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Mercedes-Benz Forced to Recall 774,000 Vehicles Fitted with Defeat Devices

The German ministry of transportation has ordered Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, to recall 774,000 diesel-engine vehicles, including 238,000 sold in Germany itself.

The authorities have reason to suspect that some models may be equipped with defeat devices, or software designed to alter emissions data. Out of a handful of models looked at, up to five units were found to contain the software.  

The models in question are the Vito vans, the C220d sedan and the GLC220d SUV.

Daimler has confirmed that it will comply with the order. German Transport Minister Andreas Scheure said that the company would be taking action immediately and has been fully transparent regarding the fraudulent cases so that the illegal software can be removed.

The German automaker is confident that an update of the affected software will show that the vehicles subject to the recall respect the required norms.  

What is troubling, however, is that this is not the first time suspicions have surfaced regarding the legendary luxury brand.

The main difference between the present case and that of Volkswagen turns on the question of intent. In the case of VW, a desire to cheat results was proven. For the moment at least, Mercedes-Benz has not been found to have intentionally sought to alter data.

And as long as no formal charges of fraud are brought against the automaker, no penalties will be assessed in its regard.

Estimates are that the current recall will cost Mercedes-Benz around $118 million USD.

Beyond that, of course, an additional price the company will pay is the increasing suspicion with which consumers and authorities will view its products. Since the diesel scandal first erupted in September 2015, consumers have been gotten wary of diesel-powered vehicles, at the same time that a number of major cities in Germany and elsewhere have started taking measures to ban them from their city centres.