including those in Germany and the U.S.—Scott Blazey

[Photo courtesy of BMW AG.]




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