Frankfurt: German high-end carmaker BMW has admitted to authorities that it built software that misleads regulatory emissions tests into some models, potentially staining the auto giant's clean image, Der Spiegel magazine reported Friday.
BMW "admitted to the (vehicle licensing authority) KBA that it built software that manipulates the exhaust system into two models" from its flagship 7-series and mid-range 5-series, the magazine wrote.
Around 11,000 of the latest diesel models, supposed to meet the latest European Union "Euro 6" emissions standards introduced in late 2015, were affected in Germany alone, it added.
BMW is checking whether the software was built into cars for export.
A BMW spokesman told Spiegel that the software had mistakenly been loaded into the engine control systems of vehicles fitted with six-cylinder engines, whose exhaust system "does not function optimally" in conjunction with the programme.
"We do not consider the software to be a 'defeat device'," he added.
So-called "defeat devices" are deliberately designed to make cars appear less polluting in laboratory tests than in real on-road driving.
Volkswagen -- parent company of BMW competitor Audi -- admitted in 2015 to building such software into 11 million vehicles around the world, and has since paid over 20 billion euros in fines, buybacks and compensation.
Unlike Volkswagen, BMW has so far managed to uphold a reputation for emissions honesty.
After the KBA recently found no issues with a 3-series car that environmental activists had suggested might include a defeat device, development chief Klaus Froehlich stated baldly that "vehicles from the BMW group were not manipulated."
"Our diesel engines are clean. The public, politicians and above all our customers and employees can count on that," he added at the time.