The mysterious and elusive Quandt family is in hot water again, nearly two years after its Nazi connections during World War II were exposed. The German family's patriarch, Herbert Quandt, nearly single-handedly saved BMW from being bought out by Daimler-Benz in 1959. Now, three living family members own nearly half of the German brand, and stand accused of buying votes with donations to the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, mere days ahead of a European Union vote that would cap vehicle emissions.
Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union accepted three donations, one from each shareholding member of the Quandt family, totaling 690,000 euros ($935,000), on October 9. The CDU, for what it's worth, claim the donations weren't related to any political decisions and that the family have been donors for years. A Quandt family spokesperson, meanwhile, said that the family had been waiting for Germany's September 22 elections to pass before making a large contribution to the CDU.
Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union accepted three donations, one from each shareholding member of the Quandt family.
The CDU's two chief rivals have seized on the story, with a former Green Party leader posting on Twitter that the Quandts "bought Merkel's climate policy on October 9 for 690,000 euros," according to Automotive News Europe. Social Democrat Joachim Poss, meanwhile, said the timing of the donation relative to the vote was "grist to the mill for all those critical of party donations."
The vote, which critics have said would hurt BMW and Mercedes-Benz, would cap carbon emissions on new vehicles to just 95 grams per kilometer beginning in 2020. It was scrapped, however, after German-led resistance among EU environment ministers. For reference, a UK-market BMW 116d EfficientDynamics, with 116 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque produces 99 grams of CO2 per kilometer, while an ActiveHybrid 3 pumps out 139 grams of CO2 per klick.
As it stands, the Quandts went by the book in this donation, registering the donation with the German parliament, a requirement for any contributions over 50,000 euros ($67,700), according to ANE.