Recently Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler announced a voluntary recall across Europe in an effort to cut harmful emissions. Daimler, which also owns the Smart brand, has said its board of management has approved a number of measures to cut emissions; including about $253 million of investment to update Mercedes-Benz diesel engine cars already on the road throughout Europe. Customers are expected to not be charged for the upgrade.
“The public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty. We have therefore decided on additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology,” CEO Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.
Last week German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported prosecutors were investigating accusations that the company was cheating on emission tests. Daimler was summoned last week by the Transport Ministry to explain why some vehicles showed high levels of emissions under certain driving conditions. The investigation looked into two types of engines used in over 1 million cars sold in Europe and the United States. Daimler has stated that it has been fully cooperating with authorities, but also has declined to comment on specific accusations.
German magazine Der Spiegel recently reported German investigator had raided eleven Daimler locations in Germany, in which files and data media were impounded. Other German media outlets have reported that the public prosecutor in Stuttgart, Germany, has reason to believe that Mercedes cars and vans equipped with the OM 642 and OM 651 diesel engines are equipped with illegal defeat devices. Defeat devices can be any motor vehicle hardware, software, or design that interferes with or disables emissions controls, deceptively changing the performance accordingly to improve results while in order to pass formal emissions testing.
Daimler’s voluntarily recall of more than 3 million Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles in Europe looks comes as they seek to get ahead of the growing crisis over potential emissions cheating. Engine management software and systems have been under scrutiny since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 that it had installed programs on as many as 11 million diesel vehicles that help cheat diesel emissions tests.
The company is also extending an ongoing upgrade of ~250,000 cars and vans to nearly every modern Mercedes diesel on the road today. The plan involves a software patch and avoids fixing complex components. If accepted by officials, Daimler could avoid the massive penalties that were subjected to Volkswagen after their deceptive emission tactics were revealed.
Daimler’s plan marks a change in approach after the company vowed to fight the accusations of cheating by all legal means after meeting with government officials last weeks. Diesel engines have become a crucial element to the company’s strategy to lower carbon-dioxide emissions, making it in their best interest to avoid any damage to its reputation burdened by doubts and allegations.
Though demand has declined, diesel still accounts for nearly half of all passenger car sales in Europe. Daimler announced it has created a new line of diesel engines, which are expected to be rapidly introduced across the company’s entire model portfolio. The diesel engines are said to have “exemplary emissions [and] have been confirmed by measurements carried out by independent institutes.”
Daimler executives will appear before a commission on Thursday; the same commission that was established in 2015 to investigate Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal.
In the US regulations on diesel emissions are stricter than EU standards. Though Daimler has not announced any recalls in the US market, their is a possibility that could happen soon.
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