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Car and Driver: Mercedes-Benz Under Federal Investigation for Diesel Emissions


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2015 Mercedes-Benz ML250 BlueTec 4MATIC


Mercedes-Benz USA is under investigation by the Department of Justice for potential discrepancies over its diesel emissions certifications, according to a Daimler statement released today.


Last Friday, the DOJ effectively told MBUSA to begin an internal investigation “to review its certification and admissions process related to exhaust emissions in the United States,” Daimler said. The company “has agreed to cooperate fully with the DOJ.”


“Daimler is cooperating fully with the authorities,” the statement read. “Daimler will consequently investigate possible indications of irregularities and of course take all necessary actions.”


The investigation stems from a February 18 class action lawsuit filed by Hagens Berman, the firm which won $1.1 billion against Toyota for its floor mats and is suing General Motors for at least $350 million over defective ignition switches. Hagens Berman claims all Mercedes BlueTec diesel models emit more oxides of nitrogen when the ambient temperature is cooler due to a “shut-off device” that allows greater emissions when the temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.


The suit, which added additional plaintiffs on April 7, references multiple studies on Mercedes diesel vehicles in the months following the Volkswagen diesel scandal. Those studies, conducted by various government and independent organizations in the U.K., the Netherlands, and Germany, alleged that certain cars were polluting several times higher than standards allowed. The Hagens Berman lawsuit also cites an independent test conducted by one of the plaintiffs, who claimed his or her car was polluting at eight to 20 times the standard allowed in the EPA’s highway cycle.


“Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people,” the suit read.


Daimler has repeatedly denied it manipulated any emissions controls to pass tests as Volkswagen did, only mentioning that it was allowed by law to emit higher emissions in certain instances to protect the engine. Specifically against these U.S. lawsuits, Daimler said “the class actions are considered to be without merit and Daimler will defend itself against them with all available legal means.” The EPA has been testing used diesel models since October, both on the bench and on the road, including an unknown number of Mercedes BlueTec models. No results covering manufacturers beyond the VW Group have been released.


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