BMW denies conspiring with rivals on diesel emissions systems

No car maker is immune from accusations, it seems.

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VW isn't the only German automaker reeling from the effects of diesel emissions scandals. BMW is denying Der Spiegel allegations that it not only colluded with Daimler and the Volkswagen Auto Group (including Audi and Porsche) on the designs and prices for AdBlue diesel emissions treatment systems, but fell short of European exhaust standards. While the newspaper claims that BMW's thousand-plus meetings with rivals amounted to a "cartel," BMW insists that the meetings were simply meant to create a Europe-wide infrastructure for AdBlue. It also claims that the technology (which injects urea into the mix to help reduce emissions) meets the latest European requirements, and that it can update the software on older cars to meet that standard.

Not that these statements will help BMW avoid scrutiny. The European Commission's antitrust regulators are already investigating the claims, and politicians in BMW's home country are calling for transparency. The Bavarian brand isn't facing any formal accusations, but it's clear that officials view the report as credible enough to warrant a closer look.

Whether or not BMW is in hot water, the allegations reflect a rapidly growing effort to scrutinize diesel emissions among car makers around the world. Regulators are worried that numerous companies cheat on emissions tests for the sake of their bottom line, and that they're hurting the environment to the point where they shorten lives. Recent efforts by BMW, VW and others to embrace electric cars may be as much about moving past diesel's controversies as they are preparing for the future.