Mercedes Benz Clean Diesel accused of being dirty

There was a time in our lives where we never uttered the phrase ‘emissions scandal’ now we’re lucky if we go a day without writing about it. Just as Volkswagen quietens down, Mercedes pipes up.

In a federal lawsuit filed in the United States, allegations have been made that the Mercedes-Benz ‘clean diesel’ models used a cheat device that allows the vehicles to deceive emissions standards tests when run at cooler temperatures, making them less environmentally friendly than advertised.

photo: mercedes-benz.co.uk

photo: mercedes-benz.co.uk

If these allegations sound familiar, it’s because the case mirrors the now-notorious Volkswagen emissions scandal that has seen stock prices plummet and over eleven million vehicles worldwide needing to be recalled to have their vehicles tweaked. Obviously a spokesperson for Mercedes’ parent company Daimler AG was profuse in their denial of the wrongdoing. Joerg Howe representing the firm labelled the lawsuit as “baseless” and vowed to fight against the suit. “All our vehicles comply with regulatory frameworks,” he is quoted as saying. “All our vehicles are certified according to the laws.”

The allegations made by a Mercedes owner from Illinois claims the device was used in its BlueTec cars to turn off a system implemented to reduce nitrogen oxide in the exhaust. The lawsuit implies that the device used in Mercedes models turned off pollution controls when temperatures dropped below fifty degrees Fahrenheit (that’s ten degrees Celsius to you and I). In the complaint filed, the allegations being made against the carmakers claim that “Mercedes never disclosed to consumers that Mercedes diesels with BlueTEC engines may be ‘clean’ diesels when it is warm, but are ‘dirty’ diesels when it is not. Mercedes never disclosed that, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, it prioritizes engine power and profits over people.” What sets this case apart from the murky and never-ending Volkswagen case, however, is that Mercedes have, up to now, not knowingly tried to deceive any tests. The reason for their device shutting off is to protect the engine, according to claims in German magazine Der Spiegel.

Though it is normal for nitrogen results emitted in laboratory conditions to be lower than real world figures, the bad news for Mercedes is that a spokesperson for independent testing agency TNO has said that “It’s normal that emissions [to] be higher but not in the range they are now.” Consumers and industry leaders alike are particularly sensitive to fraudulent and corrupt behaviour in the automobile industry following Volkswagen’s emission scandal, so this lawsuit may be harder to overcome than Mercedes may think. It is reported by Bloomberg that the suit is ‘seeking a court order compelling Mercedes to recall the affected models or replace them for free, in addition to unspecified damages. The law firm is proposing to represent a nationwide class that includes all U.S.-based residents and entities that bought or leased an affected vehicle as of this month.’

What with Volkswagen’s global flogging and now the potential for Mercedes to join the company in the gallows, it has most definitely not been the smoothest of rides for the automobile industry.

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