Last September, BMW was fined €10,000,000 by European Union regulators for installation of the wrong engine-control software on a handful of diesel models. In the midst of larger emissions-related probes and in the wake of Volkswagen’s unforgettable Dieselgate scandal, speculation swirled that the software was intended to outsmart testing procedures, even though the fine was reported to have carried with it no accusations of fraud or manipulation.

Just recently, after a few months that likely involved the two sides coming to some form of agreement, BMW has accepted the findings of the Munich prosecutor who leveled the charges. The fine, which was originally €10,000,000 , is now being reported as €8,500,000, and comes as a result of investigators finding BMW guilty of oversight lapses. BMW has gone on to say that it “has consistently emphasized that the installation of the incorrect software module was a frustrating and highly regrettable error.”

Roughly 8,000 cars were affected by the error, no models of which were ever sold in the U.S. According to sources, the exact number of vehicles is 7,965, and models include the since replaced F10 M550d with xDrive, and 750Xd. At this time, it is not known whether or not the software resulted in different results when vehicles sensed themselves to be under testing conditions—but it has been said that the software was not illegal or deceptive in anyway. Many believe this to be consistent with BMW’s claims of a simple error, as there would have been no deliberate reason to install the incorrect software to begin with.

In the data-driven world we now find ourselves in, errors like the one BMW made here are less and less likely to happen, but the human element will remain present for the foreseeable future as far as important decision-making processes are concerned. Looking at the grander scheme of things, the fine handed down to BMW pales in comparison to the cumulative €27,400,000,000 in penalties racked up by Volkswagen after the automaker was found guilty of intentionally deceiving regulators and customers.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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