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Diesel: Berlin Orders the Recall of 774,000 Mercedes in Europe

The German Ministry of Transport has ordered the immediate recall of 774,000 Mercedes vehicles equipped with software capable of distorting emissions levels.

The German Ministry of Transport ordered on Monday 12th June, the immediate recall across Europe of 774,000 Mercedes vehicles , equipped with software capable of skewing emissions levels.

“The government is ordering an immediate official recall due to the presence of manipulation devices,” German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said in a statement after an interview with Dieter Zetsche, head of the group.

Daimler, Mercedes’ parent company, “has indicated that it will proceed as quickly as possible, in transparent collaboration with the authorities, to ensure that government-sanctioned measures are abolished,” the minister said.

“Clarifying legal issues”

Daimler confirmed the recall in a statement saying it wanted to “clarify the legal issues” related to this exceptionally large procedure.

The models mainly concerned are the Mercedes Vito vans and the SUVs of the iconic GLC and C class, of which 238,000 are in Germany.

Daimler, spared so far by the dieselgate scandal, was already under investigation by the prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart, a city in western Germany where the group sits. The German authorities in turn showed initial suspicions in mid-May 2018.

The German Federal Automobile Agency, KBA, then ordered the recall of nearly 5,000 Mercedes Vito, claiming to have spotted suspicious software. Daimler had contested. The Ministry of Transport then took up the file, giving itself two weeks to make public the results of its investigation.

Daimler is the third German manufacturer splashed by the rigged diesel engine scandal that erupted in September 2015.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche (D) arrives at the German Ministry of Transport in Berlin on 11 June 2018. (© dpa / AFP / Kay Nietfeld)The actual level of hidden pollution

Volkswagen has admitted the use of software capable of distorting emission test results, concealing the actual level of pollution with nitrogen oxides (NOx), which increases the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The world’s largest automaker has admitted to installing these foolproof software on 11 million vehicles worldwide.

The vehicles thus equipped remained within the legal limits of emissions of dangerous substances such as nitrogen oxides during laboratory tests, but exceeded these limits by 40 times in road driving.

The scandal has so far cost Volkswagen more than 25 billion euros in fines, redemptions and compensation, and senior officials of the firm are under investigation, suspected of having participated in the fraud.

Since 2015, other German automakers have also been forced to recall vehicles to modify fuzzy software, although none has admitted mass cheating like Volkswagen.

German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer in Berlin on April 18, 2018.
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer in Berlin on April 18, 2018. (© AFP / John MACDOUGALL)

Already massive reminders to Audi and Porsche




In recent weeks, the KBA has ordered massive recalls to Audi and Porsche, two Volkswagen subsidiaries, as well as a smaller recall to BMW.

Prosecutors raided BMW in March, saying the investigation was “just starting” after collecting clues, and announced Monday that they suspect Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler of fraud.

“The whole of the European automotive industry is still stuck in this diesel business, and all that has been done so far has done nothing to release it,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer , an expert in the automotive industry of the CAR research center, referring in addition to the German manufacturers of firms in Italy and France.

For him, the German government should approve changes to hardwares, not software, to achieve “an honest solution” to excessive emissions.

Otherwise, car companies will continue in the future to fall into the same mistakes and see their reputation destroyed, said Mr Dudenhoeffer.

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