Mercedes hit with mass diesel recall

Image: ©AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND

Germany has ordered the recall of about 774 000 vehicles from Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler across Europe, citing illegal defeat devices designed to conceal high levels of harmful emissions from regulators’ tests.

Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said: “The federal government will order an immediate official recall because of illegal defeat devices.”

The move mostly affects Vito vans and diesel-powered versions of GLC 4x4s and C-class sedans, he said.

Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche was summoned on Monday for crunch talks with Scheuer over emissions irregularities in the firm’s vehicles.

“Daimler says the applications in the motor control software the federal government has found fault with will be removed at the greatest possible speed and in cooperative transparency with the authorities,” Scheuer said.

A Daimler spokesman confirmed the recall, saying that legal questions would be cleared up in the appeal procedure against the transport ministry decision.
So-called defeat devices were at the heart of Volkswagen’s “dieselgate” scandal, in which the world’s largest carmaker admitted in September 2015 to installing them in 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Vehicles kept to legal emissions limits for harmful substances like nitrogen oxides (NOx) during lab tests, only to exceed them as much as 40 times in on-road driving.

The scandal has so far cost the world’s largest carmaker more than ß25-billion (R390-billion) in fines, buybacks and compensation, and senior executives are under investigation over their suspected roles in the cheating.

In the years since 2015, other German carmakers have also been forced to recall vehicles to fix manipulated software, although none has so far admitted to mass cheating as Volkswagen did.

Recent weeks have seen Germany’s KBA vehicle licensing authority hit Volkswagen subsidiaries Audi and Porsche with mass recall orders over their engine control software, as well as a smaller batch of cars from rival BMW.

Prosecutors raided Munich-based BMW in March, saying their investigation was only just getting started after gathering evidence, and announced on Monday that they suspect Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler of fraud. 

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