EPA to let BMW sell diesels in U.S. for 2017

August 5, 2016

Good news, diesel fans: Volkswagen hasn't ruined things for everyone. The EPA has approved BMW's 2017 model-year diesel lineup.

A few months ago, some might not have thought they'd ever see that sentence. Thanks to the ongoing fiasco known as Dieselgate, elected officials and regulators around the globe have been in an uproar, with many agencies pushing to speed up the transition to electric vehicles. 

Heck, even Volkswagen--where the prospect of electrification has been met with responses ranging from "meh" to "nein, nein, nein"--finally came around. None of the company's 2016 model-year diesels have been approved for sale in the U.S., and it hasn't even asked about 2017 models. Back in June, Volkswagen's CEO, Matthias Muller, promised at least 30 electrified models by the year 2025.

That change of heart might be in Volkswagen's best interests. Governments are ramping up incentives for electric vehicles; regulatory agencies are giving diesels and gas-powered vehicles longer, harder looks; and growing numbers of consumers are drooling over electrics like the Tesla Model S. The sooner a company make the switch, the better market position it may have in the future. 

But some automakers aren't ready to give up the diesel ghost. Mercedes-Benz is still turning them out (though its diesel C-Class and GLC-Class vehicles haven't yet been approved in America), and General Motors is planning a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze for next year. Mazda wants to get in on the action, too, though like Volkswagen, it hasn't figured out how to sell diesels in the U.S. without cheating on tests or compromising on performance. 


BMW is still in the diesel game, too. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that it has approved BMW's 2017 range of diesel vehicles for sale in the U.S. The EPA's Chris Grundler said that the cars were tested "every which way from Sunday", and they passed.

That may not make too much of a difference to BMW's bottom line. Diesels currently account for four percent of BMW's U.S. sales. But of course, every little bit helps.

BMW hasn't revealed which 2017 diesels were submitted to the EPA for approval. However, the company currently offers three diesel versions of its 3-Series sedan, two from its 5-Series, as well as diesel variants of the X3 and X5 crossover.

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