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Australia not subject to Mercedes diesel recall

Burn notice: Mercedes-Benz says Australian diesel-powered models are not impacted by actions in the company’s home market of Germany.

Mercedes’ local arm says European action is not a recall, local cars not affected

7 Aug 2017


A MULTI-MILLION vehicle “voluntary recall” of diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the United Kingdom and Europe will not impact Australian cars, according to the company’s local arm.

Speaking to GoAuto at the Mercedes-AMG snow drive event in New Zealand last week, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific (MBAP) senior manager of public relations, product and corporate communications, David McCarthy, said the company sought information in the wake of the revelations in Europe two weeks ago, but has received no information to suggest it would be involved.

“As far as we know at this point, it doesn’t impact Australia,” he said. “At this stage, no, it doesn’t cover us.”

Mr McCarthy reiterated parent company Daimler AG’s stance that the action – which involves virtually every diesel passenger and light-commercial vehicle sold by Mercedes-Benz in Europe and the UK from the early 2000s – is not a government-mandated recall.

“The important thing to remember in this is – and yet people will accuse us of semantics, but hear me out – it’s not a recall,” he said. “If it had to have been a recall, the authorities would have said it’s actually a recall.

“What we’ve learnt with the newer generation diesels is there is stuff we can do that will actually make the older ones cleaner. And to me that’s the predominant reason for doing it, not because we’ve been doing something wrong.”

Daimler has been accused by German authorities of fitting cars with ECU firmware that is able to differentiate between a static test and regular operation, and which can change the engine’s mapping and outputs to create a lower emissions figure on a stationary rolling road.

Vehicles tested by European authorities have shown nitrous oxide emissions of ten times the listed levels. Mercedes-Benz insists that it has not exceeded regulations that permit engine protection by temporarily reducing emissions controls.

Mercedes-Benz says the total number of cars is around three million, while the work – comprising a reflash of the engine’s ECU – will cost the company approximately €220 million ($A450 million).

The diesels in question have been sold in Australia under the bonnet of models such as the C-Class and various SUVs, as well as Sprinter commercial vans.

Mr McCarthy said that the company still believed that diesel-powered cars would form a big part of its powertrain line-up going forward, while the new generation of four- and six-cylinder diesel engines being offered by the company will be rolled out more widely and more quickly than previously planned.

“There’s no doubt it’s a topic people are going to talk about,” he said. “I feel comfortable with our response and why we’ve done it. It’s not going to stop people having a different opinion. They’re entitled to that, but I’m comfortable.”

Last week, Daimler, as well as fellow German car-makers BMW, Volkswagen and Opel committed to updating software in a total of 5.3 million diesel vehicles to cut emissions, following a national diesel forum in Berlin.

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