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Mercedes-Benz recalls three million diesels in Europe

Emissions fail: German authorities have alleged that Mercedes-Benz was complicit in emissions software fiddling, but the company denies it.

German authorities accuse Mercedes of excess NOx emissions, prompting huge recall

Mercedes-Benz logo24 Jul 2017

By TIM ROBSON in ZURICH

DAIMLER AG has issued a “voluntary recall” of more than three million diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz products in Europe, in the face of accusations that it fitted cars with emissions test-defeating software – an allegation that the company denies.

The recall – referred to as a voluntary recall action by Daimler – involves virtually every diesel-powered vehicle made by Mercedes-Benz in the last six years, from A-Class through to commercial vans. One million cars have been recalled in Germany and another two million in the rest of Europe.

The company says that the action is an extension of a recall program it instigated in March.

“Daimler has now decided to extend the service action to include over three million Mercedes-Benz vehicles,” said the company in a statement.

“The measures to be taken for nearly all EU5 (Euro 5) and EU6 (Euro 6) vehicles in Europe will be carried out in close cooperation with the German regulatory authorities.”

Daimler estimates the recall – which will take the form of a software update – will cost around €220 million ($A450 million), but industry observers expect the final bill to be much higher.

Prosecutors and investigators from the German city of Stuttgart visited several Daimler sites in May to gather evidence, while company executives have also been summoned to appear in front of Germany’s Transport Ministry, agreeing to submit to a retesting regimen.

Like Volkswagen before it, Mercedes-Benz has been accused of fitting cars with engine management computer firmware that is able to differentiate between a static test and regular operation, changing 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.

Unlike Volkswagen, Daimler insists it has not exceeded regulations that pertain to protecting an engine by temporarily reducing emissions controls.

“We are here today to show the new S-Class, and there are other meetings to discuss this issue,” Mercedes-Benz powertrain development specialist Armin Herold told GoAuto at the launch of the updated S-Class sedan in Switzerland on Friday, who then referred the matter back to the official communications released late last week.

Likewise, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific would offer no comment on the unfolding situation, despite the company selling several diesel-powered models in Australia.

Daimler chairman, Dieter Zetsche, said that the company believed that diesel is still a viable tool to reduce emissions.

“We are convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions,” he said in a statement.

The company’s voluntary recall covers virtually every diesel-powered passenger car made by Mercedes-Benz sold between 2011 to this year, from the A-Class all the way through to S-Class and light-commercial vehicles.

The engines in question include the four-cylinder OM654 and the six-cylinder OM642 which are sold in Australian-delivered cars across various models.

The scandal comes on the eve of the launch of the new OM656 six-cylinder diesel engine that has been expressly built by Mercedes-Benz to meet the new Euro 6c regulations that are coming into force from 2018.

A further tightening of carbon dioxide emissions across entire model ranges also looms large, with a fleet average of 95g/km coming into force in 2021.

Mercedes-Benz is also expected to fast-track the fitment of the 2016 OM654 four-cylinder diesel across its passenger-car line, starting with the C-Class facelift later this year.

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