The Dieselgate emissions scandal broke in 2015 and initially involved only one automaker – German brand Volkswagen. Over the years, though, the scandal has grown to include other manufacturers , including Mercedes-Benz, another German brand.
Like VW, Mercedes-Benz was handed a class-action lawsuit for allegations that they used defeat devices in their diesel vehicles. The legal action was filed by Mercedes owners in the United States.
That was just the beginning of the Mercedes-Benz emissions scandal. In the months and years that followed, the carmaker would find itself in the spotlight for various issues related to the scandal.
What the scandal is about
The Mercedes diesel scandal started with the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. EPA’s claims that the car brand sold more or less 250,000 of their 2009 to 2016 diesel vehicles that were allegedly fitted with AECDs or auxiliary emission control devices. Described as defeat devices, they can detect when an engine is being tested and they automatically lower emissions to within legal levels. In real-world driving conditions though, the vehicles emitted NOx or nitrogen oxides that were over the safe level regulated by authorities.
NOx or nitrogen oxides are poisonous gases. They are responsible for the formation of smog and acid rain, and ground-level ozone, which is dangerous compared to atmospheric ozone. Ground-level ozone can cause several illnesses, particularly cardiovascular and respiratory issues.
NOx is also known as one of the leading causes of health problems like asthma or aggravated asthma and lung damage, as well as mental issues such as depression and anxiety. In severe cases, exposure to nitrogen oxides can lead to cancer and premature death to those who have lung and heart conditions.
Authorities acting in the diesel emission scandal are well aware of these negative effects, which is why they immediately notify car manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, suspected of using the cheat devices.
Despite the multiple class-action lawsuits handed to them, not just from U.S. car owners but throughout Europe as well, Mercedes-Benz and its parent company, Daimler, continue to vehemently deny the allegations.
The Mercedes diesel emissions claim timeline
After the initial action against Mercedes-Benz by U.S. car owners in February 2016, the United States Justice Department required Daimler to begin its own investigation of the company’s diesel exhaust system. This was two months after the class-action was filed.
A little over a year later, prosecutors raided 11 of the automaker’s Germany manufacturing sites. The raid was conducted in relation to an on-going investigation into Mercedes-Benz’s use of cheat devices for its diesel vehicles.
In the second quarter of 2018, specifically in June, the Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles found defeat devices in Mercedes-Benzes throughout Europe. As a result, Daimler had no choice but to pull out or recall over 700,000 vehicles.
The vehicles covered by the recall were the following:
- Sprinter vans
Although Daimler agreed to the recall, the German automaker continued to deny allegations and challenged the findings shared by the KBA.
Almost two years later, in April 2019, Daimler was once again in the spotlight, this time with Volkswagen and BMW. The three car brands received statements of objections from the European Commission in relation to allegations that the three manufacturers were limiting nitrogen oxides emissions cleaning technology development for new diesel vehicles.
Although VW and BMW were fined, Daimler was spared because the automaker disclosed the presence of the cartel.
In September 2019, German authorities asked Daimler to pay a fine of approximately £733 million (€870 million) for violating emissions regulations. This time around, there were no objections or appeals from Mercedes-Benz’s parent company. They paid the fine without any negative action.
By May 2020, Mercedes-Benz vehicle owners in the United Kingdom joined in the action and filed a collective case against the automaker.
Then several months later, in September, Daimler finally settled their obligations to U.S. authorities and affected American car owners. A total of $1.5 billion or £1.091 billion was paid to the authorities while $700 million or approximately £509 went to the drivers’ in the class-action lawsuit.
The following month, more Mercedes-Benz vehicles were found fitted with defeat devices, so the UK list of car models to recall increased.
Before the end of 2020, Mercedes-Benz received more claims from affected car owners, this time represented by a law firm in the UK.
The Mercedes Benz emissions scandal continues up to this day. Earlier this year, however, Daimler received word from the KBA that their objections against the recall notices were denied.
What to do if you have a Mercedes-Benz vehicle
If you think your Mercedes-Benz vehicle is fitted with a defeat device, get in touch with your manufacturer. Mercedes-Benz, for example, has a hotline dedicated for affected car owners.
Once it’s verified that your car is affected, you are liable to file a diesel compensation claim. As it can be a challenging and lengthy process, you should work with a team of emissions experts, such as the ones at Emissions.co.uk. They will guide and help you every step of the way.